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        Best Thermal build for beginners!

#1 jrgospod Feb 07, 2005 11:14 AM

Best Thermal build for beginners!
Help out a new builder with a Spirit!

This may sound like a plug but it is not. I have no connection to Great Planes or any other manufacture. I'm retired and am enjoying the winter building. The reason I started this thread is because I just pulled an old Spirit kit out to build a spare wing for a spirit ARF I picked up at Toledo two years ago. I found that the instructions are idiot proof. They go into great detail with most of the build instruction pages having at least 4 pictures and most times 6-7 pictures per page. The first 30 (you got the correct thirty pages out of 40) are devoted to the build and are in great detail with step-by-step instructions. They have diagrams on how to pin down the spar to the work surface and information on what to do if the spar is warped. Nothing is left to chance. An example is step #13 of the wing build where they tell you to "apply several drops of thin CA to the rear portion of the balsa wing tip" to "harden the wood and protect it from damage" and they even have a picture. Now that is just the kind of detail that a newbe needs.

Another nice feature of the kit is that it comes with pre cut and numbered shear webs and per cut plywood jigs to hold the shaer webs in place while the glue dries. They also provide pre cut and numbered rib gauge pieces and a picture of how to glue it together. The only real complaint about the kit is that the wing joiner is week and should be replaced it you intend to winch launch the finish product (but then that is not what this plane is designed for).

The other great things about this kit is that it has about 10 additional pages that cover thing like:

Balance The Model
Final Hookups and Checks
Radio Set-up
AMA safety code
Trim Flights
Hi-Start Launch (with diagrams to show what to expect)
Thermal Flying (with diagrams of a typical thermal)
Pointers for Contest Flying
Slope Soaring
Slope Landing
Powered Launching (with a power pod)
Building Notes (to record information on your build, date, where purchased, first flight, wing weight etc. etc.)

The Thermal Flying section info is great, especially for people new to flying, and the two pages of Contest Practice Record are nice for keeping track of the flying you do. All in all the Spirit instruction book is a great asset for a new builder of any kit. If you have an old instruction manual give it to a new builder and help them get started on what ever project the have.


#2 jrgospod Feb 07, 2005 12:03 PM

Just had a thought that the plans may be on the net and they are. Just be careful, the 40 pages of PDF with pictures are a long download.



#3 aeajr Feb 11, 2005 04:09 PM

I agree that the spirit is a great kit.

Now, from me that is kinda funny because my Spirit started as a RTF Spirit Select. However shortly after getting it I picked up a Spirit kit for about $20 that I planned to keep for spares, or perhaps to build a modified wing.

A month later I crashed bad off of an attempted winch launch. Ended up building a new fuse from the kit. Never built a kit before. Fuse was EASY!

Had to fix one wing. Used rubs from the kit, leading and trailing edge. Plans and instructions were great! All locked together nicely.

Three months later, ended up building a completely new left wing. Went together real smooth.

So, I never built a kit, but my RTF plane is almost completely replaced from a kit, so I guess it is a kit plane now.

It flies great! I love the spoilers too. I have been getting better and better with it at the club contests. Make landing points most of the time. I can land this one better than my full house 3M plane.

The Spirit is still my favorite sailplane.

#4 Tim Jonas Feb 13, 2005 02:06 PM

The Spirit is nice. Low heart rate flying at its finest.

#5 schrederman Feb 13, 2005 05:08 PM


I'd have to say that if you're going to give something a BEST rating, you'd better build all that are available for comparison... You're going to be busy! Just my opinion, but I'd take an Oly II over a Spirit most any day... Yep, I've built both. There are others that I'd build before either of those, but I'm not a beginner. Nothing like having glue on your hands.

Jack Womack

#6 jrgospod Feb 15, 2005 07:11 AM


Originally Posted by schrederman

I'd have to say that if you're going to give something a BEST rating, you'd better build all that are available for comparison... You're going to be busy! Just my opinion, but I'd take an Oly II over a Spirit most any day... Yep, I've built both. There are others that I'd build before either of those, but I'm not a beginner. Nothing like having glue on your hands.

Jack Womack


I agree that the plane is not the best plane on the market but for the price it is a good starter. The best plane (subjective judgment) on the market won’t help a new builder get a plane in the air if the instructions are not detailed. The instructions must provide the simple steps that you and I take for granted. A new builder needs to see a picture of how to pin the spar to the instructions. He/her needs to be instructed to add a layer of wax paper over the plans. That is just what the Spirit instructions do. They lead a new builder to a finished plane and then into flying with almost idiot proof instructions. That is why I think it is the “BEST” for a first time builder. Your mileage may differ.


