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Horizon Hobby ParkZone Sport Cub BNF with AS3X Technology Review

If you are looking for bush plane fun in a parkflyer package, the ParkZone Sport Cub is just the ticket.

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Introduction

ParkZone Sport Cub BNF
ParkZone Sport Cub BNF
Wingspan:51.0 in
Length:34.0 in
Flying Weight:33.3 oz (w/ battery)
Motor Size:480 Brushless Motor 960Kv
Radio:4+ channel (5+ channel for optional flaps) (required)
Prop Size:9 x 6
Speed Control :18 amp brushless ESC (installed)
Recommended Battery:11.1V 3S 1300mAH LiPo battery (included)
Flaps:Optional
Manufacturer:ParkZone
Available from:Horizon Hobby
Price:$219.99

I know what you're thinking. Really, I do. Yes, it's ANOTHER Cub model. However, this one is different enough that if you don't already own a ParkZone Sport Cub, you'll soon find yourself wondering why you don't! Keep reading to find out what I mean.

At first glance, the ParkZone Sport Cub BNF appears to be an upgraded version of the venerable HobbyZone Super Cub LP. A second glance might have you guessing that this is just a baby brother to the hugely-popular E-flite Carbon Z Cub. And then there's the E-flite UMX Carbon Cub. So which is it?

The Sport Cub can trace its heritage back to all of those fine models. While the HobbyZone Super Cub LP taught many pilots how to fly, countless pilots (myself included) have taken the Super Cub airframe and upgraded and modded it in numerous ways. Brushless motors, ailerons, flaps, larger battery compartments, and bigger wheels are all common upgrades. The Sport Cub comes out of the box with those upgrades as standard equipment.

Late last year, Horizon introduced the E-flite Carbon Z Cub, and so began the feeding frenzy over an 8-pound foamie airplane! For the longest time, it was impossible to find a Carbon Z Cub in stock anywhere. Pilots loved the parkflyer-style handling and bush plane performance.

But the Carbon Z Cub is a HUGE airplane! A lot of pilots aren't able to store or transport a plane of that size. There's always the little UMX Carbon Cub if you really need to get your backcountry fix. Why not something in between the two Carbon Cubs that I can fly down at the park?

Now you know the ParkZone Sport Cub came to be. Now if you're wondering how a Sport Cub compares to a Carbon Cub, here's a little primer for you.

What's a Sport Cub?

Sport Cubs are manufactured by a company called CubCrafters in Yakima, Washington. CubCrafters was started in 1980 as a small shop that rebuilt aging Super Cubs. Over the years, CubCrafters transitioned from upgrading and modifying Super Cubs to designing and building new airplanes. The Top Cub was their first release and it was a huge success. When the Light Sport Aircraft class was created, CubCrafters released the LSA-compliant Sport Cub and Carbon Cub SS. Both airframes are essentially the same, but the engines were different. The Sport Cub has 100-horsepower while the Carbon Cub has 180-horsepower. Both planes are capable of very short takeoffs and landings, which makes them well-suited for bush plane operations.

If you'd like to know more about CubCrafters and the full-scale CubCrafters Sport Cub S2 that the ParkZone Sport Cub is based on, just click the link. Be sure to watch the videos. Trust me, you'll be impressed.

Kit Contents

The Sport Cub BNF comes with everything you need (except the transmitter) in the box.

  • Fuselage with all electronics installed
  • Wing panels
  • Tail surfaces
  • Landing gear
  • 11.1v 1300mA Lipo battery
  • DC balancing charger
  • Instruction manual

Since this is a Bind-N-Fly (BNF) model, a 4-channel transmitter with Spektrum DSM2/DSMX technology is required. If you want to add the optional flaps, you'll need a 5-channel radio. For this review, I used my Spektrum DX18 QQ Edition, and it worked great.

Just like the rest of the ParkZone line of planes, the Sport Cub is made of Z-Foam. We all know and love the durability and repairability of Z-Foam, so this is a major plus. There's a full line of replacement airframe parts available at your local hobby shop or at ParkZone. Don't forget to pick up a set of floats while you're there.

Assembly

Once you take all the parts out of the box, it won't take you very long to get the Sport Cub ready to fly. I'd suggest laying out all of the parts and bags of screws so you know what you've got to work with.

