Windrider Bee

The Bee is a really nice, fun flying plane. With its low cost, ease of setup, and durability, it is easily one the best "value for the money" planes that I own. For modelers looking for a flying wing, or just a low investment, fun slope plane, the Bee is an excellent choice.

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Specifications
  • Wing span: 48 inches
  • Wing area: 3.54 sq.ft.
  • Airfoil: RSB 11
  • Weight: 17.5 oz (advertised) / 19.9 oz (as built)
  • Wing loading: 4.95oz/sq.ft.(advertised / 5.62oz/sq.ft. (as built)
  • Radio: 2 channel with mixer
  • Available from: Windrider R.S.B. Aviation Co., Ltd.
Several months back, while the LiftZone was still early in the planning stages, a representative from Windrider offered to send one of their new slope planes for review. I had tried flying at a slope a couple times, and I wanted to try more, so this was one of the few review items that I couldn't pass up.
The shipment from Windrider came in fast and in very good condition, which was a little surprising, since Windrider is based in Honk Kong.
This was a very fun project for me, especially since both my boys helped me build and test the plane.
The plane arrived in perfect condition, but considering that it was made from EPP foam, I wouldn't have expected anything less. When I opened the box, I immediately noticed that the kit was very complete, and included tape, light sticks (for night operations), Coroplast tiplets, tiplet Velcro, control rods, balsa elevons, fiber tape, covering tape, and more. The Bee kit had everything needed to build and fly it, except for the radio gear and battery of course.
I didn't have time to work on the plane as soon as it came in, but when I finally had time to build the Bee, it only took about two hours to complete!

The Bee EPP kit

Molded wing
One really neat feature about this plane is that it is molded and not cut. Since it is molded, it had a nice semi-finished surface, and molded bays for servos, battery, and the receiver. I know that other foam planes have molded bays, but I personally have never seen molding in an EPP foam plane.
Josh performs a test of the EPP foam's strength by sitting on the wing tip, and flexing the wing up to about a 45-degree angle.
Gear (servos, battery, and receiver) test fit
I was going to buy Hitec HS-81 micro servos for the Bee, but as you can see in the photos, the molded servo bays were set up for standard sized servos. Therefore, I used a set of inexpensive, standard sized Hitec HS-300 servos (approximately $10.00 each), which fit perfectly in the servo bays. I admit that I was initially worried about the extra weight, but as I found out later, the Bee was still quite light, and the extra weight worked to its advantage in windy conditions.
For the receiver, I used one of my trusty Hitec 555 receivers. It fit very well, and worked flawlessly. As I found out later, using the Hitec 555 receiver, the HS-300 servos, and a standard size receiver pack, the Bee balanced perfectly without any adjustment.
Installing the gear
The gear installation went very quickly. The receiver and battery went in easily, yet snuggly enough that I didn't have to glue or Velcro them in place. The servos also fit snuggly, and probably didn't need glue, but I used dab to hold them in place, just to be safe. A feature that isn't called for in the instructions, but one that has worked out very well is an on/off switch with a charging lead. I cut a small opening in the Coroplast battery cover for the switch and lead. This has made charging very convenient, and I like being able to turn off the receiver between flights when my radio is off.
Gear covers
Another simple, yet thoughtful feature that I like about the Bee is the inclusion of servo, battery, and receiver covers. The covers fit quite nicely over the gear. They protect the gear and provide a nice solid surface for the final covering.
Josh inspects the gear covers for proper fit.
Fiber taping the wing
Since the Bee is made of EPP, it doesn't require a spar, extensive taping, or the use of 3M-77 glue. (It is noted in the instructions that 3M-77 is not required, but I missed it and used some on my plane, which added a little extra, unnecessary weight.) As I mentioned, the Bee, being made of EPP, does not require as much fiber tape as compared to another EPP/EPS wing I own.
Josh certifies that the wing is sufficiently rigid.
Covering the wing
I used the tape that Windrider included with the kit to cover the Bee. The provided tape isn't as opaque as other tapes that I have used, but it went on quite nicely and adequately covered the plane. The fiber tape had added a lot of stiffness to the plane, but once the covering tape was applied, the Bee was very rigid. In fact, if I hadn't known better, I would have sworn it had a spar. On the website, there is a picture of the Bee being folded up like a taco. It is an interesting demonstration, but while I am sure the foam would survive this, I don't know that the tape would. This is one aspect of the plane that I didn't test. First, I couldn't think of a time where I would need to fold it up. Second, I didn't want to have to go through the process of re-taping the wing until I needed to. Finally, I wanted the Bee to remain rigid, and flexing it that much would most likely defeat that goal.
Finishing the construction

After the covering was done, I covered the elevons, fixed them to the plane, and then added the control rods, control horns, and finally, the Bee logo. From start to finish, the Bee took about two hours to build, which is faster than most ARF models that I have built.

