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Bird of Prey, Maiden Flight

by Cameron Clarke

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Ready to fly!
Saturday, December 7, 2002, glider guru Ron Turner gracefully launched my new Bird of Prey Composite 3 meter glider into the still, cool air at the Oakalla Hawks' glider field for the maiden flight. All eyes, even those of the local hawks were focused on this sleek, shiny new bird. Will the Bird soar with the local hawks or bop into the ground? Ron, you are a very brave man and a dear friend. Who else could I trust for the first hand launches? Transmitter controls held confidently in my thumbs...


The Bird gracefully slices the air, producing a magical lifting force; floating silently to the end of the flying field. All traces of spectator fear instantly vanish and mouths drop open.

Ron liberates the bird with a gentle hand launch
Bird of Prey on high start
Ron readies high start launch
Another hand launch, this time a bit harder and higher produces even more enthusiasm. Confidence builds. Next, Ron moderately stretches the high start line and readies the bird for launch.

I check the controls....

Ready. Go! The slightly stretched rubber gently lifts the Bird to 50 feet or so and she begins her graceful float back down to the field. She is beautiful. So graceful. So smooth and accurate with the controls. She is magnificent!

She seems to glide forever, floating on a whisper of air. We are delighted. The Bird of Prey takes her first flight of freedom, leaving us with our feet planted on the ground in awestruck wonder.

Looking skyward
All eyes on the bird

Sunday, December 8, 2002, Ron & Cameron arrive at the Oakalla Hawk's field (Vancouver, B.C.) Hans is already on the field with his very powerful winch, nicknamed "Godzilla". We are a bit apprehensive of using this powerful winch for the first winch launches, but trusting and confident, we employ it. (Sorry, we have no pictures for this day.)

Ron pumps the winch gently for the first couple launches. The Bird displays a natural affinity for the winch and soon we are using full power launches, attaining several hundred feet.

Fellow club members, Cigar Joe, Jim Porter, Graeme Clark, Erik and Sal all show up. The new Bird is spotted and admired by each. They are curious and want to know more.

By late afternoon, the Bird demonstrates her agility and thermal duration capabilities with a performance that shames the Stratos'es and humbles their World Class champion pilots. Now that, my friend was an awesome day at the fly field. No wonder I cannot sleep!

...this comes from a highly respected glider friend: "I wish to complement you on both your building and flying skills. The only others in our club who have similar skills are Arend Borst, Fred China and Eric Eiche. They are all world class. I can see why you are so excited - I would be particularly as. if I am right, you only got into this hobby about a year ago. Congratulations. " -Jim Porter

Actually Jim, March 24, 2002 was my first RC flight with the scratch built Windex. The memorable flight was the first and last for the original wing. A new high tech wing was completed by late June for the second flight of the Windex.

Annabelle helps to shield Jarek from first flight anxiety.

Thank you, Jim. I am elated. Ron & I were joking around Saturday "all we need to do is stay up longer than Graeme". I never imagined it possible. I can only imagine you orchestrated Sunday to encourage me. Thanks!

Special thanks for the support from my close friends and family. This would not have been possible without your contributions and support.


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