Using a Heading Hold Gyro to Improve Takeoffs

December 2010 Model Aviation CoverUsing a Heading Hold Gyro to Improve TakeoffsAn excellent article appeared in the December 2010 edition of Model Aviation that addresses the problem associated with trying to keep your tail dragger tracking in a straight line during takeoff. The author, Ben Lanterman, an aeronautical engineer, describes the physics of what causes the sometimes disastrous weaving and bobbing down the runway during takeoff, and then describes his solution to the problem. As you might expect from an engineer, the solution is high-tech, but simple enough for anyone to implement. Ben recommends using a low cost heading-hold (HH) type gyro in series with the rudder servo to keep the plane on course, in this case the E-flite EFLRG110HL (even cheaper models can be found). The article in Model Aviation includes photos of two dozen models in which he tested the scheme. All were successful. As his well-made video documentary demonstrates, even the most notoriously troublesome airplane, such as the Bf 109, is able to take off in a crosswind without ever touching the rudder.

In case you do not have access to the article and decide to try it on your own, a strong caveat is issued by the author whereby the pilot must connect the gyro to an auxiliary channel (along with the rudder channel) in order to be able to switch off the gyro once the model is in the air. Otherwise, it makes handling very difficult... if not impossible.





Posted November 20, 2010