Sky-High Adventure with the Macintosh, Amiga, & Atari ST
by Charles Gulick
The 182-S is a far cry from the beginner's R/C trainer model that you first constructed. Except for its abbreviated instrument panel, as depicted on your R/C transmitter, the 182-S is identical to the prototype Cessna 182. The trainer model was deliberately slowed for practice purposes and was designed to give you the feel of R/C control. As a result, stunts are impossibly difficult in that model because it always flies only a few knots above stalling speed.
Although your 182-S is considerably upgraded from the trainer model (and indeed, can be flown exactly like the prototype), you have the option to fly it like the trainer model—particularly when you're first getting used to it. Although it has retractable gear and a full complement of flaps, you can leave the gear down and fly without using flaps. In fact, if you simply return to the trainer trim when you recall R/C AIRSHOW 25 (in Amiga/Atari by using 5 qu; in the Mac by temporarily raising the instrument panel, turning on VERT VEL, and trimming down to the third notch), you can fly the 182-S exactly as you fly the trainer. This option may help you as you start to fly at Livermore and get used to the new complement of instruments the advanced model provides.
In any event, there are good reasons to modify the takeoff and climbout of the 182-S compared to the prototype. At an R/C airshow, if you were to take off and climb out normally, you'd use almost all the runway, and both you and the spectators would lose sight of your plane before you got your gear and flaps up and long before you began to trim down. You want to show off your plane to its best advantage on takeoff, while it is at low altitude and close to the crowd. Furthermore, you want to get your model up to its best speed at the earliest possible moment. (You know how long it takes to reach 140 knots in the prototype with your careful, gentle, smooth, and persuasive trimming procedure—fine, but too long for airshow purposes.)
So, you'll fly the 182-S a little roughly and somewhat less safely. You'll get it into the air as soon as possible. You might want to fly for a while with the gear down because, as an R/C model, the plane looks very interesting in the sky with the gear extended. And if you keep the gear down it will cut your overall speed so that the model won't fly away too fast. Even with gear extended, the 182-S can be stunt-flown (but not easily).
However, as when you're in the prototype, you must know what you're doing at all times—even more so, in fact, because you don't have access to all the prototype's instruments.
I'm going to recommend a “show takeoff” procedure. (You might call it a “show off” takeoff procedure.) But I urge you not to regard it as the last word. Experiment on your own. That's what R/C is all about. The following is a technique that gets you off the ground in a hurry, gets you well above stalling speed in a flash, and has you ready to do an aileron roll whenever you want to risk it.
182-S R/C Airshow Takeoff Procedure
Remember that in this R/C AIRSHOW 25 situation that you recalled, your elevator is trimmed for takeoff, but your flaps are zeroed. To prepare for the airshow takeoff, put on full flaps. (You can't see the flaps position indicator, but you know full-flap extension calls for four presses of ], the flaps down key.) Apply full throttle for the takeoff roll as usual. Rotate normally (2 qu or your usual back pressure on the mouse) just before your airspeed reads 50 knots. You'll be airborne almost immediately, doing under 55 knots. Wihout delay, retract your gear and zero your flaps. Then, cancel the pressure you used for rotation. Believe it or not, at this point you won't be halfway down the runway; this technique will get you airborne when you've used only about a third of the strip. You won't have much altitude, but you'll be climbing fast, at about 65–70 knots, and you can start some steep turns back toward the crowd.
Stay at full power or maybe 100 rpm under it if you want to gain stunting altitude as quickly as possible. Or, if you're going to try some low altitude shenanigans, reduce your power to about 1900 rpm (1750 rpm in the Mac), and start to trim down. As you trim, your speed will increase. You'll know when you're at op neutral trim when you are doing about 135 knots straight and level. You know where the airspeed needle points even if you can't see the whole of the “140.” Macintosh flyers will have to judge op neutral that way; but Amiga/Atari flyers can reach op neutral quickly with four sets of three quick downs (4 × 3 qd) if rotation pressure was cancelled after takeoff. Don't trim down too fast, though, or your model will smack into the ground.
If you want to stunt-fly the airplane, let it climb at full throttle (or reduce a bit; even the change in rpm keeps the crowd excited) until your altimeter registers 2800 feet, while making regular left turns to keep it close to you. The plane will get to 2800 feet fast, and for an airshow you want to reach stunt altitude as quickly as you reasonably can.
At 2800 feet reduce your throttle just until your tachometer reads, in Amiga/Atari, 1950 rpm. (In the Mac the ultimate reading will be about 1750 rpm, but use the spot plane view to get straight and level because you can't see the throttle position indicator.) This is approximate cruise power for the 182-S, but you can adjust it as required; your altimeter will tell you when you're straight and level because its needle will be virtually stationary. If you started your power reduction at 2800 feet, you probably climbed another 100 feet or so before the aircraft responded and stabilized.
