NoCal is one of my favorite classes – they are a quick build and can fly great – often subject to fly-aways. Recently, I have seen online comments regarding one of my designs – my Cessna Centurion Short Kit. In my mind, this is the best NoCal I have ever designed, built, and/or flown. Please keep in mind that I design, build, and fly OUTDOOR, not indoor. This design is a true thermal-seeker; it builds light and will get up and cruise around for a minute or two and just cruise around waiting for that up air. In fact, mine “was” flying in a nose-down attitude that would allow it to come down gradually if it was kicked out of the thermal. My son won our last NoCal contest with his and only needed two flights to beat everyone else’s three-flight totals.
There are no secrets to building these. Here are some photos of one I just built. No special wood was selected – it’s just a sheet that I cut for production and sticks of 1/16″ square from SIG. In fact, the only selection I made was to make sure that the longerons were stiff not fragile. Oops, one more selection: I used bass wood for the leading edges – denser and heavier than balsa.
I have no secrets. You can see below that the frame, including motor stick, came out to be 3 grams on the nose. The prop, a blue Yoshida 4.75″ plastic, was scraped down to 1.1 grams. The nose bearing is a bent aluminum indoor-style type. The tissue is white Esaki printed on an Epson printer. All up weight without rubber is 5.9 grams. More info below the photos, including a video of the flight test.
These can be flown with a 6″ prop and a loop of 3/32″ rubber. Due to the size of the 6″ prop, this usually requires weight added to the tail. I choose to go with a lighter power: the 4.5″ prop and a loop of 1/16″ rubber. Because of the scraped prop and keeping THAT weight down, I do not need any counter-balancing tail weight.
On the previous model, I lost it in a fly-away, I used a length of 1/16″ that would allow over 2500 turns. Yes, a motor that long weighs a lot (comparatively) – weight that the model must carry. But the initial torque will get the model up and then we are in for a long cruise. This works even in the wind; I lost my last one in Geneseo on the windiest day – it was last seen high over the football field. Once released, models are in the bubble of air that moves them along, either horizontally (windy) or vertically (thermal). Long, circular cruises allow for a lot of time in the air awaiting for the model’s bubble to drift into some up air.
Here is a video of a test flight. This is a loop of 1/16″ about 10″-12″ long with only 500 turns. The model is trimmed to have a gentle climb and a left circle. I might have to open up that circle when the torque is applied. And I will have to see how that right glide works out. But what you see is a model that is ready to fly. It is 6 grams and I am sure I will lose it, maybe before the end of this flying season. 25 seconds on 500 turns…with no extreme measures beyond scraping the prop – no secrets.
It’s not hard to get these to fly. Build them STRAIGHT – straight is more important that carefully choosing wood weight. Keep the nose light, so you don’t have to add weight.
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