ParkZone Stinson Reliant SR10 BNF Review

ParkZone turns their attention and manufacturing skills to Eddie Stinson's 1930s Gullwing Stinson Reliant Monoplane

Splash

Wing span: 49.6 in (1260mm)
Length: 33.5 in (850mm)
Weight: 41.9 oz (1190g)
Battery: 3S 1800mAh lipo
Motor: 480-sized 960Kv
ESC: Eflite 30A BL ESC
Distributed by: Horizon Hobby
MSRP: $249.99

It is common for ParkZone aficionados to gather around the water cooler and opine on what they think the next ParkZone war bird release will be. ParkZone has carved out a very nice niche in the parkflyer market with their variety of war birds, which are all known to be excellent flyers that assemble quickly and can be kept in the air easily and affordably thanks to the ready inventory of spare parts available at most local hobby retailers. ParkZones sudden release of the iconic Stinson Reliant, which heralds from the ranks of classic General Aviation aircraft, was most assuredly responsible for at least a few dropped cups of water and accompanying dropped jaws of surprise from water cooler gangs across the nation and even the world?

Brief History

To fully appreciate a new design, I always like to read a little about the full scale aircraft. I thought the following information nicely summed up the Stinson Reliant SR10:




Historical information and photos from pilotfriend.com

The Stinson Reliant (Stinson SR-10 Reliant "Gullwing") was a four-to-five seat commercial monoplane which was the brainchild of E.A. "Eddie" Stinson, and was designed for private operators and small charter companies. It was the the last model produced by his company before it was bought out in the late 1930s. It was regarded as a strikingly handsome airplane - with its distinctive gull wing - and was known for its ease in handling and its ability to carry four to five people in comfort. An excellent aircraft, the Reliant could recover from a stall and return to level flight "hands off". These features along with state of the art navigation and communication radios, made it popular with executive charter services as well as with the more sophisticated, wealthy buyer. The Reliant was also used in 1939 to test a unique airmail service for communities that did not have landing fields. Mail was loaded into a container which was then placed on top of a contraption resembling a goal post. As the pilot guided the airplane down, the flight officer held a grappling hook to snag the container. Mail destined for the community was then dropped from the plane onto the airfield.

Though ParkZone may somewhat break tradition with this release, they still stick to their master plan by offering up both PNP and BNF versions of the Stinson. This Ezonemag.com review will focus in on the more complete BNF version. Can ParkZone bring their "A Game" to the table again as they depart from their bread and butter war bird releases?




Kit Contents


The Stinson packaging consists of a very long and colorfully illustrated overbox, with a molded one-piece foam insert tray into which all of the Stinson pieces are carefully and securely nestled. Don't be too quick to set this box out on the curb for collection, as the glueless assembly of the Stinson means that it can be completely broken down and repacked into the box again should you need to safely transport it, store it or ship it.

In The Box:

  • Fuselage, with receiver, motor, prop, elevator and rudder servos installed, pre-hinged rudder
  • One piece wing assembly, with aileron servos (2) installed, pre-hinged ailerons, control horns installed
  • Horizontal stabilizer/elevator assembly, with control horn installed, pre-hinged elevator
  • Main landing gear assemblies with fairings and wheel pants(2)
  • Parkzone 480 brushless outrunner motor (960Kv)
  • E-Flite 30-Amp Pro Switch-Mode BEC brushless ESC
  • 9.5 x 7.5 propeller
  • ParkZone 15C 1800mAh 3S LiPo Battery
  • ParkZone 2-3 Cell DC Li-Po Balancing Charger
  • Assembly hardware, with spare pieces included
  • Four language, black and white photo-illustrated assembly manual (21 pages per language)
  • Wing struts (2), rudder cover plates (2), bind plug, adhesive tape strips, flaps push rod
  • Adhesive backed hook and loop fastener strips
  • Speed controller instruction sheet, control throws addendum, LVC setting notice









I really like that ParkZone includes spare hardware pieces in the box!








