Thursday, October 16, 2014

Rotmilan Midi, kit overview

This is the shorter version of the Rotmilan which just won the F3F WC 2014 in František Ruisl's hands. With a wingspan of 2.86m and length of 1.47m, it features the same HN section than the Standard Rotmilan, It is made by RTGmodel (Website not updated yet with the Rotmilan Midi). I received my Rotmilan Midi in Donovaly when I was there for the F3F world championship. The color scheme is mine and based on the constraint that the control surfaces are moulded with an angle to allow the moulding of the wipers at once.

Let's have a look to the kit. Fuselage is made from Kevlar and Carbon. It is 2.4 friendly as the front part is kevlar only. The ballast tube and the servo tray, as a single piece is already installed in the fuselage. The tray is designed to receive 12mm standard servos like the MKS 6125e or equivalent. The hole is at the right size to not damage the wire when inserting the servos in its location.

Canopy is fiber glass with the lock system already in place.

The ballast tube occupies lot of place in the fuselage so the routing of the wires from the wing connectors to the receivers is pretty tricky. It requires to solder the green plug with the wires in place.

The elevator control rods are snakes using fiberglass core and teflon sleeve. They are guided into a plastic sleeve. No clevises or couplers are provided. In brief, the fuselage requires very little work.

The tailplanes are identical to the standard version and include the carbon rod joiners. 2 metal pins are here also for a better positionning. They still use the very simple and efficient aluminium control horns to be connected to a metal clevis

Wings are simple carbon using herex and spread tow fabric. The servos holes are reinforced with some extra carbon to avoid skin deformation while installing the servos frame. There is no ballast compartiment in the wings. The large carbon joiner allows to use brass ballast in it (not provided), to be added to the 900g of fuselage ballast provided with the kit (10 slugs).

RTGmodel has been the first manufacturer to use RDH/LDS. As it is built in, the installation on the control surface side is finished, and removable using a tool provided in the kit, a long brass rod that allow to extract/put the RDH axis from the root chord.

What to say about the moulding and finish quality. The Rotmilan moulding quality is absolutely top notch. Fit and finish are just superb: The illustration is how the joiner fit in the wings and the fuselage. no blocking point and no slop at all. When removing the joiner, you ear the "pop" sound.

To finish with the kit overview, here are the component weight:
  •     Fuselage: 387g
  •     Right Wing: 586g
  •     Left wing: 592g
  •     Wing Joiner: 88g
  •     Left tail+ joiner: 40g
  •     Right tail + joiner: 42g
  •     Total 1735g
  •     Ballast provided: 892g

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Font D'urle 2014, the french longpan slope !

Font D'urle 2014 will remain in the memories for a long long time. The reason is that conditions were super fast and that the french F3F record has been beated several times in few minutes, by different pilots. The contest took place on a high cliff in the south vercors (french alps) with strong wind (14 to 16 m/s vertical). We have the authorization to fly there only once a year, and were are accompagnied by an eco-guard to check that vultures living there are not disturbed by the gliders.
On sunday, the wind was so strong that we had to stop the contest after two rounds, because almost all pilots damaged their plane during the landing in a huge rotor, despite walking far from the edge to escape this rotor. With 27.28 seconds, Frédéric Hours established a new french F3F record flying an Alliaj HM (in fact the early prototype of Alexis Maréchal). Jean-Luc Foucher and Allan Cohen joined the 27.xx club, both also on Alliaj HM. Personnaly, I achieve my personnal best with 28,01s with my Needle 100 DSL.

Below the video of the record:

Icare Model show 2014

The 20 and 21th of september.

The now famous and popular Icare Model show (Coupe Icare) is since few year having also an aeromodelling show where it is possible to see all type of aeroplanes from the drone to the big aerobatic plane, etc ... Weather was not exceptionnal this year but we could however do many demonstrations from 10am  to 4pm. Less spectators because of the weather. Here is my photo album shooted on sunday

The Beaufortain, Savoie

End of september, I visited another slope paradise (Beaufortain, Savoie) not very far from Grenoble. I took only my Weasel and flew 5 minutes at le Cormet de Roselend. There are plenty of slopes in the area and some of them have the Mont blanc in background. If you add to this the fact that the beaufort cheese ( is produced there ... yum yum ...
A very nice place to go with stunning landscapes as you can see on this photo album !

Flying over Grenoble

I had the chance to enjoy a flight but also pilot few minutes a Taurus from Pipistrel (World’s first side-by-side ultralight powered glider). We did some slope soaring on a cliff above Grenoble. A 1 hour flight in excellent conditions, ended by a smooth kiss landing at Le Versoud airfield. Thanks to Olivier Finck ( for this flight !


Saturday, September 20, 2014

Pikes Slim radio installation and maiden flight

Installation is (very) tight, but fine as after some thinking, each element finds its place naturally.
Some changes however: I installed the super tiny and powefull MKS DS6100 for the elevator (note: The MKS DS6125e can fit).  I replace the 8 channels receivers by a 6 channels receiver, installed on top of the fuselage. The battery is a 2S LiIon 2900 mAh, so I have S-BEC in front of each servo. Satellite is in the nose. First antenna is below the receiver, in a plastic sleeve glued in the fuselage, the second antenna is on the side of the receiver with an angle of 45 to 60° (not 90° as idealy recommended).

At the end I needed about 130g of lead in the nose to retrieve my optimal CoG of 107mm. I will keep my current settings as the rear boom has the same length. Empty weight is 2170g for a double carbon ST wing version, which is a very good weight for F3F.

