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Author Topic: AMA Alpha- True Novice Model  (Read 992 times)
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skylines
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« on: May 27, 2016, 08:27:57 PM »

Okay, Here we go...

After years of studying and market research (while with Midwest Products) the true novice is the person who stumbles into an active indoor flying site and is simply impressed but daunted by what they observe. The airplanes obviously have some complexity, and the people flying them speak in hushed tones, make slow movements. All of this to the uninitiated can be scary for many.

In addition we do not have an airplane model, any airplane, that a novice can put together an fly EASILY. Even the Delta Dart was supposed to be this model but... it takes glue, a knife, a bunch of instructions, 40 minutes to construct, they usually are incorrectly assembled and cannot be disassembled for transport.  Not a shining example to associate ourselves with. Mind you I am not all old school but some ideas just worked well even 50 years ago. One was the North Pacific Sleek Streak. Extremely easy to assemble (without glue even!) and could still out fly the Delta Dart (DD)!!
Go fast forward 50 years and attention spans are even shorter and impulses are instant and this runs rampant in our society. We (rhetorically speaking!!) have Sooo many things to do that if it takes more than 5 minutes to master, we are off to the next item of interest. This means the 40 minute build (even with the mentors standing by) just is not attractive to a novice (builder and flier). If only some form of the Sleek Streak could be produced as it Still Out Flies A DD!! The AMA has come to realize this and have just that type of model.
 
The AMA Alpha is an all-wood model. Hold-on naysayers. The model has a lighter wing loading than a DD. It is easier to flight trim than a DD (much like a glider). It can have up to 4 glue joints and no cutting (the DD has 11 plus other issues). It can be built in 5 minutes. If all goes to plan, it will eventually be reduced to 2 minute construction!!

Flight times on 3/32" rubber with a 10" loop is about 50secs-1minute. Eventually we plan to have a similar North Pacific style wing clip so that the model can be disassembled again. WHY?? This feature is important so that large groups such as at the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) can build on site, fly on site, and have it survive the trip home. Same is true for the novices that show up. Build fast, fly slow- and stable take it apart to get home safe. Mind this is all relative to use of the DD. if your contest features a DD event, you can easily include the AMA Alpha and have novices join be successfully competing almost immediately.       

The flying surfaces on the Alpha are all 1/32 (even medium quality wood) so lighter weight is the key. This is the same material used by North Pacific when they produced the Sleek Streak and Star Flyer toy airplanes.

BTW, the final design will also have marks for outboard dihedral panels. On a calm day the model can and does thermal!! I have attached prototype pics for review.

I am sure there will be plenty of observations on this one.

Tom Sanders


     
Attached files Thumbnail(s):
AMA Alpha- True Novice Model
AMA Alpha- True Novice Model
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ILM Tarheel
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« Reply #1 on: May 27, 2016, 09:32:21 PM »

Fantastic! Get 'em hooked on the fun part first.

Any idea on timing and availability?

I have struggled with the Delta Dart and Cub Scout / Youth Groups long enough. The total lack on hand craft skills possessed by todays youth is amazing. During my last Cub Scout Delta Dart build I noticed one father and son having a bad time. I walked over and saw the problem right away. They were trying to cut the balsa sticks with the dull edge of the hobby knife blade. 

Jimmy J
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« Reply #2 on: May 28, 2016, 07:17:44 AM »

I'd buy a box when they become available, for give-aways at the field (I'm the only FF'er in my rc club/area) - if the purchase price/freight/customs stays reasonable!  I attempted a sorta Super Sleek Streek some time ago that flys really well, but the construction without that all-important clip, plus a tail boom, was too complicated for newbies.
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« Reply #3 on: May 28, 2016, 08:35:55 AM »

Tom sent one of these to my son for evaluation after seeing some pictures of him flying at West Baden.

To be honest, I was a bit skeptical, but to my surprise it flies quite well. Slower than the Denny Dart Mk II H.
That may or may not be a good thing.

