So of course you've read part
one here. This instalment is being written whilst the
Skorpion charges on top of La Muela in Spain. It's now had five or so hours of airtime and
its first competition - the La Muela Eurotour F3F.
So what do I think? Well
firstly it's important to point out that conditions here are constantly changing and this
makes it very hard to perform an analytical comparison with other planes. But this amount
of airtime in vastly different conditions does enable me to give a balanced view.
First flights with the Skorpion
were uneventful affairs, other than the occasional and complete dissipation of whatever
slope lift I started off with establishing fairly early on that, fortunately, the Skorpion
will thermal soar with the best of them.
The few glimpses of good or
even average air were enough to show that it handles very well at speed and seems to have
the raw speed and energy retention in a way not dissimilar to some of the 'unobtainium'
German models. Indeed, although I got the impression there was more to come from this
plane as I tweaked the set up, it already showed me enough to know it wouldn't do me a
disservice in the event. So, rather unusually for me, I decided to give this largely
untried plane a shot at La Muela glory.
Sadly though this isn't a comic
book and the thermal gods had other favourites over the two day competition. What I can
say though is to finish sixth out of an entry limited to 60 or so top class pilots without
getting any good stuff to play in is a testament to the Skorpion's ability to keep putting
in times that belied the lift it was presented with.
Having done F3F for 10 years
I'm normally pretty good at guessing what times I can get out of the lift I'm in but with
the Skorpion I was regularly pleasantly surprised. So much so that when Ken and I started
playing 'predict that time' with Carlos Cantero, I would pick my time and then deduct a
few seconds for the Skorpion effect> And we were consistently right.
Since the competition I've
learnt a lot more about this plane. Probably enough to have gained another place or so in
the competition if I had been more familiar with it. For example, in anything like average
to good air (say sub 45 seconds) it absolutely gobbles up reflex. It can achieve quite
amazing performance with very little ballast. Alternatively you can load it up and it
really enjoys the Norwegian up and over style.
The design is quite optimised
and as such it will flick if you take liberties. The secret is to get your snapflap in
early on a curve and use negative exponential on the elevator. This way you get a
stunningly quick turn with a significantly reduced risk of pilot over exuberance asking
more than any plane could give
I can't wait to get this plane
back to some familiar slopes and a few more competitions. It's done enough for me to try
another competition with it and take out an option to buy another if it continues to
impress when I get it in a more familiar environment.
There is no doubt that this
plane was the best kept secret in F3F. In fact it would probably have been shrewder of me
to leave it that way. It's well built, strong, has that certain joy of ownership and
delivers the goods in the air. It takes a little setting up to get maximum performance but
it's worth it and you can always use my setup.
The waiting list is circa two
months but I would be surprised if it stayed that low for long.
Pretty standard but there are a
couple of pointers that won't hurt.
Use thin (10 or 11mm) wing
servos (Volzs or Futaba S3150 work well) which lets you bury the whole linkage which is
very worthwhile. As usual you'll need to grind away some of the clevis at the servo end to
get bags of flap for crow.
Use fast fuselage servos. The
maximum thickness without serious modification is 13mm. Even then with the Volz I needed
to lower the tray a little and grind off some of the arms.
The supplied wing wiring plugs
work well but don't forget that the solder pins are offset to make room for the solder
joint. Don't solder to the wrong side as although the difference is subtle it's enough to
mean you'll need to open up the factory holes in the wing and fuz a little.
My elevator hinges were a
little stiff. No problem, just open up the elevator and run a small flat head screwdriver
along the hingeline from the inside a few times. Stop and check after each time as you
don't want to do too much and compromise the hinge (although if you did, silicone hinging
would work fine).
Leave plenty of aerial dangling
or use a trendy bit of thin piano wire as there's a lot of carbon around.
The fuselage is flat sided
where the flaps drop to try and trap air spillage and make for better braking. Works well
but you may need to relieve the flaps slightly.
More information from the
designer is here and one
of the best build documentaries around is here. www.t9hobbysport.com are about to
get a consignment for the UK, for the rest of the world contact Thuro.
Click on any photo to see a
larger version. Thanks to Mike Shellim for figuring out my camera enough to take some
excellent flying shots.