Required for Completion:

  • DSM 2 compatible transmitter, including Spektrum DX5e, DX6i, DX7/DX7se or JR X9303/9503 2.4, 11X, 12X 2.4, SPM module systems

Assembly


Most ParkZone models come out of their boxes in such an advanced state of pre-assembly that little more than a quick glance at the assembly manual is necessary to complete the assembly. However, I was completely blown away at the content of the Stinsons assembly manual. It goes beyond clearly and succinctly showing how to assemble the Stinson and offers up an impressive abundance of hobby related general information. From information on charging the included lipoly battery to transmitter and receiver binding, pre-maiden preparation to post-flight maintenance, instructions on installing the optional flaps to a troubleshooting table and replacement parts list, the Stinson assembly manual is a veritable tome of useful reference information that will probably teach even the most veteran flyer a thing or two. The global popularity of the Park Zone product line is perhaps indicated by the fact that the Stinson manual includes a total of four different languages!





Stinson Reliant SR10 Assembly Manual Online HERE

Charging the Lipoly Battery


It sounds rather cliche to suggest that a ParkZone product purchaser begin the build by first charging the lipo battery. Read just about any review of a ParkZone product and you will find this suggestion. Thus, I will not repeat it again here. I will instead let the assembly manual make this suggestion for me, as the directions for using the included 2 or 3 cell charger are listed very early in the manual, on page 5. This entry level 1C balancing charger will not charge the included 1800mAh 3S lipo in record time, mainly due to the fact that it charges through the balancing connnector only and is thus limited to a fairly low current output but if you pick up a spare battery or two, you will be able to charge one while you fly another. That ParkZone even includes a balancing charger in the box is indicative of the advances in charging technology over the last few years and the commensurate drop in manufacturing costs. This charger will accept a 12 volt DC input in the range of 10.5 to 15.0 volts and is current protected on the input side by a clearly visible and accessible 3 amp blade style automotive fuse.



Simply plug the charger into a 12 volt accessory outlet, wait a quick audible tone and for the green LED to start flashing, and the charger is ready for use. Plug the 3S 1800mAh into the four pin balancing port, slide the 2S/3S switch to 3S and set the amps charging control knob to 1C, which for this lipo is 1.8 amps. Press the start button and you are off to the races. The status of the charge will be indicated by red and green LEDs, and the key to interpreting their various states is listed on the face plate of the charger.


One detail that I find myself a little concerned with is that this charger comes with a 12 volt accessory plug style of input connector. For most folks, the easiest place to plug such a connector in and get 12 volts is in the interior of a vehicle. Though I do give credit to ParkZone for including these warnings: Never leave the battery and charger unattended during the charge process. Failure to follow the instructions properly could result in a fire. When charging, make certain the battery is on a heat-resistant surface, the fact of the matter is that many people will not want to sit in the vehicle and watch their battery as it is recharging. I personally think it would be better to supply the charger with a set of of alligator style clamp on connectors, such as could be clipped directly to a vehicles battery under the hood. This would contribute to minimizing the number of batteries being charged in the interior of a vehicle and instead "redirect" most folks to recharge them "under the hood". Though the warnings above would certainly still apply, the chances of something going wrong and a fire starting would be lessened by having the battery a little more out in the open and lying on some part of the metal frame of the car under the hood instead of in the interior where everything is a little more readily combustible.

Fuselage and Tail


As the photo above indicates, assembly of the fuselage is mainly centered around attaching the landing gear and fairings and installing the horizontal stabilizer/elevator. ParkZones forte is doing 90% of the work for the builder and this is certainly true with the Stinson Reliant kit. The bulk of the work in connection with readying the fuselage for flight has already been completed. I spent a few minutes neatening the wiring on the interior of mine, only because I am a stickler for neatness in my airframes.




Items already completed in connection with the Stinson's fuselage:

  • Spektrum AR500 receiver installed
  • ParkZone DSV130M metal gear servos installed on elevator and rudder
  • E-flite 30-Amp Pro Switch-Mode BEC speed controller installed and connected
  • ParkZone 480 Brushless Outrunner motor installed and prop mounted to shaft
  • Steerable tailwheel installed
  • Trio of cooling air exit holes drilled in under belly of fuselage






The landing gear comes out of the box completely assembled and all that is required is to slip each main into its appropriate slot on the belly of the Stinson and anchor it in place with three small screws. The screws go in nice and tight but it can be a little tricky to drop them through the holes in the plastic belly pan and into the holes. A little tape on the screwdriver head will prevent them from falling down into the void surrounding the gear attachment area.


