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Great Planes Fling

Pat Mattes reviews Great Planes new hand-launch ARF glider that even includes its own mini-high start. The Fling offers a high level of pre-fabrication, combined with an extremely low build time, and great flight performance!

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Introduction


Wingspan:48.5"
Wing Area:285 sq. in.
Weight (as flown):8 oz.
Length:31.5"
Wing Loading:4 oz/sq. ft.
Servos:MX-50 (2)
Transmitter:Hitec Focus III
Receiver:GWS 4P
Battery:4-cell 720mah AAA
Motor:n/a
ESC:n/a
Manufacturer:Great Planes
Available From:Tower Hobbies

While my friends at work are playing golf, I'm always at the flying field. I routinely tell them that "the only good use for a golf course is a round of Hand-Launch Golf!" I only get blank stares from them, while I try to explain what HL golf is. And so begins my explanation of the glider facet to the guys at work, most of whom have already walked away for some reason...

First off, in case Iím reaching several golfers turned glider-guiders, HLG stands for hand-launch glider, not hand-launch golf. HLG generally refers to gliders with wingspans of 1.5 meters or less, with other glider classifications in the industry including:

  • 2-Meter (span of 2 meter or less)
  • Standard Class (span of 100" or less)
  • Unlimited Class, which as you might expect is essentially no wingspan limit.

Iíve been flying RC gliders for 15 years and have competed locally and nationally, so gliders have been an integral part of my RC life. Iíve flown in all the glider classes above, and have even participated in HLG and "Mosquito Class" contests. Each and every class is unique and fun in itís own way, but now having a bunch of kids (and not one of them iswilling to retrieve the winchline for me), Iíve gravitated towards the HLG class of gliders for their simplicityy and minimal requirements for launch equipment. The "perfect evening" usually consists of a transmitter in one hand and a HL glider in the other, flying until it gets dark, or until your shoulder gives out, whichever comes first.

As soon as I saw the Fling advertisement, I contacted RCGroups.com, and asked if I could do a review of it. Within days the box was on my doorstep, and I was anxious to get started.

Kit Contents and Design

My first interest was in the design and construction of the wing, as Iíve seen many HLG class gliders on the market where a good portion of the outboard wing was nothing more than an upturned slab of balsa. The Fling maintains a true airfoil from root to tip. The wing is a double-taper leading edge design, with a span that measured exactly 48.5". It has a root chord of 7".

My second interest was in the fuselage construction. The fuselage is a "pod and boom" type, which minimizes drag and weight without sacrificing strength and durability.

The pod is fiberglass and is finished off with a glossy white paint. The boom is carbon fiber and left in its natural state. The tow-hook has what appears to be Kevlar reinforcement in the fiberglass for the T-nut, in addition to the hardwood anchor. Slots for the pull-pull elevator/rudder control system are pre-cut into the boom, and the control threads are already strung through and taped temporarily. A hardwood dowel reinforces the stabilizer flat cut into the top of the boom. The laser-cut servo box is already bonded in place, and the wing hold-down dowel holes are predrilled.

The horizontal and vertical stabilizers have lightening holes in them and are pre-hinged. Last but not least, the kit includes carbon fiber wing dowels, trailing edge protector, two pass-through control horns for the pull-pull system, and even the rubber bands. This is going to take less time to build than what Iíve just spent typing to this point! All the above parts add up to 5.5 ounces on my electronic scale.

Assembly:

Now that all the fun kit parts were out of the box, I figured I better dig out the manual and the other goodies. The other goodies included in the box are a 30-foot length of 3/16" surgical rubber, 200-feet of line and a streamer. This is wound on a convenient wood loom, and they even included a ground stake as well.

Anything designated as an ARF these days can almost guarantee you a build time of a day or two at most. Looking at the simplicity and the level of completeness on the Fling I wondered if it wouldnít be measured more on a scale of minutes!

As usual the manual was wonderfully done, with complete preparation and required tools listed right up front. A kit contents page showed what should be inside the kit, and a number to call if anything came up missing. Given the excellent instructions, I won't try to recreate them here, but rather point out the high points, interesting spots, and anything to watch for.

Wing:

I found the wing joiner fit slightly too snug. I made sure the wing sockets were perfectly clean (and they were), and then I sanded the joiner. I started out by rounding the corners, and that was all that was required. This was sufficient to allow the joiner to go in without having to muscle it in and risk breaking the wing.

