As dusk approaches, it is time to pack up your airplane and head home for dinner. To your surprise, someone is just arriving to give their airplane a flight. How could that be? Is that guy nuts? Hold on...Is that airplane glowing? Can he do that?
Flying model airplanes at night is now feasible. A glow flyers motto is ... the darker the night, the better the flight.
The Ultra Glow in the Dark Paints have been massively increasing in brightness on a monthly basis. We are at a point in the technology where a glow plane on a dark night is easier to see than a regular plane during the day. This brightness stays intact for well over 20 minutes allowing for a reasonable flight.
A light source at the field can easily recharge your airplane. One flyer actually sits a handful of black lights on either side of his runway for a fly-by recharge.
Although we have not done tests in-house, our customers have reported that our paint adheres well to Monokote. The main complaint is that it looses its shiny daytime appearance.
To accomplish night-time flying, we highly suggest Ultra Green Glow Paint for the majority of the airplane. If you would like a contrasting color, try Ultra Blue, Daytime Orange, Daytime Pink or Pure Blue. It will take about 1/2 Pint to paint a standard .40 airplane.
Although most of our newer glow in the dark paints will glow for hours, you will want them to be as bright as possible for a launch. Therefore, you need a bright light.
There are a variety of methods to accomplish this in the field. The brute force method is to simply use a high-powered hand held light. A much cheaper, smaller, and more portable solution is a used disposable flash camera. These can be acquired by the dozen for free at most photo processors. Keep in mind that these contain a very powerful flash capacitor that can store massive energy even when the battery is disconnected. Therefore, be careful if you open it up.
White light from sources like above have the disadvantage of also adjusting your eyes to the bright light. When you are in a dark field, a bright light is not friendly. A more sophisticated alternative is a portable black light. Walmart often has them in their automotive department. They are powered by AA batteries or a car adapter. Spencer Gifts also sells a nice version. Both cost about $15.
Another alternative is a UV flashlight. A popular model is the single LED Photon III UV. This works if you have a bit of patience to shine it up and down the outside of your plane.
Another alternative is a product called the Inova 5XT UV. It has 5 UV LED's which are focused at two separate wavelengths to maximize its effectiveness. It is about the size of a AA flashlight. Therefore, it easily fits in your pocket.
Rob Atkins enjoys flying electric styrofoam wings. He graciously shared pictures of his first attempt at making a Glow Wing. He suggests Ultra Green for those following in his footsteps.
A big thanks to Rob for sharing his photographs and information.