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Old Mar 25, 2005, 01:25 PM
Cal
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San Gabriel, California
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Balsa versus Foam.....An Opinion from a 1st time balsa flyer..

I know this has been discussed a bunch of times before, but I just thought I'd weigh in here.

I've only been flying for about a year now. I am not an advanced pilot by any means.........I guess I'd classify myself as an intermediate.

My first plane was an Outlaw. Second plane, a Slo-V. Third plane.....an E-Starter. Fourth plane a Slow Stick and my fifth is a Formosa..........So up until now, all my planes have been foam.

I just maided my balsa Switchback yesterday, and took her up again today.
I've heard many here say that there is a difference between flying balsa versus flying a foam model but they just couldn't put it into words. I'll try.............the Switchback seemed.............lighter and stiffer..........She weighs less than a foam model and she doesn't flex, so in the air, she flies more like she's on rails.......more stable, yet......more manuverable...........In my opinion, I can see myself wanting to fly my Switchback a whole bunch more than my other planes.

Now how much of this has to do with the fact that it's balsa versus foam, or just the design of the Switchback? Probably a little of both, but man, is she one sweet flyer.

I was eying the new Multipex powered Easy Glider and an Alpha warbird, but after flying the Switchback, I don't know if I'll ever want another foam plane.....
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Last edited by Cal; Mar 25, 2005 at 01:31 PM.
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Old Mar 25, 2005, 01:53 PM
Callsign: CornDog
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Milpitas, CA
Joined May 2003
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I don't I'd suggest you try a few more balsa planes and then see. I've flown both, and to me, there is no difference, with the exception of appearance. The balsa planes are going to look less realistic on rounded surfaces. The foam planes are much easier to detail to look real.

Also, wait till you have to repair a balsa plane. It tends to be more difficult.

What I'm saying may not sway you, and that's okay. Just throwing in my 2 cents!
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Old Mar 25, 2005, 02:15 PM
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It's really hard to duplicate the beer cooler details in Balsa!


But balsa flies better!
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Old Mar 25, 2005, 02:33 PM
Cal
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San Gabriel, California
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HawkLover
\
Also, wait till you have to repair a balsa plane. It tends to be more difficult.
Ya know, I've heard that here a lot, but balsa seems to sustain less damage, as weird as that may be, and again, this is only my experience.

Yesterday, when I was maidening the Switchback, my first few flights were on pretty low rates. On my third flight, however, I inadvertenty hit the dual rate switch and unknowingly, set her up on high rates. Holy *$*%*.......I wasn't expecting that. Thumbs starting to go crazy, got her inverted about 2 feet above the deck (not on purpose) and crashed her in upside down. Damage......one wheel came off the landing gear and the vert stab got a little lose.........Put the wheel back on, a little CA between the stab and the fuse and all was good again.

Nosed the Formosa in and snapped the fuse in half in two different places along with the wing coming off with a major crack in the wing. Servo's just hanging everywhere, and the motor mount stick is at about a 45 degree angle. Now granted, the crashes were quite a bit different, but the Formosa weighs a bunch more than the Switchback, and because of that, along with the kind of foam GWS uses, repairing the Formosa is gonna be much more of a pain than repairing the Switchback. Granted, if the damage was the same on both planes, the Formosa may be easier to fix.........but I don't know. Fixing a balsa piece and re-covering doesn't seem to be too tough.

I've heard it said here many times before that assuming the crashes would be the same, that a balsa would sustain more damage. In my experience, that may be true for EPP or Elapor, but not necessarily with the foam that is used on either GWS or Alpa planes........
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Old Mar 25, 2005, 02:34 PM
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Balsa is very easy to replair. And in most situations, with a little effort can be repaired to look as good as new, whereas that's really not possible with a foamie. Balsa planes can be every bit as sexy over round surfaces as foam... but most people go for the lighter plane that a covered open structure brings. The planes at Top Gun... as real as "realism" gets, and let me say that they aren't "foamies" ...just to make the point that it's not the medium that brings stringers and open frames to balsa models. If foamies could have a strong enough structure with an open frame, they'd be that way too. A lighter plane, is a happier plane.
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Old Mar 25, 2005, 02:39 PM
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Tri-City Airport Municipal, Tennesse, United States
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I've cracked foamies with a normal belly landing that should never have done damage. My SA Cap has had a few nose overs with landing (I land on a grass strip) without any appreciable damage.

