How I got My very first Rc Plane.. True story - RC Groups
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Jan 20, 2012, 11:34 PM
Registered User
809Flyer's Avatar

How I got My very first Rc Plane.. True story

Hi guys, been on here for about a week and gained alot of valuable info from this site. Thanks a million.

True Story:
After a failed design last night of a wing built from poster foam and RX-2 helli components I finally gave up and went for the real thing. Turns out I was way over my head and started with the design part of the whole rc thing. I figured since im clocking in real flight hours and spent countless hours on Microsoft flight simulators X (FSX) that I could take on the daunting task of building my first RC from scratch and get positive results. That was a comlete error.. But like everything in life, you live and you learn.

Since my wing RC didn't cut the cheese i decided to start my search for an inexpensive little trainer or a glider to get my feet wet and understand this divine RC world. I searched Craigslist and came up on a great deal for a harbor cub piper j-3 brand new in it's box never unpacked. I researched the price and found out it was a deal for $40. It retails at Harbor freight for about $100 so for $40 I was in, just had to make sure it was still available and that it was really brand new. I went ahead and called and to my amazement it was still available. I live in Weston Fl and this guy was in West Palm Beach Fl. About an hour and 15 min from me. I figured $20 of gas on my v8 Excursion and it still would be a deal at $60.

I convinced the wife and we packed the kids and set off on a very long ride with 5 kids in the truck. A few snacks and a movie on the head rest and we were off.

When we arrived at this very large house sitting on 5 acres I couldn't help but notice this elder gentleman sitting out side holding this big box as if he were waiting for his grand kids to come home and see him there holding a new toy for them. We parked and I got out and shook his and we got to talking. After a few conversations about the road trip with 5 kids it was time to see the goods. "I thought this thing was a lot smaller" I said with a tickle in my gut. He set the box down on a picnic table their and opened the box and behold a brand new still unpackaged and still in it's original plastics Piper J-3. I couldn't help but ask why so cheap. He went on to tell me a story about his son who passed away right before X-mas and it was meant to be his gift. His son passed in the middle of the night after taking prescription pills and going out with friends for drinks and a good time. He told me how his son came home that night with a girlfriend from a bar, went to sleep, got up around 3 in the morning to use the rest room and then found dead in his bed by 9am. Turns out that the combination of drugs and alcohol sent him on his final party.

After hearing this man pour out his sorrow I gave him my condolences and then he did something so cool that I will never forget. He said "You know what Jay? Since you came so far to get this, I want you to have it for free"..
"For free? I said still in shock. "Yes" he said.. "I know you'll enjoy it and appreciate it.. Besides, I don't need $40".. I was so grateful that I had to shake his hand and give him a great big hug.

After a few more stories and a tour of his 5 acre ranch we parted ways and I had a mixture of emotions on my way home that I can't really explain. Got home and I almost didn't feel right building this thing and using it as my first trainer. It sort of hold a special something being a father's gift to his dead son. Something told me to go ahead and build it and take it to the sky in the name of his son who didn't get the chance to see it built let alone flying.

I carefully went thru the instructions as it is my first time building an RC plane in my life. But it was really simple with the help of my 5 year old little mama. after it was done I felt a sense of accomplishment and now I'm siting here like a kid before Xmas waiting for day break to open his gifts. Only I have to wait till I get out of work to get my first flight in. I would love to call out but that's not an option since I'm the owner of the company. So I'll wait patiently till the clock strikes 5 and head home to set it on it's maiden flight weather permits.

Sorry if I bored you all with this story but I had to share it.

Here are a few picks of my new Harbor Cub Piper J-3 whom I've named Alpha since it's my very first Rc Plane ever.

Last edited by 809Flyer; Jan 21, 2012 at 12:29 AM.
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Jan 21, 2012, 12:03 AM
Registered User
Hi 809Flyer,

Your story touched my heart quite a lot.
I'd suggest flying your simulator more before flying this special Cub outdoor if you are a beginner of real R/C. And better to fly in calm weather on an wide open field, and an instructor will certainly be much helpful for flying this valued Cub safely during its maiden.

