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The Mitsubishi Zero Build Log

One of the hard lessons I have learned is that there are consequences to reaching beyond ones skill level too fast. On a return trip to Graves Hobby Shop, I acquired an advanced transmitter that would control all my planes (which was smart) and purchased a large model plane to assemble (which ultimately was not).

The model on the shelf was an ARF version of the Mitsubishi Zero. This means it was mostly assembled and covered.

It was beautifully detailed and came with an electric motor. This was a large plane (for me) with a wingspan of 40″. I needed to install all the servos and other electric components.

It reminded be of my old model, Mitzi, with modern polyester covering instead of tissue paper. Never mind that it was more of an advanced model with scale control surfaces. It was also much heavier than the little foam planes that I had been flying. The instructions were vague, because it was assumed the builder was experienced. I figured it all out, methodically, and the finished model was gorgeous. I christened her “Mitzi II”. In an effort to make it easy to fly, I also installed a fancy receiver (a Spektrum AR636) that I programmed with 3 flight modes.

I chose Friday, August 10, 2018 for her maiden flight — my 60th birthday. My wife, Kim, came along bearing cookies and met my flying buddies. I had asked Steve to fly my plane first and promptly set it on the incorrect flight mode before giving him my radio. It became squirrely and hard to control, and after about 60 seconds in the air buried itself in the ground, nose first.

I was disappointed, but assured Steve it was not his fault. There is a good chance that the plane was inherently unstable or suffered from builder ignorance — more than likely, the latter. Crashes are going to happen. It looked pretty bad, but I was determined to restore the plane back to flyable condition. I used the rest of that morning to fly my little planes and teach Kim to fly the Sport Cub S, with Doug as her cheerleader.

I accepted the challenge of piecing together the jigsaw puzzle that was my Zero.

She was ready to fly again by the following week.

One problem — the motor shaft was bent slightly, making it shake just a little. I still thought she would fly. Besides, I didn’t want to wait while I ordered and installed a new motor. So, a little beat up and wobbly, the Zero was ready for her second flight.

It was over in about ten seconds. This time she smashed up most everything I had fixed and snapped her propeller. We were finished. For now. I pieced her together again, removed all her electronics, and hung her up in the garage. No backyard burial this time — I may revisit this model when I’m a better pilot.