Sunday, March 10, 2013


No really, It's true.
Here, this is why:

So much fun.

Earlier this year Hacker Brushless released the A05 motor. It's a motor that's nearly half the weight of the powerhouse A10s motor (7.5 grams vs 14.5 grams), but quite a bit more power per gram (35w/55w). For applications where weight and power is of utmost importance, the A05 is the motor for you.

On the Skyfighter in the video I was running a Hacker A05-13s motor at about 40 watts on a GWS 4530 propeller (4.5" diameter, 3.0" pitch) and an Aero-Model Silver Series 30C 2s 240Mah LiPo. It seems rather happy at 40 watts and only gets mildly warm, about 5-10 degrees F above ambient. I think you could push the motor a bit harder if you had a reason to, but for this application 40w was more than enough.

Whoa, there it is!

D'awww, look how cute it is :D

My current Skyfighter is decked out with this equipment:

Motor: Hacker A05-13s
Propeller: GWS 4530
Electronic Speed control: Hacker X-5Pro
Battery: Aero-Model 30c Silver Series 7.4v 2 Cell 240Mah LiPo
Servos: (2) JR DS188's
Receiver: Spektrum AR6310 DSMX

I'm flying the Skyfighter (and most of my other planes) on a Spektrum DX18 Radio
click here -> DX18! <- for the DX18 page on Horizon Hobby.

Here we see a few nicely built A10s Skyfighters.

Oh, right, the colors.
They come in all sorts of colors:




The Team Edition! (oooohhhh)


So, if you'd like to try a Skyfighter for yourself, feel free to pick one up from the good people at   Aero-Model.

The main Aero-model site is -> Aero-Model
The Skyfighters are located at the bottom of this page -> SKYFIGHTERS!
The motor is located at this link -> A05-13L
Ryan, what about the ESC? It's right here -> X-5Pro
You'll want some good batteries too. 
I recommend this one for my setup -> Silver Series (30C) 7.4v (2s) 240 LiPo
At this link you can find some servos ->  Hitec HS-45HB Servos

In a future post I'll detail the steps I go through to make a Skyfighter just a little bit better. 
until then, hopefully some of you decide to try a Skyfighter! They're really a fantastic flying little plane that you can take just about anywhere. They're also very durable, and even if you manage to break one, a little Medium CA and you'll be back flying in no time.


Saturday, March 9, 2013


My name is Ryan Archer, and I am a professional R/C pilot.

Now you may say, someone can be a professional R/C pilot?

My reply would be "Yes." It's my main job and I travel all around the world flying model aircraft in competitions and demonstrations for cash and prizes.

Here, have a look at my 2012 Tucson Aerobatic shootout freestyle flight:

The competition is structured as such. 
You're scored in a handful of categories,
1. Precision, How well each maneuver is executed
2. Wide variety of maneuvers showing slow/fast flight and control in each area
3. Choreography, how well the flying style fits the music
4. Presentation, how well the maneuvers flown are displayed in the sky using the entire flight box
5. Technical Merit, How difficult the flight or maneuvers were in the flight displayed

Each category has a multiplier (K-factor). The raw scores are then tallied, then round winner's score is normalized to a perfect 1000 and everyone else's score then normalized to that 1000.
That gives the placing for each of the three rounds. You're allowed one throw-away round out of the 3, which means all caution is usually thrown to the wind in the third round and some quite spectacular things happen.

Take this for example.
In 2011, Fellow pilot David Moser was only 20 points away from knocking me out of third place so he  did as I said above and went all out, crashing his plane in the process, which gives him a big fat zero for that round, enabling me to lock up 3rd place without having to fly the last flight (but I did anyways).
Oh, right, The video.
Start it at 1:10 if you want to skip straight to the crash, it's quite spectacular.

After the crash we all run out to help pick up the parts, as you hear the commentator (Bob Sadler) say, we were all high-fiving on the way out because even though it's terrible to crash it's always exciting. No matter who you are you can always appreciate a good crash..... also, I'm fairly certain at least 20% of people only come to see a good crash anyways ;)

Whoa, I got distracted...(get used to it)...back to the Shootout story.
In 2012, after 5 days of grueling competition I ended up second in Freestyle.
 Here's a picture of me involuntarily taking a champagne bath.

and a bath it was. I was thoroughly soaked.

