A wide variety of aircraft types, styles and platforms exist;
moreover, the materials of which they are made and the level
of fabrication “out of the box” is highly variable. The author
offers advice that will help you make the right choice.
e now have a good understanding of you can buy an RTF model and simply fly, which is
W the electric power system and the
RC system, so the next logical step is
to talk about the kinds of model air-
craft available. Years ago, model aviation was
considered strictly a hobby. The hobby included
what we call the “sport” aspect of model aviation.
IF YOU ARE A NOVICE
Which is best for you? If you a beginner getting
involved with model aviation for the very first
first building the model and then flying it. In the time, my suggestion is to first experience the
early days, the primary interest was in free flight thrill of flying. Don’t let yourself get sidetracked
and control line models. By the early ’50s we by trying to learn basic model-building skills. Get
began to see the introduction of radio control (RC) an ARF or RTF model and get out to the flying
models. field as soon as possible. I also recommend that
As the years passed we saw breakthroughs in you try a parking-lot model (the 8- to 14-ounce
construction materials with the development of
iron-on coverings and cyanoacrylate (CA) adhe-
sives and cements that cure in a matter of seconds.
These advances made building and finishing a
model aircraft easier and less time consuming.
ARF AND RTF MODELS
These and other innovations in model-building
technology led to the current popularity of the
almost-ready-to-fly (ARF) and ready-to-fly (RTF)
models. Today, it is possible to buy a model that
is not only fully assembled, but has both the
motor system and the RC systems installed and
ready to go. All you need to do is to charge the
battery and fly.
Today’s model aviation hobby offers many pos- Lil Hornet designed by Merril Brady at MM Glider Tech and sold
through David Thacker at Radical R/C Inc. The model has a 232-
sibilities. You can choose to build a model from a
square-inch wing and weighs 9 to 10 ounces, putting it in the
kit or, perhaps, scratch-build an entire model from parking-lot category. Battery is a 7-cell 720mAh NiMH.
plans. You can finish the assembly of an ARF
model, or, if you are not interested in building, category) for that first model. There are many
ARF kits now offered in this category, and models
Left: my 21⁄2-year-old grandson,
Hayden Parkes, holds my replica of this size are good training planes. Micro
Profile Powerhouse, an 80-square- indoor-type models should be put off until you
inch free-flight design from the
’50s. I converted it to indoor elec-
learn the basics of flight.
tric flying. The article appears in
the January 2001 issue of RC IF YOU ARE AN EXPERIENCED RC PILOT
So far I have addressed the needs of the beginner.
But what if you are an experienced glow-fuel pilot
who wants to enter the world of micro flight?
Since you likely have the necessary building skills,
you might want to consider building a kit or build-
Right: on the very light ing from published plans. You still will have to
side of things is this ultra-
micro model built by noted
learn some of the tricks of electric-powered flight
Canadian scale modeler, (e.g., battery charging), but that will come with
Jack McGillivray. It is a
920 Moto-Aviette Farman,
time. Basic flying skills gained from fuel models
weighing just 1.2 ounce can easily be converted to skills used with micro
ready-to-fly. It has an 88- electric-powered planes.
square-inch wing area and
is powered by 3 50mAh Ni- Regardless of your modeling background, you
CHOOSING YOUR AIRCRAFT
Fred Marks, President of FMA Direct, with an Aeronca C-3 look-
alike design. This model weighs 6 ounces. Motor is a GWS oper-
ating on a 7-cell 250mAh Ni-Cd battery. Area is 260 sq. in. with a
wing loading of only 3.3 oz. /sq. ft. Included in the 6 ounces is
one of Fred’s new Quantum-6 dual conversion micro receivers.
Another popular indoor and parking-lot flyer (in calm wind condi-
tions) is Dan Kreigh’s MINI-IFO. It weighs only 4 ounces, with 320
sq. in. of area and a wing loading of only 1.8 oz./sq. ft. Powered
by a D-1717 geared 1.8:1 on 10 50mAh Ni-Cd cells. A very agile
performer, it can literally turn on a dime. A great, fun plane—per-
fect for the backyard as well.
good scales are avail-
able for less than $100
from major stationery
suppliers, such as
Staples, OfficeMax and
Office Depot. The scale
should be used often
and will be very useful
in determining the
correct choice of mate-
rials and components.
