Saturday, 26 December 2020

What a year!

 Driving up to the slope for a Boxing Day morning thrash, you can't avoid the reflections on 2020.  Just heading out at all on Boxing Day made me realise how much more motivated I am to fly at the moment.  Being part of the Harrier's development has certainly re-ignited my passion for flying.

The tail is one of the most obvious places where the Harrier has developed compared to previous models.  Both enclosed horns but also the thick wing section that delivers powerful and positive control.

  Around 6 months after I started to fly my first Pike WR I realised that it had been the only model I had flown- simply because in just about every condition I flew in, it was my best model.  The Harrier feels like it has repeated this process 20 years later.  I don't think I can remember the last time I flew my Willow SOR, Opus XL or trusty Merlin (watch out for a few models for sale)

 The Harrier has achieved its design goal of being fast and the most fun to fly of any model I can remember. 

  More time on the slopes has been a great opportunity to chat with some old friends and make new ones- in 2020 that's not a bad achievement!

  No company today but my first mission was to maiden the combination of the first prototype wings and a production fuselage and tail.  These are getting less and less eventful as my settings become more set.  With a good (cold) breeze blowing she had 600g of ballast in to start with, this soon felt light but it was fun to see the different turn styles that work with a lighter model- you never know when you might get a thermal come through on a light wind comp day.

  Each flight was always longer than planned- I was just having too much fun, either playing with racing turns or just throwing her about and trying to bend those wings at the bottom of dives.    I'm not sure what the near future holds for racing, after 20 years of racing I have to admit to having twitchy fingers in wanting to get a few races done and see what the Harrier can do for a race rusty me!

  The Harrier has not come close to biting or flicking. Leaving the hill I had that happy feeling again you get from a really good session.  I can't wait for 2021 to come and get things going again. 

Tuesday, 22 December 2020

A happy Christmas!


After a year like no other, I thought this picture summed things up

Hope to see many of you on the slopes next year!

Monday, 21 December 2020

Such a good day out!


  Amidst a weekend of mad news it was great to get out and have a few hours on the Slope.  It looked like I wasn’t the only one who thought the same thing, it’s been a long time since I saw so many sports flyers in the Summer, never mind a chilly December day, the size of the pits made social distancing easy and the cold wind made face coverings very welcome.

  I was continue to take 2 Harriers to the hill and end up only flying 1.  Flying the Harrier almost exclusively since June has made me very familiar with and confident in the Harrier.  We did have a go at a video of my flying (in what turned out to be the worst lift of the day)- Not quite the standard of those lovely vids from the US and Europe that I seem to spend my time watching.

  A race season is probably the only way to tell just how fast the Harrier is compared to the other models available.  When the lift comes through she certainly takes off!  It’s a shame and frustration that races are not possible right now but compared to not being able to fly I’ll take it.  It does mean that I have a set of ‘sports’ settings on the Harrier, with bigger throws. I still can’t up-set her.

  Ignoring the range of Baudis Beauties and the always impressive Shinto, it was genuinely great to see the number of built, rather than assembled models.  It’s been a long time since I’ve seen to many Chris Foss kits- proof that a model design does not stop flying well just because it is older.

  I also got the chance to see the new Jim Hammond 2.5m model (sorry no pic).  An interesting design concept of ‘thin and pointy’ from fuselage to wing.   The owner was certainly happy with the built quality, which had been flick tested into the hill the last time out.  Perhaps I am just used to bigger heavier models but it did feel light, despite this it covers a good amount of sky.  The slightly nervous owner was keeping the turns wide and sweeping this time out.

  It could have been the car heater but I have a huge smile on my face all the way home.

Monday, 14 December 2020

First production Harrier Arrives

   Piggy backing on an order of my own, I was able to have my first sight of a production Harrier.  Boxed up really nicely and arriving in 9 days after shipping through Fed Ex. 

  At the time of writing,the Fed ex price of a delivery to the UK is around 170USD. 

 The import cost came to just £28 to clear the box.  Bringing the total cost of the model to less than 600gbp to the door. I can't think of better value available. 

  The Harrier was very nicely packaged.- Much neater that my garage at the moment!

  The finish, weight and quality of the model felt excellent.  I was able to drop the model off to a very happy flyer on my next day out to Whitesheet.

  A cold day on the hill but with my own Harrier feeling more and more familiar it was nice to carve it around in different feeling air.  

Monday, 7 December 2020

Fun flying and a fun day


  Even in the cold you can’t beat going getting out and enjoying flying, take you best friend too!  Perhaps not the most focussed of days when I think I am supposed to be learning how to up-turn but it was time I got to grips with my spare harrier with the Glass wings.

