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Tower Hobbies Ryan STA EP ARF - RCGroups Review

Tower Hobbies continues the recent trend of sport-scale civilian craft with this fantastic golden-age flyer, the Ryan STA. Nikolei got his hands on one, so let's check it out!


Let's go back in time with this circa 1930's Golden Age aerobatic trainer; the Ryan STA has some stylish lines that look good on the ground and in the air!

Product:Tower Hobbies Ryan STA EP ARF
Wing Area:424 sq in
Wing Loading:20-22 oz sq/ft
Weight:60-65 oz
Motor req:Rimfire .32
ESC req:75A
Battery req:3s ~3200mAh
Servos req:4 slim/mini
PDF Manual:Click Here

Dating back to the 30's, the Ryan STs were a series of two seat, low-wing monoplane aircraft built by the Ryan Aeronautical Company. They were used as sport aircraft, as well as trainers by flying schools and the military of several countries. Great Planes took the sleek lines of this Golden Age plane and shrunk them down to an attractive 53" wingpsan electric model. Sport-scale civilian craft have been gaining popularity recently and the Ryan STA fits perfectly in that class, so let's get 'er out of the box, into the air and see if it takes us back to the golden days of aviation!

CLICK HERE to see the Ryan STA thread already in-progress.

In the Box

The Ryan STA came very nicely packed, wrapped and secured in the box. All of the parts look very nicely constructed and covered. There were some small wrinkles and lifted edges in the wing covering, but a little work with the iron and heat gun made quick work of that. NOTE: I'd recommend using the heat gun (if necessary) very carefully, especially on the wings. The covering around some parts, particularly around the servo hatches, will pull away very quickly! Use the iron instead as much as you can.

Equipment provided by Hobbico


The Ryan STA came with a good instruction manual with plenty of pictures to help guide you.


The first step for the Ryan, was to get the aileron servos installed and connected. The aileron hinges come pre-glued, so once the servos are in and the wing joined, the main task is installing the landing gear! Everything on the wing went together very nicely. Once the two wing panels were joined, it was on to the landing gear. The holes & slots for the gear needed a touch of Dremel work to open them up for a good flush fit in just a spot or two.

With the gear wire secured, I moved on to the full wing pant install. I was anxious to see how these were mounted, as I've done these before on my GeeBee R3 and they were a pain. Great Planes did a good job with the design of these, which made their install pretty easy! The manual suggested putting a screw through the upper pant into the gear mounting rails, but I found this impractical. The front of the pant didn't find much wood under it, and the rear screw was right on top of the nylon mounting bracket and gear wire. If I were to do this over, I would consider simply mounting this to the wing with some Foam-Tac or other silicon adhesive.

Once I got both parts of each pant installed, the final steps were to secure the pant to the gear wire with some nylon brackets & bolts. Take special note of your parts bag, as this step uses 10mm bolts...there are two 12mm bolts in the bag that's used for the elevator control horn mounting. These are easily mistaken for each other! Similarly, the 10mm bolts are barely long enough to thread onto the nut. I would've preferred Great Planes give us 12mm bolts for everything.


The fuselage construction was very easy and straight forward. I needed to sand the bottom right side of the horizontal stabilizer slot just a touch to get it parallel with the wings. Once that was done and the vertical stab was glued in place, the rudder and elevator hinges were secured exactly as the manual instructed. The two servos fit perfectly in the fuselage tray and the control rods connected.

The Rimfire .32 mounted perfectly to the pre-installed blind-nuts on the firewall, and the Castle ESC was mounted on the bottom of the motor box. I slid a piece of fuel tubing over a ziptie and secure the motor wires to the motor box. With the power system mounted, I turned my attention to the cowl. Tower used an convenient magnet and tab/slot system that required no screws! The forward edge of the slot needed some sanding to get the tab to slide in. I ended up sanding it on a bevel so it would help guide the tab in. Once it was in though, it was clear it wouldn't be going anywhere! It's a really unique way of mounting the cowl for sure.

And now the final details! The windshield, headrest and belly pan were attached with Beacon Quick Grip without any issues. The plane was looking really good now, but one more thing would add the final touch...decals! The sticker sheet isn't very big, but this plane wasn't very decorated back in the day anyway. The lines of screws that go on the cowl need to be cut by hand. I used Windex instead of the suggested soapy water, but either will work fine as a way of allowing decal placement & adjustment. The only decal that didn't want to lay down quite right was the line of 3 on the top front of the cowl. I ended up making 2 cuts to allow it to lay flat. Also, note that the cockpit instrument panel dials & gauges are transparent! Since they pre-paint the cockpit area black, you would never see any of the details of the decal! I painted the area behind it white before putting on the decal so everything would appear as intended.

