Once again, I become very reflective this time of year, looking back on 2016, it has been a very exciting and fulfilling year for NAMC and me personally.
We started off the year continuing the very busy "think, design, test and validate" process on the NAMC Mig-35B. We enlisted the help of a test team from around the world to help with the plans, instructions and of course the plane itself. This was a very rewarding process and helped us immensely to turn out what we think is the best park jet experience we have released to date. I managed to dig up this picture of the first prototype taken before it's maiden flight alongside a Mig-35A. Very noticeable is the increase in wing area which turned out to be key in improving the entire flight experience of the Mig-35B over the Mig-35A.
I think one of the most interesting items tested and introduced to our parts list this year was three bladed props. These have proven very useful on all our motor categories and has certainly become a great improvement on the popular 2212/6 2200 kv motor. I wrote this article as a summary of how the three bladed props work with the motors on our parts list. You can read all the detailed flight test reports for the motors and props tested this year on our motors and props threads. Additionally, in an attempt to summarize all the pertinent bench and field test data, we have created a new thread called Power Systems Summary which will quickly give you all the information we have collected through our testing including video footage using each motor and prop combo where available.
One of the biggest developements in foam park jets, at least for those of us in North America was the announcement by RC Foam in June that they would no longer be able to get hobby grade Depron. RC Foam continues to sell Depron with a slight curvature as it is for non-hobby use, so we decided it was time to get serious about building with other foams available in North America, primarily MPF (model plane foam) also sold by RC Foam as Value XPS (this is an MPF Grade B equivalent). MPF has certainly been around awhile and many folks have been building complete airplanes with it for much longer than I have. Stephan actually led the way in the hobby by producing all our plans arranged to fit the 24"x48" sheets of MPF, something other designers are just starting to do now.
We have used MPF for fuselages and canopies on our builds for quite awhile now, but never for full score and fold planes. It is certainly less expensive than Depron, but quite a bit more flexible which presents significant challenges with reinforcement without having the plane weigh too much. We have been maintaining a thread called Foam other than Depron to pass along our test results on building with MPF. This RC Powers Su-27 is built completely of MPF and thus far has held up really well over 320+ flights. We will continue to build with MPF and record our findings and evaluations on the thread. Since the Su-27 V5, I have built five other planes with MPF which I will discuss a little bit later.
Of course I flew the Mig-35B a lot, surpassing 800 total flights with a few different models since the maiden flight on the first prototype you see pictured at the start of this post. I guess you could say I really like the Mig-35B :)
I also built, modified and evaluated several other planes by RC Powers and Parkflyers International. Some because I wanted to learn from them for future NAMC designs, and others just to try a change of pace.
In addition to the modified RC Powers Su-27 V5 I built above, here are the other RC Powers planes I built this year. When you click on the names of the Su-27, F-22 and Eurofighter V5, it will take you to detailed review of those planes I posted on this blog. For the Su-30 and F-16, I haven't yet flown either of these planes in any sort of wind, so I want to evaluate that before writing detailed reports on our website. Anytime I do a detailed report on any plane other than a NAMC plane, you can find them on this thread, Planes from Other Designers.
The Eurofighter V5 was my least favorite of the RC Powers planes I built this year, I gave it 50 flights but just never felt in sync with it and unless the wind was very calm, it was not a whole lot of fun to fly for me.
The Su-30 V4 again is not a terribly scale representation of that airplane, but again it is a great flyer thus far and I will continue to evaluate it in windier conditions.
The F-16 V5 is a good flyer thus far, although I suspect it will be a bit more of a handful than the others in the wind, more testing to follow.
Here are the links to flight video I shot on all the planes listed above.
I built two planes from Parkflyers International this year, their F-15C Strike Eagle which I built very close to stock and the Su-35 Flanker F which I built with several modifications.
The PI F-15C is a good flyer, but is a bit larger and bulkier than I am used to and again, I just never felt really in sync with this plane, so it has been recycled after learning what I could. I have not written a detailed report on this website, but if you sift through the supporting thread on the RC Powers website, you can find more details of my build and flight experiences and reports.
The PI Su-35 is actually quite significantly modified from their original PI Su37 after they were kind enough to send me a set of plans early for which I made a donation when they went active on the site. As an aside, the funds go to underpriveleged children and their families in Jakarta, Indonesia, so it is a worthy cause if you are interested in building one of Parkflyers International very beautiful creations.
The Su-35 is a definite thoroughbred of a park jet, quite a spirited flyer that allows more intermediate to advanced flyers to really push the limits of aerobatics. It is not as stable as some other planes listed in this post, but looks beautiful in the air and is still a real pleasure to fly. I learned quite a bit about Sukhoi characteristics from this plane. Again, I did not write a thorough report on this website, but if you sift through the supporting thread on the RC Powers site, you can read more about my build, the modifications I made and my flight reports. I have over 100 flights on this plane now and still enjoy it very much.
Here are links to flight video I shot on both these planes.
Since many of the folks who approach me are beginners or new to park jets, I wrote what park jet(s) I would start off with if I had to do it all over again. Fortunately, the plans for both the RC Powers Mig-29 V1 and F-18 V3 are free once you join the site, so great for beginners as there is even less money to be spent to get started :)
I hope if nothing else it will help folks be able to better assess what sort of flight experience they may expect from certain planes. Of course there are a multitude of park jet designs and designers out there these days and perhaps not all my theories or experiences will carry to a plane you might have built or want to build, but I hope it will get folks thinking a bit more before cutting foam :)
I also felt it was time to write down all the lessons I have learned about taking care of lipo batteries for maximum performance and durability. Some of my theories may not be what the rest of the community is using, but they have worked very well for me over the last three years. Unfortunately, the first year, I made quite a few mistakes, I wrote an article about those as well :/ You can find both articles in our Lipo Batteries thread.
All in all, it has been another busy year for NAMC and for me in my continuing park jet journey. Lots learned and lots more still to learn.
2017 should prove to be another busy year, Stephan has been very busy on 2016 with activities in his life outside RC, so our Su-27 project has been on hold for awhile, but hopefully we will get working on that again very soon. Dave is also working away at another project, so 2017 should see at least one, perhaps two new airplanes in the NAMC lineup. I hope that from all the testing and evaluating I did from other people's designs that we will be able to streamline the process of "think, design, test and validate" on future designs and continue to produce great looking and great flying planes.
To all those folks who purchased plans to our planes this past year, our humble thanks and appreciation, it allows us to keep this website up and running and sharing our experiences as we move forward along our park jet journey. For those especially that follow this website and blog and support the threads on the RC Powers website, it is always so rewarding to hear from you, your support and feedback keeps us motivated to keep "thinking, designing, testing and validating".
On behalf of my NAMC partners Stephan and Dave, we wish you all the best in 2017 and hope that you have plenty of blue skies and calm winds to enjoy your RC journey :)