Attaching the horizontal stabilizer and elevator to the rear of the fuselage takes but a minute or two. The assembly slides through a slot in the rudder, with the pre-installed elevator control horn getting positioned on the left side of the fuselage. The horizontal stabilizer has panel lines molded into it's foam contours and these lines align perfectly with the edges of the plastic fairing that is mounted in the vertical stabilizer. I always "apply the eye test" to be sure that tail surfaces are correctly aligned with the fuselage and wing and I was happy to see that the horizontal stabilizer and elevator looked right from all angles and directions. One could always make a few measurements to be absolutely sure but my eye usually doesn't lie to me. Once the assembly is correctly positioned, the included adhesive tape strips are used to secure it into position. I really like the twp piece plastic rudder filler plates that ParkZone supplies to fill in the gap that is required to slide the horizontal stabilizer and elevator through the rudder. The two pieces sandwich the gap and are held in place with two wee screws. The final step is to connect the pre-installed elevator and rudder push rods to the control horns and secure the clevises with a silicon keeper.



Wing


And now to the assembly of that beautiful, Stinson Reliant trademark gull wing! Except that there is really nothing to do to assemble the wing except to mount it to the fuselage with the two machine screws and then install the wing struts.


The twin aileron servos are both pre-installed and the aileron push rods are already in place and connected to the servo control horns and aileron control horns. The aileron servo linkages are pre-configured in such a manner as to provide mechanical differential.




When it comes time to install the two wing struts, two options are provided. If the builder plans to transport the Stinson with the wing attached, it is recommended that the included small "L" pins be used to attach the wing struts. If the builder will need to remove the wing for transport, the larger but more easily removed clevis style clips are recommended. The "L" pins are held in place with the included strips of clear tape and are not nearly as noticeable as the clevis clips. I used them to secure the wing struts in place on my review aircraft. All but one of my "L" pins slid easily into place, the holes aligning perfectly. I did have one pin that required a little work with a small drill bit to open up a misaligned hole.



Installing the Optional Flaps


Though the wing work is mostly completed at the factory, there is one extra feature that is completely optional but is highly recommended and that is flaps. Most of the flap work is also completed at the factory but a few knife cuts will need to be made to free them from the trailing edge of the wing. Additionally, an extra servo must be obtained and mounted in the pre-molded pocket near the center line on the underside of the wing.


ParkZone recommends one of their DSV130M 3-Wire digital metal gear servos (Part #PKZ1090)for the optional flap servo. I selected a similarly sized JR MC35 servo that I had in my spare parts box and anchored it in place using hot glue. ParkZone includes the flap push rod required to connect the two flaps to one servo horn. It was with some consternation that I noticed the flap hinges both tore a little as I worked them up and down to loosen them up. Perhaps I flexed them excessively? In any event, a short piece of Blenderm tape adequately shored them up and provided peace of mind.




Flap after the two knife cuts are made


I was a little surprised that ParkZone does not provide any guidance or information in connection with the necessary transmitter flap programming. The Spektrum receiver included in the BNF version of the Stinson is a full range receiver but is limited to five channels. The fifth channel defaults to being used for deploying and retracting landing gear. Henceforth, a custom programming mix must be configured to fully enable the flaps function. I included several screen shots below of the programming that is necessary when using a JR X9503 transmitter.


I used a custom mix to map the flap function to the gear channel on the AR500 receiver


Here is the amount of down elevator trim I used for both mid and full flaps

Completion

Completion involves checking, and rechecking, all of the little details that can singularly make or break a maiden flight. ParkZone provides recommended high and low rate control throw settings, as well as a recommended range for the center of gravity. I like to mark the range of CG on the bottom of the wing with a Sharpie, so that I can always be sure I have the battery properly positioned from one flight to the next. With the ample space provided in the Stinson's battery bay, it is especially important to do this. The stock battery can be positioned further forward or aft by an inch or so. Also, it is probably possible to use a slightly larger battery, as the battery bay appears to be located near the CG.


