BY BARRY WARNER
A model air show that took place this past weekend, sponsored by the Rockland County Radio Control Club (RCRCC) and the Town of Clarkstown. The former landfill located on Route 303 behind the Clarkstown Transfer Station in West Nyack became the site for some high-flying action on Saturday, June 22 when ‘pilots’ of the model airplanes and helicopters entertained many spectators with daring acrobatics and skillful maneuvers.
Ed Johnson, President of the RCRCC said, “I became interested in flying radio-controlled aircraft when I was 12-years-old. The event today is a thank you to Clarkstown and our intention is for the guests to enjoy watching the ‘pilots’ fly planes and helicopters. Possibly our young visitors will become interested in the technology and find a career in aviation.”
The hobby of radio-controlled aircraft flying is popular due to more efficient electric miniature internal combustion engines and jet engines, lighter and more powerful batteries and less expensive radio systems. Being in control of the model airplane or helicopter and getting it to obey radio-controlled commands in free airspace, is an attraction to the hobby.
Al Betancourt said, “I have been a member 12 years. This is a hobby which is hands-on and is family-oriented, as we all get out in the fresh air. The passion for flying is reflected in our 162 members.”
A radio-controlled aircraft or RC plane is managed with a hand-held transmitter and receivers in the craft. The receivers control the corresponding servos that move the control surfaces, based upon the position of the transmitter joysticks, which affect the orientation of the plane. The average RC plane has 4 controllable or functions or channels: the throttle controls the speed of the plane; the elevators control whether the nose of the plane points upward or downward; the ailerons control the roll of the plane and the rudder makes the nose of the plane turn in the left or right direction.
Phil Meisner said, “The large ‘Beast’ bi-plane model has a 100 cc gas engine. It is an ARF or almost ready to fly plane that uses nitro-methane gas. I was in the Navy and I enjoy meeting new friends who are ready to help anyone in the club.”
A plane from a kit needs building from a box of pieces over a plan that requires extra tools and more effort. An ARF or almost-ready-to-fly plane is about 90 percent finished, except for the installation of the engine and radio gear. An RTF or ready-to-fly plane is completely built with the motor and radio-controlled gear installed.
Tiago de Paula said, “About 10 years ago, I saw a model plane flying. I was curious and went to a hobby shop. My ‘Edge 540’ high-wing plane can do rolls, loops and low passes. The people in the club are very helpful.”
A beginner or high-wing plane is slower flying, durable, simple to operate and is electric-powered versus gas-powered. It is more stable, because the weight of the fuselage is below the wing or bottom-heavy. Electric-power is cheaper, clean, more quiet and can be flown in public places, where gas-powered planes are limited to a club field. Low-wing designs are top-heavy, because the fuselage is above the wing and not as stable, but are more maneuverable. Mid-wing designs, where the wing is located halfway between the top and bottom of the fuselage, gives a good balance of stability and maneuverability. Bi-planes are fixed wing aircraft and contain 2 wings of similar size. Biplanes have a lower takeoff and landing speed and generate more lift and less drag than the monoplane design.
Justin Jee, 11-years-old and an avid ‘pilot’ said, “The low wing plane, like a P51 Mustang is stable, has a low center of gravity and can do rolls, flips and acrobatics. The high-wing plane is more stable, like a Piper Cessna and is better for a beginner. The biplane or two wing aircraft is slower, but gives more lift. I started flying model planes when I was 18 months old and I feel in full control when I fly. I would like to be a career pilot someday.”
The four aerodynamic forces that act on an airplane in flight are lift or upward force, drag or backward force, weight or downward force and thrust or forward force. In order for the plane to stay airborne, the thrust must be greater than the drag and the lift greater than the weight.
Flying acrobatic maneuvers such as an inside loop, outside loop, roll and stall-turn are performed into the wind to get maximum lift and airflow over the control surface. Altitude is always important and the ‘pilot’ must give a lot of space between the aircraft and the ground. Disorientation results when the airplane is too far away and the ‘pilot’ becomes confused about the plane’s position in the air.
A normal plane can fly forward, climb upwards, dive downwards and turn and roll to the left or right. A helicopter can do all this plus have the ability to fly backwards, move sideways in any direction, rotate 360 degrees and hover or stay airborne with no directional movement. The rotor blades of a helicopter act in the same manner as the wings of a plane, creating lift by forcing air above or below a curved airfoil. The air moves faster over the top of the blade, reducing pressure and the air below pushes upward with greater pressure, lifting the rotor and the attached frame and cabin. The blades can be angled, allowing it to move in any direction, like the propellers on an airplane. Flying a model helicopter requires constant concentration by the ‘pilot’, to make continuous minute control-corrections.