While John Robbins was busy this weekend writing about WiX, I was in Florida training on my new radio-control jet. It’s a Bob Violett Models (BVM) BobCat, an all-fiberglass beauty that handles gently enough to qualify as a trainer. Strapped onto the back is the JetCat P-60 turbine that I blogged about earlier.

Below are a few pictures taken by a friend who accompanied me on the trip. The first shows my instructor, Dustin Buescher, doing the final radio setup and inspecting the jet to make sure it’s flightworthy. The second shows me and Dustin doing final checks and adjustments before rolling out to the runway.The third shows the BobCat taxiing down the runway in preparation for take-off. The final picture shows the jet in full “crow” setup (flaps down, ailerons up, and elevator trimmed up a few clicks) on final approach. UPDATE: Added a fifth photo showing a close-up of the BobCat.

Setting  UpPreflightOn the RunwayLandingBobCat

I logged five flights on the jet and was taking off and landing on my own by the end of the day. Dustin was close by, ready to help out by switching control from my transmitter to his. I need lots more practice to become proficient, but this weekend was a great start. I have a pretty good feel for how the jet handles now and learned the proper technique for landing a turbine-powered model. We usually land an RC airplane by setting up on final, chopping the throttle, and gliding in using the elevator to control pitch and distance. Not so with a jet. You bring it in under power so you can spool back up quickly if you’re coming in short. (If you drop a turbine to idle, it takes a couple of seconds for it to spool back up. That 2 seconds feels like a lifetime and can mean the difference between a save and a crash.) You use the elevator to keep the nose pitched up a few degrees and use throttle to control to sink rate. Then you fly the jet to the runway and pull back to idle when you’ve made the runway and are a foot or two off the ground.

If you’ve never seen an RC jet fly before, you have to hear it to believe it. I posted a short video of the jet’s test flight on YouTube. (Unfortunately, my video camera malfunctioned during the take-off, so I have no footage of that. But it was gorgeous!) Be sure to crank up the volume so you can hear that turbine scream.

The biggest surprise of the weekend was getting to meet and hang out with Bob Violett. Bob is the owner of BVM and one of the biggest names in the RC jet world. He loaned Dustin to us after the instructor I originally lined up had to bail due to a medical emergency, and he gave us space in his factory workshop to install the turbine and do all the programming and setup. He even took us to lunch, where we got to pepper Bob with questions about flying Navy jets in Vietnam and his 18 years as a pilot for Eastern Airlines. Imagine driving to Redmond with a new PC and having Bill Gates invite you into his office to help set it up; that’s what it was like. Bob is one of the finest gentlemen I’ve ever met and is emblematic of everything’s that good about the RC industry.

Next up for me is a trip to the Florida International Jet Rally in Lake Wales, FL, where I hope to complete my training and earn my turbine waiver. There will be some amazing jets at the event, including some of the biggest and baddest from the U.K. I’ll take plenty of pictures and tell you all about it when I get back.