Maiden flight occured end of august, few days before my departure for the World championship on Slovakia. Conditions were light and it was difficult to say if there is a small of big improvement over the standard fuselage. Only time will says, with competitions and a panel of conditions. It seems however that the plane is a bit more pitchy which would indicate a lighter fuselage moment because of the shorter nose.For the rest, it is very subjective to write any conclusion.

Below is the video of the maiden flight at Puy de Manse:

Report: Alpine F3F cup, Briancon

1 weeks after the FAI of col de Tende (eurotour/worldcup), most of the pilots met again in the french alps in Briançon for a contest of the Eurotour. the specificity of this contet is that we reach the slope using 4x4 cars therefore the number of participants is limited to 30. This year, I have been honored by the organisers to be responsible to drive one of the 4X4 cars. This is my first experience ever, and I really enjoyed it, with my copilot Mickael Krebs. The first day os the competition we went to the south slope, waited a bit for the breeze to install, then started some rounds. Conditions were very variables from one flight to another. At the end of the day, we had 4 rounds in the pocket. Matthieu Mervelet was in first position, followed by Frédéric Hours and Stephane Riccobono. On Saturday, we changed to the North slope located at 2400m of altitude. The wind was blowing strongly so we could expect lots of additional rounds and a change in the ranking. This slope is very technical and challenging. Gain of altitude during the 30 second was very important so pilots were flying along the rocks and cliff on the right and wait until the maximum before to start. Then the best strategy was to do bank and yank turns and manage some diving, keeping in mind the antidiving rule of 5 seconds. At this game, Stephane Riccobono has been the best, well served by his Stinger that was flying great and super fast, like all stingers this day. The landing area was fine, but needed some attention, some some plane has been damaged. We saw also 3 spectacular crashes on the slope with 2 plane totally destroyed. Saturday evening, the counter was at 11 rounds, Matthieu dropped down in the ranking, Stephane was now first followed by Sébastien Lanes and Fréderic Hours. Monday, despite very encouraging forecasts, has been very disapointing as we got no wind so didn't do any round, and the ranking became the final ranking.

Overall a super competition, very friendly, in a superb place with a nice ride in 4x4. A great thanks to Alain Gallinet and Frederic Hours for organising it !

I have made the following video to capture the atmosphere of this contest. I think it tells a lot about it:

Flying the Vagabond from Hacker Model

I programmed several flight modes with different amount of elevator. Normal flying with normal (but still agile) elevator, full elevator position with lots of exponentional to keep the Vagabond controlable and a thermal position with some camber and little elevator mouvement. Despite this, the Vagabond needs an adaptation time. It reminds a very agile plane, without inertia, and very neutral which needs always some attention to pilot. It is possible to fly the Vagabond in small conditions and thermals with it. Now don't expect to do long transition to catch the thermal. I you go through sink air, the plane will show it clearly and loose altitude quickly. At the opposite, I flew the Vagabond in strong and turbulent wind. The structure is flexing in all direction, but the plane remains controlable. Now this is not fun and there is no means to ballast it. No, the best conditions for the Vagabond are a gentle breeze creating a stable lift at the edge. Here everything becomes possible and you enter in a new dimension of the flight. Roll, reversal, looping, flip, inverted flight, knife edge flight, stall roll, all combination of them, plus new manoeuvers that you can create.

We haven't noticed much differences in flight between the light version (not covered and 500g) and the heavy version (610g). This is why I recommend the covered version that will improve the lifetime greatly.
Have an eye on the battery consumption because the 4 servos and big control surfaces drain the battery quickly, and as the plane is addictive and that you cannot stop, you could easily drain all the battery power :)

Finaly, Hacker suceeded to proposed a VTPR plane that requires a short assembly time, with a nice looking and that have the main characteristics of a VTPR plane, bringing lots of fun and joy to its pilot. For me the goal is perfectly achieved even if the purists will find some negative points.

Below are 2 videos made this summer of the vagabond. First one is at le col du Glandon is a strong and turbulent wind. The second one is at le col de Tende in ideal conditions.

Flying the Vagabond from Pierre Rondel on Vimeo.

Enjoying the Vagabond from Pierre Rondel on Vimeo.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Report: FAI Col de Tende

The 18th, 19th and 20th of July was the first edition of the FAI contest of the Col de Tende at the border between Italy and France. In fact this contest was formerly the contest held in Caussols, but organisers decided to move it to Tende to use this exceptional slope with good breeze conditions in summer. For this first edition, plenty different nations were represented among the 32 competitors coming from France, Germany, UK, Poland, Cezch Republic, Switzerland, Netherland, Austria.

Friday, after the briefing at the end of the morning, we could complete 2 rounds, the third one couldn't be validated because of too many reflies and also because of the wind dying

Saturday was a great day as we could fly 8 rounds. Conditions has been very stable as expected. Only the clouds appearing time to time because of the pressure and humidity had to be carefuly followed.

Sunday, we could add 4 more rounds to reach a total 14 rounds. Unfortunately, it was 1 round less than the number required to active a second joker. Anyway, it was a great competition organized by Paul Eytan and Allan Cohen. We all get a bottle of Limoncello :) !!!

For me it was my first competition with the Shinto. After 14 rounds over 3 days, I won the competition by a good margin. The Shinto worked great, from small conditions to strong conditions. I flew up to 1.1 kg of ballast because the high altitude and the low air density. My best time over the week-end was 2 times 34 seconds. At the last flight, I almost atomished my plane on a big rock while pumping to gain altitude. Hopefully for me, I avoided the rock by 30cm. 

MKS servos HBL6625 and HV6125e worked great, in association with the LDS from Aerotec. I always have an observation periode when having a new plane to "secure" it, see what must be modified, or tuned. At the moment, everything is perfect. 

Video: Needle 115V onboard cam

A flying session at puy de manse with a Mobius attached on the wing tip or on the fuselage: