Parkflyers R/C Cessna 182 Pro Series
|Flying Weight:||19.8 oz (561.3g)|
|Construction:||Expanded polystyrene airframe; vacuum-molded plastic cowl; steel landing gear with foam tires, plastic hubs and plastic wheel pants; plastic propeller and vacuum-plated plastic spinner; steel pushrods with nylon clevises|
|Speed Range:||15 - 50mph (24 - 80km/h)|
|Claimed Flight Duration:||Up to 18 minutes|
|Servos:||Four 9g analog micro|
|Transmitter:||Parkflyers R/C 2.4GHz four-channel spread spectrum park flyer aircraft with servo reversing, V-tail and delta mixing and analog trims|
|Receiver:||Parkflyers R/C 2.4GHz six-channel spread spectrum park flyer aircraft|
|Battery:||Parkflyers R/C 1300mAh 20C 2S lithium polymer with Deans Ultra-Plug connector and JST-XH balancing tap|
|Motor:||Parkflyers R/C 1300Kv 80W brushless outrunner|
|Propeller:||8x6 three-blade plastic with spare|
|ESC:||Parkflyers R/C 20A brushless|
|Operator Skill Level:||Beginner; 12+ per the distributor|
|Available From:||Parkflyers RC LLC, 55 Park Avenue South, Lakewood New Jersey 08701 USA|
I admit it: I'm a sucker for Cessnas.
My brother Bob learned to fly in a two-place Cessna 152 and my first ride in a light plane was in that 152. He later became part owner of a four-place Cessna 172 Skyhawk and he, my wife, my sister-in-law and I spent a lot of time in that plane. In fact, one of my fondest memories involves flying over Disneyland during their nightly fireworks display.
As a Disneyland annual passholder, I can say that I've seen my fair share of their fireworks on the ground. They're incredible when looking down on them from the window of a Cessna.
I'm pleased to say that Bob is still flying a Cessna, only his ride is now a Cessna Citation business jet. The old saying about how loving what one does means never having to work a day in one's life certainly applies to him.
And it all started in small Cessna recips.
When I saw a banner ad for the Parkflyers R/C Cessna 182 Pro Series from Parkflyers.com, I had to look into the possibility of getting a sample to review.
My email was answered in about two minutes by Marc of Parkflyers.com who cheerfully agreed to send the sample I'm about to share with you, a four-channel, park flyer-sized version similar to the full-scale plane I enjoyed riding in every chance I got.
Here is a model aimed at beginners including those which have never flown radio control, an impressive claim for a fast, four-channel model. There's a section in the rear of the manual which explains the basis of radio controlled flight, but the front of the manual rightly suggests in the front that a beginner should seek the aid of an experienced pilot.
I strongly urge a raw beginner who is considering the purchase of this model to do just that. Local R/C clubs are a wealth of help and information and any good club should have a designated instructor or two. I know that my club has folks like that who will gladly teach new hobbyists how to fly free of charge; we have both electric and nitro models specifically for that purpose. These models are flown with a training system commonly referred to as a "buddy box." That's two transmitters connected via an umbilical cable, allowing the instructor's transmitter to function as the master, but a flick of a spring-loaded switch atop the transmitter allows the student's transmitter to operate as a slave unit through the master transmitter. Should the beginner get in trouble, releasing the switch puts control of the model back into the hands of the instructor. The Cessna's radio has no such provision, so buddy box training is only possible with a change of the radio system. This might be an economically unfeasible proposition, but a possible one with a borrowed radio system swapped into the model.
In short, check with the local clubs for guaranteed success.
If ever there were a light aircraft that is the quintessential image of modern civil aviation, the Cessna 182 Skylane is almost certainly that aircraft. One would be hard-pressed to visit any municipal airport and not find a 182 or the similar 172 Skyhawk parked somewhere on the tarmac and no wonder:
The 172 is the most successful design in civil aviation history with more than 43,000 units built since its introduction.
