Monique van Rooyen
I will never forget the first time I was introduced to this 25-year-old ASP 61. It was also the day I would plunge it nose-first into the ground. Back then, which feels like ages ago now, the engine was bolted onto a low-winged trainer, which itself, was also a few years old.
After some tinkering and tuning, we got the engine to run very well, taking into consideration that nothing has been changed or replaced on the engine before bringing it out of storage. Now that we got the engine to run, it was time for take-off. Everything went well till the pilot lost a bit of orientation and asked if I could take over, which I did as we’ve been flying together for quite some time and thinking the radio would be set up for mode-2. I grabbed the radio, increased the throttle and pulled back on the elevator to get some height.
Height was the last thing the plane got, it went nose-down and created a spectacular dust cloud as it struck the ground nose-first.
Baffled, I looked at my stick inputs and couldn’t quite figure out what just happened. After speaking to the pilot, I figured out what caused the crash, his radio was set up as mode-1, so in reality, instead of throttling up, I throttled down and instead of pulling the elevator back to get some altitude, I pushed the plane straight into a nosedive. I remember thinking that this engine was done for, as we pulled it out of the ground. 25-years old and taking all that impact and only a couple of months later, that same engine was bolted onto a high-winged trainer with only as much as a cleanup and a new propeller, and it started right up pulling the newly bought trainer nicely through the air, on mode-2 of course. We’ve been flying that trainer with this engine for about 2 years now, and the engine keeps ongoing.
Nitro engines have taken a lot of backlash over the last couple of years because of the efficiency of the brushless motors available on the market today but, it’s engines like this ASP 61 that just shows how reliable and tough nitro engines can be and that they still have a place in this hobby.