Monday, February 20, 2012

A bird is an instrument working according to mathematical law,

which instrument it is within the capacity of man to reproduce with all its movements.

— Leonardo da Vinci, Treatise on the Flight of Birds, 1505.

Round circles in aluminum forms riveted together is like pure distilled "airplane" to me. The little section of wing pictured above is my favorite single visual element of a Lazair.

A great deal of progress was made on Saturday. Gabe and I finished stripping the second wing and fuselage.

Dale's wing stands came in handy again, here's the wing when we got started on Saturday.

This is the original logo on the port wing. Sadly the winglets are in pretty bad shape, and we're repairing and recovering them, so the old covering was cut away.

Here's a closeup of the aileron control rod connection. I've taken some pictures of each assembly as we break the aircraft down, so we can be sure to re-assemble in the same manner. In truth the design is quite simple and we have the factory assembly manual to double check, but it never hurts to be thorough. The wings are filthy from their time in a barn. I'm certain I don't want to know what some of that staining is from.

The covering has been pulled/cut away from the wing now, and to get at the last fiddly bits we have to remove the aileron. Next we'll be pulling the ribs, so the trailing edge rod needs to come off also.

Each rib is held in place with rivets. To remove them you have to punch out the center of the rivet, then drill it out, leaving a nice hole for a new rivet later. (That's the plan anyway)

Once denuded the wing joined it's brother hanging beneath the eaves of Gabe's house. We're going to finish cleaning the wings and make some repairs in the coming weeks, but for now they have a safe place to wait. In the boxes are all the other parts we have removed so far. It's a pretty small package when it's broken down.

Aluminum swallow tails.

About the time we were finished with the second wing, the sun decided to come out. Since all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, we decided to break out the Alula and play with the seagulls in the breeze. (

The Alula is a hand launched, hand catch flyer. You toss it by one wingtip to get airborne, then try and find some slope lift, or a nice breeze. Flying doesn't need to be complicated.

Playtime over, we headed in to the garage to finish the fuselage stripping.

We needed to remove the last of the control assemblies, the odd "brake" arrangement, and the old nose wheel. We won't be reusing any of the landing gear, as we're fitting a wider tricycle configured gear, with a steerable nose wheel.

Now we just need to clean the fuselage, and it's ready for paint.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Experience is the knowledge that enables you to recognize a mistake when you make it again.

This week was pretty quiet on the Lazair restoration front. Gabe spent a lot of time with Dale trying to come up with the perfect motor/battery/controller combination to fly with. I'm not going to let that cat out of the bag until we're closer to a final solution, but it's going well.

In preparation for a return to flying, I have been looking in to inexpensive practice options. Before I actually take to the skies, I'll be doing a few hours of flight review with a qualified instructor. Until then I need a way to fly that provides real world practice at a low cost.

PC simulation doesn't really do it for me. I don't know if it's the game-like aspect, or the interaction with a PC in general, but it's hard for me to take seriously. Also the lack of consequences for failure is a turn off.

Enter the previously unobtainable world of FPV RC flight. For those not aware, it is now possible for a pretty small cost of entry, to strap a camera to the nose of an RC plane, and go flying without leaving the ground. Sophisticated systems even track head movements and allow pan/tilt camera movement from in-cockpit.

Start with one of these: Turnigy 9ch Transmitter

Then add one of these: Floater-Jet EPO ARF

Mix with a dash of this: Fat Shark FPV System

Add a couple batteries and you're flyin'. I'll also be adding landing gear so I can do full taxi-take-off-fly-land simulation flights.

Gabe will have a second transmitter plugged in as a safety net in case the FPV camera cuts out or anything else odd goes wrong.

Here's a sample vid from Gabe's quad copter with FPV: Larkin Zero Footage

And a really pretty POV flight over a misty field: FPV w/ Head Tracking

My transmitter is in the mail on the way, and I already have the floater jet. I should have some video of my own trainer to post next week.

For the Lazair the next step is to acquire a "Soda Blaster" and finish cleaning and prepping the airframe. Then we'll paint the aluminum parts and start to re-assemble.