Hello All, I am looking to buy my first RC Plane soon and would like some help selecting between the following four models. Mainly, I want something that is easy to fly, hard to crash, and durable when it does crash. A small plane would also be good, as I would like to be able to pack it up and check it in when I fly (on a real plane). My intuition would be to go for the WattAge Cessna 180, except I am worried about how it will do in winds (I live in West Los Angeles and there is rarely a completely calm day). So I've got it down to these four, please give me some input, thanks in advance:
Watt Age Cessna 180 RTF Trainer
PHASE3 J-3 Cub 370 Size Trainer RTF
ParkZone J-3 Cub RTF 3-Channel Electric Park Flyer
I don't have any experience with any of these planes, so if someone who _does_ experience responds -- believe them.
I do lean toward the J-3 and the Decathlon. Both have geared motors; with a brushed motor you almost have to gear it down for adequate performance. The Cessna, with it's lighter wing loading, would be slower and easier to fly, but it will be more susceptible to wind and it has that direct-drive motor.
See if you can get someone to help you learn to fly. This isn't essential, but learning to fly without help leads to an overdeveloped skill at repair and rebuild.
Particularly if you aren't going to get help you may want to consider getting a flight simulator. FMS
is free, it'll work from the keyboard or from a USB game controller, or you can spend a few bucks and get an adapter to some transmitters (you'll have to search around for a training cord adapter). Repairing a simulated plane after a crash is much easier...
All four of those appear to be easy flyers. Here's another one you might want to look at before making your final decision. It's the 'Sky Pilot' ($119) from Tower Hobbies.
When you get to their web-page, Tower Hobbies has a video you can download for more flying information. There is also a manual that can be downloaded. The charging system shown in the manual has been upgraded to a much better charger. I can furnish a digital photo of the new charger. Tower Hobbies recently offered a FREE $10 gift certificate with the purchase of this plane. Check it out!
If you decide on the 'Sky Pilot' you will have to do a very small amount of adjustment. The 1100mAh NiMH battery they supply with the model will NOT fit through the hole in the belly of the fuselage, as described in the manual. I solved the problem with a 'minor' bit of surgery. If you (or anyone) is really interested, send me your email address and I'll forward a couple digital photos showing how to make the battery pack fit in the compartment. You don't want to substitute a smaller battery because you won't get enough flying time. The NiMH they furnish is a very good for this plane.
The RTF kit requires 8 AA batteries for the transmitter. I 'highly suggest' getting re-chargeables! I bought 'Duracell' 2500 mAh, 1.2v NiMH batteries from 'Staples' (or Office Supply). Cost? About $20 (You won't be sorry!) They can be re-charged without removing them from the Tx. Remove the bottom cover and plug in the charger.
Since you're a new RCer and live in the LA area where there always seems to be a breeze, I have a piece of advice. Keep the plane UP-WIND at all times. If you you get in trouble or see that you're losing control, you can always make a 'forced' landing. If you get in trouble down-wind, it MAY fly away from you. Second! Put a couple return address labels on the bottom of the plane and wing, in case you do lose it. Hopefully, a good Samaritan might return it.
Have a good time flying. Good Luck! ____________________________________________ Earl Scherzinger AMA #40329
I talked a friend into getting the J3 for his wife last Christmas(she wanted to learn to fly). She was able to learn really quickly on it and still loves it. Spare parts are also easy to get for the ParkZone models. That said, none of these are going to do well in the wind. I have a Multiplex Magister, a much larger and heavier plane which does well in strong winds. (I've flown it in 30+, but you don't want to do that as a beginner). It's available as an RTF, but it's too big to be flying in a public area, you really need to fly it at a club or in an isolated area.
As far as trainers go, you may just have to live with the low wind restriction for starting out. The GWS Slow Stick is an _excellent_ trainer (It's what _I'm_ starting on) and does NOT require an instructor to learn to fly. It's easy to assemble in a very short time, light (mine, built relatively stock, is only 17.7 oz ready to fly with all gear installed), flies slow and easy, and is quite stable. It _does_ get squirrelly in the wind, but _any_ slow flyer will, by definition.
For more info than you can possibly use about this AC, see:
(Thread 1 of NINE!)
(Beginning of 9th thread, has links to all others)
For training, instead of an instructor you can use a flight sim. CRRCSim is good, free, open source, and available for Mac, Windows, and Linux. See their web site at:
I was able to easily modify a buddy box cable for my Futaba radio transmitter to work with my Mac G4. Neither I nor my 15 year old son have needed anything else.
**&P=7 The Hobbico Superstar EP RTF has recently been marked down $40 from $179 to $139. This is larger plane than any of the other electric aircraft you mentioned, with a 4' wingspan and an almost 3lb. flying weight. Because of it's larger size and weight, it will be more stable while flying in moderate winds and it will be easier to see while you're learning basic flight orientation.
You will need a sizable outdoor area to enjoy this aircraft. Two or three soccer fields side by side would be a minimum flying area. The Superstar EP trainer is capable of speeds and altitudes comparable to "glow" powered trainers.
Spare parts are readily available for this plane through Tower Hobbies. You can also order the plane, as well as spare parts, through your local hobby store.