Introduced in 1956 by the Cessna Aircraft Company of Wichita, Kansas, the aircraft was produced until 1985 with production resuming in 1996 thanks to an easing of US liability laws. It remains in production today and is second in popularity only to the 172, also introduced in 1956 and still in production.
A version equipped with the French-made SMA SR305-230 diesel which will run on Jet A fuel was introduced in 2013. This version has a burn rate of 11 U.S. gallons (42 L; 9.2 imp gal) per hour and will cruise at 155 kn (287km/h). The normally aspirated gasoline version will remain in production through 2014.
Fo those curious about registration number N9258, it's not assigned to a Cessna 182 but rather to a 1997 Siciliano Frank Charles Zenith, a small two-seater powered by a Bombardier Rotax engine and which is based in Texas. Here's a link to the real N9258.
The Cessna comes complete with:
The following items are needed to complete the model:
All the parts and components arrived well wrapped, packaged and taped. A closer look at the airframe parts revealed them to be smoothly finished EPS, or expanded polystyrene. That's something of a throwback in an age of EPO aircraft, or expanded polyolefin which is a tough, light material often used in automotive bumpers. EPS is also a good choice for a small model such as this due to its light weight, but it's more brittle than EPO. It may be repaired with foam-safe CA and a shot of kicker (beginners, your hobby shop will know what I'm talking about), but five-minute epoxy can be used as well and makes for a stronger, less brittle bond.
The manual even suggests the use of ordinary non-toxic household glue, such as Elmer's or that which comes with the model. That might be fine for a repair to a unstressed part, but the epoxy is easy to use and makes the strongest possible bond for any repair, especially to a stressed part such as the wing or a stabilizer.
For the benefit of beginners, here's the video from the CD-ROM explaining the final assembly and setup processes:
|Parkflyers R/C Cessna 182 Pro Assembly and Setup (15 min 3 sec)|
Assembly begins with installation of the horizontal stabilizer. It's the single most involved part of the assembly and it's still as easy as can be. A nice touch on both it and the vertical stab are protective foam covers which prevent the control horns from marring other parts in transit.
While the manual doesn't mention it, the video does mention first flexing the rudder and elevator so that they move easily later on with no excess strain on the servos. Unlike the fuselage, these parts are reinforced with a plastic coating.
A cut must be made atop the rear of the fuselage which will allow the installation of the horizontal stab. There's a bare area of foam not covered by decals and it's at the top of the pivot point for the elevator.
Mixing up a small batch of five-minute epoxy is next, but I had need of mixing up a bit more than called for. The nose weights had come loose in transit and were in the bag with the fuselage. What little and weak adhesive had been used bore the imprints of mold injection marks, so they'd clearly been stuck to the foam at some point. I'd guessed that the weights were supposed to go in the recessed area behind the firewall which houses the ESC. According to Marc, I'd guessed correctly. No way to get my fingers in the opening, so some needle-nose pliers were used to grasp the shrink wrap around the weights once I'd applied the epoxy, making the reinstallation of the weights a snap. A generous application of that epoxy means the weights are in to stay.
A small amount of epoxy is applied on the opening on the fuselage for the stabilizer and a bit along the areas both top and bottom of the stabilizer itself where it contacts the fuselage. Careful lifting of the foam at the cut area of the fuselage will allow the stabilizer to be installed. Beginners, please note that the control horn points downward and should be at the right of the fuselage.
The vertical stabilizer is then installed in the same manner, completing the tail section. Since I'd elected to use epoxy instead of the supplied contact cement, it was easy to clean up what little overflow there was with nothing more than ordinary rubbing alcohol.
This is about as simple as it gets. The mains are pushed into place in their slot followed by the non-steerable nosewheel. There's a nice little scale detail which makes the nosewheel look as if it has a working strut, but it's just for looks.
I was surprised to see a fixed nosewheel, but since this model is aimed at beginners, it keeps the parts count down and simplifies the final assembly. According to Mark at Parkflyers.com, the fixed nosewheel was intentionally retained for that very reason on this latest version of the 182. It looks as if it might be possible to add a Dubro 1/2A nosewheel to the firewall and to run a pushrod back to the rudder servo, but that's considerably outside the scope of the review.