Big checks?
Of course, everyone likes big checks:

Here are some photos of my three Freestyle flights:
(click them and they'll enlarge)
(Resist saying "that's what she said.")

 In close proximity with the ground performing "Rolling Harriers"

 A "Knife Edge Spin" with smoke on
 Dad and I running checks and starting the plane for round #2
 A full throttle downline maneuver just after the start of the flight.
 This one here's a down line snap, once again at full power with smoke on
 Pulling out just above the trees from a 45 degree down line 
Rolling half loop at full power, You can see how great the forces at play are on the fully composite airframe.
 This was a slower part after a vertical tumble
 Starting to bring it in low and slow for an "Inverted Harrier"
 A nice high alpha knife edge pass with smoke
 The bottom side of a rolling loop with smoke
 Just after streamer release from the tips
 Second shot showing a clean streamer release
 This was at the bottom side of a "Blender" which is a full throttle rolling down line into an immediate flat spin, a very violent combination of maneuvers. 

 A knife edge pass towards the photography section
 Pulling up away from the crowd with smoke on
A successful crosswind landing in 40MPH winds after  successful round 2 flight.
 Game face still active.
This was one of my favorite parts of the 1st round flight, a full power inverted pass only a foot and a half above the ground.

Competing against 20 of the worlds best R/C Aerobatic pilots requires serious commitment and dedication. I practiced for 3 solid months, 8 flights a day, every day.
It becomes your life, everything else around you just stops and all you can about is that next flight.

You show up for the competition a week or two early, get used to the surroundings, assemble the planes and check the equipment. Make sure nothing has been damaged in transport, set up the mobile pits and team camp, check in with everyone and then after all that is satisfied and if the weather is decent enough for test flights, you wait in line for 6-8 hours for a test flight. With 70 other pilots also trying to make sure they're ready it can get pretty hectic. You've just got to play your own game, and keep a clear mind, The first person you have to beat is yourself.

The field turns into a miniature town, filled with people from many countries camping out and sharing stories and goods from other lands. Last year we had competitors from 13 different countries, including judges there were 15 countries total. It really is the biggest event of its kind, for our sport of Giant scale R/C aerobatics.

There is over $100,000.00 worth of cash and prizes waiting to be distributed to the winners, but you can't have that in your head either or you'll make a silly mistake, and missing a snap roll by 5 degrees can cost you the whole contest.

Think about that, 5 degrees. how much is 5 degrees? In IMAC terms it's one-half of a point. When you only start off with 10 points per maneuver you can't afford to leave anything on the table, especially at an event like this.

We can also think of it in Deg/s
the aircraft I fly in Precision competition is capable of a 600Deg/s roll rate,
now how small is 5 degrees? Very small.
5 degrees takes about 0.009seconds

That's a very small, or rather short window that's very easy to miss.

Every little bit counts and I've already started preparing for the 2013 Tucson Shootout. I won in 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009. Then, a year was skipped because of reasons unknown (probably economy, it's very expensive to put on an even of this caliber). In 2011&2012 I've been plagued with mistakes and equipment troubles leading to poor finishes in the precision portion of the event, which is completely separate from the Freestyle portion (by the way).
However, I seem to have either taken my frustration out on the freestyle plane, or somehow put it together in my mind and just went for it.

I didn't fly a single freestyle practice flight in 2011 or 2012, yet I managed to somehow make the podium both years, coming in 3rd in 2011, and 2nd last year, 2012.
Either I was lucky, good, or Just taking my anger from the precision side out on the cute little freestyle plane (poor little plane) possibly a combination of all three.

Anyways, That's my Tucson shootout experience in a nut shell, I'll post some specs on the planes I fly in the next few days or so,

have a nice little render of a small rocket glider flying over a nice mountain in some sketchy weather.