The instruction manual is very detailed.

Now that you have everything unpacked, grab the battery pack and charger and get your battery charging. You'll be done putting the Sport Cub together before the battery pack is finished charging.

Fuselage

The first step is to get the Sport Cub's big 'ol tundra tires mounted on the gear legs. A couple of wheel collars make that task a snap. The landing gear wire slides down into a slot in the battery compartment and is secured by a couple of plastic brackets and screws. This is a very strong design and I found it very easy to install.

Tail

The vertical fin has two pins that fit through the holes in the horizontal stabilizer and then continue on into the fuselage. Once those posts are inserted in the fuselage, two screws hold the tail in place. A final screw is used on the bottom hinge of the rudder.

Now that the tail feathers are secured, simply hook up the clevises on the pushrods to the horns on the elevator and rudder. The manual recommends you install the clevises on the outermost holes on the control horn, so that's what I did.

Wing

Moving on to the wing, the first step is to install the vortex generator strips. You'll notice the channel molded into the top of the wing. Grab one of the four strips and peel the backing off the adhesive tape. Pay close attention to the orientation of the vortex generators as you stick them down. You want the point of the "V's" toward the leading edge of the wing.

The wing is made of two panels that must be joined together. The strong carbon fiber wing tube slides into the round holes at the root of each wing panel. Once the two panels are slid together, the plastic wing cover is used to hold the panels together.

Now for the fun part of the wing assembly...the FLAPS! Granted, you could fly your Sport Cub without installing the optional flap servo and leaving the flaps molded in place, but why would you do such a thing? The Sport Cub was built to be a bush plane, and bush planes just aren't bush planes without big 'ol flaps, right?

Setting up the flaps isn't difficult, but it does take more attention to detail than any other part of the assembly. Follow the steps in the manual, and pay special attention to making sure both arms of the pushrod are the same length to the torque rod connectors. You may have to adjust the clevises to make this happen. The goal is to have both flaps have identical travel and be aligned at all times. Be sure to use a very sharp blade when cutting the flaps free.

Floats

The floats use the supplied wire gear legs. I did notice that the plastic straps included don't quite line up with the holes in the fuselage for the rear gear legs. I was able to make it work, but the screws didn't go in straight. Despite the misalignment, it has held up to several float flying sessions without issue.

Completion

One major feature that all the Super Cub faithful will welcome is the HUGE battery compartment in the Sport Cub. No longer will you have to modify the the compartment to fit your trusty 2200mAh battery pack.

The manual suggests a Center of Gravity (CG) of 63-66 mm back from the leading edge of the wing at the root. Using the stock 1300mAh battery centered on the hook-and-loop battery strap had my Sport Cub balanced within that range. Using a bigger battery pack would yield the same result as long as you center the pack on the strap. Thanks to the size of the battery compartment, you have room to adjust the pack fore and aft to suit your flying style.

Flying

Basics

The Sport Cub is probably one of the most well-mannered parkflyers I've flown. The AS3X makes it fly so smooth that your flying buddies will be impressed. Trust me. There have been times I've just watched how rock-solid level the wings stayed on final approach and found myself thinking "Wow...how cool is that?"

One thing to watch out for is that if you are climbing steeply and getting a little slow, you may notice some yawing to the left. This is easily corrected by minding your rudder and feeding in a little right rudder as needed. The full-scale pilots out there will know exactly what I'm talking about.

The flaps on the Sport Cub are very effective. First of all, they look great. As I said before, you just gotta have flaps on a bush plane. When you're ready for takeoff, you can use half flaps or full flaps and just punch the throttle. With a little wind, as you can see in my video, you can achieve takeoffs of about one aircraft length. Talk about short field performance! The flaps are also very useful for slowing the Sport Cub down for landing. Drop the flaps, chop the throttle, point the nose at the ground, and you'll be able to make nice steep approaches into those tight landing areas.

One other feature that helps the slow-speed performance of the Sport Cub is the vortex generators. If you've never heard of vortex generators, they are the little fins along the top of the wing. Their purpose is the help maintain the laminar airflow over the wing at high angles of attack. This results in a lower stall speed as well as increased effectiveness of the ailerons. I spoke with Matt Andren at SEFF about whether or not the VGs made a difference. He assured me that he tested wings both with and without VGs during the development and flight testing, and he did see a difference.