The last decal on the sheet was a long black rectangle meant to represent the slip-resistant walking area they use to climb into the cockpit. I decided the gloss of the sticker wouldn't look quite right, so I cut a piece of 550 sandpaper to size and glued it to the wing with Quick Grip. I think this looks much more scale! I also decided to add a pilot for another touch of scale realism. The local hobby shop had a Parkzone one that was close to the right period, but a touch small. I boosted it up with some 1/2" spare balsa and had my wife touch up the paint a bit. It'll certainly work the part until I can find the perfect guy to put in there!

With the Flightpower 3s 3300 strapped in with the end right at the forward bulkhead, the Ryan STA balanced right at the forward end of the suggested CG range, 2 3/8". This likely means we could add a larger mAh pack and slide it back towards the servos for longer flight times! The finished model weighed in at 4lbs exactly.


Completed Ryan STA


Takeoff & Landing

The Rimfire .32 has plenty of power to get the Ryan STA flying in literally 2 feet. However if you're looking for a more scale rollout, you'll find no surprising issues when slowly advancing the throttle as it rolls down the runway. As with most tail-draggers, expect to hold a little rudder in until the tail lifts and starts flying.

Landing was honestly the most difficult part to nail for our initial flights. While the approach and slow speed weren't an issue at all, it was difficult to get a landing to stick without a bounce or two. The landing gear wire & wheels aren't made to absorb the shock, so be prepared to add a touch of throttle when it bounces. I think if you fly it in instead of gliding it in, the little extra speed will lessen the bounce if you release the flair slowly.

General Flight

The Ryan is a sweetheart in the air! Despite the ~10mph winds we had, it flew smoother than I expected for a 4lb plane. I needed no trim at all on the maiden and the CG seemed very good with the battery in-line with the forward bulkhead. The Rimfire motor was a really good power match for the Ryan. You could easily fly the pattern at half-throttle for some relaxing casual flight. At full throttle, the Ryan had pretty good top speed and vertical performance. Flight times easily stretched into the 6-7 minute mark. A stall test at altitude showed absolutely no wing drop tendencies and amazingly, it actually just slowly descended stable as can be with full elevator applied!


The aerobatic abilities of the Ryan STA were surprising! Any sport aerobatics from loops to rolls and cuban eights were easy and fun. Snaps were slow and mushy at the start, but finished quick once the wing fully stalled. My test pilot Alex was even able to complete a rolling circle, lumchevak and a hover thanks to the power of the Rimfire .32. It is of course, not a 3D capable plane...but turn up the rates and I'm willing to bet it'll put a smile on your face!

Flight Review Video

Tower Hobbies Ryan STA - RCGroups Review (9 min 27 sec)

Flight Photo Gallery



  • Sleek golden-age scale looks
  • Quality construction
  • Good covering job & scheme
  • Excellent flight envelope
  • Surprisingly aerobatic
  • Virtually no stall tendencies


  • Wheel pant bolts could've been longer
  • Suggested upper wheel pant attachment needs to be re-thought
  • Instrument panel decal had clear gauges
  • A scale pilot figure would've added to the look

I love scale planes, and these golden age aircraft have such great lines. Tower Hobbies did a really nice job replicating the look of the full-scale Ryan with just enough scale details and an attractive scheme that shows well in the air. The flight characteristics of the Ryan were impressive which made it a lot of fun to fly. From slow Sunday flying around the pattern to rolling and tumbling through the sky, the Ryan STA can satisfy a wide variety of pilots. Its smaller size is easy to transport and also makes your batteries cheaper. Whether you have a love for the sleek look of golden age aircraft, or are just looking for an attractive but fun airplane to add to your hangar, you'll be pleasantly surprised with this Ryan STA from Tower Hobbies!

*Big thanks to Hobbico for supplying the Ryan & equipment for this review. Also thanks to Alex Fredrickson and Rodney Earp for their help with flying & video!

Last edited by Matt Gunn; Sep 14, 2017 at 11:39 AM..
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Sep 14, 2017, 10:34 AM
We shall serve the Lord
kingsflyer's Avatar
Very nice Review Nik.

When I first saw this Ryan at SEFF in April, I immediately fell in Lust. What a great looking model and just the right size. Your Review answered a lot of my concerns about this version of the Ryan. I was worried that it might get boring after a while if it was just another "scale" model that was only capable of barely flying around the pattern. I was very impressed with your video and the performance level of the Tower Ryan STA. I now see this version has the potential to be a great flying sport plane with sexy scale looks.

I guess my only remaining concern is pretty minor, but it has to do with the stiff gear legs. Every Ryan I've owned has had similar stiff gear under similar nice wheel covers. It was difficult to make a smooth landing and I almost always bounced at least once. Some sort of sprung, shock absorbing link gear might have solved my bouncy landings.

