Going Electric - With Electro Flying!


An Electro Flying Life!
By Mark Stringer

I thought to start, a little background about myself might give me some credibility in the world of electric flight and modelling in general.

I have always been interested in flight, having an ex RAF pilot as a father, making my first Keil Kraft rubber power model, with his help, at the age of six years old. This was followed by a ready made Cox (or was it a McCoy?) .049 powered control line Spitfire at 10 years old, a Keil Kraft Phantom with a DC 1cc diesel control liner at 12, a Mercury Marquis at 13, and Mercury Monarch at 16.

Turning Point
This was the turning point, I bought a 2 channel radio set from Galaxy Models in Norwich (my local model shop then) and fitted this into the Monarch as I really wanted to fly radio controlled models. I hadn't got a clue about radio, just wanted to do it, so off I went to the industrial estate next to Norwich Airport !!!! And off it went. I am not a bad modeller and it took off smoothly, straight and level, rose gently into the air (of course I couldn't afford throttle control as well so there was no going back now) and I started my first turn, just gently woops! need a little more aileron as it was turning the other way .. still turning more more aileron .. crunch! .. black bin bag time. No one told me which way ailerons worked!

At this point I joined the ATC at Norwich, stuck my head into every flight and model book I could find out and learned all about the principles of flight and control I learnt all about control, centre of gravity, wing loading etc. etc.

I was also mad on Physics and ended up doing an Applied Physics Degree, all of this, combined with getting my hands on some Aeromodeller Magazines from 1949 to 1955 gave me a fantastic insight into modelling, they never withheld anything in those days and every month there were lots of tips and explanations of how things worked.

Mysterious Ways
A move to the West Midlands started a long line of events that have led me to where I am today.. they say God works in mysterious ways .. you'd better believe it! I did my A levels, Physics of course, in Walsall and joined the Walsall Model Aero Club, got loads of help, was taught to fly and within 3 or 4 weeks was bored with my trainer and bought a "Low Jim" from Jim Davis Models . Loved it .. flew as fast, low and as aerobatically as I could.

I was then given a Jabberwock III by one of the members and just totally fell in love with it . The best thing I had ever flown .. a life long love affair had started. Marriage followed then kids but modelling stopped then an accident at work opened my eyes to what life was all about and things had to change divorce followed .. then the most wonderful, supportive woman you could ever imagine.

At this time I was a Police Office working at Wolverhampton Police Control Room and my work partner there separated from his wife at the same time .. a hazard of the job it seems! To console each other we got talking about modelling as we both had a history of flying radio controlled models. Now there was nothing to stop us.Jiant Jabberwock I told him about the best model I had ever flown, the Jabberwock, as we started searching the magazines to find out where we could get one. We found Ratby Aeroplanes, got in touch, met the owner, Mike Ellis, and bought a Jiant Jabberwock ready to go, so off we went! The circumstances of the accident I mentioned, details of which I will not go into, led me to leaving the police on health grounds. With no job I needed to do something. My police partner, Tony, had struck up a friendship with Mike of Ratby due to their other hobby .. Harley Davidson's and it came to light that Ratby was about to go up for sale. It all seemed to fit and the deal was struck .. I was now the proud owner of Ratby Aeroplanes .. Jabberwocks were now my model wow!

Twist of Fate
A very hectic year of shows followed, 24 shows in on season, a 'B' Certificate to my credit, the only RCV Engine show trader and lots of ideas for the future. In the middle of this I wanted to get involved in all of my local model clubs and here again an unfortunate twist of fate led to joining .. almost .. well for a day .. a club in Herefordshire, which will remain nameless to protect the reasonable members!

On that one and only day there I met someone who wanted to fly a scale Fournier with electric power and asked if could help. I remembered an article by Dave Chinnery relating to electric motor units teamed up on a gearbox to give lots of power for a reasonable price. Home I went, dug out the model mags and found the article. Phoned up Dave and got a Team Gear 40 as they were called off him to try out. As Dave was too busy with his writing career to give Team Gear enough time, it came to pass that I had the chance to take Team Gear over. One evening at Old Warden after a show I tested the unit in an old trainer and was quite impressed, in fact, I liked it so much I bough the company .. as they say.

