| "Toy R/C Planes" in my references are just that. Try Wal Mart or
| Harbor Freight. The vast majority of the planes in the R/C fliers'
| universe are sophisticated and carefully tested miniature aircraft.
| My own best shot for low power consumption and space inside a plane
| would be a large electric sailplane.
I agree about the low power consumption -- sailplanes (another word
for gliders) tend to be far more aerodynamic than other sorts of
planes, and tend to have large aspect ratios, which means they need
less power to stay aloft. (Yes, you can have an electric glider.)
The problem is that most gliders (electric or otherwise) have very
little space inside, as the wider the fuselage is, the more drag it
causes, and drag is the enemy. Granted, having a little wider fuse
won't add much drag, but they tend to keep them very tight, often
giving you barely enough room for only certain battery packs.
| An available design might have a 4 to 6 inch cross section fuselage
| enlarged to perhaps 8 inches if needed to create a place for your
| electronic packages.
Of course, if you want to enlarge your fuse, that means you'll be
building your glider (or at least the fuse) yourself -- it's
relatively difficult to widen the fuselage of an existing plane
without ruining the structural strength and aerodynamics.
| Power is primarily atmospheric thermals with an electric motor to
| initially achieve a working altitude.
... but finding thermals requires a signifigant amount of skill.
(It's also fun!) People have made autonomous planes that take
advantage of thermals and it's worked reasonably well, but it's
probably not the way to go for the beginner.
But it has been done --
(Really, this would be a relatively interesting project for
programming your flight computer. You can either watch your airspeed
and altitude for increases larger than you'd expect from just your
motor alone, or look for increased air temperature outside the plane,
and in either case when this happens you turn off the motor and start
circling and see if you maintain or gain altitude.)
| Flight times can go on for longer than the pilot(s) can stand.
... or, until you're good at finding thermals, as long as your battery
(for your motor) can stand, or if you're just using a high-start about
1-3 minutes each, or perhaps 30-60 seconds if it's a HLG (hand launch
Learning to fly gliders (unpowered ones, anyways) gets you lots of
launch and landing practice ...
| I would like to leave a comment about winds up higher in your region,
| however. Someone I fly with has a cousin in Indiana who flys small
| electric foamies. So far two of them have gone too high and been picked
| up by those higher winds. Somewhere out there in the high sky,
| presumably, are two little lost airplanes unable to find their way back
| to earth. . .
The winds are indeed stronger up higher, but they're not generally
much stronger until you get to many thousands of feet up. What
usually happens with a glider is that you find a good thermal, and you
don't want to give it up, and your plane goes up and up and up until
it's a speck in the sky, and then you glance away, and when you look
back, you can't find your plane anymore. If you're smart, you then
put your plane into a spin and hope to see it as it comes down (and
some reflective tape on the wings helps a lot here) but many gliders
have been lost this way (by flying too high to see.)
Contrary to popular belief, few people have flown so high that the sun
has melted your glue joints, but flying into the sun IS a great way to
not to be able to see your plane anymore!
It's rare that you hit sudden winds aloft that you can't even get your
plane back because of them.
What happens with some small electrics, is that you hit a strong
thermal and don't realize it until it's getting higher and higher, and
then you lose sight of it like the larger gliders. Many people don't
know to put them into a spin to help lose altitude and find them, and
to make things worse, some of the park fliers with very limited
controls are very difficult to make go into a spin, or can't even be
made to dive fast enough to counteract the thermal. (And diving is
dangerous too, as if you go too fast and then pull out, your wings
tend to break.)
In one isn't familiar with the terms, `thermals' are just like the
winds we're familiar with, but they're generally going up rather than
to the side. There's a lot lot more that can be written about them,
but I'm not going to dive into that subject here.