Land Operations

First things first...we have to get the plane in the air to talk about flying, right? Well, since the Sport Cub comes out of the box equipped with those nice big tundra tires, let's start by talking about takeoffs.

I first flew my Sport Cub off the short grass in my backyard. The big tundra tires did exceptionally well on the grass. Takeoffs were performed by holding some up-elevator as I advanced the throttle. This helped to get the weight off the wheels sooner to avoid nosing over in the taller grass. Even on the thicker grass, you won't need full-throttle for takeoff. But, if you are so inclined, a full-throttle takeoff will occur in a just a few aircraft lengths. Very impressive! So, takeoffs on the grass...very easy and lots of fun.

Now how about on a paved runway? Well, you won't need as much throttle to get up to flying speed, but you'll have to mind your rudder a little more since the pavement isn't as forgiving as grass. Those big tundra tires really like to grab the pavement, so it will keep you honest. Also, I found that my wheels where toed-out slightly (probably a result of some not-so-pretty landings earlier). A quick bend of the gear legs seemed to help that issue. When your plane can roll straight, it sure is fun to do nice, long, scale takeoffs at reduced throttle settings. Give it a try and see what I mean.

Landings on grass are easy. The grass is much more forgiving as the tires will slide around a little on landing. Paved runways will cause you some headaches. OK, you may do a better job than me, but I've had quite a time sticking a good landing on pavement. The tires really grip the pavement, so if you are the least bit sideways, be ready for that wheel to grab more than you'd like.

Float Operations

Flying the Sport Cub on floats is so much fun. I could stop right there and tell you to go try it yourself, but I'll give you a little insight first. I will start out by saying that you really need to be confident in your landings before attempting to land on the water. You should probably also wait for some calm winds. Not having a water rudder on the floats will make it difficult to get turned around if there's much wind.

When you're ready to take off, line up with the nose into the wind and advance the throttle. Using half flaps seemed to work best for me. Hold in a little up-elevator as you pick up speed to let the floats get up on step. Depending on how much wind you have, your takeoff run could be as short as 15 feet. While it is fun to just punch it and hop into the air quickly, I found that trying to do scale-like takeoffs was also lots of fun.

Now when you're ready to land, set up a nice flat approach with wings level. As you approach the water, start to flare so that the rear of the floats touch the water first. While I didn't notice as much of a tendency to skip like the Super Cub LP did on floats, your results may differ, so be careful. I was surprised how forgiving the floats are on landing. You can experiment with touching down one float first...which was something you couldn't do with rudder-only Super Cub LP. Having the ailerons really made a difference on the Sport Cub. As for using the flaps on water landings, I found that half flaps worked best. Experiment for yourself and see which you prefer.

Aerobatics

The Sport Cub is able to pull off all your basic 4-channel aerobatics. Loops can be nice and big. Rolls are relatively lazy. The roll rate isn't blazing fast, but why would you want a Cub with the roll rate of an unlimited aerobatic plane? Inverted flight is really solid and looks great. Knife-edge passes with a Cub? All day long thanks to the AS3X!

And speaking of AS3X...

AS3X Technology

The Sport Cub is equipped with Spektrum's AS3X Technology. In case you don't know, AS3X stands for Artificial Stabilization 3-aXis. If you read the writeup at that link, you'll learn that AS3X is going to help your airplane in both agility and stability. In other words, the Sport Cub is going be able to do more aerobatics as well as fly in heavier winds without getting bounced all over the place. Basically the AS3X helps you out so you don't have to work so hard.

Could I tell a difference? You bet! I've had several flights in some gusty winds, and I'm glad I had AS3X onboard my Sport Cub. While it doesn't totally eliminate all the bouncing around from the wind, the AS3X definitely calms it down a good bit. Where I noticed it most of all was on final approach to landings. The Sport Cub has a really "locked-in" feel as it glides down final approach. The wings just look so rock solid, that you'll impress those who are watching.

Video

ParkZone Sport Cub Review (4 min 4 sec)

Photo Gallery

Conclusion

The ParkZone Sport Cub is an excellent airplane overall. It has great scale looks, plenty of power, and that nifty AS3X Technology to help you look like a pro. The big tundra tires and flaps add to the whole bush pilot experience. Adding the floats and heading over the pond adds even more excitement.