PLEASE NOTE:: The wing joiner is actually beveled in two directions. It not only sweeps "up" for dihedral; it also sweeps "back" to compensate for the angle in the spar receptacle. Perform the trial fit and youíll see what I mean.

(The snug fit of the joiner left no ability to adjust the dihedral, but since it matched the recommended 5-1/2" I didn't need to do any further adjustment)

Fuselage:

That was quick...

Tail Assembly:

When I cut away the thin slice of covering at the stabilizer center, top and bottom, to provide firm anchorage for gluing the rudder and boom to the stabilizer, I was careful not to cut more than the width of the part that will get attached. The instructions noted that the top surface of the stabilizer was identified by the surface the hinge tape it's on.

The stabilizer must be mounted by pushing it forward to the edge of the boom cutout, and parallel with the wing. More importantly, the rudder must line up with the fuselage centerline. Once satisfied with the fit, I secured it in place with thick CA.

Itís equally important that the control horns be centered to allow for proper operation of the control threads.

I noticed the hinges were a little stiff from the glue, so I worked them back and forth to free them up.

Servo Installation

Installing the servos was the easy part, I just dropped them in place and screwed them down. The instructions say you could spot-glue the servos in to save the weight of the screws, but I recommend staying with the screws because youíll want to cinch up the control threads tightly. An unsecured servo during flight would be far worse than a few grams of weight penalty.

Control Thread Installation and Throws

Three threads came out the left side of the tail boom(as viewed with the plane is facing away from me). Two of these were tied to the upper and lower control horn for the elevator, the other to the left rudder horn. There was one thread exiting the right side of the boom, which was tied to the right rudder horn. It didnít matter which threads were tied to the horns, because I was able to sort them out during attachment to the servo output arms. (Please be sure to read the note about control threads at the end of this review).

It took a fair amount of finagling to get these set up and tied off correctly. It took me about 15-20 minutes, so donít get frustrated if it takes a while. It was important that I took all the slack out, and it actually benefitted the threads to be stretched just a bit when the final knot was tied.

Control Travel

The instructions called for about Ĺ" of elevator throw and about ĺ" of rudder throw.

Final Hookups and CG

The instructions called for the receiver to go in the nose pocket ahead of the servo tray, and the battery up against the forward bulkhead in the wing bay area. I set my Fling up this way and found the CG to be too far aft. I switched the battery to the nose, and the receiver in the wing bay, and the balance was perfect. Be prepared for either setup, it will mostly depend on your choice of radio equipment. Since my battery needed to be in the nose, I added some foam in front of it.

Flying

Of course, for safety, every pilot should always conduct a range check before your first flight. (Itís also a good idea to take a review plane's pictures before it's first flight too!)

Once I was satisfied that the range was good, I checked the balance one more time and gave the Fling a gentle toss forward. It was a perfectly calm evening for the first test flight, and just that gentle toss forward resulted in a decent walk. Satisfied with the initial dynamics, I picked it up and tossed it a bit harder this time, just to get a feel for how it would handle. Rudder response was a little slow, so I took a larger sweep on the return. The third time I heaved it pretty hard and took the Fling up as steep as I could. I leveled off at the top and flew out and around. This time I had enough height that I could test the handling. The elevator response was very crisp; it took very little stick movement to change the gliderís attitude. I still found the rudder response to be a little less than I would like, but it was enough to fly comfortably in my flying area.

On the high start

I checked the battery voltage, then set up the mini high-start. It took 230 feet or so to roll out the high-start in itís relaxed state, and another 90 feet to stretch it out. The instructions recommended I stretch the high-start about 60 feet (20 yards) for the first flights, and never more than 90 feet (30 yards). I only pulled about 30 feet (10 yards) for the first try, hooked up the tow ring, and tossed the Fling forward and upward. It accelerated rather quickly and tracked nicely on the way up. I flew it off the line and REALLY got a chance to see how she flew. The Fling felt very light in the air; it was reading the pockets of air turbulence really well. It took only a light touch on the elevator, and responded very well to getting banked. I wasnít timing the flights, but I was very comfortable with the flight time I had on just a light launch.