Flight

With the Bee built and set up, the last thing to do was the test flight. Even though I live in the middle of Texas, there is suitable slope site about 15 minutes away from my home. Near New Braunfels, Texas, there is a lake called Canyon Lake. The lake is manmade through the use of a large earthen dam, aptly called Canyon Lake Dam. According to a reference that I found on the Internet, Canyon Dam is five kilometers in length and rises to a height of 224 feet above the riverbed. The side of the dam facing the water is covered with large rocks and concrete blocks, but the "fun side" is grass covered and completely unobstructed except for a few trees in a small, sparse park at the base of the dam.
The only real downside to the dam is that the wind doesn't always blow directly at the face of the dam. However, when it does (surprisingly more often than not), the dam has very good sloping conditions. The top of the dam is only wide as a one-lane road (for maintenance vehicles), so it doesn't offer a good landing surface. If you can land one the road, which is perpendicular to the direction of wind, landing isn't a problem. Otherwise, you have to land on the grassy side as close to the top as possible (walking on the dam face is prohibited), or bring the plane in from behind the dam, into the wind, and then make a carrier landing on the road.
When I fly at the dam, I usually walk out near the middle of the dam. Since the riverbed slopes up towards the sides of the dam, near the middle of the dam, the slope is actually much higher than it is at the sides. Additionally, each side of the dam is lined with trees that block some of the wind. However, near the middle of the dam, the slope is unobstructed. Here, even a light wind produces pretty good lift.
It was quite windy for the first flight. For much of our time on the dam, my dog kept pointed into the wind, because when he turned sideways, it looked as if he might be blown over.
The day that I did the test flight, I showed up late in the evening. The wind seemed to be blowing about 20 to 25 mph at the top of the dam, but that is only my "guesstimate". While walking out to my flying spot, I had trouble holding onto the plane, and my poor little dog was walking a little tilted.
As you will see in the video, the Bee handled the wind, but could have used a little more weight. Launching the Bee was easy. All I had to do was point it into the wind and let it go. It was a little gusty, and my launching technique wasn't the prettiest, but it worked well enough.
The "spec" is my plane flying over the dam.
After about 15 minutes of flying, I flew the Bee just beyond the apex of the dam, and as I tried to turn it back into the wind, I stalled it. It spun in from a pretty good height and squarely crashed into the rocks on the backside base of the dam. My oldest son Chris kindly retrieved the plane. To my amazement, there was barely a scratch on the Bee, and it was still stiff and strong. My wife, who is used to "packing it in" after seeing me crash a plane, started to head back to our van. You should have seen her face when I immediately tossed the Bee back in the air, and then plopped my butt down to enjoy the flight. It was such a nice day, and it felt so good in the breeze at the top of the dam, I just had to fly more.
Here is my plane on the path below the dam.
After another 15 minutes of flying, I accidentally flew the Bee over the backside of the dam again. I had been bringing the Bee back towards the dam, and then doing stall turns over the dam (...as best as can be done with a flying wing). Just as I set up the Bee for another run back at the dam, an older couple walked up to the edge of the dam, right into the path of the Bee. (They wanted to see the plane, my spotter was watching the plane instead of looking out for potential problems, and I didn't see them until the last second.) I turned the Bee sharply to miss them. It lost momentum and became a kite, and the wind blew it over the dam. I tried to work the Bee back up, but realizing I couldn't, I decided to land it (under control) on the path from the dam to the lake, which made recovery much easier than if it had landed in the lake or on the rocks.
My son recovered the Bee, and I immediately flew it again. During that day, I flew for about 45 minutes total, and I felt that I was really starting to get the hang of slope flying. I found that I could nearly hover the Bee, or streak it across the slope at speeds that would rival a powered flying wing. I would have flown more that day, but as sunset approached, the wind speed died down to near zero, adn I just couldn't keep the Bee in the air anymore. Before the wind stop completely, I think that it flew very well in lighter winds too, but imagine that if I hadn't the extra two ounces with the 3M-77, it would have flown even better.
I have been back several times since the test flights, and I can say that I truly enjoy slope flying. With the right conditions, I can fly nearly all day on one charge of the receiver battery. I have flown another plane at the dam, but the Bee is really my only slope plane. I have thought about getting another sloper, but since the Bee is just plain fun to fly, and extremely durable, which is perfect for those less than ideal landings, I just haven't found a good excuse to try anything else yet. Now I just need to find a couple local flyers to go fly with me at the dam, so that I could try my hand at slope combat with the Bee.

Videos

Conclusion

The Bee is a really nice, fun flying plane. With its low cost, ease of setup, and durability, it is easily one the best "value for the money" planes that I own. For modelers looking for a flying wing, or just a low investment, fun slope plane, the Bee is an excellent choice.
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Aug 05, 2007, 02:35 AM
Registered User
cool man nice reveiw
Aug 30, 2007, 02:23 AM
Registered User
Flying over Point Dume, Malibu Beach California (4 min 3 sec)
Apr 08, 2008, 03:25 AM
Registered User
Rcmeca's Avatar
Great reveiw , went and bought one from Air Craft World , when they were in stock during their Kits Blowout final bargins.The one I got was actually an Elebee (electrified version )I use it on the slope and in the park ,a very versitile plane and a stack of fun.I swore once I would never own a flying wing being a traditionlist ,but now when I get bored with my old timers I get out the Bee and have a blast of a time.
Jan 27, 2009, 11:01 PM
mikedsilva
i just bought one too but want to convert it to electric...
should be fun!


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