2M vs. Standard vs. 3m etc - RC Groups
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Jul 14, 2004, 05:42 PM
Registered User

2M vs. Standard vs. 3m etc

Went out to a local flying field the other day, and some observations.

Watching several sailplanes being launched, and most catching thermals, (an excellent group of pilots, overall) what struck me hardest was how difficult it was to see what a 2m was doing. The 3m planes were visible and readable at over twice the distance.

I guess my question is this- If a standard class to 3M sized sailplane is easier to see, and generally more stable than a similarly designed 2m sailplane, why are beginners, and intermediate flyers often pointed to a 2m ship when there are larger kits out there like the Paragon and Olympic II? perhaps you could add to that SkyBench's "Bird" series and MM's Marauder?

Is there actually a reason for the status-quo?
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Jul 14, 2004, 06:12 PM
Almost a Pilot
Mauilvr's Avatar
Is there actually a reason for the status-quo?
Several things come to mind immediately - price and ease of contruction. A 2M is usually easier and cheaper to build, although that is not always true.
Jul 14, 2004, 06:35 PM
What's wrong with heavy?
dephela's Avatar
Generally lighter, more maneuverable and launching is easier? Usually easier to manage in a "shop to be" as well as getting to the field. All of Ric's thoughts are true also.

Jul 14, 2004, 06:51 PM
outrageously large member
xtc's Avatar
most 2 m gliders also do very well on a highstart,unlike the 3 m birds ,also its far easyer to land a 2 m in smaller fields unless of course you have flaps etc

i personally love 2 m gliders for ALL of the above comments,i tend to reserve 3 metre for full house gliders

Jul 14, 2004, 07:08 PM
Almost a Pilot
Mauilvr's Avatar
All of the above reasons also crossed my mind - and all very valid.

Although I love flying my 3M sailplanes (and larger!), I still fly several different 2M planes, even after 25+ years of sailplane flying.

They're all FUN!

Another thought that just occured to me that is applicable to beginners is that 2M planes are lighter and usually easier to fix after the inevitable rough "landing". All right, crash.
Jul 15, 2004, 04:38 AM
Proud member of LISF and ESL
Launching a 3M plane can be harder than a 2M plane, all things being equal. Those big wings can be grabbed by a breeze while you are preparing to launch.

Because the bigger planes are heavier, you must be stronger to handle them Typical 2M built up or EPP foam glider is about 28-36 ounces. 3 Meter planes are more typically in the 60-80 ounce range.

You need a stronger, heavier, more expensive hi-start to launch a 3 M plane. If your hi-start is underpowered the launches will be poor or the plane will stall on launch and crash. Winchs are very expensive, in the $350 to $700 range, so a low cost hi-start for under $75 and a 2M ARF for $100 gets you in the air with lots of enjoyment and learning for not a lot of money. You can fly it with a $60 radio that includes all the electronics.

As far as visability. A beginner pilot should not be getting the plane as far away as an experienced pilot. They have not learned the skills of coming back against the wind, judging distances, getting out of strong thermals. The fact that you can't range out as far with a 2M plane is a good thing.

2M planes are great. I had my Spirt up for 20 minutes on one flight last Sunday and frankly could have stayed up much longer if I had wanted to but they were after me to come down so they could start the club contest. I was probably 1500 feet up and having a ball. I was flying hand off and the plane was just circling on its own. Beautiful.

When it was time to come down I popped the spoilers and just let it float down as beautifully as could be. Wonderful!

That was with a RTF plane that came all built, with all the electroncis installed and the radio for $150. Add a $60 hi-start and you can be in heaven in nothing flat for very little money with a plane that can win club contests if you develop your flying skills.
Jul 15, 2004, 06:15 AM
Registered User
Soarbird's Avatar
Got to agree with everything said so far.

One of the major advantages of a 2m is that it teaches you to fly as smoothly as possible to retain energy. Invariably, a good 2m pilot is also a good 3m+ pilot simply because he has learn't to read his plane in the air.