I stretched out the high-start a little farther this time, still shy of the recommended 60 feet. Again, the Fling took off and up in a rock-steady climb, the line streamer flapping wildly. In just seconds I was off the line and floating around the field. I took the opportunity to speed this flight up a bit, and found that the Fling responded well and covered some ground in a hurry when asked. I slowed things back down some, circled around, then landed. It was now starting to get dark and I packed it up for the night.

Second Day Out:

A fresh charge on the flight pack and I was ready to try again the next day. Again it was around 6:00 pm, so there was little air, but very little thermal activity. I started out with just hand launches, throwing harder and harder to get a feel for how it handled.

The manufacturer confirmed that several launch points where used in the design, and for me, the rear carbon fiber wing hold-down made for a heck of a nice two-finger launch peg! I canít recommend this; it is stressful on the aircraft, and if you snap one youíll likely lose your plane on launch when the rubber bands come off. Use good judgment, or if youíre the modifying type put a wing hold down in that you know you canít break.

The manufacturer indicates that hand-launching using the forward peg will give a more forward launch with about the same launch altitude, with a lot less stress on the model and less chance of damaging the plane. They indicate it can also be launched by grasping the fuselage near the center former, or even by the nose where the servo tray is. However, they recommend the forward dowel as the least stressful for the aircraft.

I strung the high start out again and experimented with the full 30 yard maximum recommended tension. The Fling tracked beautifully all the way up, and I could immediately tell the difference in the launch speed and height with the added tension.

Another option would be to put in a few clicks of up-trim which increases the climb rate, but donít use too much trim or you could risk tip-stalling it on launch and those are never pretty. I bumped it up a click or two from flight trim for launch. The resulting flights were very relaxing, demonstrating the Flingís capability of large graceful turns and tight high-bank turns too.

Third Day:

I went over to a friendís house (who also purchased a Fling) and we were able to set up the high-start at his place. It was a windier day, so I was a little concerned about flying a plane this light. The headwind really improved the launch height, and I was surprised at how well the Fling "stayed on line" on the way up, even with the greater line tension. The wind was easily 10-15 mph, and once off the high start the Fling had no problems making headway. It is a light sailplane, but has a small enough profile that it penetrated through the wind just fine when I pushed the nose down a tad. I was able to play in a few thermals for a short while, and had a blast.

Downloads

Summary

Assembly:

Putting the Fling together for flight was a very simple affair, and could be done in a half-hour. Stringing the pull-pull system was a little time-consuming, but even considering that slow spot, the Fling can be started on a Friday evening and flown Saturday morning with ease. All the components fit perfectly. The instructions were well written and included several sidebar discussions on flying tips, thermal hunting, and even a section on slope soaring. Iím planning on a trip to a slope site sometime this year, so Iíll provide an update on this review after that.

Flying:

The Fling is enjoyable just tossing and catching it in your back yard. Utilizing the high start allows for much longer flights and puts you in a position to catch thermals better. The Fling handles well, and is decently stable hands-off. Elevator response is quick, so Iíd recommend you keep to the lower side of the recommended travel. Rudder response is a little slow, and youíll want to set the travel at the high side (at a minimum) for that. It responds well in "signaling" thermal activity, handles low to moderate winds, and even handled a tumble during a landing attempt when the wind gusted.

Other Considerations:

The only thing that concerns me is that the control threads started to show some "fuzz" at the tail boom exit slot. Carbon fiber is abrasive, and with the threads starting to show wear after less than Ĺ hour total flight time, Iím concerned that long term use will cause a thread failure. At the very least you should make routine inspections, but perhaps a better preventative measure would be to put a softer bearing surface at the exit hole. A small plastic tube would work great, and would be well worth the effort of re-stringing the lines through it.

Overall

In my opinion, the intended market of the Fling is the average sport flyer, whether interested in just a small-field glider, or learning the basics of hand-launch gliders and launching/flying techniques. With that intended market in mind, I rate the Fling between "Very Good" and "Excellent" on the typical 5-level rating system. Now I canít wait for my slope soaring trip!

Discussion

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Old Aug 23, 2004, 11:39 AM
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Fredrik W's Avatar
Stockholm, Sweden
Joined Jul 2002
1,249 Posts
Pat, do you think that it is possible to add barlast right at the C/G for the windier days at the slope?