The All-Up-Weight of my Stinson Reliant came in at 38 ounces, RTF!


ParkZone provides the following clarification on the CG: The wing angles back from the leading edge where it meets the fuselage. When doing measurements for the CG, measure from the farthest forward part of the leading edge, not from the cutback, on the underside of the wing.

Normally, I firmly advocate following the control throws that are provided in the assembly manual. In this case, I strongly admonish the builder to IGNORE what is listed in the manual and instead use the control throws that are listed on the small, included half sheet of paper. (Link to control throws addendum on ParkZone website)

Recommended Control Throws
Low Rates High Rates
Elevator 10mm 15mm
Ailerons 10mm up/7mm down 15mm up/10mm down
Rudder 17mm 22mm
Flaps Half 15mm Full 25mm

I do not believe I am the only one who looks forward to snapping a couple of photos of a completed aircraft before I set it free and send it aloft for the first time? The ParkZone Stinson is especially photogenic and I enjoyed trying to capture it in photos from its abundance of good sides. From the trademark gull wing to the long slender cabin to the cowl and landing gear, the Stinson is a real looker!









Flying

Taking Off and Landing




The Stinson is quick to get up on the main gear when taking off


In these photos of the Stinson, taken in various stages of taking off and landing, you may notice that it is up and on the mains. I was pleased to find that it is rather quick to assume this orientation as you roll into the power! And it looks mighty fine as you start your take off roll and it willingly and quickly rotates up onto the main gear. With a shorter tail moment than some airframes, the Reliant can be a little twitchy on the ground steering. It is primarily dependent on the direction of the wind. If the winds are straight down the runway, the Stinson will happily stay pointed directly into the wind and ask for only very small rudder inputs as you accelerate to rotation speed. A quartering crosswind or greater will present a little more of a challenge but only until the Stinson reaches the point where it begins to fly. With the CG set in the recommended factory range and the flaps fully deployed, my Stinson rotates with little to no elevator input required. I really like using the flaps and typically use full flaps for my take offs. The distance required is shortened a bit and the Stinson requires less forward velocity with the flaps fully deployed. Landing the Stinson is really enjoyable when using the same full flap setting. Add in a small amount of headwind and the Stinson will slow down on final, much more so than I had anticipated. It is best to hold a small amount of power all the way to touch down but carry too much power and it will just keep on floating along. Fly it in the with just the right amount of power and you are rewarded with a three point landing that is as pretty and soft as can be. Hold a little more power and the Stinson will settle in on her mains first and then drop the tail as the speed fades away. Either way you choose, the Stinson looks every bit the part of a nostalgic and classic airplane.


Two point or three point touch downs ... pilots choice!



Aerobatics/Special Flight Performance

The Stinson is a four channel aircraft and as such it is theoretically capable of a full battery of aerobatic maneuvers. The full size Stinson SR10 airplane was capable of carrying 4 to 5 people in comfort and was popular as a charter aircraft. With that in the back of my mind, I was not very driven to wring it out but confined my attempts to perform aerobatics with it to a few loops and aileron rolls. The 480 motor does not over power the Stinson per se and vertical is certainly not unlimited. Loops take a small amount of forethought and power management. Rolls are slow and graceful, even on the recommended high rates. I did also play around with some attempts at holding the Stinson in knife edge. The unique gull wing and limited power available make that a little tricky to maintain for any real duration. Inverted flight is possible but I found it best to keep the speed up when flipping the Stinson over on it's back.

Is This For a Beginner?

I will first let the manufacturer answer the question. The following excerpt is straight from the ParkZone assembly manual:

WARNING: Although your ParkZone® Stinson Reliant comes almost ready to fly, this aircraft is for experienced RC pilots only and is not a toy. Misuse of the plane can cause serious bodily harm and damage to property. Therefore, only an experienced RC pilot should fly it. Because of the high performance nature of the SR-10, we recommend you only fly in very large open areas or RC club fields.