Attaching the pushrod clevises to the control horns first involves centering the servos with the radio. Beginners, please note that the transmitter is always turned on before the battery is plugged in. Vice versa when powering down.
The transmitter itself first needs eight AA-cell alkaline batteries which aren't included. The battery compartment cover was somewhat difficult to remove, but despite that, the transmitter is a nice looking, full-sized park flyer unit with analog trims and delta/V-tail mixing capabilities. The sticks felt remarkably smooth and well damped, but the throttle had no ratchet. Protective shipping film covers the nameplates on the front, both easily removed.
Beginners: Most airplane radios have a ratcheting throttle while helicopter radios or radios used for both helis and fixed-wing models have the ratchet disabled.
The manual for the radio system goes so far as to discuss a CD-ROM and USB interface cable which allow the transmitter to act as a controller for the popular Flying Model Simulator R/C flight sim program.
The trims on the transmitter were already centered except for the throttle which was all the way back as it was supposed to have been. Adjusting the clevises is a simple as screwing them in or out in order to align them with the holes in each horn. Since I wanted to get a feel for the Cessna the way a beginning pilot might, I attached each clevis to the center hole in each horn per the manual.
That gave me plenty of both rudder and elevator, but not without some slight deflection of the vertical stabilizer along with the rudder under full throw. The rudder was moving freely, so I concluded that the problem lay in the fact that the stabilizer is unreinforced foam. The flexing wasn't a problem with the kinds of rudder throws one might use in the air as tested on the bench, so I decided the flex wouldn't be an issue once the model was in flight and that did in fact turn out to be the case. The rudder does its job well with no problems.
Attaching the wing is next and two things became readily apparent. One was the lack of scale wing struts. Two was what appeared to be too short of a reinforcement spar in the wing.
I should point out that Parkflyers R/C's own demo videos show this model blasting around at high speed with quite a few aerobatics thrown in. The finished model is light in weight, so if the factory thought the wing didn't need a full-width spar or the added weight of struts, who am I to argue? My own testing showed that the wing has plenty of rigidity, so any additional spar material would only equate extra weight.
Scale struts would have been a nice addition, but again, they were intentionally omitted to keep the parts count and cost down, both serious considerations for beginners.
The video claims that the wing is an intentionally tight fit and it was. I learned the fact right after I'd removed the same kinds of protective sleeves found on the tail surfaces and after plugging the preinstalled Y-harness into the preinstalled servo extension coming off the receiver. Although the preinstalled aileron pushrods are installed in the uppermost hole in the control horn, a test of the ailerons showed them to have plenty of throw, more than enough for basic aerobatics by the look of things.
I ran into a bit of frustration here not with the fit of the wing but rather with the difficulty I had in screwing down the wing with the enclosed nylon bolts.
The bolts are supposed to go into ordinary metric nuts pressed into plastic frames and glued under wing's attaching point on the fuselage to serve as blind nuts.
Much like the issue with the nose weights, virtually no glue was used to hold the blind nuts in place. Just trying to start each bolt resulted in both of them coming loose.
Epoxy would have worked well, but I opted to first thread the bolts through the nuts in order to better cut the threads on the bolts and so that I could avoid either pushing down or applying too much torque in order to screw them down.
In the end, I used medium viscosity CA and kicker which permanently bonded the blind nuts to the fuselage. The idea of chasing the threads really paid off; the bolts screwed into place with ease. It just took some effort to make it happen and the wing is now easily removed.
Another note for beginners: My search for any comments regarding potential problems with the reinforcement of the wing did turn up a comment made by a first-time flyer on one of Parkflyers R/C's other mail order sites. The individual had the same issue with the blind nuts, flew the model anyway without reattaching the nuts and blamed the company when the wing separated from the fuselage during flight. I don't want to justify such a comment by posting a link, so suffice to say that all ready-to-fly and almost ready-to-fly models must be checked for loose items, poor glue joints, etc. before flight. The finished product is the responsibility of the end user.
