Plan file details
Pathfinder. RC pattern plane for .60 power.
Quote: "Looking for that rather easy-to-build multi-Pattern contest bird that can win it for you given half a chance? Well look no further - on the next few pages we have the answer to your prayer. MAN at Work's column tells how it was done in only 6 flights. Pathfinder, by Dan De Luca.
Dan De Luca, Pathfinder's designer, has often been asked how a basically Sport flying type can design an aircraft with such out-standing capability. The answer is simple: Pathfinder draws on well known design specifications, artfully drawn together by a modeler of long standing experience (albeit not in contests) and honed to a fine competitive edge by carefully thought out modifications. Pathfinder is not without its 'baptism under fire,' however, as Dan's close friend, Rich Woznicki has had fine success at many Northeastern meets and Walt 'Butch' Schroder Jr recently brought the design to a fine second place win at Phoenix. Pathfinder has relatively simple construction; attractive, clean lines and superb flying characteristics. We sincerely believe this design will be a stand-out winner in corning seasons and is worthy of your consideration.
Pathfinder #1 looked like a jet and did not sport retractable gears; it also did not fly as well as I had hoped. On Mk II, I changed the airfoil and tail section, altered fuselage shape and included retracts. These changes helped, but I recognized I still had a long way to go. Back to the drawing board and my world of French curves, rulers, erasers and pencils as I drew up a series of modifications on the basic theme. Make it sleek, not boxy to give better penetration was my ever-present thought. Once again the airfoil shape was changed (another De Luca zip special), fuselage was really slimmed down with a diamond shaped stab and a hump was added under the motor mount section to cleanly accommodate the retractable nose gear.
About a month later Pathfinder Mk III was ready for flight. Rich Woznicki flew the new ship and, with bated breath, I watched as full throttle was applied. It rolled down the runway as true and straight as an arrow and lifted off for a sure 10 pointer. Trimming the ship out, Rich put it through its paces. Before it ran out of fuel just about every maneuver in the C Pattern was performed and Pathfinder took to them like a duck to water. We were both pleased with the performance and penetration. Landings were perfect, ship can be slowed down beautifully and has a very smooth flare capability, Inverted and upright modes were right on, very little elevator had to be carried while upside down.
Four other Pathfinder Mk Ills have been built and all have flown well, and this is the version presented. If you decide to build this ship, by all means build as true as you can. I remember as a young boy my father saying, 'If in your life you try anything, no matter what, do it right and to the best of your ability or don't do it at all,' I still carry these words in my mind.
Before we got to the building end of this bird I would like to say that you should build 3/4' in dihedral under each wing tip. This seems to provide better stability than no dihedral at all. I might also add that the center of gravity has a great deal to do with any ship's flying characteristics. You may be able to fly Pathfinder with a wider range than most others, but don't be lulled into a false sense of security. The furthur aft the CG, the easier the spin. However, it becomes susceptible to snap rolls at low speeds if CG is moved too far aft. By the same token, too far forward will render elevators ineffective and the plane unable to flare out on landing..."
Pathfinder, MAN, May 1973.
Direct submission to Outerzone.