Jake
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Old Mar 25, 2005, 02:43 PM
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Balse wings are no fun to repair, foam wings are easy to repair. So go break a wing!!
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Old Mar 25, 2005, 02:46 PM
Cal
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San Gabriel, California
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I really didn't want this thread to veer off into the differences in repairability, but more, into a discussion on the flight differences between flying a balsa plane versus a foam plane. Like I said, I like the way the Switchback flies better than any other plane I have. How much of that is because it's made of balsa versus the basic design of the Switchback?
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Old Mar 25, 2005, 02:54 PM
Callsign: CornDog
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Milpitas, CA
Joined May 2003
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If were telling stories...

I flew my formosa at full power into a light post. Pieces falling everywhere. In a few days (equates to a couple hours) I had her up again looking and flying the same.

I also had a GWS A-10 nose in ... spent a few minutes collecting all the pieces. After piecing her together like a puzzle, filling gaps with light weight spackle, she looked better than before. If you're interested, i can post a link to the before and after pictures.

Now I have a MM P-38 (balsa) with a small proken tail seciont. So now I have to remove a seciont of covering, cut out the broken parts, make new pieces, and cover again. This is right next to the vertical stab, so it will not be an easy area to work on. And this happened on a rough 3 point landing... If it were foam, it would not have broken at all.

I can tell you this is a debate that nobody will win on. If your a foam person, you will remain a foam person. If you are a balsa person, you will remain a balsa person.
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Old Mar 25, 2005, 02:55 PM
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Milpitas, CA
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I've flown the switchback ... it's a great plane! I enjoy flying it ... a lot. My foam P-38 flys better (IMHO).
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Old Mar 25, 2005, 02:55 PM
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Litchfield Park, AZ
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Balsa planes feel more "solid" to me than foam planes. I always feel like I'm going to dent my PT-17 when I carry it.
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Old Mar 25, 2005, 02:55 PM
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central PA.
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Flight difference?... none.

It's up to the design, and how heavy it comes out. That's it. Concrete planes would fly just as well if you could keep the weight down.
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Old Mar 25, 2005, 03:01 PM
Cal
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San Gabriel, California
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Quote:
Originally Posted by theKM
Flight difference?... none.

It's up to the design, and how heavy it comes out. That's it. Concrete planes would fly just as well if you could keep the weight down.
Yeah, but is it all just weight, or is it the stiffness to weight ratio, for the Switchback not only seems lighter in the air, but tracks better as well.......
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Old Mar 25, 2005, 03:11 PM
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Wheeling, Illinois
Joined Dec 2003
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Belly Up
Balse wings are no fun to repair, foam wings are easy to repair. So go break a wing!!
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cal
really didn't want this thread to veer off into the differences in repairability,
Sorry, but I just want to say one thing. I've had my Dandy Sport for almost a year (may) and Throughout its life it has gone through various number of Fuse's (motor mount broke twice and shredded the fuse midair) I'm on my 4th fuse and FIRST wing. I totalled one of my fuses in a nasty stall/gust 3 feet off the ground. Wing took NO damage. I bet a foam wing would've cracked EASILY. Balsa wings, if built right can be extremely rigid.

OK, I've said all I wanted to say about repairability. About flying... My only foamies are a Slow Stick, and a Tigermoth (and a Mini Speed Wing, but thats different). I've got 2 balsa birds. A Dandy Sport/GT and a SA Stella. Both fly like they are on rails and go where you point them. NO wing flex. I'm not afraid to put either of those planes into a dive and no worry about folding a wing. I would never do that with my tigermoth or Slow stick. I would generally say that a balsa plane would be lighter then a foam model of the same size if built right. There is my 2 cents
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Old Mar 25, 2005, 03:11 PM
Brunswick, Ohio
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The reason the Switchback flies so nice compared to the others you've flown is that the Switchback is a much better plane then the others you've flown! Pure and simple- I prefer Balsa as I think it looks better, is stronger, and I like how it repairs as opposed to foam but it's just a preference, there are great flying foamys out there.

I told you you'd crash it!
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