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RC Flying, 2023 Apr 21: Night Flying?

The RC flight club had a rare-ish Friday night flight scheduled for April 21, where pilots were encouraged to show up with their lighted planes; there’d be food, formation flying in the dark, fun to be had by all, as usual, I suppose.

I have no planes with lights. I could have put lights on – and one pilot did actually get some lights for the evening – but I was pretty sure that flying at night, at my skill level, was a good way to end up down a plane. I ended up down a plane anyway, sort of, but not because of flying at night!

The other pilots did a great job. One lost control of his plane and we had to do a recovery to get it, but it was just system communication error, the best we can tell; he’s one of the better pilots in the club, and it happens to the best of us.

I flew four flights: three on my own battery, one with a borrowed battery.

The first flight was in moderately heavy winds; I kept the receiver on a fairly assistive mode, because there’s no way I had the skill level to fly in those winds. I had to keep the throttle really high to head into the wind, which made landing .. interesting. But it was a successful flight.

My second flight was in calmer winds (the winds were dying down as we went into the evening). That one, I put it into intermediate mode – which is some assistance but not as much – and stayed there for most of the flight. (I took off in basic mode, because I wasn’t sure what the winds were going to do, and switched to intermediate soon after.)

For the third flight, one of the other more experienced pilots had challenged me (very very gently) to fly in expert mode. The winds were calm, and I’d had a pretty good flight day so far, I was zeroed in and unafraid to fall back to assisted mode at need, so I figured… why not? Once I got it in the air, I switched it to expert mode, did a few rolls and loops (they’re fun!), and brought it in for the landing, all on expert mode. The landing was bouncy, but successful. For a relatively new pilot landing on hard mode, I was satisfied.

That was my last battery. The pilot said he’d spot me a charged battery for another flight while we still had light, and who am I to turn that down? Nobody, that’s who.

The last flight generally went the same way as the third flight did. Overall, it went pretty well, but I was making an approach for a landing, and lost distance on the plane; I flew behind the treeline and, well, straight into a tree. I ended up spending most of the rest of the evening trying to get the plane back on the ground.

We managed – as a group effort – and the plane’s tail is detached, but it was a clean break and should be really simple to fix. It’ll be back in the air tomorrow, with any luck at all.

Fun day of flying! The plane didn’t quite make it back in one piece, but as I understand it, I wasn’t even in the top three of the worst crashes of the week, and it really does look like a simple repair.

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