Image of my F450 with some alps in the background

Today, 6 March, was a beautiful day, the first for a long time with sun, almost no wind and the possibility to fly. I live near an airfield, so I can only fly at weekends and on friday afternoon.

So, I gathered up my various helis and a pair of friends and set out for the field, which is nestled up under the edge of the mountains. I had them all with me, the Nanos, cpx and qx, the Phantom 2 Vision+, the F450 and the jewel, my new Blade 180 CFX.

It's been just over three months since any of the helis has flown anywhere except in the apartment so I was pleasantly surprised that it mostly went off well. The field is about 100m by 30m and surrounded by trees which gave no protection from the thankfully slight wind, being mostly still leafless. The sun was fairly low, but warm and visibility was perfect.

The F450 spooling up
The F450 spooling up

The F450, after the eccentric programming described in another article flew very well for about 15 minutes. It seemed a little underpowered, so I might invest in a 4S battery instead of the 3S 3300mAh I have on at the moment. I might also have to do some tinkering with the low battery warning as I'm pretty sure it could last a bit longer. I'll have to break out the voltmeter to be sure as I forgot to connect to to Naza Assistant immediately after landing. More work required, but still a great feeling that something I built (albeit from bought parts) actually flies. It's still a tad unstable so possibly some more work on the gains as well.

The Blade 130 X is a little beaten up as I abused it horribly last year but it flew remarkably well. As the wind picked up toward evening it became somewhat unpredicable as it turned cross wind and downwind but, given that the tail servo is held on only with a couple of zip ties, I thought it did quite well. Unfortunately the last act of the day was to shed, yet again, the screw holding on the main rotor head. No damage, but it can't fly without it so I've ordered a metal head from Fast Lad which ought to arrive in the next couple of weeks. It also broke a canopy pin - I don't know how as I treated in really carefully today. Perhaps it was cracked in the last major crash in November and has been slowly opening up since. 

The Nanos came out and we had some fun buzzing up and down - one of my friends, who has never piloted anything, even had a go.

The high point of the afternoon was the maiden flight of the new Blade 180 CFX. The tail rotor on this one is very close to the ground; I may have to make a portable helipad, which I suppose I should already have done. Anyway, the 180 spooled up nicely and got airborne with no problems. It was perfectly stable and positive in response. Having checked the controls I moved it a little away and started a slow climbing right turn when at about 3m up it started to make a loud ticking noise like a demented mongoose and an uncommanded climb. The heli would no longer respond to cyclic commands and suddenly, with a loud bang the motor stopped and it fell out of the sky. The landing gear was completely destroyed and the motor was seized solid.

Sick at heart I returned home to perform the autopsy. I was wondering how much could be salvaged from the wreck but, to my surprise, once I had dismantled it all the motor worked fine. Strange. Further investigation showed that the main tail gear and pinion had stripped; in fact it appears to be this that caused the blockage as individually all the parts move as they ought but the main gear will not turn the tail rotor gear. I don't know if this was a factory defect or my own fault so I ordered a new tail rotor gear and landing skid. Miraculously, everything else appears to be ok. No stripped servos and no broken torque tube although the main and tail rotors are a bit the worse for wear. I really thought that such a fall would do more damage, so well done Blade. I wonder if 130 X skids will fit on a 180 CFX...

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