Paprika’s Maiden Flight

It Flies!  After a bit of foul weather recently we lowered our standards and took the Paprika for it’s maiden flight this afternoon.  The sky was a little grey and there was a stiff breeze about, but at least there were no hailstones.

After a last minute check of the surface trims and the flight modes I had set up followed by about 10 minutes staring at the sky and observing the wind to look for an excuse not to hurl my fragile pile of work into it, I was ready(-ish).  With a short sprint down the runway, my supervisor did the hurling as I waited for the moment I had control.
The initial climb was as expected in that it went up in a less than straight line.  The first thing I noticed was the sheer power I had available.  It easily climbed vertically at about one third throttle.
After gaining some altitude, I levelled off to assess the balance and trim,quickly realising that it was far from perfect.  The paprika wanted to pitch the nose up all the time which lead to repeated stalls, stalls that I would not call graceful.  So half the flight was spent helplessly tumbling out of control.  This was were the excessive power I had came in handy.  A short burst of throttle would pull this aircraft out of any tumble with ease giving me back control.
This aircraft takes far more concentration than the Hurricane40D I’ve been flying so far.  So much in fact that I didn’t dare move my thumbs from the joysticks to adjust the trim as it would almost instantly try to backflip.
Eventually one tumble took me so close to the ground that I decided to cut my losses, level out and ditch into the long grass.
I was hoping to catch this flight on video from the plane itself and had attached a small camera under one wing.  Unfortunately I interpreted it’s blinking LEDs exactly wrong and ended up turning it off just before the flight, and back on again when it was back on the ground.
I was also expecting some useful data out of the ESC (Electronic Speed Controller) regarding the motor’s performance but I only have a couple of flat plots consistent with it sitting there doing nothing, which I’m guessing means I need to clear it before each flight.
I guess I’ll just have to fly it again.

Overall the experience was quite exciting and I was certainly shaking at the end of it.  The aircraft is still in one piece, which classifies a successful landing despite collecting a few grass seeds.  It is a completely different beast from the Hurricane40D and there will be a few more exciting flights before I have it under control.
Thanks to Uwe, Florian and Pat for their work behind the cameras.  I’ll add more of their handy work to this post as it comes to me.


  1. Serge says:

    Hello Ben.
    I have been thinking about buying the same glyder.
    - So If you do not mind my asking: how do you like it compeared to the others?
    I did not fly anithing apart EPO Sky Surfer yet. I worry about that V tail.
    - What is the st up you use for it? Servos, motor, prop, batary?
    I see you use 4S. What about set up for the 3S?
    - Any recomendations?
    Serge, Kaluga, Russia

    • Ben Coughlan says:

      Hi Serge,

      You caught me halfway through moving my blog, so I hope you find this again.

      I don’t mind at all :) To be honest with you, this is my first glider. The only other plane I’ve flown is a Hurricane40D which is a big balsa trainer. I’d point to some photos, but I seem to have lost them in the move.

      The V tail isn’t an issue in the air, but you do have to spend some time setting up your transmitter. You will need to be able to mix the tail servos so they both move the right way. My Spektrum DX8 has a preset tail configuration, but I found it was backwards so I had to mix them manually.

      Compared with the SkySurfer, the Paprika is much heavier and much stiffer. You’ll be surprised at how fast these gliders can move. I suggest having a friend launch it for you the first time, and have them aim over some tall grass so there isn’t too much damage when it nose dives.

      My Paprika has a Hyperion GS3025, a 12×6 folding prop, a CastleCreations ICE Lite 100 and a ThunderPower 2600mAh 4S. This setup is pretty huge for this plane so I’d recommend aiming a little smaller. I use this calculator to figure out a good combination:

      I’d start with a smaller motor. I’ve had to fit a support plate on the back of my motor to ease the gyroscopic forces on the nose. You could also get away with a smaller ESC, probably 75A or less. I usually climb vertically and then turn the motor off completely to glide around for a while, so you need enough static thrust to climb (around 2kg), but you don’t need to worry too much about heat as you only have the motor on for around 10 seconds.

      The folding prop is important. It’s much easier to land your belly when you don’t have a prop in the way. The prop will also act like an air-brake while you’re gliding unless it folds back. Make sure you turn the motor brake on, on your ESC otherwise the air will keep it spinning and extended on it’s own.

      Hope this helps, and good luck :)


  2. Serge says:

    Hi Ben!
    I just found your reply believe it or not. I did get the message that the WEB is in the process of move but I was still hoping to get an E-mail back! Than I went for holydays and only now started researching on the plane again and again found out that not many people use the plane. And your blog in the new place looked the most informative just like the last time. Any way I found the motor and the picture of the positioning it in the nose of the plane in your blog. I think it is crazy having just as much power but I think I’ll still do my best to get just as crazy set up. Gliding is great but one of the main aim getting the plane is to do some speedy piloting with a very big (2 meter) wing span. Just to get you understand I broke the stock wing rod of the sky surfer and also the one which was way stronger with thicker wall. Now I have an arbalest arrow instead of it. So I think the plane will fall apart itself before it brakes.
    Well understood about the V-tail tuning. My transmitter allows me to do it just like in your case and some friends told me that to start with you can forget about rudder action of it and use it only as an elevator. I am not that happy about such an idea but nevertheless it is a relieve when you do not know what to do with the V-tail. So I think I’ll contact you when it comes to tuning it.
    The other thing that I do not quite understand is what kind of servo should I use in it? Numbers wont tell me much there properties would do. Could you lead me with the motor (analog to yours), and servos from this WEB site? Oh! And the regulator capable of the motor brake for that matter too. This is going to be my first plane apart from fomies but I really looking forward to get it airborne soon.
    You can have a look at my pictures of/from the plane here as well as some videos:
    See you soon!

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