Next, the manual suggests charging the battery. The enclosed variable rate battery charger with its 12V AC adapter is one of the nicest I've seen packed with an RTF model. It will handle either two- or three-cell li-po packs of 0.3A to 1.2A with the current rate adjusted via a simple knob. A two-color LED glows red during charging or if no battery is attached and green when charging is complete. Rather than use my existing charger, I gave the Parkflyers R/C version a try with the knob set to maximum per the manual and it had that pack topped off in just over an hour.
The manual has two full pages devoted to the proper use, care and even the disposal of the battery. Beginners would do well to take this section to heart; it applies to lithium polymer batteries in general. Among the cautions is to never charge the battery at more than one ampere (also represented as "1A" or "one amp") regardless of the prior instruction to turn the knob up full, but a more sophisticated charger will safely charge the pack at its rated 1.3A, or 1300 milliamps.
Some battery manufacturers claim that their packs may be charged at very high rates, sometimes up to five times rated capacity but at the cost of shortened service life. In most instances, that number should not be exceeded due to risk of permanent damage to the pack.
When in doubt, charge at a rate matching the rated capacity of the pack or less.
Installing the propeller and spinner complete the model. The spinner comes loosely attached to the motor shaft and only needs to have the nose cone snapped off in order to remove the backing plate.
I wanted to photograph the motor and address yet another loose item, the motor itself. That meant careful cutting of the decals with a new #11 X-Acto since they were applied at the factory after the cowl was installed.
A quick twist of my 1.5mm allen wrench secured the motor to its mount, but again I remind beginners that many ready-to-fly models have little flaws like this due to the sheer amount of hand labor which goes into their construction. Checking for little things like this and correcting them on the bench will save a lot of grief later on.
Note the nylon-filled plastic firewall with its screw holes for the cowl:
Beginners: The numbers face forward when looking at any model with a front-mounted prop from the front. The angle of the blades will make it apparent when trying to reinstall the nose cone.
Oddly, no mention of the center of gravity is made, but again with a nod to beginners, it should balance properly about a quarter of the distance between the leading and trailing edges of the wing, generally beneath the highest point of the airfoil when balanced on one's fingers with the battery in place.
As I'd predicted, that's exactly where the 182 balanced out, but trying to get that battery in that compartment took some doing. It's a tight fit made tighter by the simple exiting of the wires from the battery itself. It finally went in and after installing it and removing it several times during the test, I got the hang of things and I can now install and remove the pack with ease.
Putting up a bit of a fight as well were the battery hatch retainers. They needed some adjusting with the screwdriver in order to find the balance between the ability to swing around and hold the door and being able to continue to hold the door in flight. They hold the door well, but I recommend having a small screwdriver on hand at the field.
Here are some more tips for beginners:
As with any R/C model, the transmitter is the first thing to be turned on and the last to be turned off. Once the transmitter is turned on and the throttle stick pulled all the way down, the battery is then connected to the model. An initial musical alert tone, two beeps signifying a two-cell battery and a second musical tone means the system is armed and ready and that the factory bind between the transmitter and receiver is good.
By "armed," I literally mean armed. Advancing the throttle will start the motor and believe me when I say that no one wants to come in contact with a rotating propeller, especially an electric.
The 182 ships in what as known as "Mode 2," that is, elevator and aileron on the right stick, rudder and throttle on the left. "Mode 1" is more common in Europe and while the sticks function the same, they're on opposite sides of the transmitter.
Should the alert tones not sound and the model fail to respond to stick input, the receiver and transmitter will have to be re-bound to one another.
Unlike the not-too-distant days of crystal-controlled radios in the 75MHz band, a 2.4GHz system uses a digital identification system which causes the receiver and transmitter to communicate only with each other. In other words, imagine two or more pilots each with a 182 at the flying field. Each pilot can fly each model safely without threat of interference.
