Rapier models at Old Warden - May 20th 2001

The model flying event at Old Warden on 19th and 20th of May was officially Electric and Vintage weekend, but as it was the first outdoor event of the year for many of us, Sunday turned into something of a Rapier extravaganza, with scale jets being flown non stop all day. Below you can see a typical selection of models lying around - I counted around 40 on the Sunday. Of all the models there, the vast majority put up good flights at some stage of the day. I didn't see anyone using Jetex at all, and it seems that the reliability of the Rapier motors has transformed the free flight scale jet scene.

Weather at Old Warden over the weekend was perfect - virtually no wind - overcast on Saturday, and mixed on Sunday, but nice and warm. There were smoke trails constantly in the sky on Sunday, and hundreds of Rapier motors were consumed. Above can be seen Peter Smart with one of the stars of the show, his newly repainted Airbus A300 powered by two Rapier L2 motors - one pushed into the back of each nacelle. Span is around 20", and it really did shift, especially towards the end of each flight, where aerobatics were not uncommon! The twin smoke trails were a joy to behold. I see why Pete had repainted the model in Heavylift Cargo colours - if there had been passengers on board, they would surely have been very air sick! The engine nacelles, which are particularly vulnerable in a crash, are held on with neodymium magnets, a system which worked very well. If the model came down heavily, the nacelles flew off on their own (though not too far, fortunately). Below is the model climbing away from the launch.

Another brave person experimenting with Rapier powered twins was Chris Strachan flying an Aerographics Lightning with two L2 motors - one in a trough low down, and another in the upper engine exhaust. Two fantastic flights were made - the model has a tremendous rate of climb (just like the real one) and again we saw the magic two smoke trails. Just look at the photo below!

Three Focke Wulf Flitzers were in action, built from Richard Crossley’s plan (soon to be featured in a magazine) - all flew beautifully - it is just about a perfect design for a scale free flight jet. Below is Graham Knight with his example.

I also saw at least six Bell X-1's flying around - some from first time jet modellers, and they all performed well. The Aerographics kit of this aircraft makes an excellent first free flight scale jet. I also saw two Aerographics Me 163's going as well - seems to be plenty of power in a Rapier L2 for this model - both flew very well.

Another published design which was flying well was the Miles M.52, the plan for which was included in this month’s edition of Model Flyer magazine. This is another of Richard Crossley’s designs, and both his and Chris Strachan’s example performed impressively.

Richard Crossley’s Me 262 (below) looked great in the air - note the unusual launching technique - well, there's nowhere else to hold it!

Mention must be made of the spectacular and fiery end to Peter Smarts venerable Vulcan, pictured below. One Rapier L3 was just not enough power for this hefty beast, so he strapped two together and installed them both. The model roared into the air with a truly wonderful smoke trail, completed one circuit, then with its belly facing the admiring spectators, one of the motors exploded (an end cap blew out), setting the model on fire, and it came down in spectacular fashion, burning merrily. Pete was not too upset - if a model has to go, what a way to go!! The event was captured on video as well - I dearly hope someone can get hold of a copy of the tape.

The amount of used motors lying around at the end of the day was truly staggering. We must have given a sizeable boost to the Czech economy! Fear not though, we did take our spent cartridges home with us for proper disposal.

Above can be seen my current scale jet fleet parked in the Old Warden grass. The Skyray and Boeing 727 were only finished the night before the event, so were trimmed during the weekend. The Skyray was tried with an L1 motor for its first three flights - it needed a bit of noseweight to stop it stalling - the best flight it could manage was a flyby about 8 feet up. So, egged on by the spectators, I took out the spacer, and put in an L2. That did the trick - a lovely climb out and a nice high cruise. The model only spans 10.5 inches, but it has a lot of wing area to drag around. The plan is available to download elsewhere on this site.

Much to my surprise both my airliners trimmed out OK. Both the 727 and Yak 40 were nose-heavy out of the box with a 3 degree wing incidence set-up and they just needed some up elevator to get a satisfactory glide. Above is a photo taken by Richard Crossley of the 727 just after launch. They both looked good in the air, with excellent glides, and neither showed a tendency to spiral in - both seem remarkably stable.

They are tricky to launch though - you have to hold the forward fuselage, so it is easy to knock the wing as it passes your hand. Fortunately, however much I made a mess of throwing them, they still somehow managed to recover and set off regardless! Here are a couple of shots of the Yak 40, again taken by Richard Crossley.

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