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Readytoflyfun T-Hawk with Partner Radio Training System Review

The T-Hawk is a great system for teaching and learning radio control flight and eventually transitioning to more advanced flight. Join Dr. Dave as he reviews the T-Hawk and introduces his family and friends to the hobby he has gained so much from for over 40 years.

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Introduction

The T-Hawk three channel RTF trainer with ReadyToFlyFun’s Partner Radio Training system is all about teaching people to fly radio control airplanes. The T-Hawk builds on the success of buddy-system training controllers that provide greater control for the instructor and less anxiety for the student.

Using a well tested 480 brushed motor system with a 40” wingspan training wing and with an AUW of about 1.5 pounds, the T-Hawk is slow and responsive enough to give students total control of the aircraft.

As a proven trainer system, the T-Hawk Partner Radio system has been used the last three years in summer aviation camps at North Carolina State University and was selected by the AMA for their Mission Radio Control event at the national Boy Scout Jamboree in Indiana.


Wingspan Trainer:58"
Wingspan Advanced:40"
Wing Area Trainer:315 sq. in.
Wing Area Advanced:217 sq. in
Wing Loading Trainer:9.6 oz/sq ft
Wing Loading Advanced:14.9 oz/sq. ft.
Weight Trainer:22 oz.
Weight Advanced:19.5 oz
Length:32"
Servos:9 gram
Transmitter:4-Channel 72 MHz FM PPM
Receiver:Single Conversion FM with Locator Beeper
Battery:2 x 8.4 volt 1000 mAh NiMH w/Tamiya Connector
Motor:480 Brushed
ESC:15 amp with auto cutoff, 1s arming and power switch
Available From:ReadyToFlyFun
MSRP:$279.99

Kit Contents

My T-Hawk arrived in two boxes. In one box, the wings are joined. In the second box you get two controls and two of every item necessary to fly. Duplicating the elevator, rudder, landing gear, props and even the batteries, this kit will certainly give students more than one opportunity to achieve solo flight.

Kit Contains:

  • 58 and 40 inch wings with fiber taped leading and trailing edges
  • Polyethylene fuselage with carbon tail boom
  • Two radios
  • Three foot training cord
  • 2 8.4 volt 1000 mAh NiMH batteries
  • AC/DC charger
  • Two tail sets
  • Three propellers
  • Wire frame light weight landing gear
  • Heavy duty metal landing gear with jumbo tires

Kit Requires:

  • 16 AA batteries (two transmitters)

Assembly

As you would expect there is very little assembly with this RTF. The wings are complete, and other than putting on the tail feathers and landing gear, the T-Hawk is ready to fly. I suggest that since you can build and fly in just a few hours, you immediately get the batteries under a charge so as soon as you complete the plane, you can go fly.

Wing

The wings are complete as sent from the factory. They are bright orange for good visibility and are very stuff. The flat carbon stiffener runs over the top of each wing and is about a inch wide. In addition, the wings have fiber tape over the leading and trailing edges to protect the dense foam wings.

IMGA0868.jpg: Well protected leading and training edges. Note the heavy carbon stiffener

For the trainer wing, you have to install a heavy piece of monofilament across the top of the wing. What this does is increase dihedral and the stiffness of the wing.

To install the monofilament, take each wing tip and place them on the transmitter boxes supplied in the kit. Gently push down on the center of the wing, and slip the monofilament over both ends. Work the line down until they are about 2.5 to 3 inches from the wing tip and about 3 to 4 inches above the wing root. You do not use the monofilament for the advanced wing.

Fuselage

The fuselage is polyethylene with a carbon tail boom and a plastic cowling that is rubber banded in place for the battery. You can see inside the fuselage that the internal parts are well protected and secured. The tail boom is liberally glued in place as well. The prop installs last.

The fuselage also has a handy on/off switch, and there is a beeper that goes off if the plane is lost to help in locating the plane. If the signal is lost, the motor will shut down.