Knowing the weight of
your models and the ADHESIVES & COVERINGS
is absolutely essential
When constructing or assembling your models, be
to micro flying. This sure to use the proper cement for the application.
Pelouze digital scale, purchased at Staples for about $80, does
Basic CA cement in thick and thin viscosities is
a good job. It is capable of measuring weights of up to 80
ounces with an accuracy of within 0.1 ounce. It will also read up used for wood framework assembly. High-stress
to 2,000 grams with an accuracy of within 2 grams. In this areas (e.g., wing-panel joining, motor and landing-
example, the scale is weighing a GWS R-4P micro receiver and
two Hitec RCD HS-50 sub-microservos. Total weight is 0.7 ounce. gear mounting) need a 5-minute epoxy. Caution
should be taken with models constructed of foam
will need to keep certain things in mind when material, since many CA cements will melt the
building and flying small electric-powered models. foam. Always test for that possibility using scrap
Weight is of primary importance, as is wing load- pieces of foam.
ing. If you have the wing loading too high, the Lightweight iron-on covering
model is not going to get off the ground. Since material in either opaque or
weight is so important, it is a good idea to buy an transparent colors
accurate digital readout scale at the onset. Several
For those who like to build from plans is
this 2.6-ounce model, the Pepper, designed by
Dave Robelen. This is in the sub-micro category. It uses a DC 5-2.4
coreless motor on 4.2:1 gearing and a 7-cell 50mAh Ni-Cd battery.
Servos are the WES-Technik LS-2.4 linear types. Also a marvelous
indoor or backyard flyer.
Falcon/RCS Technik scale SE5a, built by Stew Meyers of
Washington, DC. Model weighs only 3.1 ounces ready-to-fly. Wing
area is 160 sq. in., and the wing loading is 2.8 oz./sq. ft. Photo
taken by Bob Aberle while attending the Indoor Fly at the
National Building Museum in Washington, DC.
Hitec's Sky Scooter is a 2- or 3-channel aileron/elevator model
for outdoor flying. The 32-inch span plane weighs 16.8 or 18.5
ounces depending on whether you are flying the lighter 2-
channel version (300mAh Ni-Cd battery) or Pro 3-channel version
(600mAh Ni-Cd pack) with throttle. It comes with transmitter and
the receiver and servos are factory-installed. Wing loading for
the Pro version is 9.65 oz. per sq. ft.
The Dumas Aircraft Kestral
weighs only 5.5 ounces with a
is used primarily for the parking-lot flyers.
Lightweight tissue covering such as Litespan is pre-
ferred for the micro indoor models. The exact concerning all aspects of model-building
techniques for covering small models can be techniques. I refer you to the websites for
found in several how-to articles. See, for example, Tower Hobbies, Horizon Hobby Inc., Hobby
Dave Robelen’s article in the February 2001 issue People, Hobby Lobby Intl. and Northeast
of Model Airplane News, pages 80 to 82. Also, sev- Sailplane Products (see the source guide for further
eral of the large mail-order houses offer videos information).
CHOOSING AN AIRFOIL
Airfoil choices are also important. Parking-lot or micro indoor flyers perform better with higher-chambered airfoils that permit
slower flying speeds. Most of the airfoils will have been pre-selected for you by the kit designer, but you should learn which
airfoils will offer the best slow-flying performance.
The website, http://digilander.iol.it/neon1/profili.html, developed by Stefano Duranti of Italy called Profili, will give you
good information, and offers free airfoil-drawing software that will run on Windows 95 and later Windows operating systems.
Some excellent high-chamber airfoils can be found at this website (e.g., Benedek BE6356B, used successfully by micro flier,
Dave Robelen). This website will be very helpful if you decide to design your own models.
The GYMFLYR was designed
by Carl Martin (the prop
man!) and is being sold
through Anything R/C. It has a
264-square-inch wing area,
weighs 4.8 ounces, and the
wing loading is 2.6 ounces
per square foot. The motor is
a D1717 geared 11.8:1 using
a 9.5-inch diameter ARC-1
prop running on a Rayovac 9V
NiMH battery. The deep under-
chambered airfoil makes this
a true slow flyer, perfect for
indoor flying or outdoor flying
in dead calm conditions.