Wild Wing

So a few days ago, I finally finished my Wild Wing. I've had wing cores sitting in my garage all winter long, calling out to me to build this bird.

I think I was just afraid! I've only built ARF-type aircraft before, and, well, building from a wing core is a little more hard-core.

It wasn't as bad as I thought. Here are the specs:

  • 35 inch Wild Wing core
  • GWS 1350mAh 2S LiPoly Battery
  • A sheet of 3/16 inch balsa for the elevons
  • Futaba 6exas radio
  • Yellow and red MonoKote
  • 3M Super 77 adhesive (a MUST for anybody serious about sheeting foam with Monokote)
  • Dubro pushrod hardware
  • Two Hitec HS-55 servos (I love these servos, but see notes below)
  • GWS Naro 6-channel single-conversion receiver
  • E-flite 10-amp ESC (smallest one I could find that would handle the 8-amp load this motor creates. Doesn't have a LiPo cutoff, so I use a kitchen timer and am very conservative in my flying times.)
  • J-250 motor ($1.25 each, from [url="http://www.allelectronics.com/cgi-bin/item/DCM-263/400/DC_MOTOR,_JOHNSON_20519_394431_.html"]AllElectronics[/url])
  • E-Flite Park 400/350 bullet-style prop connector (PERFECT fit for the J250, and very light)
  • GWS "orange" 4x4 prop
  • 1/32 inch birch plywood (in place of Formica, which is getting tough to find!)

The build time on the Wild Wing is very reasonable. I'm a complete newbie to Monokote and most of the build process. The [url="http://www.utahflyers.org/"]Utah Flyers[/url] have [url="http://www.utahflyers.org/INST_ww.php"]detailed build instructions[/url] for the Wild Wing, and a complete [url="http://www.utahflyers.org/INST_wwParts.php"]parts list[/url]. About seven or eight hours after I started, I was done, and I think she's beautiful.

It was Wade Joos who introduced me to the joys of the Wild Wing last summer. My only two birds were in the shop, at the mercy of a bad transmitter which I'd sent back to have replaced. I showed up at [url="http://barnson.org/node/754"]Grantsville #2[/url] without any planes, just to watch the flying. He allowed me to send up a Wild Wing, and even with a burned-out bushing on the motor, it was terribly fun. Of course, because the amp draw was so high due to the burned-out bushing, the thin wires were smoking by the time I brought her back down!

Ahh, the trust. Wade's great, and really keeps his cool during a disaster. He let me crash another wild wing a few weeks later, and I was hooked ;)

The overall flight characteristics of the Wild Wing, now that I have more experience with various electric aircraft, seem pretty unique: stable flight, easily able to soar with a decent wind, doesn't take much power to keep it in the air, pretty high top speed for a light electric, and exceptional durability. The use of the thin 4x4 prop results in a bird which is really easy to launch, and soars well, but takes a few laps to build up a full head of steam. I'm thinking of going to a 5x3 prop instead of 4x4 to reduce the top speed a bit and give me better thrust rather than just speed. Even with my oversized elevons, energy retention is very good. Sometimes TOO good, as my repeated attempts at hand-catches prove when it sails over my head!

Major downsides of the bird?

  • HS-55 servos are marginal for this usage. Despite no crashes, I've stripped gears on one of mine already. I'd recommend a little beefier servo than these tiny park-flyers.
  • Oversized elevons are just kind of silly and huge. I think mine will be trimmed down soon. My mistake for not building to plan.
  • The listed 3/16" balsa is really thick for this plane. Next time, I may go down to a quarter, or even 1/16". I fully sheeted it in Monokote, and that makes it very rigid. That size of elevons may be perfect for combat, but for aerobatic flying they're overkill and look sort of funny hanging off the trailing edge.
  • They're serious about setting up the servo travel a certain way (45 degrees forward, rather than at 90 degrees). Axial rolls are impossible without adjusting your servos and linkages to this kind of funky configuration; after a roll or two, it starts flopping around in a half-barrel-roll way if you don't.
  • The GWS Naro receiver is OK, but kind of glitchy. It has a much shorter antenna than usual, the crystal sort of "flops around" in its socket, and just seems pretty cheaply made. I'm going to keep it in this bird, since I re-routed the antenna and relieved most of the glitching, but it's Hitec and Futaba for me from here out. For just $5.00 more, the Hitec 05s micro receiver has much better range, and zero glitches in flight (even though it's a single conversion Rx!).

Despite the few issues, MAN is this a fun thing to fly! With the foam sheeted in Monokote, hangar rash is practically nonexistent. It can bounce on a hard landing with no damage to speak of, is very nimble and aerobatic even on a $1.25 motor, and can be built for less than a hundred dollars. Who can argue with that?

It's a great "daily driver". I intentionally hit myself in the chest with it (well, OK, not that intentionally!) and it feels a bit like a firmly-thrown football if it strikes you, which reassures me about using it for basic park-flying where kids inevitably start trying to chase it around despite stern warnings from me. About the only kids well-behaved around flying machines are my own, who are familiar with the dangers. And the fact that I can actually discipline them if they misbehave around my planes.

After my recent difficulties with an exceptionally fragile E-Flite P-47 Thunderbolt, it's really nice to have a "fling around bird" to just haul out to a vacant lot within walking distance and get a quick flying fix in.

As Wade says, these things are "packing tape wonders". I couldn't agree more. They're a wonder, and use a lot of packing tape :)

Matthew P. Barnson
- - - -
Thought for the moment:
"Uncle Cosmo ... why do they call this a word processor?"
"It's simple, Skyler ... you've seen what food processors do to food,
-- MacNelley, "Shoe"

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