Tail

The tail requires installing the vertical and horizontal stabilizers. The vertical stabilizer has the rudder already installed along with the control horn. Bolts extend below the vertical tail through the horizontal stabilizer that also has the elevator attached. Be very careful here to make sure as you push the bolts through the carbon tail boom that you do not catch the antennae wire that runs through the tail boom. Before you attach the bolts, slip the tail wheel assembly over the bolts, and then attach the thumb nuts. No tools required!

Per the directions, once the tail is installed, twist the control horn to install the control linkage. This works well, but you can also slip the control surfaces into the control horns before you slide the vertical stabilizer into the horizontal stabilizer. Either way works fine.

Radio Installation and Transmitter operation

There is no radio to install, but there are two transmitters on separate channels, so at the flying field you must pull two pins. The master transmitter is on the same channel as the receiver, and a three-foot training cord is attached between the two. I can remember back to other, older systems with training cords that had multiple pin plugs, but this system just uses a simple three-wire stereo 1/8 inch plug.

When you install the batteries you must take particular caution to make sure they are well seated. Rotate them a little before you turn on the radio. If you turn on the radio and have no power (indicated by a beep or the Vu meter) then pry the negative contacts out to ensure good contact.

The Partner Radio System has a simple switch in the upper left corner. The instructor pulls that switch forward, and the student has control. During the setup, when you switch between the A and B controls, make sure both maintain the same trims. Notice that when you switch, you get a slight rotation of the prop. Switch back and forth to make sure the trims are the same on both radios in relation to the plane’s control surfaces.

The radios are also equipped with a low battery alarm, servo travel adjustment pots, servo reversing switches, v-tail mixing and elevon mixing. So once you learn to fly you have a another fully operational radio to use, or you can set up a different type of plane for flying with the Partner Radio system.

Completion

Complete the build by installing the landing gear. Use of the landing gear is not necessary. I flew from grass, so did not use the wheels. The heavier set of wheels will provide for take offs and landings as one advances through the learning phases.

Flying

There is plenty of power with the T-Hawk. More importantly, at half throttle, the T-Hawk is slow enough in flight that it can easily be controlled. I really liked the bright orange color that was easy to see. The wings are very solidly attached with rubber bands. The battery fits snugly under the front canopy and is held in place with a rubber band. Simple and effective.

Basics

The T-Hawk struggles to stall; you don’t have that much elevator control and with the high dihedral wing and size of the wing, the plane wants to fly even at almost zero airspeed. I have flown planes with large dihedrals, and they can be difficult to turn. But the T-Hawk was not a problem and handled gently and predictably.

I was flying the T-Hawk a few weeks back and crashed it not once, not twice, but three times in a row! I was scratching my head as to why. But the T-Hawk was not damaged in any way. I have to tell you I really mashed it good and cart-wheeled it one time half way down my hill. Other than breaking a prop (remember they give you three) I had no damage and nothing had to be replaced. Impressive!. I have been flying a long time and once had a similar situation. Want to guess? Yes, I forgot to raise the antennae! It happens...

Taking Off and Landing

You have a choice of hand launching or ground launching, and either works fine. I used the lighter landing gear for the hand launching and the heavy gear for ground launching. As a new pilot, it’s nice to have options, but you don’t have to use either if you choose. The plane will glide nicely to the ground.

Aerobatics/Special Flight Performance

The T-Hawk with the trainer wing does not do aerobatics, but make the switch to the shorter wing, and you gain a few options. The best I could do with the trainer wing was a high speed dive into a loop.

Is This For a Beginner?

It better be! It is in the truest sense a trainer. It also gives a new student a chance to learn and eventually solo without crashing.

The T-Hawk is all about a beginner having the greatest opportunity for success. The two different types of wings and the landing gear give a new pilot the chance to transition. I like the duplication of all the necessary components. Overall the T-Hawk is all about learning to fly. As we say in the education biz, it is “student centered.”

Flight Video/Photo Gallery

I did it! I taught my wife to fly! Only once had she tried and ended up losing a plane in the tree next to the house, and after that she was done.

Enter the T-Hawk. Most of the video here is of her flying! I can't wait to teach others, or give them a chance to at least try flight!

