Model Airplane News http://www.modelairplanenews.com The #1 resource for RC plane and helicopter enthusiasts featuring news, videos, product releases and tech tips. Sat, 22 Nov 2014 22:36:34 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Prepare for landing! http://www.modelairplanenews.com/blog/2014/11/22/prepare-for-landing/ http://www.modelairplanenews.com/blog/2014/11/22/prepare-for-landing/#comments Sat, 22 Nov 2014 22:36:34 +0000 Model Airplane News http://www.modelairplanenews.com/?p=230562

Someone told me once that landing is the only maneuver that we fly that is absolutely mandatory. If you think about it, this makes complete sense. We don’t have to take off, but once we do, the only thing that we must do is land! So, once you have takeoff down, it’s a good idea [...]

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Someone told me once that landing is the only maneuver that we fly that is absolutely mandatory. If you think about it, this makes complete sense. We don’t have to take off, but once we do, the only thing that we must do is land! So, once you have takeoff down, it’s a good idea to make sure you are 100% competent in landing.

The tricky part about landing is the fact that you will be flying so close to stall. Unlike full-scale pilots, we do not have an airspeed indicator and the connection to the plane that allows us to feel the stall. However, to me, landing a model aircraft is still very much a “by feel” thing. We just feel the stall in a different sense. The way we feel it is in our thumb that is on the stick that controls the elevator. As our model flies slower, the wing will need a higher angle of attack to maintain altitude. Therefore, while you are setting up for landing, if you suddenly have a need to add more and more elevator to maintain your altitude, it is time to add throttle to avoid the impending stall.

Now, let’s talk about the hardest concept to grasp. When flying a model airplane, especially during landing, the concept is this: elevator controls speed, while throttle controls rate of descent/ascent. Most people believe the opposite to be true. This is painfully obvious when you are flying close to the ground and you run out of up-elevator and your plane comes crashing to the ground. The biggest mistake people make is using elevator alone to try to maintain their descent to landing. Instead you want to use throttle to slow your descent and avoid contact with the ground and elevator to slow the plane down, as it gets closer to touchdown.

MAKING LIFE EASIER

With a tricycle gear you can afford to bring the nose a little higher without worrying about losing control of the model once on the ground. We will try to cover this in a future article.

Landing at different fields can add to the complexity of landing a “difficult” model. When you are landing a model that you need to focus on flying, you will want to lighten the load wherever you can. Here are a few things that I use to make things easier on my brain. The first things that I like to utilize are landmarks. When I first arrive at a new field I will take a few minutes to scan the area and look for visual landmarks. Some of my favorites are peaks of hills or mountains in the background, power poles, trees, or other things that stand out to the eye. Next is knowing the stall characteristics of the model that I am flying. Anytime I fly a new model I like to take her up to altitude once I know everything is working as it should and pull the throttle back. I then apply more and more elevator until I reach stall and see what the plane’s response is. This will remove any surprises when I am on final and altitude is at a premium. These two pointers can help save a number of models if you take the time to utilize them anytime you are at a new field or flying a new model.

DIFFICULT-TO-LAND MODELS

Although it’s not a warbird, you can use the steps in this article to help increase your success rate when landing aerobatic biplanes like the Checkmate pictured here.

Notice the nose level attitude while landing this warbird. The increased airspeed helps to maintain rudder authority on touchdown.

Of the different configurations of models, the tail-dragger plane is definitely more difficult to land well. Of course, we have to count out the “floaty” 3D models and aerobatic planes such as the Extras and Edges that are so popular.

In general, our models are not difficult to land. Even most of our “heavy-metal” warbird models are so lightly wing loaded that they really don’t qualify as a “difficult” to land aircraft. However, even though they don’t have high wing loading, the fact that many of them are tail draggers makes this the “trickiest” class to land so we will focus here.

So, what qualifies as a good landing with a tail-dragging warbird? To me, it is a nice, 2-point touchdown with no bounces and a controlled rollout. The most common mistake we make, as modelers, is not carrying enough speed when landing our warbirds. Just because the wing will fly down to a walking pace does not mean that is the speed we should land these models. Landing too slow will cause the bounces and uncontrolled rollout previously mentioned.

I will first address airspeed. I like to land my models about 5 to 10mph above stall speed. This keeps enough airflow traveling over the vertical fin and rudder to control yaw on touchdown as well as over the horizontal stab and elevator to keep enough pitch authority to minimize bouncing.