  After flying the Harrier for so much of the summer, my numb thumbs still felt in control with the set up making it easy to crank around.

  Just good fun for a day.  Things got better when my figures were defrosted enough to pick up a progress picture on the new Falcon.  That’s a nice shaped tail and is a great indication of the quality of production!

Friday, 20 November 2020

More wintery fun

   A fun morning playing with the Harrier while exercising.  A cold wind and I was determined to practise EM up-turns.  It's something I've threatened to do for a long time. Nordic, reversals, bank and yank I've played with them all but it felt like quite a plunge to pull up into a turn.

  Give it a go, the kick and pace out of the urn is amazing! I know that most of the better pilots have been using this for years but this old dog takes time to learn new tricks.

  My confidence in the Harrier now means that it wasn't until after one particularly fast run that I realised I'd failed to even flex the model, never mind bend or break it.  I do like the Harrier's roll rate- especially when I've got it pointed towards me 3/4 inverted and coming fast!

  I can't remember the last time I got back from any slope buzzing this much.  Now to be able to do it consistently or when there's a buzzer:-)

Wednesday, 11 November 2020

Steady progress on the new molds

   The cold weather is slowing down the preparation of the new molds.  With a project like this, its better to make it right than make it quick.

  I can't wait to get my hands on the new toy and my first full production Harrier too.  I could have a building fest over Christmas.

Monday, 2 November 2020

Storm flying with bad thumbs!

   Thanks to Ian Falconer for recording my attempts at storm flying.  The focus does improve on the second video.

  Not the best lift of the day but at 3.8kg she keeps on going!

Monday, 26 October 2020

Gliding 101


  There have been some absolute classic models designed and produced of around 2.5m span.  These have followed some differing design paths separated by many years.  The fabled Wizard Compact and Needle 100 are very different but very successful models.  Choosing between the 2 would be a tough choice!

  The Compact has been part of my fly fleet for many years, I love them.  On my last holiday on Lundy I soon started to wonder why I bothered to bring anything else!

  I love models of this size, they do seem to offer a wonderful balance of performance and sport flying fun.  I have raced my compact to good effect a number of times.  I haven’t been able to find a model of this size available with really appeals to me, so given the chance to help produce one it’s time to make one.

 The aim of the new model is to apply the design principals what have worked so well for the Harrier and to a smaller model of comparable size.

  The CAD files have been completed and molds are nearly ready and the test models shoud be ready to fly when the air starts to get nice and chilly in December.  Once there are some more pictures I’ll be sure to post them.

Setting up and having fun


  A chance to spend a few hours on the hill when the wind it blowing should never be scoffed at.  Over the past few weeks I’ve had a few chances to get out, taking the co-pilot has kept the flying time down but been good fun.

  Each time I’ve flown I’ve gone away and thought about the Harrier set-up so that the next time it’s been flown she’s been faster and better at resisting the slowing effects of my thumbs.  This Sunday the harrier felt ready to go.  Getting to know the production model has been an incremental process but the power of the tail has been great to feel.  The Harrier felt so comfortable with 900g of ballast and felt like it has a real step, were it went from fast to wow.

  Flying along side club mates, with their Pitbull 2’s is a help as a yard stick to compare the Harrier to is a huge help.  It did feel like the best thumbs in the best lift got the fastest flights- funny that!

  Stacking models to keep out of the rain!

Tuesday, 29 September 2020

Best blow in months!

   The good winds this weekend gave me the chance to thrash the Harrier in some ballistic conditions.  Replacing lead with Tungsten both gave me some more go but also really test the harrier’s build quality one more time.  Bending those wings is such a tough job!


It was good to see fellow Whitesheet members out and flying Pitbull 2’s.  They have to be my favourite of the Baudis models produced.

  I’d like to say that I got some practise in before the winter racing series but I was having far too much fun.

Monday, 31 August 2020

Back to the important stuff

   The English open and racing was a lot of fun but this weekend it was time to spend time with a couple of co-pilots on the slope. 

  Luckily Emma is still happy with EPP, with a crash and a laugh every 10 seconds it's a good job!  I did get to fly the Harrier a couple of times, while she rested:-)  often after a race, models need a bit of time to tighten out some slop, the flight tech servos are still as solid as a rock. 

  A fun day and proof that the willow philosophy of maximising fun on the slope is the main aim. 

Wednesday, 26 August 2020

A fun time at the English Open

   It’s been a long time since I came away from a race so happy.  Getting back to racing after so many years and with a hardly tested new design was a recipe for thigs to go wrong and they did.  As the rounds went by and the set up of the Harrier started to get sorted, then the ballast- I started cutting!  Having said this I flew every round with a huge smile on my face.  It’s just a fun model to fly!

