With the cold weather now behind us, many are thinking about getting back to the flying fields and cranking up those engines. A great way to limber up your transmitter thumbs is to practice fun fly maneuvers. Fun fly events and the required maneuvers and tasks are fun and exciting and help improve you piloting skills! What do you need? The definition of a Fun Fly plane is typically any plane that has improved flight performance to execute specific aerobatic tasks in a timed event. But you don’t really need a high-performance plane to do fun fly tasks.
There are many excellent planes available for fun fly competitions and sport aerobatics. Several of the older sport flyers from the 70s and 80s make excellent fun fly planes, one being the Florio Flyer 60 shown below. This easy to build and fun to fly plane is still available from www.greatflyerrc.com and it can be built in a couple weeks.
The scope of fun fly events and maneuvers is very broad and you can even use your old beat up trainer. Adding a stop watch makes it into a competitive and that’s when the fun really kicks in.
For the more dedicated, you can increase the airplanes power, and increase its control surfaces to make it more responsive and faster. Do a Google search for “Fun Fly” and you’ll be surprised at what’s available.
Here are just a few of the fun events and popular tasks you can use to add excitement to your flying.
- Timed flight. Without outside help or a timer on the radio, take off and fly around. After a give period of time (1 minute or 2) come in to land. The closest time to wheels touchdown (without going over) is the winner. Propeller must still be spinning after the landing to count.
- Timed loops. This is great for beginners as it is started and finished in flight so no rushing to takeoff. Fly straight and level and then when the stop watch is started, do as many loops as you can in one minute. The most loops win.
- Dice Takeoff & Loops. Roll the dice, takeoff and do that number of loops and land. The shortest time wins. This a great chance equalizer, a novice can throw a low number and an experienced flyer can throw a high number, so the novice can easily win. A special version allows anyone to participate is for new student pilots (or family members,) an instructor takes off and lands, and the student does a single loop.
- Triple Loops & Rolls. Takeoff do 3 rolls and 3 loops then land. Best time wins. Loops and rolls can be in any order.
- Timed Dead-stick Spot Landing
- Pilot has set time for engine run, (30 seconds, 45 seconds, 1 minute, etc.,) then the engine is shut down and the pilot tries to stay up as long as possible and then do a spot landing. The engine must be shutdown with throttle stick and trim. A single club trainer that everyone flies is the best situation but it is pilot choice. Longest flight wins and spot landings (closest to a target) is used for tie breakers.
- Timed Glide. Similar to the above event, with the exception that the engine is set to idle after a certain amount of time and then it is glided for as long as possible until the throttle is applied again which stops the timer.
- Timed Inverted Flight is another easy one to try. After the wheels leave the ground, the pilot starts the clock by flipping the model upside down and he flies for a given amount of time. 1 minute or 2, 3 what ever is appropriate for the pilots. If he reaches the cut off time, he is awarded maximum points. Less time give less points. Spot landings are used as tie breakers.
- Spot Landing. Paint a line across the centerline of the runway and then paint two more parallel lines, (one on either side of the target line,) about 10 or 15 feet apart. Each pilot gets three attempts to land (touchdown,) as close to the middle line as possible. After the three tries, and the plane stops (with propeller spinning), the score is counted. Touching on the middle line is worth 50 points, touching down with on the two outer lines is worth 25 points and just touching down outside of the target lines is worth 5 points. Highest score wins. (Ties are broken by shortest time.)
- Golf Ball Bomb Drop. This is borrowed from the gang of the Kingston RC Modelers Club in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. Take off and make a bomb run over a 50 foot diameter circle target divided into three bull’s eye circular rings. The smallest (10 feet diameter) is 50 points, the middle circle (30 foot diameter) is 25 points and the outer ring is 10 points. Just hitting the flying field with the ball is a successful attempt and earns 5 points. A spot landing ending within the target (with the prop still spinning) doubles the bomb drop score. The club supplies the balls and dowel holding fixture that is attached to the airplane with rubberbands. Simply blipping some down elevator throws the ball off the dowel. Or, the plane can do a roll to inverted to release the ball.
- Can Can. Tie an empty soda can (or two!) to a 50 foot length of fishing string and tie the string to the tailwheel of the airplane. Fly the airplane in such a way as to touch the can down onto a 50 foot circle target. Hint: fly past the target and then do a quick 180 degree turn. As the plane reverses direction, the can falls from the air. Three tries are allowed. Highest score wins and lowest time is used for tie breakers.
- Kingston Roops. This is another timed event originating at the Kingston Father’s Day Fun Fly. Time starts at liftoff then the pilot does a sequence of a loop and then a roll. He does this three times and then comes in for a landing to stop the clock. Lowest time wins and a spot landing (with prop still spinning,) on a target can be worth bonus points.
So there are many, many other fun fly event ideas that clubs have come up with but these are some of the more popular. Give them a try and if you ask why? …The answer is twofold. First, competition helps improve a pilots flying skills and two, getting friends and club members together at the flying field is always good fun! Bringing a tent and a BBQ are always optional. All that’s really required is some spray paint (or powdered chalk,) a few stop watches and some club members to act as line judges and timers. Give it a try! You will have fun!!!
The real value of going to and competing in Fun Fly events, is the time you spend with friends and fun times you have. If anyone doesn’t smile at least once at the fun fly event, then they aren’t even trying!
To learn how to build, cover and setup the Florio Flyer 60, check out my new “Getting Started in RC Airplanes” book soon to be released at the www.airagestore.com website.
Photos by Ken Park — Words by Gerry Yarrish