Jan 21, 2012, 05:04 AM
2 no or knot 2 no!
Neat story. let us know how the flight goes. Don't hold your sticks too long when you get in trouble. get up nice and high and trim it for level flight at 3/4 throttle and if things go wrong let go of the sticks ( maintain 3/4 throttle) and that plane will correct itself.
Jan 21, 2012, 06:58 AM
Sure, I can fly after sunset!?

Touching Story

In the end, that poor father DID give the plane as a gift.

Please follow the good advice already given and WAIT for a CALM day. Planes fly very differently in a breeze and you have to adapt to those differences; but you cannot know these differences if you don't learn how you plane handles under ideal conditions.

Good luck on you maiden flight.
Jan 21, 2012, 07:56 AM
Registered User
What a cool story. Make sure to let us know how the maiden goes.
Jan 21, 2012, 11:05 AM
2 many planes & 2 little time
scootrb4's Avatar
What a sad story. A life cut short and Dad robbed of his son all for recreational drug use.
Jan 21, 2012, 11:30 AM
Kamikaze Ace
Glacier Girl's Avatar
Wow what a tragic story. Make the best of the gift. Follow the advice given so far.
And time for a lot of reading on this bird. It goes by many names, Harbor Freight/SDM/Shun Da/ and even Exceed I believe. Same bird different sellers.

Here's an excellent forum on it.
Jan 21, 2012, 11:36 AM
Rocket Programmer
jasmine2501's Avatar
That is a guy after my own heart... really great story! I parted with a Slow Stick that same way - it feels really good to know that you gave someone a good start on a hobby which could give them a lifetime of fun. I'm the same way - I don't need $40, and being able to be a positive influence on someone is worth more than that anyway.
Jan 21, 2012, 12:06 PM
Registered User
Toysrme's Avatar
dad flew CL growing up in the 50s60s. tried an r/c plane in the 70s with his NASA electrical engineer brother. (plane was a fly away). we did a few model rockets growing up (in front of my entire elementary school of about 1500 kids no less lol). and we did a few control line planes. starting when i was 10.
dad had fox .35's, .40s and .60s and he REALLY liked control authority. so everything we had was quite sensitive on control and he used a CRAP TON of rudder pull. like 45-55* of deflection.
i reeeeally didn't enjoy control line. i was too little for it. they had way too much pull and it was simply not enjoyable for me.

so he built a CG super chipmonk an Eagle trainer and a little ace wizzard (which is now 16 years old and STILL flying, teaching people how to fly. and people think foamies are good trainers lulz?). he decided i would learn to fly first and then teach him & he would do most of the building, etc.

never has there been such a perfect storm. i was really luckier than anyone before or after me i feel. by the mid-late 90's when i was in HS. i had enough disposable income from throwing fries & cutting yards. (as did dad, hey... it was the 90s everyone had money right?). everything in the hobby you could want was invented by that time and reasonably affordable. computer radios, helis, giant scale, funflys, true 3D planes, non crappy arf's, etc. our LHS was 10 miles down the interstate and with al gore's interweb taking off with RC newsgroups & ebay. we wound up buying out nearly all of the old/unmoved stock the LHS had for years until after i went to college. some to ebay, some to keep.

to this day i have a ridiculous amount of kits laying around. not just kits that i like & cant build or dont feel like. but kits that my dad (and expert builder) wont even get around too in his lifetime.

anyways. so thats sort of the story of my first few years in R/C. had lots of fun. flew almost every day. was lucky to sort of not get pinned down in any one type of flying. we had & flew everything at some point or another. actually thats a lie, we never had a pylon racer, but our club never did it so... and electrics sucked. but it was a fuel field, so not really a big deal.
Last edited by Toysrme; Jan 21, 2012 at 12:14 PM.
Jan 21, 2012, 12:39 PM
Look out below
mcnowhere's Avatar
Great story, you should make a copy and put in the cub's box to keep.
Keep your inputs to the plane short---example
if you want to turn left just a small push left on the stick and let go(back to center not really let go)
do it again if you want more
no wind and small inputs will work the best
Jan 21, 2012, 09:36 PM
Registered User
809Flyer's Avatar
Thank you all for the advices. I never could get a passing grade on an essay in school so the compliments are appreciated.

I couldn't help to think all last night, what if?

