Home Mig-15 A lesson in frustration
Mig-15 A Lesson in Frustration Print E-mail
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Wednesday, 14 July 2010 04:07

Albert Einstein said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. I experienced that type of insanity in the summer of ’10 when I went to the family farm for a vacation. No, the chickens did not peck my eyes out nor did the cows throw their pies at me. Heading to the country is a relaxing time full of cold drinks on hot days that allows me to escape all the insanities of the city life. In recent years I have stuffed my car full of RC Airplanes to fly above the huge open fields while I’m there. I generally fly at the RC club or sometimes parks and high schools when I’m in the city. These areas are plenty big to fly an RC Airplane, but it is nothing like being surrounded by 100’s of acres of open farm land with nothing to crash into (except the ground). 

For the trip I brought along four airplanes: the Hobbyzone Super Cub (for my assistant), the Parkzone Trojan, a small P-40 Warhawk and my newest plane, the Hobby Lobby Mig-15.  I was extremely excited about the Mig as I had only flown it a couple of times in the previous weeks, and one of those times was at a very small field where I had trouble keeping the Mig in control with all the trees, houses and kids around. Just kidding, kids are slow and easy to hit! On the farm I knew there would be nothing stopping me from flying the Mig, not even a sneaky bovine could stand in my way.

In reality this wasn’t true as it seemed gravity’s heavy foot was doing everything to keep the Mig on the ground.  I can’t blame everything on gravity since it is always there bringing us down and keeping us from flying off the face of the earth. I just wish sometimes it would be a little more forgiving.  The few flights I had with the Mig before heading to the farm were successful and mainly uneventful flights. I would simply hand the Mig over to Shaky Thumbs, say to him “please launch”, and his trembling fingers would give the jet a strong toss into the sky. The takeoffs were a little shaky but I was always able to keep it in the air. I’m not sure if the city pollution gave the plane more lift, but now that I was in the country….everything had changed.

Since Shaky Thumbs couldn’t accompany me on the trip, I gave the launching duties to my dad. He’s probably thrown a ball a couple times in his life so I figured he could toss a jet into the air.

The first launch was a little steep causing the jet to immediately enter a stall and without enough height or speed, it ended up in the ground. The contact was mild and after looking the plane over for damage I suggested we try it again. This time the launch was more level and the little red plane was able to gather enough speed to keep flying! The jet looked and sounded great as the ducted fan and screaming motor resonated off of the rolling hills. But it was nearly dark and the mosquitoes were feasting on us so we decided to pack it in for the night.

After the following morning’s breakfast, I grabbed my jet and headed to the field to get in some flights before the hot sun and nasty mosquitoes were awake. I’m not sure if my dad’s brain was still asleep, but after the pre-flight checks he grabbed the jet and threw it like he was Brett Favre coming out of retirement. The plane violently rolled to the side and smashed into the ground. The nose crinkled and one of the wings dislodged so I quickly gathered all the pieces and slowly trudged dejectedly back to the house. You know it’s a bad day when you end up with more pieces of an airplane than you started with.

I fixed the plane and headed out once again with my official launcher in tow. I reminded him the Mig-15 is not a football and doesn’t need a good spiral in order to fly. He heard me but instead of giving it a nasty spin he somehow managed to throw the plane at a 50 degree angle causing it to go straight up and straight down.  The nose crunched, the battery tray broke and I made this face-----> :( . I took the plane inside fixed it (again) and waited most of the day for the epoxy and glue to dry. In the meantime I flew other planes but I really wanted to get the Mig in the air. I watched Hobby Lobby’s official launching video and feeling confident I thought I could do it on my own.

So, like an ‘insane’ person I headed out late in the day and tried to launch it myself. Frustratingly, I was met with the same results as before. The first launch ended with a nose-in, crunching the nose but my glue job on the battery tray held. For the 2nd launch I was feeling saucy (or maybe a little angry) so I grabbed the Mig by one wing and tried to fling it in the air like a Frisbee. The little jet ended smashing hard on the ground ripping a wing out. By this time my face was as red as the Mig and in anger I yelled out “--------------------------censored------------------!!!” My lovely assistant took a few steps back and in complete silence we marched back to the house.

At night the Mig would taunt me in my dreams flying so sweetly and effortlessly as I tossed and turned trying to figure out how to launch the stupid plane. Sometime during the middle of the night I had an epiphany and tried a little modification on the plane to see if I could get it to fly any better. During my restless sleep I thought about removing the nose splitter that sat in the nose of the plane. The splitter was merely cosmetic and I figured removing it would allow more air to enter into the fan. When compared to the F86 the Mig has a louder sucking sound during flight. This could be because the plane just sucks or because the splitter is indeed causing some unnecessary resistance during takeoffs and flights.

When I woke up I ripped the splitter out from the crumpled nose, grabbed my dad, the truck, and headed to the field. For added insurance I made him stand on the top of the truck therefore giving the jet an extra 4 or 5 feet of space between the plane and the ground in case something went wrong. I throttled up, he threw the plane and amazingly it took off with great ease. I flew around for 6 minutes before softly landing the plane in the dirt. After a few minutes of rest time for the plane, I popped in another battery, handed the Mig to my dad and told him to launch it. And boy did he launch it. With left over excitement from our first launch he drew back like a major league pitcher and sent the plane over home plate. The only problem was ‘home plate’ was the ground and my plane was the ball…a very smashed up and ugly ball.

At this point in the week I was at my wit’s end. I didn’t understand how the plane could be so hard to launch 9 out of 10 times, but on that 10th time everything went perfectly and the plane flew like it should! It was insanely finicky and after watching Hobby Lobby’s official Mig-15 launch video about 32 times I was confused as to why it was easy for them.

Near the end of the week and after about the 7th or 27th failed launch attempt I thought about throwing the plane in the garbage but instead tried throwing the plane with an underhanded toss. I figured if I screwed up the toss, the plane would be much closer to the ground and not as susceptible to injury if it happened to hit the ground. I tromped out to the field with my assistant behind me. Like a golfer ready to hit a hole-in-one I stepped up and did several practice throws without releasing the jet. When I was finally ready I pushed the throttle stick full blast with my lip, drew back and tossed the jet but not before hitting the edge of the wing against my leg causing it to hit the ground. I knew that was my own fault so I dusted the jet off, blew out all the dirt, drew back and in a spectacular display of airmanship the plane actually took off and flew with no hesitation! I could hardly believe my eyes and nearly forgot to put my thumbs back on the sticks to fly the plane. What a glorious day! The plane was whacked out of trim from the previous crashes but after I trimmed it out it flew and flew and flew. During the final days of my vacation I was able to recreate my success with the underhand toss and fly the red Mig until I was blue in the face.

Since that summer vacation I flew the Hobby Lobby Mig-15 a few more times until that fateful day in August when Shaky Thumbs shot me down. Little does he know (unless he reads this web page) that I have a new fuselage, new wings and new elevators all primed and ready to return the favor!

Let’s just hope I can get it off the ground.



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