The next point of conversation is the attitude of the model. Unlike the 3D aerobatic planes we want to come in with the nose fairly level. Try to avoid coming in nose high like a jet fighter. This just leads to trouble.

The third bullet point would be the flare. Since we have ample airspeed to keep the plane flying the flare is going to be more of a leveling out. I like to flare at about 6 inches above the runway. Once I level the plane off at this altitude, I will pull the throttle back to idle and allow the plane to slow. As the wheels get to the point of contact with the tarmac I will slowly release the back pressure on the elevator lessening the tendency of the tail to drop which creates a positive angle of attack of the wings, which will ultimately lead to the model taking to the skies again unintentionally.

Once the main wheels are solidly on the ground, I focus on my rudder control and be sure to keep the model tracking as close to the centerline as possible.

Finally, once my plane’s air speed is below flight speed, I will slowly add the up-elevator back in to firmly plant the tailwheel on the ground to avoid the undesirable nose over that we have all witnessed at the field.

FINAL WORD

If you take the tips above and focus on improving your skills one at a time, you definitely will see an improvement in your landing skills. All of the above points have proper timing. Additionally, every model you fly will require different timing for each of the points. Be patient and work on each step one at a time with every model you fly. Eventually, everything above will become second nature and you will not hesitate to fly any new model no matter how “scary” it is supposed to be on landing. Now get out there and shoot some landings!   By Jason Benson

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Flitework Red Bull Planes http://www.modelairplanenews.com/blog/2014/11/20/tower-hobbies-named-exclusive-distributor-of-flitework-red-bull-licensed-aircraft/ http://www.modelairplanenews.com/blog/2014/11/20/tower-hobbies-named-exclusive-distributor-of-flitework-red-bull-licensed-aircraft/#comments Thu, 20 Nov 2014 21:33:03 +0000 Trevor "Chilly" Duncan http://www.modelairplanenews.com/?p=230551

RC Red Bull air racers? Count us in! We are so excited to get our hands on these bad boys we can’t wait! Some of these are larger built-up planes, and there are smaller foam planes for electric enthusiasts. And all of your favorites are here: Extras, Edges, Stearmans, Zlins … you name it, they’ve [...]

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RC Red Bull air racers? Count us in! We are so excited to get our hands on these bad boys we can’t wait! Some of these are larger built-up planes, and there are smaller foam planes for electric enthusiasts. And all of your favorites are here: Extras, Edges, Stearmans, Zlins … you name it, they’ve got it. Here’s the press release from Tower Hobbies:

Flitework, one of the R/C industry’s most respected brands, is proud to introduce a series of models inspired by the Flying Bulls aircraft flown by the Red Bull Air Force! Available exclusively through Tower Hobbies, these exciting models are officially licensed, incredibly detailed and designed to rock and roll. Choices range from receiver-ready foam aircraft like the 47.2” span PT-17 Stearman to wood ARFs like the 63.4” span ZLIN Z-50 LX and 66.9” span Edge 540 1700 mm.

For more details on these and more exclusive Flitework products, visit towerhobbies.com!

FLWA4004 – Flying Bulls ZLIN Z-50 LX ARF – $349.98
FLWA4090 – Red Bull Edge 540 1700mm ARF – $449.97
FLWA4110 – Red Bull PT-17 Stearman RR – $229.98

Gallery > Tower Hobbies Named Exclusive Distributor Of Flitework Red Bull Licensed Aircraft

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Half-Scale Christen Eagle http://www.modelairplanenews.com/blog/2014/11/20/half-scale-christen-eagle/ http://www.modelairplanenews.com/blog/2014/11/20/half-scale-christen-eagle/#comments Thu, 20 Nov 2014 13:58:34 +0000 Debra Cleghorn http://www.modelairplanenews.com/?p=230538

With its distinctive multi-color feather motif, the Christen Eagle has been impressing airshow attendees for over 40 years. But when’s the last time you saw a 55% RC model perform? Lucky for us, the father and son team of Pete and Dean Coxon took this video of Robbie Skipton’s giant aircraft at the Large Model Association [...]