Latest blog entry: LEDs on my T-28
Sep 14, 2017, 10:51 AM
If it's R/C, I LIKE IT!
Nikolei Zinsli's Avatar
Thanks! Yeah as you can see, we had a lot of fun with it! It flew just as well and as nimbly if not better than my Ultra Sport. I like that it could easily fly at 1/3-1/2 throttle and then get a lil fast n crazy at full throttle & full rates.

Yeah I think that's the curse of the Y-d stiff wire gear like these. My 30cc GeeBee R3 has a similar setup and likes to bounce too...although the weight of that one helps. My pilot Alex was able to get a couple nice landings in, but I didn't have as much luck (yet). Maybe some of the dubro low-bounce wheels would help!
Latest blog entry: 93" AJ Laser 230z
Sep 14, 2017, 11:16 AM
Registered User
Nice! I've got mine, but yet to build it.

I wonder if there are any low bounce tires that would fit in the pants?
Did you us the 13x8e? How were the post flight temps on battery, esc and motor?


Sep 14, 2017, 11:45 AM
If it's R/C, I LIKE IT!
Nikolei Zinsli's Avatar
Norm, I believe I'm using a 14x7. I didn't check the motor/esc temps, but the battery was barely warm.
Latest blog entry: 93" AJ Laser 230z
Sep 14, 2017, 10:11 PM
Rust: The poor man's Loctite.
TomM's Avatar
Great review and video. I was on the fence till now but I see it has some aerobatic potential.
Sep 25, 2017, 07:09 PM
Rampage's Avatar
It needs struts. I always thought the struts were an important part of the STA's character.

Excluding the struts is like excluding the struts off of a Pawnee. It just doesn't look right to me.
Sep 26, 2017, 09:32 AM
Registered User
GWRIGHT's Avatar
Although I've seen good landings both wheel and 3-point, I prefer wheel landings, releasing elevator right at touchdown to stick it down. works very well, and I think looks better than a 3-pointer. on 3s the R&D guys like a 14X8.5 on the rimfire 32. In the video on the tower site it's flown on 3s and a 14X8.5
Last edited by GWRIGHT; Sep 26, 2017 at 01:47 PM.
Sep 26, 2017, 10:54 AM
Registered User
Clive66's Avatar
I'm fairly good at landing RC planes, but my success with smooth, no bounce landings on our paved club runway so far with this Ryan, is about one in three

Pretty sure with more flights, I will get better with the landings & I'm really liking this plane.
Gets lots of attention at the club field.
Sep 26, 2017, 01:52 PM
Registered User
GWRIGHT's Avatar
make sure you're really slow and have all the elevator in it at touchdown if 3 pointing. If wheel landing of course the flare and touch need to be smooth but also need to relax elevator at touchdown. A few fullscale tailwheels I've flown actually needed the stick pushed well forward at touchdown if you wanted a nice wheel landing. Of course on fullscale the wheels are always too far forward which exacerbates that tendency.
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Sep 26, 2017, 01:59 PM
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Clive66's Avatar
I'm not interested in doing 3 point landings with this Ryan. just wouldn't look right.
Sep 26, 2017, 02:45 PM
Registered User
GWRIGHT's Avatar
Originally Posted by Clive66
I'm not interested in doing 3 point landings with this Ryan. just wouldn't look right.
Understand, and agree, I much prefer wheel landings. They just look "much more gooder"

Most folks know I'm a huge fan of running the cg way way back, but for wheel landings on a tailwheel airplane, moving cg forward can help a lot, just have to balance the amount you want to make wheel landings easier with the amount of nice aerobatics you want to fly in the air.
When you touch down on the mains with the tail up, the further back the CG the more it will want to bounce since you've basically stopped the decent quickly, the force going down that just stopped is on the cg, and the cg is behind the main gear. You have a lever there and since the mass wants to continue to descend, it raises the angle of attack, and you're in the air again. cycle repeats if you don't do something. Move CG forward and you greatly reduce the tendancy since you shorten the lever. However, moving the cg too far forward can be detrimental to aerobatics, so you have to prioritize and find the happy medium that you like
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Sep 26, 2017, 03:34 PM
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Clive66's Avatar
I may be wrong, but I feel with the wheels being as far forward as they are, contributes to landings being a bit harder to grease.
My Pulse XT25e is that way & it's also hard to land without some bouncing, especially on pavement.
Being that far ahead of the CG is good for preventing nose overs though.
Sep 26, 2017, 05:05 PM
If it's R/C, I LIKE IT!
Nikolei Zinsli's Avatar
Ive found that landing the plane a lil faster makes it a touch easier to 'fly' it down vs going slow and semi-stalling it on flare which ends in a bounce.
Latest blog entry: 93" AJ Laser 230z

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