For some reason today, Labor Day, I decided that I had to have something from my childhood as a reward for the dusty work around the house that I performed. It seemed only fitting that this treat have some kind of Coca-Cola flavoring to it, since that is one of the most vivid and constant memories I had growing up. Problem is, I really dislike the way Coke tastes now in the USA, so hopping over to the local Safeway for a beverage certainly wouldn’t do.

First I thought it would be a good time to stock up on some Mexican Coke again. I live in California, I have a Costco membership, this should be no problem… except that it’s Labor Day, Costco is closed, and none of the Costco’s nearby carry the sugary drink any longer. Strike one.

Alright, how about that kiddie treat standby, the vulnerable Coke Slurpee? I asked Google Now where the nearest 7-11 store was and I headed out the door. Upon arriving, I searched around the store to find the magic machine of frozen drink deliciousness. Only once I got close to the machine did I discover the sad truth: the machine was broken, flashing, and leaking some kind of darkened ooze. The store clerk was of no use, simply repeating what the machine had already communicated and then returning to his headphones and music. Strike two.

I set off for yet another 7-11 location. I am now discovering in my search that it is far easier to find Starbucks locations than it is to find frozen wonder drinks. After driving around for another 8 or so minutes, I find the next frozen delivery den. Inside there is a working cola flavored Slurpee machine. I grab a cup, turn the switch and delight in the process of fulfilling my admittedly short term goal of Coke nirvana. After paying the clerk and walking out the door I take my first straw-full of Slurpee and…. I am disappointed.

All of this searching, driving and anticipating had raised my expectations to levels that were unsupportable. I was left with a mildly cola flavored, ice crystal drink and a series of questions about how I recall my childhood. Was the Slurpee always this tasteless and bland? Is my memory fading now such that I couldn’t recall the previous bouts of poor cola taste? Had the secret recipe changed somehow in the intervening years while I wasn’t watching?

I believe I’ve learned an important lesson here: lower expectations are better expectations. And that it’s probably better to buy Mexican Coke, some vanilla ice cream, and make my own concoctions at home. Figures.

I was told recently that I should be putting covering material across any gaps in the hinge areas of my aircraft control surfaces. That seemed very superficial to me, so I put off making these changes for several weeks. However, after flying the Extra 260 today with these modifications I am a believer… at least for this type of plane and flying.

It seems that by putting covering material over all gaps between the wing and ailerons at the hinge line, and eliminating all air gaps from this area, the control inputs and flight characteristics of the Extra are much crisper and happen more quickly than before. I performed the same modifications on the elevators and horizontal stabilizers as well, and again the control inputs seem to be much more noticeable than they were previously. Only the rudder and vertical stabilizer went untouched.

The covering job for this area certainly wasn’t of the highest quality, but the end result speaks for itself. Where the Extra 260 once was docile and slow on low control rates with a gap between the surfaces, now control inputs are fast, crisp and very predictable. I wouldn’t have said that a 1/8th or 1/16th gap between surfaces would mean that much to overall flight performance but I saw and felt today that on aerobatic aircraft, every gap does indeed matter.

It has been more than a year, but the 30cc Extra 260 flew again this past weekend. I was beginning to wonder if it was ever going to return, but a series of unfortunate events conspired to keep the airplane and I separated while it was repaired. Now, however, it seems to be close to full operational goodness, and I’m glad to have my hands on the controls again.

It was bound to happen at some point, but today is the day the T-28 met its demise while flying in my hands. Fittingly, it was a mid-air collision with another T-28 (and another former Bayside member) that ended its flying days so abruptly. Seems there are some things that EPP foam just can’t recover from, and of course I found this out the hard way.

Goodbye ParkZone T-28, I’ll miss you.