Sport flying - a style of flying that can be at the same time intense and relaxing. What makes for a good sport flyer? I like a combination of stability, predictability, and maneuverability. In my eyes, the G-Nat hits on all marks. Combining the grace of a flowing low wing design with proven aerodynamics, the G-Nat is one fun flyer!
Upon receiving the box, the first thing that struck me was how carefully packaged the entire kit was. Protected by multiple layers of cardboard around the balsa, there was literally no chance for shipping mishaps to deprive me of a G-Nat. Enclosed I found a complete G-Nat kit with all the fixin's. A slow scan through the instructions left me with no doubt that this would be a quick build. I wasted no time in getting started.
Laying out the sheets revealed a nice low parts count, interlocking pieces, and a superb job of laser cutting.
The tail feather construction is as simple as could be. The tail feathers themselves are made from sheet balsa and are designed to be interlocking so as not to orientate the pieces incorrectly. The completed tail feathers are plenty strong for the size of airplane and come out automatically true.
Completed tail feathers prior to sanding.
The forward couple of fuselage formers are made in rather a unique way - they are balsa with 1/32 ply layered on top and glued in place. This makes for an extremely strong former that's lighter than 1/8" ply.
Typical forward area fuselage former showing ply/balsa layering.
The fuselage is built from the middle out and from one side to the other, as it were. The first step is to install the forward formers onto the bottom forward sheeting. The instructions and plans leave room for no error in former placement or positioning.
Forward fuselage assembly. Note the blind nut on the smallest former for landing gear installation.
This forward section and further formers are then placed into position on either of the fuselage sides, proper alignment assured by interlocking tabs the whole way. As well, all pieces that have a "left" and "right" are labeled so as not to confuse them. This includes formers, fuselage sides, and the like.
Typical labeling, leaving no room for error.
Half-way through fuselage construction.
The second fuselage side is then installed onto the formers. Two things work to alleviate any possible warping or twisting: a minimal amount of taper towards the tail, and an interlocking fuselage top and bottom, shown a little later.
Installation of the second fuselage half, and already showing signs of being a bullet proof fuselage.
Part way through the fuselage construction I was asked to do something rather unique - install a pair of dowels inside the fuselage. What I couldn't see at that point was an ingenious way to make the battery tray stronger. The dowels pass through two formers and on top of one more sub former. This not only strengthens the battery tray location but also locks the fuselage formers into position, producing the strongest forward fuselage section I've ever seen or felt. As will be shown later, these dowels also work to align the landing gear block.
Dowel installation, passing through various multiple-layered fuselage formers.
Pushrod guides from the optionally included dubro pushrod kit are laid in prior to putting the fuselage bottom on.
The top and bottom fuselage decking is all interlocking as well, ensuring a perfectly true and banana-free fuselage. As I was getting used to with this kit, the interlocking pieces were precise with no slop and conversely no sanding required prior to fitting.
The battery access hatch is also made from interlocking laser cut pieces. It is made per the fuselage assembly methods by using planking and interlocking formers and sheet sides. The hatch was precision engineered for the gap in the fuselage. The hatch gets held in place with two short sections of 1/8" doweling at the rear and a small screw at the front.
Finishing the hatch marks the completion of the fuselage. The fuselage structure itself is impressively strong.
The completed hatch, laying upside-down.
Completed fuselage showing decking installed as well as battery tray in position.
Completed fuselage showing battery hatch in position.
The wing itself is made up from interlocking the ribs into the main spar and then overlapping them with a spar cap. Though the manufacturer provides tabs on the ribs for the sake of building the wing on a bench if desired, I found the wing to come out perfectly straight and true building in my hands. The wing leading edge is a ¼" dowel and the trailing edge is interlocking 1/8", each working to provide a fantastically strong flying surface.
Starting wing construction showing the two main spars.
Even early in construction, we see a straight and true wing.
The wing halves are joined and the spar cap is installed.
The spar joiner is a beefy piece of light ply, leaving me no doubt this wing would stand up to the worst inflight punishment I could inflict upon it. The servo mounts and even a small guide for the servo wire are also made from light ply. As an added bonus, the turbulators are not simply small square balsa stock, but are in fact laser cut and interlocking with the ribs. Also, the ailerons are one piece each - no assembly required here! At this point, I just added these to the long list of features which led me to believe that this kit was very well thought out before release.
The completed wing.
Prior to final sanding, I took some time to check over the airframe and stick her on the scales. The bare airframe before sanding weighed an impressively light 2.5 oz!
The completed airframe prior to sanding and covering.
For covering I used Nelson's Litefilm (aka Solite) in a simple 4-color pattern.