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With its distinctive multi-color feather motif, the Christen Eagle has been impressing airshow attendees for over 40 years. But when’s the last time you saw a 55% RC model perform? Lucky for us, the father and son team of Pete and Dean Coxon took this video of Robbie Skipton’s giant aircraft at the Large Model Association Much Marcle event in the United Kingdom. Enjoy!

man

 

 

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HobbyKing AC-10 Gyrocopter EPO 1320mm (PNF) http://www.modelairplanenews.com/blog/2014/11/19/hobbyking-ac-10-gyrocopter-epo-1320mm-pnf/ http://www.modelairplanenews.com/blog/2014/11/19/hobbyking-ac-10-gyrocopter-epo-1320mm-pnf/#comments Wed, 19 Nov 2014 20:28:32 +0000 Trevor "Chilly" Duncan http://www.modelairplanenews.com/?p=230534

For those of you looking for a new flying experience, the AC-10 Gyrocopter is just the ticket. This model will be especially appealing to those who fly both helicopters and fixed wing aircraft, as this model falls somewhere in between. With its very unique flight characteristics, the AC-10 is by far one of the most [...]

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For those of you looking for a new flying experience, the AC-10 Gyrocopter is just the ticket. This model will be especially appealing to those who fly both helicopters and fixed wing aircraft, as this model falls somewhere in between. With its very unique flight characteristics, the AC-10 is by far one of the most interesting models we have ever flown. Modeled as a stand off scale model, intended to look like many of the full scale home built gyro copters, the AC-10 has a host of details typically not seen in a foamie, plug and fly model.

The exterior airframe is of molded EPO foam, but remove the large canopy and you will find a nice laser cut plywood and aluminum frame which supports the motor, tail boom, landing gear and the CNC aluminum alloy rotor head. That nice ball bearing supported rotor head spins flat bottom carbon fiber rotor blades! Metal gear servos with nice alloy arms control the two axis rotor head. To get the weight balance correctly, the motor is mounted up front and drives a long ball bearing supported shaft to the aft mounted pusher propeller. Adding to the quality of the model is the two stage paint process the foam parts go through. They are color painted, decals applied, and then a clear coat is put over the entire part to seal the decals for better longevity.

Check out the AC-10 Gyrocopter if you are looking for something completely different!

Features:

  • Plug and fly – just install battery and radio with elevon mixing
  • EPO foam exterior with rugged plywood and aluminum under structure
  • 2 axis CNC aluminum alloy ball bearing supported rotor head
  • Flat bottom molded carbon fiber rotor blades
  • Detailed instruction manual included
  • Heavy duty metal gear servos with alloy control arms
  • Steerable nose wheel and active rudder
  • Unique Flying Experience

Specs:

Rotor Diameter: 1320mm
Length: 940mm
Height: 690mm
Weight: 2200g
Motor: 4250 Outrunner
ESC: 60A
Max Battery Dimensions: 140x43x30mm

Requires:

4 Channel Transmitter and Receiver w/ Elevon Mixing
4S 14.8V 3000~3300mAh Lipoly battery

#267000004-0 – $340.20

Gallery > HobbyKing AC-10 Gyrocopter EPO 1320mm (PNF)

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HobbyKing J-10 Vigorous Dragon 105mm EDF 956mm (PNF) http://www.modelairplanenews.com/blog/2014/11/19/hobbyking-j-10-vigorous-dragon-105mm-edf-956mm-pnf/ http://www.modelairplanenews.com/blog/2014/11/19/hobbyking-j-10-vigorous-dragon-105mm-edf-956mm-pnf/#comments Wed, 19 Nov 2014 20:24:37 +0000 Trevor "Chilly" Duncan http://www.modelairplanenews.com/?p=230529

The J-10 is a multirole fighter aircraft designed and produced for the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF). Known in the West as the “Vigorous Dragon”, the J-10 is a multi-role combat aircraft capable of all-weather operation. The program was authorized by Deng Xiaoping in the mid 1980′s to develop a indigenous aircraft. Work on [...]

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The J-10 is a multirole fighter aircraft designed and produced for the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF). Known in the West as the “Vigorous Dragon”, the J-10 is a multi-role combat aircraft capable of all-weather operation.

The program was authorized by Deng Xiaoping in the mid 1980′s to develop a indigenous aircraft. Work on Project #10 started several years later in January 1988, as a response to the Mikoyan MiG-29 and Sukhoi Su-27 as introduced by the USSR. Development went to the Chengdu Aircraft Design Institute with Song Wencong as the chief designer, due to his experience previously with the Chengdu J-7III. The aircraft was initially designed as a specialized fighter, but later became a multirole aircraft capable of both air to air combat and ground attack missions.

