Best Bang for the Buck in Full House Thermal Sailplane? - RC Groups
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Jul 18, 2012, 01:54 PM
Registered User

Best Bang for the Buck in Full House Thermal Sailplane?

I have several RES sailplanes and an old Falcon 880. But now I want to move up to a high performace full house molded ship or possibly glass over foam type wing etc.

In order of importance I would like these characteristics:

1. Great handling and fun to fly with no nasty habits ( like a nasty stall etc). Some of the sailplanes may be very high performace ships, but difficult to fly. I Don't want one of those.

2. Decent speed range.

3. Ability to thermal in fairly light lift.

Again I want something fun to fly with great handlying and good performance at a reasonable price. Either new or used. I don't want to pay more that about $1500 for new. Less money would be preferable.

Most of my experience, 95%, is with RES. The Falcon 880 I have flow only 2 times, but it is really an old design, obechi over foam construction. I am sure there are better sailplanes out there now. WHAT ARE YOUR SUGGESTIONS? Thank you in advance.
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Jul 18, 2012, 02:16 PM
AMA 3959
alstrahm's Avatar
fly the Falcon, great flying plane, no bad habits. I flew one in contests for years.

Jul 18, 2012, 02:34 PM
Registered User
I flew a Falcon 880 only once, but I was impressed. Unless you are already an expert, the Falcon will serve you well for a year or two of going to contests. In that time, you will probably run across a good deal on a used sailplane. (I fly gliders, guess my ego is smaller.) As an extreme example, I am currently flying a Supra which I put together from wrecked parts. It still needs a little more smoothing on the wing, but it flies awfully well for the same investment at I would put in to an Oly II kit!

I can recommend a used Mantis, if you see one. Lands nicely, and flies well. It doesn't launch like a Supra, but it's fun.

If you really must buy something, the Supra seems to be a fairly good deal. Here in ESL territory, it is the most popular model. It launches higher than what I'm used to. Handling is excellent. I haven't learned to land it quite as well as I used to land a Mantis, but that may be just because I'm rusty.

If you are flying for fun, I doubt if you can find a whole lot more fun than your Falcon 880.
Jul 18, 2012, 07:40 PM
Proud member of LISF and ESL
There are a LOT of molded TD/F3J gliders out there. They range from about 1200 to about $3000 in the 3 to 4 meter range. And there have been some good bagged and built up wing models over the years too.

May main contest glider is a Supra with a Supra Pro about to go into the sky. On a 3.4 m molded wing, I think the Supra, is about the best value among them. It is compettive on the world class competition level but is among the lower cost molded TD/F3J gliders out there at about $1400. It is light, at 58 to 63 onces, yet strong enough to stand up the full pedal winch launches on the Eastern Soaring League winches. And it can stand up to the torture of F3J launches.

I fly competitiion in the Eastern Soaring League and at any given contest I would guess about 1/2 the pilots are flying Supras. It is an excellent choice at a very moderate price for a TD/F3J glider of this grade.

It has evolved over time. The current molded version is the Supra Pro:

BTW the plans to make a bagged wing Supra are available for free. And there have been a number of suppliers over the years who have built the wings and Fuselage for the supra so you can assemble one yourself for under $1000. But I am not aware of anyone making the wings at this time.

While perhaps not up to the capabiltiy of the Supra the Dragonfly Strong gets some good reviews. This is a built up wing 3.45 wing with a carbon spar. which flies about about 72 ounces. I have read many good reports though I have never seen one myself. At under $700 this plane is a bargain if you listen to its owners. If you can accept a little less than top of the line at half the price, look into this one.

At $1200 the Shadow had a very strong following in the ESL for several years. This plane is designed around a higher wing loading than the Supra and on a different airfoil. I don't see them as often as I used to but there were a lot of them in the ESL. I don't think you could go very far wrong with a Shadow
Last edited by aeajr; Jul 18, 2012 at 08:02 PM.
Jul 18, 2012, 08:06 PM
Registered User
Just $150 above your budget is the Lubos Aspire recently listed on the for sale page, wonderful model that will be good for many years.
Jul 18, 2012, 08:26 PM
Play loud, Fly high
Gil Gauger's Avatar