  I was surprised just how well the Harrier penetrated into the crosswinds, although I managed to mess up more turns than I got right, she felt well balanced and despite my harsh treatment the Harrier never bit back and was accelerating along the straights.  Lots of work to do for me to stop holding the Harrier back but I’m really looking forward to it.

  The race was really well run by the Whitesheet club did a great job of keeping things going at a good pace, well done Graeme on running a really smooth day.

  The quality of flying was noticeable by how each pilot there could make good used of any god air that they did get.  John Philips proved to best on the day- congratulations to him.

  The highlight of the day was to meet up with some old friends- a good day out!

Saturday, 22 August 2020

Ready for the English open

  After I worked out the ridiculously long time it's been since I raced, a morning trip to brush off some cob webs seemed a good plan. 

  I've been flying the Harrier prototype through the summer but the production model I maiden 2 weeks ago has been looking at me- so this was the model I took. 

  The Harrier flew so well from my hand that I was soon just screaming round having fun, rather than any real thoughts of practise. 

Whitesheet is a variable hill and really hard to compare models on. It was good to see a range of baudis models there, I do like the look of the Pitbull 2.  it's clear that given the right air any of the models can be the fastest- including the Harrier- and a lot of fun. 

  By tomorrow I'll be cursing the variability of Whitesheet, but today it was fun!

Monday, 10 August 2020

Harrier Maidened

 I always seem to be on the Whitesheet north slope to maiden models.  The Harrier was no different and so although the sun was much stronger than the breeze I hurled the Harrier off.  Launching a model for the first time is a nervous moment, but when it's the first of a model our of the molds you can multiply the feeling.

  The Harrier just sailed away and went off thermal hunting.  Like all F3F models the Harrier's efficiency means it can hunt even the lightest lift.  When I did get the Harrier away I could give it a dab of down and she was off!  The tail gives a very positive control and tight turns that never felt like letting go.  

  I just have to wait for some decent wind to really ring her out.  

the new tail and fuselage

Building is a lot easier witht he Harrier's molded servo tray.

Monday, 27 July 2020

In the Post!

  The first pictures of the completed Harrier models have arrived and confirmation that It’s on the way!  Although I’m now at the mercy of international shipping there’s a chance that the Harrier could be here for the English Open.  You can’t beat the randomness of Whiteshite to test a model😊

Well I like the look of it!

Thursday, 23 July 2020

Great to see your model out of the mold

The first harrier models have been molded and I can't wait!

  Being involved with a project is great fun but seeing the model parts coming out of the molds make it feel very real!

  I've been flying the prototype model almost exclusively all summer. The King max servos and bearings I used have proved to be reliable and remain slop free.  The Harrier has given me a good positive feel and some sharp control movements.

  It can be said of many top moldies but I love having a model that can go from scratching on summer sea lift one day to screaming round in storm force winds the next- just add lead!

  Bring on the production models- anyone fancy being a test pilot

Thursday, 18 June 2020

More flight testing while the hard work goes on in production.

It’s been a couple of weeks since I got hold of the Harrier Wings, it’s been a great opportunity to get some air time with the test set-up in a variety of conditions.  I did have in the back of my mind to really give those wings a hammering to test them.

Screaming strong lift- I just kept adding lead flight after flight.  As I did- she loved it, the Harrier actually went really well on less ballast than I would expect but add the weight and she keeps on going.  The opportunity to try so many different turn styles certainly kept me smiling.  I really enjoyed the model’s agility, while she can go fast on a course, the wing just never grumbled as I banged in fist fulls of control throws and threw the Harrier about to just have fun- But I can’t bend those wings

Thermic air- It’s been a while since I have done much thermalling.  The wing’s plan form helps to keep the inner wing tip from dropping during the slow turns.  Just a lot of fun flights!

Light sea lift- This weekend I got the chance to fly in what turned out to be pretty light sea lift.  Launching out to see when the cliff edge means you can’t feel a breath of wind is always a leap of faith.  Knowing that the Harrier wing wasn’t going to miss-behave made it that bit less scary.  It’s didn’t take long before the Harrier’s natural pace and slipperiness really showed in the solid pace it was flying at.

  I really enjoyed the classic bank and yank turns in these light days.  The controls key a solid and positive feeling through the flight.

Getting excited! I’ve received these pictures showing that the first production version of the Harrier is coming on.  As well as a great production quality, I know that Zhou is keen to make sure that the models are tested before being made available-

Friday, 29 May 2020

A lock down project moving on!

  Returning to the slopes after lock down has been made even better by flying the new Harrier prototype.  I'm sure that cam through in my other posts.  Being involved with model development is a fantastic experience, combined with a model that's just good to fly makes it even better.