The J-10 was officially unveiled by the Chinese government in January 2007, when photographs were published by Xinhua News Agency. The prototype “J-10 01″ was rolled out in November 1997 and first flown on 23 March 1998 in a twenty-minute flight.

Since that time J-10 fighters have been deployed to PLAAF regiments, as well as their August 1st Aerobatic Demonstration Team. Additionally a modified version of the J-10B has been exported to Pakistan.

The HobbyKing™ J-10 fighter is a plug and fly EPO foam scale representation of the full size fighter plane. Also developed and manufactured in China for the EDF hobby enthusiast, this model is here to please. This model features some nice details that set it apart from other foamie EDF models.

Full metal retracts with working oleos, LED navigational lights, and molded scale details are just the start. The two piece plug in wings have integrated PCB connectors at the wing root that automatically plug in flaps, ailerons, retracts and LED lights just simply by attaching the wing. No fiddling with tight connections. The model is a all bolt together design, requiring no glue for assembly.

The large delta wing configuration gives the J-10 a low wing loading compared to some EDF models, and can even be dragged around in a high alpha configuration, as well as making great short field landings. A built in electronic mixer handles the elevon and canard function. Plus, a landing feature that when activated gives full up on the full down on the flaps/elevons to really slow the model down upon touching down. We’ve set this model up with a powerful 8S motor and 105mm EDF which with mixed throttle usage can achieve flight times in excess of 5 minutes. To handle all that power, the 120amp brushless controller has heavy duty leads and pre-installed XT150 connectors. A spare set of battery side connectors is even included in the box!

If you’re looking to add something different, yet strangely familiar to your hanger, check out the HobbyKing™ J-10 Vigorous Dragon.

Features:

  • Plug and Fly – Just add radio sytem, battery and fly!
  • Fully molded EPO airframe
  • All metal retracts with working oleo struts
  • All bolt together construction, no glue required
  • LED navigational lights pre-installed
  • Two piece plug-in wings with quick connect servo connectors
  • Pre-installed 8S motor and 105mm EDF unit
  • Excellent slow flight characteristics due to delta wing/canard configuration
  • Electronic mixer included for canard/elevon control including landing mode
  • Heavy Duty XT150 connectors pre-installed on ESC
  • Dual access hatches to change batteries, check electronics, and service EDF unit.
  • Ball link style control rods on all surfaces

Specs:

Wingspan: 956mm
Length: 1668mm
Weight: 3900g
Motor: 4253 1100kv Brushless Inrunner
ESC: 120A Brushless ESC for 8S
Servos: 9x9g, 1x40g
ESC Connector: XT150

Required:

7+ Channel Transmitter and Receiver
8S 29.6V 4000~5000mAh

#9306000075-0 – $592.55

Gallery > HobbyKing J-10 Vigorous Dragon 105mm EDF 956mm (PNF)

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Hitec Q-Cop 450 Quadcopter http://www.modelairplanenews.com/blog/2014/11/19/hitec-q-cop-450-quadcopter/ http://www.modelairplanenews.com/blog/2014/11/19/hitec-q-cop-450-quadcopter/#comments Wed, 19 Nov 2014 15:19:32 +0000 Trevor "Chilly" Duncan http://www.modelairplanenews.com/?p=230517

Hitec is proud to introduce our first multirotor, the Q-Cop 450. With its aerodynamic design, incredible flight stability and autopilot return function, this high performance quadcopter brings ultra-performance flying excitement to your own backyard. Equipped with a built-in high definition action camera, you can effortlessly capture astounding aerial photos and shoot real-time hi-res videos. Let [...]

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Hitec is proud to introduce our first multirotor, the Q-Cop 450. With its aerodynamic design, incredible flight stability and autopilot return function, this high performance quadcopter brings ultra-performance flying excitement to your own backyard. Equipped with a built-in high definition action camera, you can effortlessly capture astounding aerial photos and shoot real-time hi-res videos. Let your adventure begin!