Bang for the buck

The used market will be flooded with C 68 moldies, any of which are good planes, as the competition guys move to spread tow and other exotic layups. That expensive light weight construction is worth the price if you are flying
F3J (quicker launches) but standard layup is fine for TD. Go to the various manufacturers sites and look at the design philosophy of each. Some require very precise flying skills to extract that extra performance, while others are designed with a wide and forgiving angle of attack range at the expense of a tiny peak performance disadvantage. I fly a C-68 V tail Aspire and when I am ready for another plane it will probably be another Aspire. Once setup it is very easy to fly, as are most of these planes.
Jul 18, 2012, 11:22 PM
Balsa breaks better
Thermaler's Avatar
Originally Posted by alstrahm
fly the Falcon, great flying plane, no bad habits. I flew one in contests for years.


And it still flies well Al ! ! !
It is my light weight Falcon as it has no repairs, great for those light lift/wind days.
Now my original 880 has been through it and back again. It doesn't mind 12-18 mph winds and has been known to get comments from the moldie pilots around here like . . "sometimes you can be annoying".
My reply . . "after having flown it for 20 years I had better know how to get the most out of it! ! !

Fly the Falcon!

Jul 19, 2012, 12:14 AM
Registered User
I've been flying NAN Shadows for a couple of years now. I have built two and fly them regularly. I have about 300 flights total and feel I know the airplane pretty well. I find the Shadow an easy airplane to fly with no bad habits, good overall performance, and able to work light lift. Mine weigh 78 ounces and I ballast up to 83 ounces in moderate wind with no change in trim. For $1200 new, and less when SUSA has a sale, it represents good value for the money in a molded sailplane IMO. I will order another one (a V-tail) shortly to build this winter for next years events. That's how much I like them.

Jul 19, 2012, 11:12 AM
Registered User
R2R's Avatar
The Vulture V3 distributed by Skip Miller models is looking really tempting to me. On sale for $1050.00

Jul 19, 2012, 05:16 PM
Registered User
Thanks guys for all your replies. You have given me much to think about. I did not realize what I had in that Falcon 880. I have done a little reading and now I realize what a great sailplane that was (and still is). After reading the responses I think my strategy will be to spend some time dialing in the Falcon 880 and getting used to flying and handling a full house 6 channel ship. Then maybe in a year or so move up. As mentioned, by then I will have more information and experience with full house sailplanes and will be able to formulate some opinions.

Its a bigger decision that my power plane days because of the cost. I flew 40-90 sized glow and the planes were much less expensive than a 1200-2000 dollar molded sailplane. So your advice is probably pretty good to get experience with the Falcon 880 for a year or so, and then move up. Right now, based on what I have read, the Supra sounds tempting along with a few others.

As I mentioned the emphasis is on "fun to fly" even thought that is relative. A good pilot told me once that skill is far more important than having the very best sailplane. In other words a top pilot with a very mediocre ship can outfly a mediocre pilot with the top performing sailplane. Right now I would put myself in the mediocre pilot category. I need to work on my skills and the Falcon 880 is probably a good ship to do that with.

Thanks for your replies.
Jul 19, 2012, 05:24 PM
Registered User
R.M. Gellart's Avatar
The Flacons did work for sure, and the 100" I had really worked. Like Gil, there are so many nice moldies for sale you could about pick up anything that works. There is a Zenith 3.7M ship right now in the Sailplane FS and it needs a bit more work but not much. i won the Nats with one and it is a great all-around ship. There are others in there. Buying used is a great use of funds in soaring.

Jul 20, 2012, 01:02 PM
Flying High
If you want to go all new, I have a Vulture V2 and I believe the V3 is a very good value for $1050 ( it is about 8-10 oz lighter than the V2). It is easy to fly although you need exponential on elevator as I found out V-tails are touchy with elevator. It has a very good speed range and thermals with the best of them. Also you have $450 for a computer radio you will need to fly it.

Dave Q
Jul 21, 2012, 10:29 AM
Registered User
Thanks for the offer Dave Q, but as I mentioned I think I will fly the Falcon for the next year and get some stick time on that before I make any decision on which molded ship to buy. Right now the Supra sort of interests me, but I will be open for suggestions in a year.
Jul 21, 2012, 11:32 AM
Registered User
I picked up a Falcon last year, I was really surprised how good of a plane it was. Too bad no one makes a kit around those lines any more.

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