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Senseless Salto Story

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  • Senseless Salto Story

    Everything happens for a reason. Sometimes the reason is you’re stupid and made bad decisions.

    Thus, a tale adding to that truth with the latest episode of sailplane wreckage. While flying my Valenta Salto with a MigFlight JETEC E-80 EDF at the Cumberland Soar For Fun, I chose to take sensible aerobatics into the realm of abrupt, hard yanking and cranking on the control sticks. Not the most elegant stuff or desired outcome.

    While delivering this thrust-powered abuse to the airframe, my eyes noticed the canopy, pilot and seat pan making a hasty exit. Their departure was followed by what appeared to be one of the two 5S LiPo packs sliding backwards and angling up extending from the now gaping, non-aerodynamic hole in the top of the fuselage. Add to that, the EDF was still extended up and essentially out of juice. Yep, it’s all a big drag. In every sense.

    It’s amazing how quickly something can stop flying and point itself straight at the earth. With the forward weight of the canopy, pan and pilot gone, with a heavy battery shifted rearward, Lord knows where the balance now existed versus center of gravity? Pulling up elevator on the v-tails spun and flopped the plane around rather than correct things as it continued to travel down and farther to the distant left of the flight line. While there was no reason to try that elevator move again, my addled brain had no other bright ideas and with the second attempt the twist and flop resulted in a quasi-flat spin. Bonus points for converting bad into impressive worse.

    Fortune sometimes shines on the village idiot. Travelling away and in its flat spinning fiasco, the plane struck the distant rising hill like a a perfectly thrown stone skipping on a pond. Only planning to take one flight, I had combined laziness with my stupidity by not inserting the bolts into the wing roots, rather simply taping on the wings. These two facts proved doses of good luck. As the plane hit, the mounting tape tore away ejecting both wings as the lifeless main body slid to a stop in the tall grass.

    Not wanting to make a long walk of shame before a large crowd, I hopped in my SUV and drove to the scene of the crime. First discovery was the canopy, seat pan and pilot all gently resting in perfect condition. However, it seemed the pilot’s previous blank expression had changed to one of utter disgust.

    Next was a wing. It was okay fine! Then the fuselage showing a large stress crack behind the EDF opening and another along the canopy opening, but that was blissfully the full extent. Okay, I don’t think the wheel was jammed quite THAT far up into the fuselage!? Then, a few yards farther away another wing also perfectly intact save a small ding in the flap root. That wing had clipped one of the v-tails on its departure and took a one-inch section out of the tail’s leading edge. An easy fix and perhaps opportunity to add a stripe! Under the fuselage I found two big hunks of carbon that used to add up to a single wing joiner. In total, not altogether awful.

    The large crack does not sever the cloth while the canopy area is all fractured filler...

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    The tail damage is also the filler that makes up the leading edge...

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    I loaded the pieces and parts into the SUV, skulked my way back to the pits and unceremoniously dumped it all in my trailer for another day. The afternoon was still young and there was good lift to be had. No time for tears or a further autopsy.

    Back home in the workshop there were no other airframe issues to discover. The canopy area cracks were actually in simple fillet filler while the long crack was not clean though and could easily be repaired with glass and epoxy from the inside. Add a bit of time and paint and nobody need be the wiser.

    The flap root was a quick repair with epoxy and West 404 high density adhesive filler. It will get paint when the fuselage is done...

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    That’s when I discovered that the EDF I thought had made it through this affair unscathed (because it closed and opened with ease) actually had fractures in its frame.

    %$#@! That’s not good. These are sold as complete units fully balanced and ready to fly, not in parts.

    Some cracking, ripping and breaking to attend to...

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    Thankfully, another good stroke of luck is that Migflight based in Hochdorf is just south of PowerBox in Donauworth. Georg showed me some Team PowerBox love and offered to either take the unit back and give it a thorough go-through (It ran fine so that option did not seem worth the time, shipping and customs expenses), send me the dfx cut files to have them cnc milled here so long as I promised not to share the files, or just make me a set of replacements and put them flat into an envelope as regular mail. Option three it is.

    Within a day, the repair pieces were on the way to Connecticut from Germany. Thanks Georg!

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    So, over the winter there will be some epoxy mixed, paint laid and parts reassembled and the Salto will again take to the skies. The sad part is the guy behind the transmitter sticks may be more experienced now, but he’d none the smarter.

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    Last edited by Steve P; 11-19-2021, 11:24 PM.
    Team PowerBox Systems Americas... If flying were the language of men, soaring would be its poetry.

  • #2
    As a friend in R/C said to me, "The best part of being a R/C pilot is we get to walk TO the accident, not FROM the accident. Glad that beautiful plane will be in the air again. ( My friend has the distinction of being in two full scale accidents as PIC with a total of about 90 seconds of flight time. Luckily walking away from both accidents.)



    • Steve P
      Steve P commented
      Editing a comment
      Walk TO the accident! I'm going to remember that line!

  • #3
    Sometimes it's better to be lucky than good. Seems to work for me too.
    Kevin K

    Kremer Aerotowing Team


    • #4
      I can see a new plane graphic for the plane. The Cents symbol followed by LESS.