Downloads

Conclusion

If your club is considering a way to get more people involved, this is the way to do it with a great deal of success. Think about the possibilities: have an open house and teach people to fly, use the system to transition new pilots to more advanced flight maneuvers, or install this system in a plane that you just want others to experience even for a few seconds. It is that easy, and because the system is proven it will get more pilots into your club.

Pluses:

  • Durability
  • Every part duplicated
  • Large size and orange color
  • Large battery capacity

Minuses:

  • Prop is close to your hand on launch -be careful
Last edited by Angela H; Dec 03, 2007 at 09:54 PM..

Discussion

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Old Dec 06, 2007, 07:52 AM
We shall serve the Lord
kingsflyer's Avatar
United States, TX, Kingsland
Joined Sep 2005
5,080 Posts
Great Review Dave. I'm presently using an original T-Hawk to train a young student pilot. Passing the transmitter back and forth can be a problem during the early learning stages. The new Partner Training System looks like a real improvement.

I was impressed with the flight performance of the T-Hawk. Other brushed motor/NiMh battery RTF types are under powered and over weight. Not a pleasant combination. The T-Hawk has plenty of power for spirited climb outs and loops. For training, I set the throttle at about 2/3. At this setting, the T-Hawk maintains altitude, is gentle on the controls, and will fly for over 10 minutes.

I'm using the HD landing gear with good results. I can take off from our paved runway and land with ease. Even if you run off the paved surface, or if you land short, the gear are plenty sturdy.

I highly recommend the T-Hawk as a first trainer. The new Partner System will be my entry level system of choice for training new students.

Mike McD
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Old Dec 06, 2007, 10:51 AM
Dr. Dave
USA
Joined Nov 2005
1,316 Posts
Thanks Mike, I too noticed the throttle at about half or a little more that was plenty to keep it in the air and under control. My greatest pleasure using this has been the number of family and friends that realized they were actually flying!
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Old Dec 06, 2007, 08:27 PM
Elfi Flyer
Doug Sipprell's Avatar
Rock Hill, SC
Joined Oct 2002
5,548 Posts
I too have been a T-Hawk fan for some time now. I have had three of them, the third being the complete trainer package for use at our field in providing an electric trainer experience. The only difference in my "trainer package" is the use of the standard wing versus the larger trainer wing.

I also found it best to remove the crystal from the "student" transmitter so as to not possibly interfer with some other flyer, as the transmitting channel is the one installed in the "instructor" transmitter. More on this in my blog:

http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/member.php?u=12374

Great plane, and capable of taking some serious hits.

My 2nd T-Hawk is anything but stock, and even further from being a trainer. Powered by a Mega 16/15/4 brushless, pushing a 5.5x5.5 CAM speed prop, with juice from a 3S TP 2100 Lipo, it has 174 watts of oomph and gets most people's attention when flying, if not for the speed, then for the sound! Yes, some judicious use of carbon fiber and faster servo's were part of the modification process.

RD
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Old Dec 07, 2007, 06:32 AM
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Joined Jun 2005
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Great review but why did it take so long? The T Hawk has been around for years! I bought my first one 6 years ago and it's still around. Hope to modify it with a brushless set up this winter. It's a great plane and very durable.
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Last edited by georgefromvt; Dec 09, 2007 at 07:19 PM.
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Old Dec 07, 2007, 06:43 AM
Dr. Dave
USA
Joined Nov 2005
1,316 Posts
Don't get me wrong, but so much is out there on 3D it seems to have overshadowed the trainers. I wish I was a good 3D pilot, but for me it has been a steep learning curve. The reality is EVERYONE in the RC airplane hobby starts as a trainee. I learned the hard way, but with the T-Hawk so many new people can be introduced to the hobby and not have to be frustrated with failure. As for the timing maybe its time to get back to the roots for a while.
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Old Dec 08, 2007, 07:59 AM
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Michael Heer's Avatar
Stockton, Ca. USA
Joined Apr 2001
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George, where have you been? I originally reviewed the T-Hawk back in April of 2003: http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=188659. Dave is updating what they have done to make it a much more complete trainer system now in this very nice review. A number of boy scouts learned to fly with the one in my original review including two from Japan who spoke almost no English but they learned by observation. Mike
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Old Dec 09, 2007, 07:22 PM
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Joined Jun 2005
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Mea Culpa

Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Heer
George, where have you been? I originally reviewed the T-Hawk back in April of 2003: http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=188659. Dave is updating what they have done to make it a much more complete trainer system now in this very nice review. A number of boy scouts learned to fly with the one in my original review including two from Japan who spoke almost no English but they learned by observation. Mike
Mea Culpa. Didn't catch the first review in 2003. The T Hawk is a great plane, just wished they produced a white version so it could be customized easier. Not crazy about the orange color scheme. A brushless/lipo version would also be great.
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Old Dec 13, 2007, 11:09 PM
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Over the Hill, 3rd Oak Tree on left
Joined Nov 2005
218 Posts
I too really like the THawk, it is the plane I learned on 3 years ago. I now have 11 planes ( I need help ) and I still sometimes take my THawk at a local school just for kicks.

I have hit scoreboards, fences, poles and this thing is still living although not the original wing..

I finally decided to convert it to brushless with a motor that's been laying around. I will be making the conversion this weekend, can't wait to see how this changes the plane.

CS
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Old Dec 14, 2007, 08:38 AM
Elfi Flyer
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Rock Hill, SC
Joined Oct 2002
5,548 Posts
The Mega 16/15 series of B/L motors work well with the T-Hawk, as the mounting hole pattern is the same for both the Mega and the original brushed 380 motor. 16/15/5 is about the hottest you would want to run unless you want a real hot rod, then the 16/15/4 will fill the bill. The Mega 16/15 series are inrunners, and known amp eaters, so you would need a strong brushless ESC, 25A minimum, to control these motors. If you REALLY want to trick out your T-Hawk, go to my blog and note the reinforcements I made as well as other modifications

RD
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Old Dec 14, 2007, 04:47 PM
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Over the Hill, 3rd Oak Tree on left
Joined Nov 2005
218 Posts
Yes I have a Mega on an EasyStar but I have 20mm Chili Pepper motor (3100kv) I've never used so I said why not try it..

I'll be using 2cells on it and the static test shows apprx. 150 inputs watts.

The motor weights 2.1 oz. , the plane will weight about 16.5 oz.( no landing gear ), so with that amount of power it should be fun.

I already have CF on the wing, it should be strong enough.

CS
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Old Dec 14, 2007, 09:32 PM
Elfi Flyer
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Rock Hill, SC
Joined Oct 2002
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Sounds good. Hope you can post a picture or two. Good luck!

RD
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Old Dec 16, 2007, 08:12 AM
Dr. Dave
USA
Joined Nov 2005
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Guys, I am interested in your upgrades. Post some pictures if you get a chance. Speaking of durability the T-Hawk will take a beating.
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Old Dec 18, 2007, 01:23 AM
BEC
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Auburn, Washington USA
Joined Jan 2001
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Heer
George, where have you been? I originally reviewed the T-Hawk back in April of 2003: http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=188659. Dave is updating what they have done to make it a much more complete trainer system now in this very nice review. A number of boy scouts learned to fly with the one in my original review including two from Japan who spoke almost no English but they learned by observation. Mike
And I am part of the problem, too as I have a nearly finished "T-Hawk update" that's been back burnered for a couple of years mainly because I managed to break mine and never got around to fixing it (tail boom failure at the pushrod exits) so I could do in flight pictures and video. It was done about the time that heavy duty gear was in the "coming soon" stage and before the long wing or the buddy-box radios or the lost plane locator.

So, I'm glad and somewhat relieved to see this piece tonight.

Dave, there is one reference to a picture that didn't get replaced with a picture or otherwise didn't work out right in the article. ("IMGA0868.jpg: Well protected leading and training edges. Note the heavy carbon stiffener") Perhaps you can get together with AH and get that fixed.

Oh - and you CAN roll a stock T-Hawk with the short wing. Just make sure to have some surplus altitude. (I have no experience with the longer one).
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