I am not sure if the above was written in the context of discouraging an aspiring pilot from buying this as their very first aircraft and dreaming that they can teach themselves to fly, or in the sense that beginner and intermediate pilots do not have the necessary skill set to to fly the Stinson? In any event, my answer to the same question is a little more hope inspiring. The Stinson does not seem to me like a very difficult plane to fly. Though it does have a slightly higher flying weight and wing loading than several of ParkZones popular war birds, it does not seem to manifest any quirky or difficult tendencies that could catch newer fliers off guard. The two areas that newer pilots should probably pay the most attention to are are take offs and landings. The Stinson has a higher wing load than some other similarly sized ParkZone planes and extra attention should be devoted to managing airspeed when taking of and landing.

In-Flight Media Gallery

















Conclusion

Though ParkZones perceived primary focus through the years has been foamy war birds, the release of the ParkZone Stinson Reliant SR10 proves that they can successfully bring other genres of aircraft to market also. The Stinson maintains the usual high level of ParkZone quality and like most of their other releases, it can literally be built during the drive from the hobby store to the flying field (provided you have a designated driver) or on site at your flying field. 95% of the assembly is completed for you at the factory and what little bit that is not can be accomplished with very basic hand tools. NO adhesives are required, which means the Stinson can be completely broken down and restowed in the same box that it shipped in. With the included 3S 1800mAh lipoly battery, flight times are anywhere from 6-10 minutes. This will ultimately depend, though, on your particular flying style and use of throttle.

ParkZone has succeeded in capturing the classic, nostalgic lines of this General Aviation aircraft from the 1930s. I really like that the airframe comes pre-configured for flaps. The battery compartment is roomy but I thought the means of securing the lipo a bit over the top. THREE hook and loop strips, plus the entire top of the battery compartment is lined with hook and loop? I suppose you can never secure a battery too tightly but I have smallish hands and I found getting the battery in and out to be overly difficult. I removed one of the three straps to simplify the process a little . ParkZone includes spare pieces of almost every fastener that is required to assemble the Stinson, which means you are covered should you drop a piece of hardware in the grass and fail to find it. Very nice! ParkZone assembly manuals were already known for being thorough but the Stinson assembly manual manages to take it up another notch, with it's multi-lingual approach and several pages of helpful bonus information. I would like to see ParkZone include the necessary transmitter programming instructions for those who decide to add the optional flaps, at the very least covering the popular Spektrum series of transmitters. Several minor items caused me some small amount of angst. These include the wheel axles/screws working loose on every flight and the flap hinges tearing a little as they were deflected. It appears that the factory applied thread lock to the wheel axles but in the case of my aircraft, it failed to lock them tightly in place. A reapplication of thread lock compound remedied this minor problem. I also feel strongly that ParkZone should discourage in-vehicle recharging of the lipoly battery by switching out the 12V plug style connector for a pair of alligator clip style connectors.

Likes:

  • Assembly can be completed in an hour, or two
  • ParkZone includes spare assembly hardware in the box
  • Assembly manual is incredibly thorough, and multi-lingual!
  • Less modeled nostalgic airframe
  • Optional flaps are there for the cost of a servo servo extension and a few cuts with a hobby blade
  • Choice of two wing strut attachment methods, depending on whether the wing will be removed for transport or not
  • Plenty of room for a larger lipo

Dislikes:

  • One of the wing strut holes required a little reaming out with a drill bit for the L pin to slip in
  • Included lipo charger encourages in-vehicle battery charging
  • Machine screws provided as wheel axles work loose almost every flight
  • Flap hinges "tear" a little with use
  • Battery retaining method excessively complicated (3 hook and loop straps?!)


Last edited by Bajora; Nov 15, 2010 at 08:08 PM..
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Nov 15, 2010, 05:42 PM
"Because I was pǝʇɹǝʌuı"
bighead93's Avatar
Nice review and great pictures Jon!
Nov 15, 2010, 05:47 PM
Park Stormer
::sigh::
Yet another on the must-have list. Horizon's at war with my wallet and winning....