To recount a story from West Baden - As he got better handling his DD, I handed him my Mashup, the one-design from the EAA this year.
Think 2 gram A6. He wound it up and let it go and it flew for something north of 5 minutes, all the way up to the ceiling. It was a great flight.

When it came down, he promptly put it away and took out the DD again.

I asked him why he went back to the DD. His response was surprising in a way:
It just isn't as cool to kids as the DD was.

Thinking about it from a ten year old's point of view, you could probably see why.
He was winding this thing to pretty insane amounts of torque. Half the time when he let it go, it would do a loop, then burn off enough to settle down into a head level racing turn, then do a spiral climb like a wakefield all the way up to the ceiling, bounce around the girders for a bit, then come down after between 1-2 minutes.
Kids thought this was the coolest thing ever. Heck, some parents thought this was the coolest thing ever.

Tom's idea and model fit a niche, and do it well. I have some worries that 1/32" sheet will stay flat. My sheets never seem to. But the important thing is that it would be quick and easy to build, easy to hand off and get quick success with.

That said, I think of this like fishing. Depending upon the fish, bait is important, and presentation of the bait is important.

The Alpha could be very attractive bait for some younger modelers.

Regards.
Mike Kirda


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calgoddard
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« Reply #4 on: May 28, 2016, 04:35:43 PM »

Tom:

The premise of your AMA Alpha design makes a lot of sense.

I flew the Sleek Streak model airplane as a kid. It was a snap to assemble and flew well even though I was a novice and had no mentor. I don't recall having any warp problems with my Sleek Streak models, probably due to the fact that they had 10# or higher density 1/32 sheet balsa wood wings and stabs.

Fifty years layer I learned that the performance of the Sleek Streak could be readily improved by scoring the wing chord-wise, tipping up two dihedral wing tip sections, and fixing their positions with beads of CA.

A few years ago, as a somewhat experienced modeler, I built a Delta Dart model. Its tissue covering precluded a quick build. It took some skill to trim my Delta Dart model. The relatively heavy domestic tissue and the weight of the clay that I had to add to the nose pretty much limited indoor flights to 30 seconds max.

I will build and fly an AMA Alpha model as soon as you post a plan.

Thank you for your efforts conceiving and developing this much needed beginner design.

« Last Edit: May 28, 2016, 05:10:07 PM by calgoddard » Logged
calgoddard
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« Reply #5 on: May 28, 2016, 07:04:37 PM »

Tom:

Kids want something that looks cool.  When I make up a bunch of AMA Alpha kits for our club to use in a youth program I will spray paint them with "radical" designs and colors using stensils. Each airplane will have a unique color scheme and design so a kid does not mix up his/her airplane with someone else's airplane. I will use bright floral spray paint from Michaels. It weighs a small fraction of the weight of conventional enamel spray paint.
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skylines
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« Reply #6 on: May 31, 2016, 08:10:42 PM »

I will get a plan knocked-out shortly.

Tom
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dhable
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« Reply #7 on: July 24, 2016, 10:50:14 PM »

Any update?
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skylines
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« Reply #8 on: November 09, 2017, 02:30:22 AM »

AMA Alpha Kits are in production and available throught the AMA Museum Store at $7.95 plus shipping. Kit includes model components, 3/32 TAN and a 20 to 1 winder

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Re: AMA Alpha- True Novice Model
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skylines
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« Reply #9 on: November 09, 2017, 02:34:04 AM »

Here is a link to a video on the new AMA Alpha Freeflight Kit-

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OZklUNtIu-c&feature=youtu.be
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flydean1
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« Reply #10 on: November 09, 2017, 05:09:22 PM »

Watched the video.  The Alpha seems to be very well thought out.  Really impressed with the flying!!!  Indoors, and outdoors.  I see many of these lost to thermals.  However, they are inexpensively replaced.  I'm going to buy some.
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