// Fredrik Wergeland
Sweden
www.flyingmodels.org
The Great Electric Motor Test
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Old Sep 02, 2004, 03:38 PM
Just Slopin'
mike85gn's Avatar
Winnipeg, MB.
Joined Sep 2004
33 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fredrik W
Pat, do you think that it is possible to add barlast right at the C/G for the windier days at the slope?

// Fredrik Wergeland
Sweden
www.flyingmodels.org
The Great Electric Motor Test
It's been my experience that the plane flies better when the ballast is spread out a bit, some in the front and some in the rear. Seems to give it more stability overall and better penetration, which helps on the windier days.

1st post!
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Old Dec 25, 2007, 12:55 AM
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Joined Sep 2006
795 Posts
I got a Fling for christmas. Where did you get the battery, I dont have one and I can't find one . (the one you're using or the one recomended in the manual)
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Old Jan 15, 2008, 11:46 AM
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HamiltonCooper's Avatar
Orange County, Placentia
Joined Jan 2008
420 Posts
I use CR2's just like in the Liftworx Swyft. I put them where he has his receiver
and I put the receiver up front.

Also look here for some great reviews and mods.

http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=245940
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Last edited by HamiltonCooper; Jan 30, 2008 at 02:27 PM.
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Old Jul 06, 2009, 09:46 PM
Registered User
Naperville, IL
Joined Mar 2009
833 Posts
I have had a Fling for about 1.5 months now. Most of my flying has been at an old garbage hill. Greene Valley forest preserve in IL. I have flown it quite well in winds up to 20 mph. I only added about an ounce of ballast. When the winds are lighter no ballast is required. My Fling weighs 8.5 oz with no ballast. I have the receiver in the nose and a 700mAh NiMh right behind the servos.
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Old Mar 02, 2014, 04:07 AM
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New Zealand, Wellington, Masterton
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Why would you not install pushrods instread of threads?
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Old Mar 02, 2014, 04:07 AM
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wing

Could u make this as a 2-piece wing?
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Old Mar 02, 2014, 08:38 AM
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Piper J3's Avatar
Hinckley, Ohio
Joined Nov 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kiwichristian View Post
Why would you not install pushrods instread of threads?
Weight and balance. I use Kevlar thread for tail surfaces. Keeps tail, which has a long moment arm, as light as possible.
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Old Mar 02, 2014, 12:28 PM
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United States, CA, Ventura
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kiwichristian View Post
Could u make this as a 2-piece wing?
I have a Fling incoming from Tower and plan to make it a 2-piece wing. Might have to recover the wing as well depending on how the wing joiner goes in. Or I may build this one as a 1-piece wing and buy a $30 replacement wing for the 2-piece surgery.
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Old Mar 02, 2014, 04:49 PM
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New Zealand, Wellington, Masterton
Joined Jul 2010
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2 piece wing

Quote:
Originally Posted by Econoline View Post
I have a Fling incoming from Tower and plan to make it a 2-piece wing. Might have to recover the wing as well depending on how the wing joiner goes in. Or I may build this one as a 1-piece wing and buy a $30 replacement wing for the 2-piece surgery.
I am thinking those strong magnets at the root ribs.

Or aluminium tubes with grub screws or something?

I dunno.

Someone said most of the stuff on here about the fling has been negative, but I find the opposite.

The other one I had in mind was this one:

http://www.r2hobbies.com/2-channel-r...mo-glider.html
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Old Mar 02, 2014, 04:51 PM
Proud member of LISF and ESL
LI, New York, USA
Joined Mar 2003
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kiwichristian View Post
Could u make this as a 2-piece wing?
I don't have this glider but I see no reason why you could not keep it as two piece wing. Use packing tape to join it at the field, then cut or remove it at the end of the day.

I don't' think there is an alignment pin at the back of the root rib so you should add one to handle the twisting forces.
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Old Mar 02, 2014, 05:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aeajr View Post
I don't have this glider but I see no reason why you could not keep it as two piece wing. Use packing tape to join it at the field, then cut or remove it at the end of the day.

I don't' think there is an alignment pin at the back of the root rib so you should add one to handle the twisting forces.
Sounds good and easy.
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Old Mar 02, 2014, 05:38 PM
Proud member of LISF and ESL
LI, New York, USA
Joined Mar 2003
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Remember the joiner assumes you will glue the halves together so it is mainly a alignment device. Consider making something stronger.
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