I recently received this very nice
photo of an AJ Models 62” Acuity from Nick Ziegler. He shared it
with us to use on the website because he used ProModeler DS160CLHV mini-class
servos. Note; unlike models optimized for the 3D craze, the Acuity is a
precision aerobatic aircraft and is the type principally flown for IMAC style, or smooth
maneuvers. E.g. ones, which are perfectly centered on the judges, and where
achieving perfection is all about practice. As such, this story could well be
titled 'practice makes perfect' but instead, it's about brotherly love.
If the trim scheme looks familiar, it's
because it recreates Andrew Jesky's Element - the
competition bird designed by Andrew and BJ Park. Yes, the one with
which Andrew won FAI at the 2016 National Championship! Thing is, an
Element (the airframe alone sans equipment and available from BJ Craft USA) goes for
about $2500. Since this is
out of the money for mere mortals, a welcome piece of news is that an
Acuity, a slightly smaller version of the Element, but one which
shares the same dynamics (and looks pretty much the same because it's
also designed by Andrew) is available from AJ Models at the far
more popular price point of $400.
Agreed, 400 bucks may still strike some as
a tad pricey but consider this; everything is relative. For
example, the FAI competition Element is a bit
larger with a 71” wingspan and will - by the time it's equipped with all
the goodies, like the counter rotating prop Gaishin V4 Contra Drive -
set you back as much a nice used car, or roughly $5000.
So basically, what AJ and company have done for $400 is reduce the
size a little bit, switch to lightweight built-up construction, and
slash the cost dramatically. In doing so they effectively put into
your hands the very same aerodynamic technology as an Element, e.g. a
model capable of winning it all . . . but at a price point where real
people, with real world budgets, can afford it. In short, $400
delivers a high performance almost ready to fly
airplane of impeccable lineage.
Anyway, I called Nick to ask if I could
share the photos and as we chatted, I learned he's actually
the second owner. Seems his brother Jeff Ziegler bought the model and
within an hour of unboxing it, had it dry fit and set on the
workbench (you know, just to visualize the thing). A sought after automotive body man and painter, the stock trim scheme didn't make his heart sing. Since it wasn't quite what he wanted, he mulled it over a little while and then he hit on a plan.
Basically, in a fit of
inspiration, Jeff did something to a brand new model most folks would say is nuts because he whipped out an X-Acto, installed a new #11 blade,
and proceeded to strip off roughly half the covering (Oracover,
or UltraCote if you're stateside). So what on Earth prompted him do that? Simple; he wanted to
recreate a tribute version of the Element with which Andrew had won the Nats by applying that
distinctive trim scheme to his Acuity.
end results speak for themselves. While never Jeff's intent to make the
Acuity an exact replica, the inspiration couldn't be more clear and is a
gorgeous tribute to top pilot Andrew Jesky and his FAI-class 2016
National Championship winning model.
As to why I'm yammering on about these brothers and their Acuity, that's simple. It's because when
outfitting the model, Nick selected our DS160CLHV mini-class servos and after flying them wrote to say . . .
"I have had a ton of
servos over the years, and decided to try these. The bang for the buck
is amazing. Fast servo, amazing centering, tons of torque. Built to last
years and the price is great. These get an A+.
- Nick Ziegler, Moline, IL
. . . which pretty much
says it all coming from a serious pilot.
So how did Nick end up with the model?
That's a whole other story, which as it turns out, involves yet another Jesky design, an ARS 300. We'll leave that for another day but for now, blame it on philos - or as Philly denizens know it - brotherly love.