STAR NEWS  Society for Technical Aeromodel Research

PRESIDENT: MAYNARD HILL        -        TREASURER: JOHN PATTON        -        SECRETARY: LES HAMILTON        -        EDITOR: BILL SAVAGE

      VOLUME 4                                       NUMBER 2                                                              JULY, 2002

PROGRESS REPORT XI

From the President Maynard Hill

Ireland, here we come! We should have been in Newfoundland on the evening of July 1 this year. The deed would be donel The first picture here, courtesy of Roy Day, is from the U.S. Navy’s NAVLANT weather web site out of Norfolk, VA. Those arrows point along the nominal great circle route to be flown by a TAM called “The Spirit of Butts Farm.” The arrows are called Beaufort wind scales. They point in The direction of the wind. The number of feathers on the tails indicates the wind speed. Newfoundland is the island on The left; Ireland. the island on the right. The magic of weather satellites produced this description of what the surface winds were at 9:30am, Newfoundland time, on the morning of July 2. Each big feather represents 10 knots; little ones, 5 knots. There’s a bunch of 20-25 knot tailwind pushers out there. Our TAM will cruise at about 42mph airspeed. These winds would add about 22mph. and the resulting average ground speed would have been 64mph. The distance between St. John’s, Newfoundland, and Round Stone Bog, Ireland, is about 1900 miles as the crow flies. We have reason to believe that Joe Foster’s software will make “The Spirit” fly straight as a crow. The bottom line is, it would have taken about 30 hours to cross. Had we launched on Monday, July 1 at about 8:30pm, Newfoundland time, we would have arrived at Round Stone Bog at Sam, Ireland time, on Tuesday, July 3. Five ant isa bit of an awkward lime for our crew in Ireland. We’re hoping for a little less wind for our real attempt in August. We hope for no fog and bright daylight along the coast of Ireland after a 36-hour crossing.

Here’s the present situation. We currently have four complete airframes and two autopilots. We’ve tested one Argos transmitter and have three to go.

 

There’s a great bundle of loose ends still to be done, but, provided we don’t make a bunch of loose ends out of any of our assets during checkout flights, we should have four complete (nearly ready to fly) airplanes packed in a rented minivan that will be driven to Newfoundland by my wife, Gay, starting on Monday, July 29. As a nearly blind passenger I’ll do my best to see the countryside as I listen to audiotapes about Wilbur and Orville between hours of Brahms’ magnificence. Six days later, on Sunday August 4, will pull up to the RCAF Officers Club at the Airbase in St. John’s. Nelson Sherren, president of the RCAF Association, has arranged for quarters for the TAM crew there. He has also obtained a large room nearby that we will use as our center of operations. Nelson is a dedicated aviation historian who is pitching in all sorts of help to our historical event; the first genuine model airplane to fly across the Atlantic. The first full-scale airplane to cross the Atlantic was a stick and cloth Vickers Vimy WWI bomber flown by RAF captains John Alcock and Arthur Whitten-Brown on July 14-15, 1919. This incredible accomplishment ended in a rough landing on the Round Stone Bog near Clifden, Ireland. We hope to mock this remarkable achievement, thereby reviving the public’s interest in early Newfoundland-Ireland aviation history. Roy Day will be the contest director for this attempt to set a new FAI world record for distance in a straight line by a radio-controlled piston-powered model airplane. As specified by the Federation Aeronautique Internationale (FAI), a true model airplane weighs less than 11 lbs (5kg) and uses an engine of no more than 10cc displacement. The TAMs weigh 5.5lbs empty and will contain 5.5lbs of fuel at launch. Fuel consumption at 42 mph cruise speed is about 2.2oz/hr if I set the needle valve right. This target is not a sure thing. We’re trickling this “whiskey shot” through a tiny, tiny orifice, and I’ve found it difficult and tedious to get it exact. Air temperature, fuel viscosity, barometric pressure, filters, and still other factors are hazards in the way of precision. If I do it right we have about 40 hours of fuel. If I do it wrong, we could wind up with only 30 hours. I measure and measure