  Boom length, tail and incidence decided and the Harrier positive came out of the CNC machine this week.

  It will be like waiting for Christmas as the molds and first models are made!

  Whilst I'm sure that Zhou will be happy to work with flyers directly, if you have any 'standard' colour scheme suggestions- let me know here!

Thursday, 14 May 2020

post lock-down fun

  I needed fun and the Harrier prototype fits the job perfectly.  It feels like it’s been a long time since that the completed Harrier has been sat waiting for a decent flying opportunity so I wasn’t going to miss the chance.
  While the current model does not look as plush as the CAD files being milled for the production model I wasn’t going to wait any longer than I had to.  Get the nerves over with and away she went as perfectly straight from the hand as I could hope.  I was really pleased with the natural pace that she showed around the sky, 2mm of camber had her thermaling away with the buzzards but it’s the speed and efficiency between the thermals that can make a model.  All that height gained was converted into fun.
  The broader wing root really gives you the confidence to use some big control surface movements without worrying about the wing biting back.  It’s been tweaked slightly since the original Willow models (I’m told it will fit on the willow fuselages)- this only becomes evident when you’re in the air.  I really enjoyed the shorter boom than it’s Willow predecessors, square moves come off far better.
  The fun and performance from the model is fantastic.  The lockdown had given me the time to program in a different set up with racing in mind, what can I say- it felt fast to me and the EM style turns carried through better than I expected on a first day out.   It’s the model that I would try up turns and then roll as a race move.
  More next time after I've taken some other models out too- but getting out again is great!

Thursday, 23 April 2020

Harrier model developement

  Lock down has been a great chance for many modeller's to get on the building board.  I've been doing a little of my version of this and the result is the Harrier.  The aim of the model is to be the best sports  performance model possible.  A high performance wing with a sympathetic plan form, short tail boom and a strong effective tail.

  The wing has the depth to fit both servos and ball raced frames in, to make a durable and slop free assembly.

  The fuselage is a little bigger than some of the race models out there but more room to build and strength in the design are great attributes.

  A beautiful looking model as well!

  As the models are built I'll keep posting.

Wednesday, 15 April 2020

First Assembly

  Time to get the goodies out of the box.  The wings are looking good for the new model.  Just 750 grams per wing, stiff strong and looking very nice.

  A short boom looks to suit the wing shape and should give a forgiving model that I can throw around the sky.  It should be a fun project to get it together while the CAD fuselage progresses.  I can't wait!

Tuesday, 14 April 2020

Lock down time working together

 With action on the slopes not available it's been an opportunity to spend some time thinking about what I'd like from my next slope model.  Having being contacted by Zhou a few weeks ago we have been discussing different model options.  Our fuselage design is looking very nice (but I'm biased)

  The quality of the production from Zhou has continued to improve, including an integrated servo tray and ballast tube in the CAD design is a sure sign of development.  Although I won't be taking a commercial interest in the model, it is great to be part of the design process.

  I'll keep you up to date with the new model but I received a box from Zhou this week.  Great, things to make, weigh and take pictures of.  You know that they are top quality production but the first thing I found in the box says more about Zhou the man in these troubled times.-  A bulk packet of face masks.  Thank you Zhou- top lad.

Friday, 20 March 2020

Working/building from home

  Its certainly some unprecedented times, it’s been a week or 2 since I have been working from home.  That made it all the better when I met the Cubitts on my last trip to the slope.  Great flying but finding out Joe is a Grandad- that explained the scale model!

  Working from Home has given me one outlet to keep my mind distracted.  It was great to receive confirmation that the shipments sent out by Zhou are arriving at customers.   Despite the lack of people moving round the world, good seems to be getting through.  I’ll be getting some building time in where I can.

Friday, 21 February 2020

Traffic painful, weather dubious, flying- fantastic!

  It’s been a good while since free time and flyable weather coincided but I managed it yesterday.  You know that you are getting a bit desperate to fly when you time your trip to the slope with the one patch of blue sky being blow through on the latest storm.  The dog’s enthusiasm for being walked was dropping as we got closer to the edge- but not mine.
  I love flying the SOR in these conditions, I deliberately placed the canopy a hand grip away from the wing to help self-launching in blustery conditions.  When I have been talking to Zhou about his models he told me how much stronger has had made the wings, but with the weight of the wings dropping to 800g I had to see for myself.
  So 1.2kg of ballast in these conditions was a great opportunity to test them-  I couldn’t get them flexing!  Lots of aileron differential to help pull the nose down and pull the SOR over at the top of the turn.  It makes me think of having a go at racing again but after just flying on days like that is so much fun.