From .40 Nitro Engines and 72 MHz to 4 2212’s and Taranis

This second post will be a brief history of my RC experience (my first Hello World-style post can be found here – link). When I was much younger (8? 9?), my grandfather bought a Thunder Tiger 40 Trailer kit. He always loved aviation and passed that passion along to me. Building an RC plane is obviously much cheaper than full-scale aviation so that’s the route we took. My mom told me the story goes that I had actually forgot the kit existed for a while. In the meantime, I was becoming hooked on RC plane magazines and finally said something about it.

My mom then told me I had an unassembled kit sitting in my grandparent’s basement. We ordered a few parts and got started on the assembly. I wish I had pictures of the process (inquiries are out) but it took a long time and I like to think it was quite satisfying. I do specifically remember gluing the two wing halves together. We mixed up the epoxy and set the wing tip ends on top of two soda cans to generate the correct dihedral (the angle the wings are bent up from horizontal – it helps with stability). When it was done, the completed plane looked something like this:

Thunder Tiger Trainer 40
Thunder Tiger Trainer 40

This aircraft had a nice four channel Hitec radio, four servos to control the throttle, aileron, elevator, and rudder, and a 0.40 cubic inch Thunder Tiger 40 nitro powered engine.

Hitec Focus 4 Radio, very 90’s
Hitec HS-300 servos for control

I was probably 11 when the plane was complete, and my grandfather had some made some friends (he’s very good at that) at the local flying club in Butler, Pennsylvania. We packed everything up and made the trip up the hill and shortly got started with some flying lessons. I had used flight simulators quite a bit so knew the basics of flying. The instructor didn’t let me take off or land, but did have me fly around the field until the engine quit. I did loops, rolls, basic turns, some slow(ish) flight and some high speed runs. We went up a few more times but I never actually got to the point where I could take off or land due to the club’s policies. I didn’t get to practice enough because it was an hour away from where we lived.

Regardless, my interest in the hobby was thus cemented. It was pretty expensive for a pre-teen, so I put it in the back of my mind for a very long time. My next post will detail moving to Bakersfield, California in 2014 and the numerous RC creations I’ve built since then. My first quadcopter was completed in mid-2015 and there was probably more technology in a single motor controller than in the entire Thunder Tiger Trainer 40 that got me started on this path. For reference, below is the transmitter I now use – a Taranis X9D 16 channel radio with telemetry. I very much enjoy technology, which is part of the reason I picked the name Sierra Sky Tech.

taranis X9D
Taranis X9D

Note: I have asked my family if they know where any pictures of the RC plane are, so the images of the trainer in this post were borrowed from AllModesR/C here.


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