What if his son would of lived long enough to open this gift and changed his lifestyle just enough to take his mind off bad influences and dedicate his self to this hobby. Some how I can almost hear a voice tell me that perhaps this gift from a father looking to get his 27 year old son to spend some happy time might off kept him alive. This simple Piper cub that don't seem like much but I ponder what his dad was thinking when he put his hand on it and though of his son. I wander if he knew that his son was headed down the wrong path and decided to give this a try. His father wasn't into the hobby so that leaves me to think that he wanted to try something new. I could see the tears build up on this gentleman's eyes as he mentioned that it was already wrapped and ready under the tree. I wander what it must of felt like to have to unwrap it and post it on craigslist. He said he had plans to watch him put it together and watch him fly it for the first time. At this time he just looked away and said nothing. All I could do is stand there and be an ere to a grieving father. What do you say to a father chocked up over his son's untimed death? I was clueless as of what to say to make him feel better. Then I think, why me? What compelled him to just give it to me? How did I become part of this story? I was just looking for a trainer plane to get me started in this hobby.

I'm left with a weired feeling not to fly this plane. I feel an enormous responsibility to it's lifespan and it's future in my family and future collection. I know I will always remember this plane's story and I'm sure it won't be the last time I'll tell it as it might mean something to someone. For me, it's the story of a fathers attempt to keep his son alive. An outreach of some sort to regain a father/son relationship. I'm almost sure I wanna pass this down to my son and maybe he to his son. As a father of a young boy I can't imagine what it must feel like to lose him to the ways of the world. I been there and I know what pressure can do. It makes me wander if an RC plane can change a life around. It's amazing to me how this piece of foam, plastic, and RC component's have taken a life of it's own.

Didn't maiden it today. I will wait for my AMA certification next week and give it a proper maiden at Markham park's RC Plane Air Field. I'm going through all the rules and regulations first and making sure I know all the safety precautions before take off. In the mean time I'll be getting as much info and simulator practice as possible before the day she takes flight.

Again, thanks for reading.
Jan 21, 2012, 10:20 PM
Stick, roger ball.
Man, I hate to say this but I'm afraid your putting too much value in this plane for it to be a sucessful trainer. I get the story and the sentimental value and I'm not knocking it one bit. One of the keys to being able to fly R/C is not being afraid. You need to be calm and have fun or you won't get past the beginner stage.

If you're not able to relax, buy or build another trainer. You will crash your first plane. You need something that won't break your heart.
Jan 21, 2012, 11:25 PM
Did I do that?
I gave a friend the same plane for helping me one day. He had a great time with it.

He did crash it one day. Oh, well, My wife was so happy when I gave him one of my other planes.

He crashed and rebuilt the second one.

Good story.

Have fun and don't worry about crashing it is why flying is so much fun.

Any landing in which you can reuse the plane was a success!
Jan 22, 2012, 10:28 AM
Registered User
Great story 809. I'm impressed with your appreciating the circumstantial value of the plane. It may be that the old gentleman was "paying forward" in the hope that the kit would benefit someone in a more timely manner. If you have a son of your own, you may have the advantage of time which he didn't. I'm sure that you will tell your son the story, and perhaps the lesson will sink in enough to help steer him into a better lifestyle.

As for the plane itself, I have one which is similar, if not identical. It's a Guan Li, and as a beginner, I crashed it several times before hanging it up to preserve it until my flying skills improve. Haven't flown it since last summer; I need more room to fly it than I have presently.

I too would suggest another plane for now. Since it was free, you're still at the point you were before you got it (except for the $20.00 ride, which seems to have paid for itself already). I'd hate to hear that your first flight(s) ended in a wrecked plane. I'd say go ahead and wreck some other plane, and save this one for a time when you can fly it with confidence.

Good luck.

Jan 22, 2012, 01:02 PM
Rocket Programmer
jasmine2501's Avatar
None of our aircraft have an infinite lifespan. So, as soon as you take it out of the box, you need to consider that airplane lost. It has no value if you intend to fly it.

Secondly, the plane you were given is not super high quality - it has little value to begin with.

Third - the person didn't give you an object, they gave you a hobby, and I'm sure that was their intent. Don't think about the object, think about the great start you have.

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