Pocket Combat Wings


[Pocket Combat Wings]I like little planes, if that isn't clear yet.  Dave liked the idea of flying wings, but most of the kits were fairly expensive, and most of them, regardless of size, are powered by a 400-size motor (more than we wanetd -- we were looking for a slow flyer).  And most of the wing kits are expensive, because they all include stuff we don't want, like NiCad or NiMH batteries (we're born-again lithium converts -- why carry a lot of excess weight if you don't have to?)

Except for one kit ... the Pocket Combat Wing.  It was very inexpensive, and the 20" wing and IPS motor inside looked awfully cute.  Dave saw me repeatedly eyeing the kit, then reluctantly putting it back ("bound to be way too twitchy for our skill level") every time we passed that shelf at the hobby shop.

[pocket combat wing, flying]So he bought one.  Building a zagi-type flying wing for lithium batteries turns out to be a bit challenging.  All the kit builders have designed their wings around the idea that you're going to stuff a zillion ounces of battery in the front, and then you're going to mummify the whole thing in many layers of tape and other protective material, ending up with a zillion-ounce plane that can only fly fast.  Lighten it up ... and it turns out you're way too tail-heavy.  Dave wrestled with this problem for a long time, moving all the radio components up as far as they could possibly go, and lightening up the rear sections by drilling out the ailerons and lightening the vertical fins ... and finally he got it to balance.  Then he gave it to me -- what a great husband I have!  (His argument was that I was ready for a fast, twitchy plane and he wasn't; but it turned out that with the control throws turned down in his transmitter, he flew it as well as I did.)

That's the one on the top in the picture above.  Dave named it "Mondrian", since it came out looking like one of Piet Mondrian's paintings.  (Dave has an art background; I had to google.)  It's incredibly cute, takes no space to transport ... and flies quite well, most of the time.  It can slow down reasonably well, though I'd still be hesitant to fly it at the local baseball diamond (haven't had a chance -- it's baseball season now) though it does have a tendency to tip-stall on occasion and go into an uncontrollable spin.

[pocket combat wing in a tree]But the nice thing about these zagi-style wings is that that's not a big deal, like it was with the Sporty where a single tip-stall meant the end of flying for the day, and an epoxy session back home.  With the PCW, you just hike out to wherever it hit, pick it up, re-tape the side fins if they came un-taped, and toss it back in the air.

Oh, about that toss.  Unlike most wings, the PCW has a wood spar protruding slightly below the wing.  Normal Zagis launch without power -- you throw from the back, where the propeller is, so the engine has to be off.  With the PCW, you can hold on to the spar and launch with power ... but I don't recommend it.  I'm typing now with a band-aid over my knuckle where the PCW prop hit me on the way past.  Now I give it a hard throw, then hit the throttle afterward.

Dave flew Mondrian a few times and was hooked and had to build a second one.

It's way more fun to have two of these things than to have just one.  They're Pocket Combat Wings, remember?  So with two of them, we can have two angry wasps dogfighting.  There's very little risk -- first, they're very rugged, so hitting each other isn't likely to hurt them.  But second, these things are tiny, and it turns out to be impossible to collide them.  Even when we think we're close, we're really not.  But who cares?  It's a blast to watch them dance around each other, twisting and turning and chasing each other around the sky.

(Now, years later, we're having much more luck dogfighting slightly larger wings. But I still keep the PCW around, and use it as a spare.)

Meanwhile, Dave has been working on innovative launch techniques (inspired by some excellent videos from the Weasel people).  Here are some movies:

Mini Combat Wing XE

[Mini Combat Wing XE]Actually, before we tried the PCW, we entered the zagi world with a Mini Combat Wing XE.  With a 36" wingspan, we hoped it wouldn't be too twitchy; it's designed for a 400 motor, but we figured we could run something smaller in it, like a 350, and in fact that works fine and gives a gentle, easy-to-fly wing.  Sounds nice, too.  Now Dave has ordered an "Overlord", the 48" wing from the same company which makes the PCW.  It'll be interesting to see it fly.  If it ever gets here.


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