Rat Out of HellThe same night, having been watching the traders fly their aerobatic 3D models, I sat down and designed a model based entirely on my modelling and Applied Physics background. I knew it was going to look odd, to get the thrust line, centre line of the wing and tail plane all on one axis and symmetrical wing section so that it just didn't matter which way up it was; and still have it as a low wing model for ease of putting it together, could not produce anything that looked normal.

A few days later it was built .. described as "So ugly it's beautiful" then I flew it and I couldn't believe it it is just so versatile it's untrue. It flew from a walking pace up to a speed in a dive where it out ran its' own prop .. plus, being only 4 lb all up and having a .53 in the nose it would take off in a few feet and climb vertically indefinitely. It flew like a Bat out of hell .. and hence came its' name the "Rat Out Of Hell" came about as a play on words with Ratby.


Having taken over Team Gear from Dave Chinnery I set about trying to make a good thing better. I bought in a huge amount of electric motors of every size. My Physics background led me to believe in the validity of practical things. Although I could have worked out the Volts and Amps and Motor Turns, prop RPM and calculated thrust, I knew that a model had to be proven to be of any use.

Based on this I built a motor unit, put a pair of engines on, a fully charge pack and then tested this on a thrust rig with a range of props, timing the engine run on full power using the different props and comparing this with the thrust produced. My aim was to find the best motor to use, to my dismay I ended up with three different motors for different purposes. Hence the Sport Twin with two 17 turn motors, the Scale Twin with two Lightspeed 600 motors and the Mini Twin with two AP29BB motors were born.

Team Gear Sport Twin
The Sport Twin giving 6lb of static thrust on a 12x10 prop and an 8 to 10 minute run, the Scale Twin giving 4lb of thrust on a 14x7 prop with an incredible 17 minute run and the Mini Twin producing 4lb of thrust on a 12x10 prop with an 8 minute run. The triples followed and finally the Quad Sport, the king of the range. This came about as a result of a promise to fly the Jiant Jabberwock, 66" span huge bi-plane lump, on electric .. I'm not sure anyone believed I could do it but the pictures show it in my faithful old ( About 13years old! ) Jiant Jabberwock and YES! I have flown it.

Team Gear Sport QuadTeam Gear Sport Quad is awesome! The Quad Sport uses four 17 turn motors, 36 cells and turns a 20x10 or 22x10 prop at 6-7000rpm producing about 12lb of static thrust . but quietly ( apart from the incredible prop whoosh!). All of these are available as a complete package so that everything needed is included to make those new to electric flight have an easy entry point to electric flight. So, that is the story of how I became involved in electric flight .. long winded as it may be but that almost brings us up to date.The current projects for this year are predominantly electric flight based.

The Jiant Jabberwock is undergoing further tests using twin speed controllers to bring the price of a package down even further as two 50A controllers is about aThe Cell Rat third of the cost of a controller that can handle 36 cells and that is the whole point of the Team Gear Units. The Rat Out Of Hell has its' electric version, The Cell Rat, 61" span, which uses the Sport Twin, 14 cells and gives full aerobatic performance.

A vintage Radio Queen is currently under construction, 82" span for the scale twin, aimed at 20 to 30 minutes of sheer pleasure and finally a vintage type American style 63" span high wing model for the Mini Twin for gentle fun and training. These are all silent, clean, easy to get started, nothing more than a leisure battery needed for a days flying, no noise problems to give a club any grief but most of all they are REAL models, that fly like real models, give all the pleasure of real models but do so without the problems, noise and mess of IC models.

Some photos have been included here to give you some idea of the units and models and if I am invited back to write more articles for the site (you will be. Ed!) then I will keep you updated with developments and information on this years models and their performance, provided that we get a chance to fly after the foot and mouth problems.


If you have any questions then please get in touch with Mark at:
ratby@bizonline.co.uk
or check out his web site at:
www.bizonline.co.uk/ratbyaeroplanes