Features:

  • Streamlined design features powerful brushless motors and ultra-efficient propellers
  • Ergonomically-designed, multi-functional transmitter
  • 22-33 mph cruising speed
  • 11.1V 5300mAh lithium polymer battery (LiPo) offers 20-25 minutes of flight time
  • Auto Return-to-Home feature
  • GPS enabled directional control
  • Built in high-performance action camera with HD recording capabilities of 1080p / 30fps and 720p / 60fps
  • Best in class 16 megapixel still photos
  • 120* wide angle HD lens
  • 90* vertical camera control with shock isolation
  • WiFi connection with 1000ft. / 300m range for streaming video directly from the Q-Cop
  • Mobile Device App for iOS & Android

#13613 – $799.99

Gallery > Hitec Q-Cop 450 Quadcopter

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Multiplex Connector Solder Couplers http://www.modelairplanenews.com/blog/2014/11/18/multiplex-connector-solder-couplers/ http://www.modelairplanenews.com/blog/2014/11/18/multiplex-connector-solder-couplers/#comments Tue, 18 Nov 2014 21:54:03 +0000 Trevor "Chilly" Duncan http://www.modelairplanenews.com/?p=230511

These solder couplers provide a larger area for solder contact than soldering directly to the connector pins. They also provide strain relief for your servo and power leads at the connector. Easy to install, these Multiplex Connector Solder Couplers are great for any project! http://www.espritmodel.com/search.aspx?find=Multiplex+Connector+Solder+Couplers  

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These solder couplers provide a larger area for solder contact than soldering directly to the connector pins. They also provide strain relief for your servo and power leads at the connector.

Easy to install, these Multiplex Connector Solder Couplers are great for any project!

http://www.espritmodel.com/search.aspx?find=Multiplex+Connector+Solder+Couplers

 

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DLA 64cc-I2 In-Line Twin Engine http://www.modelairplanenews.com/blog/2014/11/18/dla-64cc-i2-in-line-twin-engine/ http://www.modelairplanenews.com/blog/2014/11/18/dla-64cc-i2-in-line-twin-engine/#comments Tue, 18 Nov 2014 17:17:07 +0000 Trevor "Chilly" Duncan http://www.modelairplanenews.com/?p=230505

Golden Skies R/C Aircraft, Inc., the USA Distributor, Sales and Service Center for DLA Engines, announces the new DLA 64cc-I2 In-Line, Twin Cylinder Engine. Designed using the esteemed 32cc components and CNC machined from 7075 Aircraft Grade Aluminum, the DLA 64cc-I2 is destined to be a reliable, power-house superstar. Scale War-bird builder will value the [...]

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Golden Skies R/C Aircraft, Inc., the USA Distributor, Sales and Service Center for DLA Engines, announces the new DLA 64cc-I2 In-Line, Twin Cylinder Engine. Designed using the esteemed 32cc components and CNC machined from 7075 Aircraft Grade Aluminum, the DLA 64cc-I2 is destined to be a reliable, power-house superstar. Scale War-bird builder will value the ability to fit the 64-I2 into narrow cowls. Firing every 180O, the increased torque is astounding, the sound is purely awesome. Producing ~7.2 HP @ ~6,600 rpm and swinging up to a 24 x 8 prop, it runs so smooth that it barely shakes a glass of water. With a static thrust > 34 pounds, a pilot can depend upon performance. By means of dual, authentic Walbro© carburetors and dual ignitions, a built-in redundancy assures continued power should one bank fall short. All engine components are included. The DLA 64cc-I2 In-Line Twin is in stock. 2-yr warranty, Free Shipping (Cont USA). Weight: ~90.2 oz all inclusive. www.goldenskiesrc.com

Gallery > DLA 64cc-I2 In-Line Twin Engine

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FAA can regulate RC aircraft http://www.modelairplanenews.com/blog/2014/11/18/faa-can-regulate-rc-aircraft/ http://www.modelairplanenews.com/blog/2014/11/18/faa-can-regulate-rc-aircraft/#comments Tue, 18 Nov 2014 17:04:24 +0000 Model Airplane News http://www.modelairplanenews.com/?p=230501

In a much anticipated decision, the National Transportation Safety Board ruled that the FAA has the power to hold drone operators accountable when they operate remote-control aircraft recklessly. In 2011, the FAA had fined aerial photographer Raphael Pirker $10,000 for operating his Ritewing Zephyr in a reckless manner on the University of Virginia campus. An [...]