 

for hours, and still have it far from perfect. We’ll know that I did it right when we land at the Bog! Roy Day and Mary will be driving a different route than the one Gay and I have chosen. On Monday, the 5th of August, Joe and Loretta Foster and Les Hamilton will fly from Baltimore to St John’s. I am sorry indeed, that John Patton cannot come to Newfoundland because he is moving his household to Wilmington, North Carolina, in the next few weeks. Pat has been the CD for the last ten records I’ve established. We go way back, and l will miss him and his even keel. Carl Layden, Eastern Zone Director for the Model Aviation Association of Canada, (MAAC), will serve as the Canadian contest director and FAl official. Paul Howey and his son Russell will fly to Shannon, Ireland, on the 7th of August, Paul designed transmitters that will report the TAM’s position during it’s Crossing. He, Rusty and Kevin Drum also fabricated autopilots that software guru Joe Foster has been designing and developing over the past four years. This project has been fortunate to have the help of all of these men - Joe Foster, Roy Day, Lea Hamilton, and Paul and Rusty Howey -whose services would have cost a fortune had they been paid their going rates I Ron Bozzonetti, Tweed Cotlrell and Bob Yount have given much time and expertise to the project as well, but will not be traveling to Newfoundland. Nor will Bill Savage who has painstakingly edited these words into print for every newsletter. In Ireland Paul and Rusty will meet up with Joe Dible and Noel Barrett to figure out how to be at the Bog when “The Spirit” approaches. Joe is a retired ‘747 captain for Air Lingus and is now president of the Irish Aeromodeling Committee. Noel Barren runs a successful hobby shop in Cork. Joe and Noel ran the Aerobatics World Championship in 2001. Both of these guys are highly qualified contest directors and FAI offlcials.Our Newfoundland crew will work on Tuesday, the 6th, and Wednesday, the 7th, to try to be ready for our first launch about 8:30pm on the 7th. Hopefully we’ll sweat and sleep fitfully morning, the 9th, to hear that Paul has landed the model and that we can claim a new record. If that happens, that’s it. We celebrate, pack our tents and go on a real vacation. If, on the other hand, we hear nothing after 40 hours have gone by, we launch the second model, which we’ve been preparing while the first one was in flight. This procedure will continue until one of the models reaches Ireland or until all four

 

of our birds have disappeared. Now for a quick glance at technical achievement, look at Tweed Cottrtll’s picture that shows a near miracle. That’s a legally blind 76-year-old geezer launching a full-up weight (11lb) TAM in dead calm on level ground! The technical achievement is that this airplane climbs away from a minimal shove on less than 0.2 horsepower. Never mind the aerodynamic theories. This picture shows that Tams are good airplanes. This second photo also shows that old men can do useful things. One of my personal goals in this project is to deliver a message to handicapped or impaired people of any age: Don’t despair. Don’t be turned into a vegetable. Keep trying, and do all you can with those abilities you still possess. The third picture, another by Tweed Cotter, is evidence of some fun flights we had in testing the navigation software that Joe Foster has developed. That day’s flight crew is posed in front of Ernie Lapis’s “cream puff’ 1964 Mercury Meteor convertible. In all of our testing; we have not programmed the model to fly out of sight. We used two technologies. In the early stages of testing, we had 3 pilots with transmitters stationed at positions along the route so that the model was always in sight of a pilot The model flew autonomously in the failsafe mode. By walkie-talkie we always knew who was responsible for turning on his transmitter if he saw the plane straying from the expected course. Ernie’s convertible offered a simpler and more versatile technique. And much more fun, Joe programmed the model to fly to waypoints along the side of a rural road, flying over crop fields. Joe was usually the pilot with a transmitter totake over in case the bird started to head out of sight. It never happened. We all sat in the convertible and watched the TAM follow its course beside the road at about 500 ft. We used these techniques for two very sensible reasons. The first was safety. Who knows where it might have come down in the case of a malfunction! The second was frugality. We couldn’t afford to lose the model and the technical apparatus inside it. Both of these concerns will evaporate when we get to Newfoundland. We consider it safe to fly the model out of sight over the ocean. It will be at about 500 ft altitude on a course that will be monitored by the satellite system.

 

There will be no airplanes that low or ships that tall. It’s hard to imagine any freak thing that might be a problem. As for losing assets, it would be nice to have the first one launched, land intact at Round Stone Bog, but after the massive effort we’ve all put in on this project we are ready to say goodbye to all four models if that’s the way it goes. So we’re off to Newfoundland and Ireland in a couple of weeks. If you would like to know how the effort is going, you can turn your computer on to the National Geographic website,

 

http://www.nationalgeographic.com/and click on TAM, transatlantic aeromodel. The process for updating will be convoluted because three countries and three time zones are involved. Please be patient and tolerant. We’ll do our best.

To fill the page, here is a picture of the mother of our quadruplets. Marvelous Martha is the past holder of two cross-country distance records and is the current holder of the record for closed distance (1301 kilometers; 808 miles).