Fly to nail down about 2900 MSL, get into a good viewing position, and save the situation as R/C STUNT ALT. You'll want to return to this situation frequently because your model is at the optimum altitude for practicing (as well as performing) stunts.
While you're on this first flight, try the spot follow view. Remember what you saw on the map, and try to orient yourself to the areas you're flying over. Look at the big map too. And be sure to take the spectacular view offered by your onboard camera, particularly when you're in a turn.
What a model this is!
Fly around as long as you like, and then try to land somewhere on the field (maybe even on Runway 25) without damage.
I want to mention a few aspects of viewing and of flying the 182-S. If you take either the on-board camera or map views, be sure to turn them off (two quick presses) before you take a spot follow view or your ground control view. Otherwise, they'll be on the screen in layers, slowing up the simulation and possibly leading to some strange and disorienting intermixes. So, the rule is: If you turn on a view, turn it off before you take a new view. The spot follow view and the ground control view turn off when you select either the other view, the on-board camera, or the map.
Your stripped-down rank of instruments gives you (in Amiga/Atari at least) in compressed form all the information you need for precise control of the model. But now, more than ever, you need to cross-interpret them, which is great practice for flying in your prototype Cessna. You don't need a VSI to know when you're climbing, flying level, or descending; the altimeter needle keeps you well-informed on that score. You know from flying the prototype that, regardless of your configuration, your airspeed indicator will vary little or not at all when you're in control. You don't need a turn-and-bank indicator; the attitude indicator, or artificial (gyro) horizon, takes its place. Even if your model is only a dot in the sky, the attitude indicator shows whether your wings are level or how far they're banked and in what direction. If you're losing too much altitude in the turn, the altimeter also tells you that. And if you're getting into a dive condition, your engine sound, airspeed indicator, altimeter, and tachometer warn you to take remedial action. When a balance is restored, all instruments will reflect that fact: The airspeed will be steady, the artificial horizon will be where it's supposed to be, the altimeter will register your altitude condition, and the tachometer will read correctly for your configuration. Finally, the compass will tell you which way your model is headed.
You can use a little trick to read the horizon—both the artificial horizon in the R/C model and the real horizon when you're flying the prototype—and to correct with aileron in the desired direction. When the horizon (or the artificial horizon) slants down to the right, you're in a left bank; when it slants down to the left, you're in a right bank. To level your wings, apply aileron in the direction of the low side of the horizon. If the horizon slants down to the right, apply right aileron; if it slants down to the left, apply left aileron. When the horizon returns to a level aspect, neutralize the ailerons.
Of course, when you view your model in the sky, you know to apply right aileron if the left wing is down and left aileron if the right wing is down. But when the airplane is flying toward you or in your general direction, your control sense can be easily confused. If the model is flying toward you, correct with control application in the direction of its “error,” or its deviation in respect to your viewing position and what you want it to do. Think of right and left only in the sense of the “picture” as viewed by you. If the wing in the picture is slanted down to the right, apply right aileron to level it; if it's slanted down to the left, apply left aileron.
The same principle applies in terms of directional deviations: Correct in the direction of the deviation. If the plane is flying toward your right, use right aileron to turn it directly toward you, and if it's flying toward your left, use left aileron. This procedure can help immensely when you are landing the model toward you. If it's pointed to your right, apply right rudder, and if it's drifting too far left, apply left rudder.
The same idea can be applied to steering the model on the ground. When the plane is going away from you, you have no problem with steering, but when it's coming toward you or in your general direction, it's easy to be confused. If the airplane is taking off toward you and is running off the runway toward the right of the picture, correct with right rudder, and so on.
Why did we eliminate CRASH DETECT from the REALISM factors? You're probably going to crash your model regularly early in the game. (Probably later, too, as you push your R/C capabilities to the limit.) With CRASH DETECT enabled, the screen goes black and you get a silly message; if you dove straight into the ground, the message would simply say that you landed with your gear up. So, the message and the black screen (when it appears) are both downers as well as detractors from the realism.
With CRASH DETECT disabled, you get a somewhat startling departure from realism in that the plane, phoenix-like, rises and flies again, no matter how crazily. But I think it's best to have CRASH DETECT disabled for two more reasons. First, you can pause right after the crash and recall the same or a new situation immediately without having to click on the message window. Second, once in a while the crazy attitudes and maneuvers the plane assumes when it bounces up from a crash can be very useful; you can try to fly the airplane out of its new predicament and perhaps learn something. Normally, however, you should pause and recall a situation so that you can fly again under known conditions. Use the after-crash gyrations only when they provide a special challenge and when you want to see if you can beat the simulation at its own game.