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In a much anticipated decision, the National Transportation Safety Board ruled that the FAA has the power to hold drone operators accountable when they operate remote-control aircraft recklessly. In 2011, the FAA had fined aerial photographer Raphael Pirker $10,000 for operating his Ritewing Zephyr in a reckless manner on the University of Virginia campus. An administrative law judge with the National Transportation Safety Board, which hears appeals of Federal Aviation Administration enforcement actions, sided with Pirker earlier this year, saying the FAA hasn’t issued any regulations specifically for drones and therefore can’t determine their use.

But the FAA appealed the decision to the four-member safety board, which said Tuesday that the small drone is a type of aircraft that falls under existing rules and sent the case back to the judge to decide if it was operated recklessly. “It’s a huge win for the FAA, and signals it’s not going to be the Wild West for drones, but a careful, orderly, safe introduction of unmanned aircraft systems into the national airspace system,” said Kenneth Quinn, a former FAA general counsel.

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Custom Vinyl Graphics http://www.modelairplanenews.com/blog/2014/11/18/custom-vinyl-graphics/ http://www.modelairplanenews.com/blog/2014/11/18/custom-vinyl-graphics/#comments Tue, 18 Nov 2014 13:50:43 +0000 Model Airplane News http://www.modelairplanenews.com/?p=230497

The opportunities, tools, and techniques to finish, customize, and personalize your aircraft have never been better. Whether your model is scratch-built, kit-built, or an ARF, your creativity combined with a computer, a local sign shop, and vinyl material can provide you with many colorful new options. The vinyl has been cut. With a careful look, [...]

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The opportunities, tools, and techniques to finish, customize, and personalize your aircraft have never been better. Whether your model is scratch-built, kit-built, or an ARF, your creativity combined with a computer, a local sign shop, and vinyl material can provide you with many colorful new options.

The vinyl has been cut. With a careful look, you can see the outline of “U.S. ARMY.”

Weeding removes the unneeded material. Start the process with tweezers or a hobby knife and pull the unwanted material away completely. The adhesive is very aggressive, so don’t let it touch other vinyl.

Vinyl material is fantastic for our application; here are some of its characteristics:

  • • 1 to 3 MIL thick (1 MIL is .001 inch)
  • • Has aggressive adhesive (this stuff goes through car washes)
  • • Is extremely flexible (easily bends to compound curves)
  • • Is permeable (air bubbles trapped underneath migrate through)

The vinyl is self-adhesive and comes attached to a waxed paper backing. There is a wide variety of standard colors available. In addition, there are also new techniques that allow you to match colors of vinyl with the colors on your aircraft. A designer creates the desired shape on a computer and a specialized cutter cuts the vinyl without cutting the waxed paper backing. The installer then “weeds” the vinyl, pulling out those portions that will not be part of the finished design. The installer then lays “application tape” over the finished design while it is still on the waxed paper backing. This tape has adhesive that is stronger than the bond between the material and the waxed paper backing, but not as strong as the adhesive on the vinyl when it’s applied to the finished project. The installer removes the application tape carrying the design from the waxed paper backing and places the design on the project. Since the adhesive on the back of the vinyl is stronger than the adhesive on the application tape, the design is left on the project when the application tape is removed.

APPLYING VINYL GRAPHICS

Note the remnants in the middle of the letter U. You will be able to remove them using a hobby knife or tweezers.

The backing paper with the weeded letters is cut to size. The installation tape is applied to the letters. Note how the top edge of the application tape is aligned with the top of the letters. This aids in proper positioning. The application tape pulls the letters from the carrier paper while maintaining alignment of the letters.

The application tape is removed. Don’t worry about any bubbles. They will simply disappear as the trapped air perfuses through the vinyl.

The weeding process is complete.

Blue low-tack tape provides the alignment strip for the letters that are now on the application tape. Simply align the top of the application tape with blue tape. Press down on each letter, then slowly and carefully remove the application tape.

Here is the finished product. Any trapped air bubbles will disappear over a short period of time.

Installing something like AMA numbers is straightforward. Determine the desired location and press the application tape with your design in place. A little pressure from your finger, a flexible flat squeegee, or credit card will transfer the design to your aircraft. Gently and slowly remove the application tape, and you’re done. When location is a little more important, I trim the application tape very close to the design before removing the design from the waxed paper backing. Then small marks on the aircraft with a lead pencil, grease pencil, or marker will give you alignment points to establish the proper position.

