Sailing on a budget - RC Groups
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Nov 08, 2012, 04:04 PM
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Stu L's Avatar

Sailing on a budget

Hi guys,

I'm Stu and completely new to sailplanes. I hope this is the right area to post for some help!

I've been searching and reading for a week or so, but I'm left with a couple of questions - I wonder if you'd be kind enough to help me out?
Having toyed with the idea a few months, I really want to try a sailplane. I normally race off road rc buggies, but am finding that I fancy a change. My main question is can this be done on a budget?

You know the guy at the rc track with a BMW and all the latest kit dazzling on his car? I'm not that guy. I'm the young chap at the back with the slightly past their best tyres, who still hasn't converted to 2.4Ghz because his old Futaba still works perfectly well.
I know there are some cheap sailplanes out there, but are they going to work for a beginner? In rc cars you buy good quality new gear, or if you can't afford new, you buy good quality used gear. Does this apply to sailplanes? There are loads of cheap ones from hobbyking for example, but should someone new be staying clear?
Funds will definitely be tight as new baby is on the way. I can save a little each month, but I'm not likely to have mega bucks any time soon. Perhaps now isn't the time without a reasonable budget to commit?

The last thing I wondered was can I fly anywhere? Or do I need to find a club and little airfield? I haven't found much locally, so if I need to budget in a big travelling cost, that might influence what I do too.

Really appreciate any input you might have.
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Nov 08, 2012, 04:21 PM
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Vince Herman's Avatar
Before we get to recommendations and other advice, let me ask.
Do you have any experience flying RC aircraft?
The answer to that will change the advice you will be given.

Also, it might help to let us know where you live.
Nov 08, 2012, 04:52 PM
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Stu L's Avatar

No, all my rc experience is ground based. I guess the only possible advantage I have is some interchangeable gear (charger etc) and knowing a servo from an esc.

I'm in the UK near Bradford and have found 2 clubs nearby. Neither has any mention of sailplanes and one has a long waiting list to join. If I do go ahead, I'll try the 2nd club in case they can be of any help.

Last edited by Stu L; Nov 08, 2012 at 05:29 PM.
Nov 08, 2012, 05:18 PM
Registered User

First of all, before launching an airplane, seek help. A club is best, and there are many in the UK.

I don't know what's available in the UK, I advise looking for a "Radian" e-powered sailplane as a first-time airplane.

They come in several versions, including RTF ("Ready-to-Fly"), which includes everything you need for less than $300 US. Plug in the charger and batteries, then follow the instructions. Sometimes, assembly is complete by the time the batteries are charged and ready. The Radian (not the "Radian-Pro" avoid that one) is simple to assemble and fly, gives very consistent performance, is rugged and easily repaired, and replacement parts are available.

Good luck.

Yours, Greg
Nov 08, 2012, 05:30 PM

Second Greg's Advice

I would also second Greg's advice concerning the Radian. I've had 2 over the last 3 years and they are tremendous sailplanes. Just follow the directions, especially the Center of gravity information, and you will have a blast.
Nov 08, 2012, 07:43 PM
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lesterpk's Avatar
Not only can some of your gear be transferred some of your knowlegde and hand /eye co-ordination can be as well. I drove 1/10 scale cars for a few years and when I started in r/c with a glider I quickly found I had no trouble with the right/left thing while flying toward myself that gets a lot of beginners. I was solo after 3 flying sessions.
Second the Radian or similar, it flies slow enough and come with all you need.
Nov 08, 2012, 08:18 PM
Registered User
The stuff from Hobby King is cheap, it's true. Some of it is ok, you'll need to ask an experienced modeller who's flown the Hobby King stuff and a good number of other sailplanes as well.

Around here, it's almost auction season, and it's often possible to pick up a good beginner's sailplane for $50 or so, maybe less. You can also pick up old radios that are not on 2.4 inexpensively.

I agree the Radian is good, although I think it needs stiffening up, but that's easy to do. Also good to reinforce the nose a bit. I prefer wooden gliders for trainers. My favorite is the Olympic II, but the Sig Riser 2M and the Gentle Lady are also good, as well as a bunch of others. You probably have a bunch of good designs available to you that I've never heard of. You can even build one from plans if you are moderately ambitious.

It's advisable to fly someplace where if you crash you won't hit anyone! And sailplanes can go a long way. It also helps to have instruction. I learned before they were available, but people tell me that simulators are useful. There's a free one that I kinda like called crrcsim, written by a couple of guys in our club. The handling seems to be more realistic, at least for gliders. There's a Yahoo Group dedicated to it. The crashes are MUCH less expensive.
Last edited by lincoln; Nov 08, 2012 at 10:32 PM.
Nov 09, 2012, 07:40 AM
Registered User
Stu L's Avatar
If looking at actions is a good idea, I may keep an eye out for anything local. I'm in no great rush. After all, someone selling a sailplane nearby my have knowledge on local clubs etc.
Sound like a good plan?
Nov 09, 2012, 08:25 AM
Registered User

Sounds like a good plan.

Having done the family thing already, let me give you all the best wishes and prayers for the adventure to come. My kids are grown and out-and-about, and I love them. I also just plain like them - I enjoy their company, it's fun when they're home again, and I admire the adventures they are having out there on their own.

Anytime I had to put down an airplane part to change a nappy or wipe a nose was a good time, and well worth it. So were the times I got up in the middle of the night for comforting, cleaning and feeding. Every minute was worth it. My best advice: get up in the middle of the night, and be there for your wife and child. It will seem hard when you do it, but that won't be the hardest part of being a family.

Raising kids is a lot like building model airplanes: assemble the parts, admire the look, but remember that the day must come when you stand on the hill and let them go!

Yours, Greg
Last edited by glidermang; Nov 09, 2012 at 08:31 AM.
Nov 09, 2012, 08:58 AM
Registered User
KickAce's Avatar
Hi Stu...

Welcome to the world of RC Sailplanes...!!!
If you are not already a member of the AMA I would strongly suggest that you join... Also, here are some videos that may spark your intrest in the hobby even more:
Nov 09, 2012, 10:20 AM
Registered User
mhodgson's Avatar
Go onto the BMFA website, they will have clubs in your area. Also you will need to join them for insurance purposes. Do not fly without insurance. Also ask on the forum and forum. They will have more glider orientated flyers with local knowledge to help you.
Nov 09, 2012, 06:10 PM
Registered User
Stu L's Avatar
Greg, thanks for your kind words. This is bundle of fun number 2, so I'm already accustomed to middle of the night feeds and changes and such; much fun.

I'll keep on searching for someone local. BMFA website isn't playing ball for locating a nearby club, but I'll keep on it.
Nov 16, 2012, 05:18 PM
Registered User
Stu L's Avatar
Chaps; could I ask if any of you know of any resources for building your first sailplane? I don't intend on building my first ship, but I am interested to see what's needed, tools, skills etc.
I've looked through a couple of build threads on here, but wondered if there is anything more comprehensive for putting together a kit?
I'd like to know if I'd be up to the job, albeit sometime in the future.
Nov 17, 2012, 09:53 AM
May the Wind Always be Good

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Here is one of the best how too books out there the Wind Always be Good..
Nov 17, 2012, 12:19 PM
Registered User
Stu, i am currently flying gliders and has mentioned the Radian is your best bet. I live near Rotherham which is not a million miles away from you so if you need any help flying what ever glider you buy i would be willing to help you out . The Radian is so easy to fly so after a few lessons i dont think it would be long before you fly solo but having said that if you are new to this hobby even with the Radian you could get into trouble and end up breaking it and losing interest.

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