Barnes, on the horizon preview of the stinson, they say it flies like a "high wing, tail dragger version of the trojan." Would you be inclined to agree? The Trojan has assumed the aileron transitional role for pilots coming off the HZ super cub, and I'd be curious to see if it has a successor...

Great review by the way. I am curious though, what type of camera did you use for the shots at the start of the article where you have the parts laid out? They were some of the best I've seen outside a professional publication.
Nov 15, 2010, 06:06 PM
AA6JB
Bajora's Avatar
Thanks folks.

For those of your running IE, the intro photos are showing up a little misarranged. Firefox and Chrome are showing it as I intended. We will hopefully get it sorted out right quick!
Nov 16, 2010, 11:00 AM
AA6JB
Bajora's Avatar
Formatting fixed! Thanks Gp125racer!

I shoot my stills with a Pentax K20 DSLR and a 70-300 telephoto, using a bounced flash to soften the photos a bit. Thanks for the compliment.

I want to give a little credit to Gp125racer for his assistance with the front end of this article. The formatting, with the large photo and ParkZone logo, and the smaller photos and mini specs box were his design. I think the intro part of the review looks fantastic, thanks to his efforts. It reminds me of a magazine type layout. Thanks Don!!!
Nov 16, 2010, 12:05 PM
Air Cooled VW mechanic
THX-181's Avatar
Well written and with style. Also excellent photos and great information.
Thanks
Nov 16, 2010, 05:40 PM
We shall serve the Lord
kingsflyer's Avatar
Great review Jon. Love the Reliant. Looks like Horizon has another winner.

My IE made the read somewhat tedious though as the review would not fit on my wide screen monitor even on full screen. The pictures fit the page and appeared in the right order, but I had to shift the page to the left and right for each line of text. The text part of the page exceeded the width of my display.

Mike McD
Latest blog entry: LEDs on my T-28
Nov 16, 2010, 05:53 PM
AA6JB
Bajora's Avatar
Thanks Mike.

It read OK on Firefox. Not sure why IE is misbehaving a little like that?

Maybe it is all part of the never ending browser war?

Nov 16, 2010, 06:51 PM
If It Aint Broke,I'll Break It
Rockin G's Avatar
Jon I agree with you about the battery retaining method they chose. I do understand why they chose it (for flyers with different sized batteries.) But it is very cumbersome.
Nov 16, 2010, 09:58 PM
AA6JB
Bajora's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by kingsflyer View Post
Great review Jon. Love the Reliant. Looks like Horizon has another winner.

My IE made the read somewhat tedious though as the review would not fit on my wide screen monitor even on full screen. The pictures fit the page and appeared in the right order, but I had to shift the page to the left and right for each line of text. The text part of the page exceeded the width of my display.

Mike McD
Mike, I thought I would check on on the formatting on my home PC, running IE 8. It looks OK on my Dell 24" LCD. Strange!
Nov 16, 2010, 11:07 PM
Wishing I was at Torrey Pines
dee-grose's Avatar
Jon, you definitely get the prize for the widest lines of text in the history of reviews here at Ezone!

I can't wait to get my hands on one of these Stinsons. Looks like it flies real nice. Your video was very entertaining and creative. Nice twist you put on it.

Andy
Nov 16, 2010, 11:29 PM
AA6JB
Bajora's Avatar
I just need a better looking "star" ... like Lassie maybe?

Try it in Firefox. It is only a single-wide, instead of a double-wide, in it.
Nov 16, 2010, 11:32 PM
Wishing I was at Torrey Pines
dee-grose's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bajora View Post
I just need a better looking "star" ... like Lassie maybe?
Notice that I didn't specify what was so entertaining...
Nov 17, 2010, 12:42 AM
Registered User
What a great review; professional camera work; subtle effects which added to the subject; no obnoxious music, and edited flying sequences where you could see the model's true character. Thankyou for such a superb little video. I would love to fly the Stinson!
Nov 17, 2010, 07:37 AM
"Aircraftus Fragmentum"
kydawg1's Avatar
Great Job and Great Plane....I Love Mine.


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