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What does it take to fly turbines?

  • 01/22/2022 10:28 PM
    Reply # 12302686 on 12225663
    Anonymous wrote:

    A very interesting article but perhaps there is another important issue and that is, to have excellent eyesight, considering how quickly they become very small at the end of a circuit.


    Alan you have a valid point, I would put it Into perspective, you are correct  great  eyesight is important, and they can get far and small very quick, but the truth could be said of other planes as well, meaning good eyesight Is just as important from small foamie to club 40 racers ,to giant scale warbirds, but yes you must be physically capable of flying turbines before committing to them. Ronnie
  • 12/30/2021 9:50 AM
    Reply # 12225663 on 12219081

    A very interesting article but perhaps there is another important issue and that is, to have excellent eyesight, considering how quickly they become very small at the end of a circuit.


  • 12/29/2021 1:07 PM
    Reply # 12223163 on 12219081
    Stephen Bird (Administrator)

    Ronnie, good overview of what it takes to get into turbines! Good article. 

  • 12/28/2021 1:17 AM
    Message # 12219081

    There is 1 question that I get asked a lot from a single day at the field to the events I attend, and that question is “ What does it take to fly turbines?”  I am going to help with an answer to that question.  I have had my turbine waiver for some years now, I was fortunate to get in with my local group of turbine pilots and they were nothing but helpful and supportive on my entry to turbine flight.  Over the years, I have owned and flown everything from small to large extremely fast sports jets to heavy wing loading fighters, and I am still learning as we all should be in this hobby.   I have helped with training other pilots to get them proficient with turbine flying and get them signed off for their turbine waiver. I want to take a minute to share some information on the subject.  Different planes require different disciplines, I have found aerobatic planes are some of the easiest planes to fly and land, big wings and very light,  where as heavy warbirds can be much more of a challenge to get on and off the ground.   Turbine aircraft definitely demand their own discipline as well.  I would say that once in the air a turbine aircraft is a lot like other aircraft, you still watch and fly, however you need to be multiple steps ahead of the turbine aircraft, not just because of the speeds they are capable of, but for the fact that something can happen very quickly and if you are flying by the seat of your pants you may not have time to react. Keeping ahead of the aircraft is a Necessity.   The most important part of turbine flying is SAFETY,, this is why the AMA has Specific rules JUST for turbine flight, rules on how they are built, rules for them while they are on the ground and in the air.  Unlike other model aircraft, a turbine engine maintains a constant, hot, lit flame in the canister, and being a model the engine is almost always located very close to the fuel tanks, turbines will run on JetA/Diesel/Kerosene , and even though those fuels are not as volatile as gasoline, they still burn very well, and the potential for a fire MUST ALWAYS be kept in mind. This is why one of the safety requirements is you must have a personal fire extinguisher within arms reach EVERYTIME you start your engine, in case of a hot start  ( a hot start occurs when there is excess fuel in the turbine canister on start up, the engines computer controls how much fuel is introduced on startup, when there is already fuel in the engine it ignites and creates a much larger combustion cycle than needed for starting, and can lead to a fire in the fuselage). It can happen very fast, and can get out of control very quickly as well if you are not prepared, SO SAFETY IS ALWAYS NUMBER 1 PRIORITY. There are other safety protocols as well involved with turbine flight, your models turbine engine must be setup with a fail safe, meaning if the computer for the engine loses signal with it automatically shuts the engine off within a few seconds, this way you don’t have a runaway jet engine pushing your plane to who knows where.  These are just a few safety protocols there are many more, I’m sharing this to help  give you an idea of what is/should be on the mind of every responsible turbine waiver holder when they push their aircraft to the flight line.  It is a constant,dedicated, and concentrated focus on aircraft safety , as well as the safety of all people and property in the area. The only way to establish this is through repetition, this is why I say get a procedure from the minute you push the aircraft out to when you push it back into the pitts, and do the same thing every time, but this is also true with all model aircraft.    SO,, what are the requirements to be a turbine pilot, I will give you a quick rundown of what the AMA wants as well as what I would require to sign off on a turbine waiver. There are other AMA requirements before getting to this step, such as multiple flights with high performance aircraft capable of speeds over 100mph, buddy box flights,,   I would recommend that you read the AMA turbine documents 510A and 510D and become familiar with the process.  These documents can be found on the AMA site under media and resources tab, then drop down to documents, and down again until you see turbine . 