That digital identification is done at the factory, but can easily be redone by the end user. In the case of the Cessna, the binding switch at the front of the transmitter is first depressed. The black plug with the wire loop known as the "binding plug" is inserted into the slot on the receiver marked "BATT."
The radio and model are then turned on as normal. The binding mode switch is then clicked outward once more and the binding plug removed from the transmitter.
This model, which came to me via the Garden State, would make its maiden flight in the desert of the Golden State.
It was a hot, dry and somewhat windy afternoon at the Coachella Valley Radio Control Club in Thermal; the weather report showed calm winds, but no one told that to the wind itself.
A range check would be the first thing, so on went the transmitter and in went the battery. Beginners, the antenna should not stick straight out but should point upward when the transmitter is handled. This insures the strongest possible signal.
The range check was fine, so it was time to see how it would handle on the ground. With no steerable nosewheel, the model would have to depend on rudder. It did in fact steer, but only slightly.
Ground handling wasn't much of a concern here, so it isn't really a negative point. Again, the fixed nosewheel is a benefit in both cost and simplicity.
The nosewheel was also binding somewhat; I thought I'd fixed the problem during the build, but the wheel was still binding just enough to prevent the model from rolling freely.
I fiddled with the wheel to get it rolling as best I could, set the model on the runway with the nose pointing into the wind, walked back to the flight line and...showtime.
That dragging wheel resulted in a slow-moving model as it rolled down the runway, but it was still able to get up enough speed to take off.
Now we had something here. Two clicks of left aileron and one click of down elevator had it flying fine.
Even with the least amount of throw possible, the ailerons still had plenty of authority, almost too much which made me wish for a radio with exponential capability. Beginners, that refers to a setting on a computerized radio which will either increase or decrease stick sensitivity at center but which will still allow full throw of the control surface. The elevator and rudder felt pretty good, certainly good for a beginner, but with not quite enough throw for aerobatics. Still, this was a small model in a stiffer wind than usual yet it flew great with no signs of being battered about.
As far as speed was concerned, what I saw looked to be less than the 60MPH (100km/h) claimed on the website even with the wind at its back. It still moved at a good clip, one which would be plenty of speed for a beginner - not to mention a small park flyer - and closer to the 55MPH (88.5km/h) claim on the banner ad.
I later checked with a vendor I've worked with before who has the means to "crunch the numbers" of those parameters, namely the combination of battery voltage, propeller size, propeller pitch and motor speed.
His calculations came up with a speed at the propeller of 55MPH with an actual top speed of around 50MPH (80km/h) depending on aerodynamics, so the banner ad claim was reasonably accurate. That's also a heck of a lot of speed for any model flying a two-cell lithium polymer pack and a real testament to the efficiency of both the aerodynamics and the power package.
It didn't take long for me to realize that the little Cessna was a blast to fly. Even in less-than-ideal conditions, it still had plenty of grunt to move about with some authority; it never felt squirrely or out of control.
After a few trips around the pattern, the wind began to pick up meaning it was time to land since I was now starting to fight the sticks somewhat. Here's where the claim of low-speed capability really showed true. I kept a bit of power on the approach and the little 182 settled perfectly on the center line for a three-pointer. A touch-and-go looked possible, but that nosewheel bound up again. I really wanted to try a touch-and-go since I still had plenty of battery, so I freed it up once more, took off, brought it around and touched down once more.
Once the 182 settled back down on the runway, I punched the throttle while the plane was still moving. Back up she went for a perfectly executed and perfectly fun touch-and-go. Up and around the pattern once more, then it was time for the final landing before the video shoot.
The power system really is well matched, by the way. Even in the heat and after quite a bit of full throttle flying, the pack came out of the Cessna at ambient temperature. That's an impressive feat for a small pack in a small model battling the elements.
Prior to the video shoot, I spent part of a morning experimenting with the control surfaces and an evening trying to get the landing gear to work better, especially the nosewheel. Moving the rudder pushrod to the uppermost hole of the control horn put some strain on the servo while doing the same at the elevator actually reduced the amount of up elevator throw. The best results for each were the outermost hole on the rudder and the center hole for the elevator.
