Budget thermal sailplanes - the good and the bad - RC Groups
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Jan 28, 2013, 08:31 PM
2012 NZ Speedcup - 231 MPH
DownUnderPilot's Avatar

Budget thermal sailplanes - the good and the bad


I have some thermal soaring experience with DLG's and I have also built my own 2M electric sailplane which goes quite well in moderate lift, however I'd like something that performs a little better, esspecially in light or 'bubbly' lift conditions.

I've read a lot of the forums and reviews about the various budget electric saiplanes (Mostly HK offerings) such as the Fox, ASW28, Phoenix etc etc.

I'm more than happy to buy an empty airframe and fit my own components, in fact I don't really trust the ARF servos that are typically installed anyway!

My question is, what would anyone care to recommend in the 2 to 2.5M size? It would be really desirable if the wings were able to be separated for easy of transport.

Many thanks!
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Jan 28, 2013, 09:03 PM
Registered User

I have a Specter 1800 from HobbyKing and enjoy it very much. Although, if I were to do it again, I would probably go with the genuine Passer-X from R2 Hobbies and wait for a free shipping deal. I don't think there's a great difference in performance but the Specter is a bit heavier and the pushrods and hinges needed some work and some guys have said they found some flaws in the fiberglass though mine seems to be of excellent quality though a bit heavier than the genuine article. Mine even survived a broken prop at full throttle with no damage to the fuse!

The Raptor from R2 also gets good reviews. It's a full 2 meters in span and has flaps. The HobbyKing version is called the Deamon but it doesn't have flaps and there have been some issues reported so I would most definitely recommend the one from R2. My guess is that shipping to New Zealand would be about the same from either vendor and they seem pretty hard to beat for the price.

Jan 28, 2013, 09:05 PM
The Lone Blue Plaid Flyer
Bob Cook's Avatar
OK, I'll start out the suggestions with a 2 meter Lil Bird of Time, from Skybench. I set my own personal best flight tiime aloft and altitude records with it.

Bob in Seattle
Jan 28, 2013, 09:09 PM
2012 NZ Speedcup - 231 MPH
DownUnderPilot's Avatar
Great stuff guys, keep the suggestions coming!

This looks intersting

Last edited by DownUnderPilot; Jan 28, 2013 at 09:20 PM.
Jan 28, 2013, 09:24 PM
Registered User
Ah! If you are willing to step up a bit in price then Esprit Models has some real beauties; especially the ones from TopModel cz. Sometime this spring I will be getting either an Astra or a Pegasus. The Culex is in the same class but I really want flaps.
Jan 28, 2013, 09:58 PM
jackosmeister's Avatar

^ You seen that man?

Also spotted this a few days ago -

http://www.apachobby.com/clearance/champion.html more pics of it here http://www.espritmodel.com/champion-28e-arf.aspx

Looks like a lot of glider for lil $

Also the good old radian pro is a lot of fun too, just a lil less elegant
Last edited by jackosmeister; Jan 28, 2013 at 10:09 PM.
Jan 28, 2013, 10:02 PM
2012 NZ Speedcup - 231 MPH
DownUnderPilot's Avatar
Fancy seeing you lurking here Jacko!!!!

Possibly the Pegasus is pushing it a bit budget-wise, looks amazing though.

That Champion looks really nice as well. Good find....

Yeah the Radian is another option. They go pretty well eh?
Jan 28, 2013, 10:26 PM
jackosmeister's Avatar
Yup Radians Pros are cool, particularly with the CG far back and the wing TE on a slider. Theyre a lil heavy, and floppy, but still lotsa fun (probably no heavier or floppier than anyother 2m foamy though)

Pity the champion is only a 2 servo wing, still at 2.8m thats a lot of wing
Last edited by jackosmeister; Jan 28, 2013 at 10:32 PM.
Jan 28, 2013, 11:42 PM
Registered User
Art Hobby have a good selection of sailplanes that fly well in light conditions. They are very reasonably priced and well made. I had a 2.5m JK Thermic that flew very well
Jan 29, 2013, 12:45 AM
jackosmeister's Avatar

They do look really nice. I wonder what the shipping price to NZ is like?
Jan 29, 2013, 07:52 AM
Registered User
Originally Posted by peterlngh
especially the ones from TopModel cz.
Topmodel Avia (v-tail) and Prelude (x-tail) are very popular, good quality and nice flying thermal ships with 2,5m span and very reasonable price. There are extensive threads of both here in RCGroups. The price/quality/performance-ratio is just about best you can get anywhere. I have first hand experience with the Prelude.

The wattsup.nz price is pretty high at 500NZD meaning 310€. the Prelude is ~220€ here in Europe lowest maybe Lindinger in Austria (+20€ shipping to NZ).
Last edited by B12; Jan 29, 2013 at 08:04 AM.
Jan 29, 2013, 11:44 AM
Registered User
An Avia might be in my future too but, for now, I want to stick with planes I can fly with the electronics I already have so I think I'll stick with 2 meter gliders. Since I have a passion for V-tails and enjoy covering I am leaning very strongly towards getting a Astra V almost ready to cover direct from Topmodel. It will end up being about the same price as a X-tail ARF from Esprit since the lower price will offset the international shipping charges and I'll be able to use my favorite colors.

I have no idea what shipping to New Zealand from the Czech Republic would be but it wouldn't hurt to ask for a quote from TopModel. There also might be a more local source that we here in North America are not familiar with. Everything that I have read about the TopModel line suggests that one can't go wrong with any of their sailplanes.

Jan 29, 2013, 03:02 PM
2012 NZ Speedcup - 231 MPH
DownUnderPilot's Avatar
Very interesting. Shipping of course unfortunately is a factor in the decision.

I've contacted Arthobby to see what shipping would be, their models look really nice!

I was originally thinking I could get away with something foam, but it appears that's not really viable for the performance I'm looking for. Most of the cheaper foamies have good potential but are either too heavy of have some other serious shortcomings.

So maybe I have to spend a little bit more. Decision decisions.....
Jan 29, 2013, 03:12 PM
Registered User
I have flown a friend's Calypso and I really like it. He did, however, have to replace a servo and they screwed up the incidence of the horizontal stab but it's a very easy fix. It floats very nicely and we haven't even started to play with camber controls. I haven't flown either Radian but it sounds like it falls just about in between the two when comparing light lift capability. If one could find the ARF version at the right price It's one foamy that I don't hesitate to recommend.
Jan 29, 2013, 05:30 PM
jackosmeister's Avatar
Just remember DUP, Friends dont let friends fly foam

Let us know about shipping from Arthobby, they make some cool looking stuff, it may end up being damn close to the price of the Pegasus (remembering the free shipping from wattsup).

I can only speak from the Preludes quality (have had a few topmodel planes though), id imagine a lot of it applies to the pegasus. The wing construction is beautiful, but the fuselage layup is pretty messy, its not rubbish but isnt pretty workmanship.

Since the pegasus looks to have a carbon shaft tail boom, its probably better quality than the avia/prelude

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