Is this for a beginner? Well, I don't think I'd recommend this as a first airplane for a beginner RC pilot. It would definitely make a good first aileron airplane if you've mastered RC flight on a beginner plane first.

Pluses:

  • Very forgiving and stable flight envelope
  • Big tundra tires handle grass and rough terrain with ease
  • Huge battery bay to accommodate larger packs
  • Nice scale looks

Minuses:

  • Plastic landing gear fairings break easily

A Word of Thanks

Thanks go out to my good buddy Napo Monasterio for shooting the pictures and video of the Sport Cub on wheels at the Birmingham RC Club. My brother Brian gets credit for the float flying pictures, while Dad was on the video camera during the float session. Lastly, the golf course pictures were shot by my good friend Jeff Biggs. You guys all did a fabulous job making the Sport Cub look so good. Thank you!

Last edited by dee-grose; Nov 05, 2014 at 11:28 PM..

Discussion

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Old Nov 07, 2014, 10:45 AM
When's the next fly-in?
dee-grose's Avatar
Tanner, Alabama
Joined Oct 2003
6,445 Posts
Hey, check it out! Ya'll have fun with it!
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Old Nov 07, 2014, 10:57 AM
KK6MQJ
Bajora's Avatar
Joined Sep 2004
13,742 Posts
Very nicely photo-illustrated review Mr. Grose. Several of those photos are just downright gorgeous IMO. I have and love my larger CZC Cub but after this review, and watching a couple guys local to me fly theirs, I find myself trying to justify adding this smaller one to my hangar too.
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Last edited by Bajora; Nov 11, 2014 at 08:48 AM. Reason: Edited typo
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Old Nov 07, 2014, 02:21 PM
daedalusrobert's Avatar
United States, GA, Valdosta
Joined Jan 2009
628 Posts
Great review Andy...now where's the Yak?
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Old Nov 07, 2014, 03:26 PM
Registered User
United States, CA, Fontana
Joined May 2011
1,210 Posts
A thread with 426 pages & growing on this plane in Electric Plane Talk.

http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2139067
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Old Nov 07, 2014, 08:18 PM
Total Newbie
United States, NC, Fayetteville
Joined May 2011
71 Posts
Great review, and awesome job on the photography. New wallpaper material there foe sure.
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Old Nov 07, 2014, 10:41 PM
Eye in the Sky
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United States, WV
Joined Sep 2013
1,631 Posts
Next step up from the old Super Cub......

I guess they figured those who Learned on the Super Cub, as so many have did so many Mods to their SC with ailerons, flaps, tundra tires, larger battery area, etc etc etc.....They just built one with all those additions already and added some stablization ( AS3X )........the Sport Cub fits that arena Perfectly.

Great review and a plane worth considering to add to any hanger.
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Old Nov 08, 2014, 06:21 PM
just go FLY !!
brn-grose's Avatar
Jasper, TN
Joined May 2004
1,182 Posts
another great review Dee ! i had a blast shooting the pics on the floats.
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Old Nov 08, 2014, 09:56 PM
We shall serve the Lord
kingsflyer's Avatar
United States, TX, Kingsland
Joined Sep 2005
5,136 Posts
Very nice review Andy. There's just something special about a Cub on water. Water pIctures are magic!

McD
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Old Nov 08, 2014, 10:04 PM
We got some flyin' to do!
Justwingit's Avatar
United States, CA, Fort Irwin
Joined Apr 2012
5,061 Posts
Great review Andy !!!

I really like your style of writing and your pictures are always top-notch...

Hopefully I can get caught up with you again at SEFF in the upcoming Spring
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Old Nov 09, 2014, 07:47 AM View Post
mandienvs
A moderator felt this post violated the following rule: Off Topic Advertisement. Show it to me anyway.
Old Nov 09, 2014, 06:55 PM
Registered User
Joined Oct 2014
10 Posts
Great Review! I already own this model and you articulated all the highlights of this model perfectly!

Question:

Can the stock ESC take 4S Batteries?
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Old Nov 11, 2014, 10:48 AM
Terry Dunn
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United States, TX, Lubbock
Joined Jan 2001
862 Posts
Good job Andy. I always appreciate when someone makes special effort to provide quality media with a review. Nice writing as well.
Terry
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