Vinyl sign material is the best thing I have ever used for striping. Its remarkable flexibility makes it easy to bend around corners that other material simply can’t. Since the adhesive on the vinyl is very strong, once in place, it won’t move. I once had strips of black vinyl cut to 1/16-, 3/32-, and 1/8-inch widths and 48 inches long. There was no need to weed the vinyl or use application tape as I simply pulled up the strip that I needed and applied it to the airplane. If you have a small project, you can cut the strips yourself.

STARS & BARS

Many ARFs include thick stickers for decorations. I find these difficult to apply over compound curves. Plus, an overhanging clear plastic is common and you don’t see this on a full-size aircraft. Think of the stars and bars on a WW II military aircraft or roundels on WW I aircraft. The sheen on these stickers is typically different than the covering on the aircraft. This was the situation on a giant PT-19 I recently finished. The stickers had begun to yellow and had the characteristic clear carrier. I was concerned that since the roundels were going over both open bays and a hard surface on the wing, I was going to have problems getting the stickers to adhere smoothly. I created vinyl roundels by first computer cutting the blue circle, then the white star, and then the red circle. Each color was “weeded” and unneeded material was removed. The white star was then applied to the blue circle. Then the red circle was placed on top of the white star for a three-layer decoration that is only a few thousandths of an inch thick. In this case, I chose to not use application tape. I marked the proper location for each roundel on each wing, and then sprayed the wing with soapy water (do not use anything with ammonia as it can weaken the adhesive). I lifted the roundel off the waxed paper backing with a no. 11 hobby blade. The roundel was positioned as it floated on the soapy solution. Once I was satisfied with the location, I began in the middle circle and gently pushed the soapy solution out to the edges. The process was easy because I knew that if there were any trapped bubbles left, they would disappear in a few days. Access panels and trim tabs were easily added. The vinyl is available in a flat black, which is perfect for anti-glare panels and wing walks. I even used the flat-black vinyl to create the “frame” on the windshields. The uneven mold lines on the clear plastic quickly disappeared.

Step 1: The roundel begins with a vinyl circle. Unneeded material has been weeded away, leaving just the circle.

Step 2: The same process applies to the star and center circle.

Step 3: Two options are available for assembling the roundel: application tape or a soapy solution.

Step 4: I prefer the soapy solution as it provides the chance to adjust the position of both the star and red center circle

Step 5: Lift the assembled roundel off the backing paper. I found that a hobby knife works best, as it easily slides under the vinyl. Be careful to keep the vinyl from folding over on itself.

Step 6: Slide the roundel into position.

Step 7: Once in position, gently push out the excess soapy solution. Work slowly from the center. It does not have to be perfectly smooth as any residual bubbles will perfuse through the vinyl.

There are designs that you can cut and assemble yourself. They can be as simple or as complicated as your ability to cut. Think sunbursts and other simple designs. All aircraft have inspection covers, trim tabs, fuel caps, etc. These shapes can be easily created and duplicated on the computer. A lifetime supply of various sizes can be obtained. The key is an extremely sharp-cutting instrument.

GOODBYE BUBBLES & WRINKLES

Earlier, I mentioned the permeability of the vinyl. Should a bubble get caught under the material, time will make it disappear. That’s right: no puncture holes, no lifting, and no repositioning. Air trapped underneath will simply migrate through the vinyl over time. If the bubble is trapped under a solid surface, a couple of days should do it — especially if it is warm and the project can be exposed to direct sunlight. If the bubble is over a bay on a wing, the bubble may take a couple of weeks to disappear.

What about the inevitable wrinkles that occur with iron-on film? Do not use an iron directly on the vinyl. The best technique is to warm a large area around, and including, the vinyl. Work slowly. Again, it is best to experiment first.

GET CREATIVE

Getting started involves nothing more than visiting your local sign shop. Explain what you are trying to do and ask if you can purchase some scrap for practice. Start by trying things on an old airframe. If you get a custom color, check to see if it is compatible with the fuel you will be using. If you have a design in mind, ask them to create it for you. After doing signs and banners all day, they may welcome a chance to get their creative juices flowing! I have found everyone to be very friendly and willing to help. Your ideas and experimentation coupled with the creativity of the designers in the sign shop will lead to stunning results.

BY JOE HASS

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