I thought it might be fun to get even more aileron throw which I did by moving the clevises to the center hole.
These were the settings I'd use later on a hot, windy Sunday morning at the Coachella Valley Radio Control Club in the desert east of Palm Springs. A few regulars were there waiting for the wind to die down and when it did, I got the Cessna ready for its video shoot. Club videographer George Muir was on hand once more to record this latest review.
I noticed a bit of chatter at one of the rear wheels, but it wasn't enough to slow the little 182 since it was airborne in moments.
I was fearful that the windy conditions coupled with the added aileron throw would make for a pitchy, twitchy model, but such was not the case. I actually felt more in control than I did during the first flights. Aerobatics would have to wait because of the wind conditions, yet despite the wind, simply buzzing around the pattern was a lot of fun once more.
A perfect landing was moments away - and the nosewheel nixed it when it partially seized up, sending the Cessna heeling over on a wingtip and eliciting a bit of gentle teasing from my friends in the pits since it was clear what had happened. This would not do, thought I.
Off once more around the pattern, one more perfect landing about to happen and - nope. This time, the 182 flipped over on its back!
George didn't have any light oil with him, but he did have some 15% nitro fuel which, of course, has a castor oil base. A small bit of scrap fuel line served as a pipette to help apply some dabs of fuel to each wheel.
That was the ticket. So smooth was the touchdown that the same gentlemen who'd teased me moments before acknowledged the landing with some genuine applause.
Landing is a scary time during the learning curve of a beginner, but the 182 is practically guaranteed to take away those landing jitters. It's one of the easiest landing models I've flown.
As seen in the factory video, the model is in fact capable of some basic aerobatics. Test conditions were less than ideal to try anything with such a small model, but it is nonetheless capable of loops, rolls and inverted flight.
It is, but any four-channel model of this type is not something a raw beginner with no prior R/C experience is going to fly with any measure of success by his or herself. The best results will be had with the aid of an experienced pilot. This will insure success and either reduce or even eliminate damage caused by "unscheduled landings." This saves not only frustration, it saves money.
A new user comfortable with operating a high-performance surface model and who follows the flight instructions in the manual might have some success, but again, I highly recommend soliciting the aid of an experienced pilot.
A more experienced beginner comfortable with flying a three-channel model should be able to step into the Cessna, but such a user should be cautioned that the flight characteristics of an aileron-equipped plane are different than those of a three-channel model which steers via rudder. Once more: Seek aid.
This is me fighting the wind somewhat, but the Cessna still flew like a champ:
|Parkflyers R/C Cessna 182 Pro Series RTF from Parkflyers.com (2 min 4 sec)|
This video from Parkflyers.com will give a better idea of the aerobatic capability:
|Cessna 182 Pro Series V3 - Best Remote Control RC Airplane - Ready To Fly (0 min 59 sec)|
The Parkflyers R/C Cessna 182 Pro Series RTF is a rare combination of beginner ease and aerobatic fun, that is, if conditions are right. All one has to do is to slap on the tailfeathers, bolt on the wing, charge up a battery (and maybe pay a bit of attention to the landing gear) and go flying.
Add to that a full compliment of replacement parts and technical assistance from a US-based company and this neat litle bird gets a full two thumbs up.
I'd like to thank Marc, Miriam and the crew at Parkflyers.com for providing this model for review. George Muir never fails to come through for me as the videographer of the Coachella Valley Radio Control Club and neither does Angela Haglund here at RCGroups who coordinates the publishing of these reviews.
Our worldwide body of readers is why we do these reviews, so from all of us here at RCGroups, thanks for stopping by and enjoy the flight!
Pluses are many with this model:
A few minuses to report:
I'm basing the claim both on how easily it landed for me and how easily it landed in the company's video. In fact, I look forward to taking it up on a calm day, running it through some aerobatics and reporting back in. Wind tends to be a problem out my way at this time of year.
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