#7 airHead256 Feb 15, 2005 01:05 PM

Or that Gentle Lady ARF?
I've flown a few spirits, ARF & kits, and now am flying a GL ARF. It seems easier to fly to me. If a beginner were to ask, this is the starter I'd recommend. Mostly because it has a fully sheeted LE and doesn't tip stall like the Spirit is famous for. Instruction book same detail as GP kits, too.
On the down side, I have to get out the heat gun and tune the wing every 3 weeks or so, since it gradually develops wash-in on one side, over and over.
Either way, just seemed like I could fly the GL slower, and I like that.

#8 jrgospod Feb 15, 2005 04:59 PM


I don’t consider an ARF a “build”. You may be correct about the GL kit but I haven’t seen it. The only reason for the thread was to help new builders get started. If a beginner has someone to help then by all means go with what they suggest. If you are on your own and want to start with a kit-build then the Spirit is the best build instructions and additional help I know of to get you flying.



#9 schrederman Feb 15, 2005 07:48 PM


You make some realy good points. I agree with you on all of them. Picture instructions are the very best, especially if accompanied by good text. That's what we tried to do with our club project, the Houston Hawk. We had a couple of first-time builders successfully get through the build and some experienced builders that got frustrated and gave up... go figure that one out...

I was actually just pulling your chain a little...

See ya.

Jack Womack

#10 jrgospod Feb 15, 2005 09:03 PM

Thanks Jack,

I have seen your threads on the HH project and it looks great. You do a great service to the hobby by encouraging new builders into the sport. If I lived near you I would have been one of your students. I was lucky enough to have a club member that did a winter project about three years ago. It was an EPP RE 100 inch poly trainer sailplane of his personal design. We built 4 and two are still in service. The plane was great and served us well. It took much abuse from new pilots but alas I managed to dumb thumb mine into a situation that no plane could have survived. I learned much from the project and had a great plane to learn to fly on. I was lucky enough to have someone like you to learn from. I hope that others will find the enjoyment of flying before they get to overwhelmed by simple kits that ass-u-me to much for a new builder. I really marvel at some of the people that I is see on here that get started without help.


P.S. I still may have to build the HH some day. You use some of the skill sets that I haven’t learned yet but know I could get help on RCGROUPS to complete the project.

#11 fprintf Feb 15, 2005 09:11 PM

A recent article in Model Aviation recommended the DJ Aerotech Crysalis 2M over and above the other kits mentioned (except the Oly II). I'd love to say I have flown them all and agree, but I can only go on what I have read over the years. The Chrysalis seems like a really nice beginners kit also - maybe the best?

#12 jrgospod Feb 15, 2005 09:36 PM


Chrysalis very well could be. As you may have gathered the best flying plane is not my top priority for the best build. A new builder needs a good flying plane (not necessarily the best) that he has explicate instruction that will enable him/her to get it in the air. This must be more than just building instructions. What is needed is full and detailed build and flying instructions that explain, radio setup, trim flights, ballasting, contest flying, thermals, hi-starts, slope flying etc. etc. etc. I haven’t seen the Chrysalis documentation so I can’t say how good it is. I would be real happy to see that other kits have as good of documentation as the Spirit. By that I not only mean the pictures and build instructions but the other voluminous info that the Spirit has. If you can confirm that the Chrysalis has that, I would say we have two planes that new builders could be almost guaranteed to succeed with.


#13 RyanPSU21 Feb 16, 2005 09:17 PM

I've built 2 Spirits and have a Chrysalis kit lying around I've never opened. I will go take a look at it this weekend and see how it compares. I think the laser cutting and materials are much better then the Spirit and I have built a Chrysalis HLG. The instructions and construction for the HLG was far better then the Spirit so I would assume the 2m is also.

#14 Purdue Aero Man Feb 17, 2005 01:09 AM

Those GL's are really nice, as are the SL's. Spirits are great too, as are Spectras...The only thing I liked about the Spirit and Spectra were that they'd penetrate better than the GL's and SL's...All are very good beginner kits.

#15 jrgospod Feb 17, 2005 05:20 AM

You guys keep going back to better flying. That is not what the FIRST TIME BUILDER needs and is not what this thread is about. What a new builder needs is a good plane that he can be successful in building and flying. The Allegro-Lite is a better plane but not for a first time builder. Its not about the quality of the wood or the type of cut either; its about the thoroughness of the instructions on a good plane that a first time builder can be successful in building and flying.


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