The Lightning is on its way!

Posted: April 5, 2012 in Hobby
Tags: , ,

Day 1 of ?…

The anticipation and trepidation is growing!  This morning my Dad sent me an email that said “the box” is on its way.  I am picturing this box to be more like a shipping container you might see on one of those giant ocean-faring cargo ships.  Inside this box is a “60 size” P-38 Lightning radio control airplane.  (“60” refers to a .60 cubic inch internal combustion engine.)  It was built by someone else who apparently had a hard landing the last time it flew.  I’ll write about its history in another post.  If you know what a P-38 looks like, you’ll know it has TWO engines!  So this airplane has TWO 60 size engines!  Okay, if you still can’t relate, that means it’s a BIG model!

The problem is I now live in a little 1,000 sq ft apartment, and I no longer have a big spacious garage to tinker in.  I have NO garage.  So my apartment is becoming the hanger for this monstrous aircraft.  And to make it flight worthy again (just the thought of flying this beast is so scary I can’t think about that right now) is going to take a major overhaul.  And to perform a proper overhaul will require space.  Fortunately, I do have a second bedroom.  It’s not huge, but that’s where it has to happen.

Tomorrow I’m supposed to find out the date and time for the delivery of “the box”.  I feel like I should get a uniform for a crew member of the flight deck with the flashlights waving in the taxiing arriving aircraft.  I’ll let you know when I can cross my flashlights to make the “X” to signal the aircraft has parked and shutdown (in my second bedroom).

The cool thing about this aircraft is I was a structural design engineer on the F-35, named the Lightning II.  The P-38 is a legendary aircraft in its own right, but now it is the predecessor to another awesome soon-to-be legendary aircraft.  “So I got that goin’ for me!” 😉

Back to the scariness of flying this airplane… The P-38 was known to be a VERY fast airplane.  So combine knowing that with the size of this model, adding in the fact that I haven’t flown a radio controlled airplane in years (not that I was ever skilled to begin with as my buddy Mark Pollmann can attest), fold in the cost and time that it is going to take to make it flight worthy (engines, radio, equipment, tools, etc), and then mix in the fact that radio controlled airfields have become more scarce so more crowded, and you get a nerve-wracking proposition (ooh I just remembered the desert on the other side of the local mountains – good place for its maiden flight).

BUT… I don’t even know if it is capable of flight yet.  I have to do a structural assessment.  Besides the obvious damage, the wood is old so could be brittle, and depending on the skills of the original builder, it might have been built too heavy.  Maybe that’s why it crashed?  No telling.  And I have to do some weight measurements and calculations.  If the airframe is too heavy, it may not be worth the effort to tear it down to the point where I can remedy a heavy airframe.  Again, that will depend on the skills of the original builder.  If nothing else, it could still make a great static display!  But we’ll know more when “the box” pulls into the gate.

Please stow and lock your tray tables, raise your seat backs, turn off all electronics, and prepare for landing…  it’s gonna be bumpy!


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