    !!!!!Now for the good stuff,  the requirements of turbine model flight !!!!!!

    -To have a deep pocket, there is nothing cheap/inexpensive about turbine flight, the engines are expensive, sometimes costing more than the entire aircraft, of course with this investment you buy the best equipment you can afford to get the best chance of success, and there is no room for trying to cobble up a turbine jet with questionable parts. KEEP IN MIND, No matter how diligent you are, even with the best parts, and best building,  there are no absolute guarantees, something can happen at anytime that can cost you the aircraft, and possibly be a TOTAL LOSS.   

    -TO FLY TURBINE AIRCRAFT AT HOTMAC OR ANY OTHER AMA SANCTIONED FIELD YOU MUST HAVE AN AMA TURBINE WAIVER, this is an endorsement granted to you showing you have met all the requirements and have been verified by approved members to fly turbines, it can easily be verified as it is printed on your AMA card. This is an established process meeting certain knowledge, safety, and skill requirements to operate turbine powered aircraft, there are two types of turbine waivers, Fixed wing ( Airplanes/Jets) and rotary (helicopters) the turbine waiver process is available on the AMA website, I will give a quick rundown of the requirements to get signed off on a turbine waiver,

    -You will need 2 current turbine waiver holders to observe your ability and sign your waiver off , one of the observers must also be a CD,  (Contest Director), I myself am a CD and there are other turbine waiver holding CDs in the club. You will have to demonstrate a number of requirements, this is not to keep modelers from flying turbines, it is to assure that those who do fly them have the knowledge and skills to do so safely..


    -Show  that you understand you must keep the turbine tailpipe clear of any fluids or debris, and that people,obstructions are clear on startup.  

    -You must show your understanding of the need for fire extinguisher on startup and how you plan to deal with a hot start scenario safely.

    - Instruct us that you know the risk of a fire after a crash, and show you have a plan to deal with it, such as proper fire extinguishers, (AMA requires turbine flying fields to have water fire extinguishers on site to pilots in case of such an accident occurs, HOTMAC provides these and stores them in the clubhouse, they are to be removed and taken to the flight line when turbine flights are active)  show you know, or can find the contact information to the local fire department

    -Show you know and understand the normal startup and shutdown process of the turbine engine,

    -Even though not on the form, I also require you turn your transmitter off and verify that the fail safe is set and the engine is sent a shut off signal within a few seconds of signal loss.


    -YOU must demonstrate your ability to take the aircraft off safely and not veer over 10 feet in either direction of the center of the runway, making smooth controlled corrections as needed.

    Once in the air and you are comfortable YOU will need to demonstrate a horizontal figure 8 pattern, this shows your ability to control and correct the aircraft in any direction.  

    -I will ask YOU perform 2 aerobatic maneuvers, a split S, a Cuban 8, a loop, I leave this as your choice, just state what you are going to do and get er done, this will show that you can handle the aircraft in different angles of flight.

    -I will ask that YOU make a complete pattern at a safe high speed, showing you can control the plane through the circuit at speed safely.

    -I will also have you change flight direction and fly at least 1complete pattern in the opposite direction of takeoff orientation, then have you lower your gear, and demonstrate a landing approach and waive off from this direction, This shows you can safely fly and land in right or left pattern.

    -Last I will have you get back into the correct pattern, setup and land the aircraft, we will watch for a safe controlled stop ON THE RUNWAY,,   

    These are the established requirements of the AMA for the turbine waiver process, If you successfully demonstrate this skills,  we will gladly sign your waiver and welcome you to the turbine flight side of the hobby, and encourage you to come out and fly with us as much as you can.  

    If you fail this, do not worry, turbine pilots are a close supportive encouraging group, and want to see you succeed, we will instruct you on what the shortcomings were, and help you correct them and get you back up to try again, the goal is to help get you SAFELY and PROFICIENTLY flying turbine aircraft AND HAVING FUN ,,within the safety requirements of the AMA and our field.   And we enjoy having you,

    I am including some pictures of turbine aircraft from our field, we are one of the premier turbine flying sites in the country, and In my opinion definitely the best in TEXAS,,,the first few pictures have me in them so you know what I look like, so feel free to come talk with me or any other turbine pilots at the field,,

    Ronnie Dean

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    Last modified: 12/29/2021 12:38 AM | Anonymous member

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