I fly both and find the 2m great for when we go away for a weekend as it packs easily into the car. My 2m has two fuselages - one as a glider and the other as an electric glider. This allows me to fly almost anywhere.

The 3.2m I keep for the field but don't fly it half as much as I do the 2m.
Aug 01, 2004, 04:56 AM
Proud member of LISF and ESL
BTW, you can launch 3M planes very successfully off a hi-start, you just need a little stronger hi-start.

Typical 2M hi-start is 1/4" to 5/16" tubing. The larger will typically launch a 3M but somewhat weakly, perhaps requiring 5 MPH breeze for good launch. Go to 3/8" tubing an you typically get a good launch for 3M AND 2M planes. You can go larger still and launch 4M planes off a hi-start if there is no winch available.

Just for reference.
Aug 02, 2004, 12:26 AM
Registered User
No doubt that the 3m models are easier to see and also tend to be more efficient. AEAJR makes a good point in that a beginner should be keeping any model in close enough to be able to be sure what is going on. There are several larger models that a beginner could learn to fly especially with an instructor. But as has been mentioned easier to build, cheaper initial cost, easier to launch and land, etc. are all strong points for the smaller model. In fact, on a windy day, simply carrying one of the larger models can be a challenge! The flat bottom airfoil models such as the gentle Lady and Wanderer, fly and land slow. SLOW is probably one of the biggest advantages for the new flyer. It allows a little more time to think about what the model is doing and to make the correct control input.They also thermal quite well making them a good all around learning instrument. Because they lack spoilers they force the new pilot to learn how to work a landing patern to set up and come in to land. (energy management) Some of the next step models such as the Spirit use airfoils that give them a little broader speed range and raise the performance bar and allow them to handle a little more wind. The increased speed makes spoilers a handy feature. The spoilers allow the model to come in a little higher and then deploy the spoilers to burn off some altitude when closer to the landing spot. But does add slightly to the pilot work load in that it is a third control to work with. This type of model does perhaps provide a model that the beginner won't outgrow quite as fast at the expense of being a little harder to learn with. Personally, having flown 72" floater, Kestrel 2m, 110" RES and 120" Open class, in the spring I like to bring out the Kestrel to get the rust off and tune up the flying skills! The smaller models may not perform quite as well but are easier to fly. Fun too!
Aug 02, 2004, 06:43 AM
Proud member of LISF and ESL

Very well put!
Aug 02, 2004, 03:44 PM
SSP#14 aspirant
Soar_dude's Avatar
Okay I am going to toss my 2 cents in. Another reason why 2 meters are prevalent then the bigger gliders is because they make you work for the thermals that are closer to the ground due to the lower launch height and wanting to keep the glider in sight. 2meters get you primed for working when you are close to the ground. Myself I like 2 meters for there flexability You can slope them, you can hand launch them with out killing yourself, you can histart or winch'em . Now they are not the best at any of them they can do these things.

Soar Dude
Aug 03, 2004, 01:33 AM
Think Thermals!!!!
SoCalGliderFlyr's Avatar
Two meter Gnome $60.

Three meter Gnome $120.

That one meter more than doubles the amount of materials to make the kits.
Aug 03, 2004, 03:32 AM
Registered User
Soarbird's Avatar
Kestral sums it up by saying that 2m is easier to fly and is fun.

Not sure about your part of the world but here you don't find many 2m gliders being sold as the guys tend to hold onto them simply because they are fun to fly.

There is of course a mid point and that is a trainer such as the old Super Monteray which had a 100" span with elevator and rudder controls. I taught my twin 14 year old step sons to fly on these. Again, easy to fly, very forgiving, lots of fun and increased visability. Oh, also fairly easy to repair after some arrivals! Good on winch or high start.

At the end of the day it comes down to personal preference and what you want out of the hobby compared to what you are prepared to put into it. A 2m forces you to keep it reasonably close which allows you to see what you are doing and how the plane reacts to various inputs. A 3m or bigger is generally more graceful, allows you to fly further out and often higher, but you sacrifice agility and simplicity.