A feature unique to this kit is how the landing gear block goes together. The two halves sandwich the landing gear wire, which is nothing new, but each half is partially laser etched out so as to minimize the layers which are being put together but also remain quite strong.
Landing gear block assembly.
Another unique design feature is the fact that the landing gear block also makes use of the battery tray dowels. The notches out of the gear block ensure the gear cannot move nor be misaligned during installation. The gear is held in place with a single #4 nylon bolt.
Landing gear block screwed into position, showing use of dowels for alignment.
Servo installation is trivial as the holes for the screws are even laser cut into the servo trays. My receiver of choice for this project was a GWS micro receiver with an azarr antenna. For the test flight, my motor of choice is the AstroFlight 010 14T swinging a 5.7x3 APC prop direct drive. The motor is quickly and easily accessible through the bottom of the fuselage via a convenient access hole. The battery pack selected for this is the 2 cell etec 700 mah lipoly. The battery hatch does have room for packs as large as the etec 1200 lipos.
All told, the weight of the G-Nat with the above gear came out to a very respectable 7.7 oz which is lower than the kit stated weight!
Unique control arm assembly, all laser cut plywood.
Tail assembly, showing interlocking tabs in the fin that slide into the stab.
Here we see the rudder/elevator servo installation, receiver location, and motor access hole on the bottom of the fuselage.
Cooling holes were designed into the cheeks. They also work great to hold the motor during installation.
Aileron servo installation and wing rubber banding.
Battery hatch removed, showing etec lipoly pack and CC Phoenix 25 ESC in place.
Ready to roll!
A check of the CG revealed the need for the smallest amount of tail weight (approximately ½ oz) to balance per the plans. I added this and headed off to do the test flight.
The initial test flight was done in a bit of a breeze but I was certain the G-Nat could handle it. She didn't disappoint. The initial takeoff roll was approximately 10 feet from recently torn up ball diamond dirt, and climb out was impressive. I needed just a touch of aileron trim to bring things into straight and true. The G-Nat quickly proved to be a smooth and steady flyer, doing just fine in the 5-10 knot variable breeze. I quickly found myself comfortable doing loops, rolls, cubans, and the like and having an absolute blast. The landing produced a mild noseover as I happened to find an especially deep patch of dirt.
Video 1, showing the initial test flight
No, the video sound has not been edited. The G-Nat with the 010 really is that quiet.
A few subsequent flights were done at an alternative ball diamond due to the position of the sun and therefore takeoffs had to be done with cross-wind. The breeze had dropped slightly at this point so I didn't worry. In flight 2, I attempted to force the G-Nat into a spin. She only emulated a spin by doing a spiral dive, showing very good stability. All low speed testing displayed no bad habits at the stall - just a gentle mush forward. I noticed no trim changes from low to high throttle. Inverted requires about ½ down elevator with the still conservative CG. Rolls are done quickly with immediate starts and stops. Landing speed is slow enough to allow ball diamond sized area flying, as the videos show.
Video 2, showing a compilation of flights #2 and #3.
Further flights were done with the stock power setup: a 6v speed 280 with a 5.7x3 prop. With this combo, takeoffs would still be possible but not from the ball diamond I was flying at as it was about ½" deep soft gravel. From a hand launch, it's quickly apparent that the 280 has more than enough power to fly the G-Nat with authority. Once at altitude, the 280 has enough juice at half throttle for a nice cruise. If brushless is not an option for you, the 280 provides more than enough power for the usual aerobatic maneuvers.
Ups:- Quick construction
- Strong airframe
- Compact size
- Straight lines decent for a first covering job
- Good instructions
- Fast, friendly response from the manufacturer
- Fantastic flying airplane
Downs:- Small amount of tail weight needed to attain proper CG
As a parkflyer sized full house aerobat, the G-Nat excels. No blatant bad habits means a nice relaxing time flying while at the same time ripping up the sky with smooth aerobatics. Also, a straight forward build and strong construction leaves the G-Nat suited not only to the experienced flyer, but also one looking for a second aileron plane to learn aerobatics with. In all, I couldn't be happier with the G-Nat.
The author with his G-Nat and an ear-to-ear grin.
Ready for action yet again!
Ditto on everything Martin said. I built the G-Nat and it is definitely a add CA shake it up and out falls a plane kit. I am a relative newcomer and have flown it every chance I've had. Really sweet performer and although Dave (designer) warned me it was not a beginners plane I have found it to be very forgiving but exciting when you want it to be. This has taken the place of my Formosa as my grab and go anytime flyer. It also makes a great platform for CD-ROM motors. I have a 20T in it and it burns up the sky with this setup on a two cell.
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