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The Cheapest Safety Device
I nearly lose a plane without it
Text, photos and video by Tom Hintz
Posted – 11-28-2014
On the fourth flight of the day I shot the plane upwards to do my version of a Pop Top, jammed the sticks in the inside bottom corners as I have hundreds of times and instead of a flip the plane went out of control. At first it seemed like an elevator had jammed in the up position, then it seemed to be jammed down. The winds were gusting heavily at the moment (naturally!) and the Aeroworks 30cc Freestyle Extra 260 QB-L was getting blown off the right end of the field and I had very little control. After about 90 seconds of fighting to regain control I got it back to the field (not exactly sure how) and on the runway with no damage.
I was certain I had stripped an elevator servo arm but when we looked it over my friend noticed the left aileron hanging motionless. After getting the plane on the stand and pulling the canopy I found the problem. The right aileron plug had come out of the receiver. That allowed the left aileron (big one of course) to act like a flaperon with a mind of its own, alternating between down an upwards influences on the plane not to mention doing very odd roll-related things to add to the confusion of trying to land it.
What really ticked me off about this near loss of the Aeroworks 30cc Freestyle Extra 260 QB-L was that I knew the solution and had consistently used it on my helicopters over approximately the preceding year. Why I did not use this simple fix on my gas planes with their hammer-like vibrations is a mystery to me. I can say that nothing I fly will go up again without this fix in place.
The fix is a 1-1/2” or so length of Gorilla Tape. This tape is 1”-wide, black in color and thicker than is normal. That thickness is due to the very thick and very sticky adhesive. The tape itself conforms to a surface very well which helps in this application.
All I do is make sure all of the plugs are fully seated in the receiver and then place a piece of the Gorilla Tape across the plugs and onto the receiver case. I put the tape on the row of plugs first, rub that down and then rub it down on the receiver. That’s it, simplicity personified. Despite its high tack you can remove this tape and reuse it several times on a receiver should you need to remove a servo or other component. Even the heat of the Carolina summers has never dislodged this tape.
The simplicity of this fix makes my not using this when I built this plane flat out stupid. While I am very happy that I was able to get the Aeroworks 30cc Freestyle Extra 260 QB-L back on the ground in one piece I know there was a heavy dose of luck in that fight for control. Since I always carry that roll of Gorilla Tape in my tool box it was always handy, I just never thought of it. But I am thinking of it now and that piece of tape will be on all of my planes before they leave the ground again.
The Gorilla Tape is available at most home centers because it is considered to be a duct tape. A 1”-wide by 30ft-long roll sells for about $7.00 (11-28-2014) That may not sound cheap but consider that one roll will do a bunch of airplanes or helicopters. I nearly lost a plane that is probably worth close to $2000 and I can protect all of my planes and most of the others in our club with one roll. The only dumb thing that remains is not using it.
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