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Jun 02, 2019, 07:11 PM
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Discussion

What happened to the smaller balsa lite-ply 3D airplanes?


I have picked up flying again after a long hiatus and have flown quite a bit of foam so far. I know that I'm not so into warbirds or airplanes that are fast for the sake of being fast. The more aerobatic, slower flying 3D stuff is more my speed. Foamies and profiles are fun and easy, but I came from the days of buying a box of wood and actually building an airplane, rather than the simple assembly process we have now with the ARF/PNF/PNP types. I have seen a couple of ~43"-45" span balsa lite-ply 3D airplanes at the local field. They look like they were ARFs. They are covered in glossy film rather than finished with the typical stickers or dull paint that you get with EPO/EPP. Do planes in that size range still exist as either an ARF or a Kit? I would actually have some fun putting together a full kit and covering it myself. It would give me something to look forward to flying when my skills improve. I don't want to go much larger than 48" because the field I'm flying in isn't very big and I have several 3S 1800mAh and 2200mAh sized batteries that would work for that size airplane.
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Jun 02, 2019, 09:21 PM
Registered User
haven't seen kits in yonks....
kinda sucks, i miss building them too, was fun and unique and you could tweak the airframe to suit.
you've got a few good brands to pick from for small balsa ARFs (of course depending on what you call small)
AJ Aircraft, Extreme Flight, 3D Hobby Shop, Precision Aerobatics.
all fly extremely well and the build quality for ARF is insane.

i cant stand foam models, no matter what composition of foam they are made out of, they all fly like rubbish compared to a good built up model.
Jun 03, 2019, 10:30 AM
Registered User
Stevens AeroModels makes GREAT balsa kits. The G480 and Edge 540 are good 3D performers. What's new in SA kits will impress you. Visit:

https://www.stevensaero.com

They have exactly what you are asking for.
Last edited by SplashCrash; Jun 03, 2019 at 10:39 AM.
Jun 03, 2019, 05:22 PM
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Thread OP
Thanks for the info! I found Extreme Flight/3DHS and Precision Aerobatics. Most of their stuff and the AJ Aircraft planes are bigger than I want to get into (at least for now). That PA Extra 260 is tempting even though it is an ARF. The Stevens Aero kits are nice to see. I think the Edge could use an update. There's a video showing how they go together and it looks like the battery hatch is relatively small and on the bottom. I think the Groove's hatch is on the top. I suppose that's something a builder could try to remedy on the Edge. Those give me something to look at while I continue learning on the flying coolers.
Jun 03, 2019, 05:31 PM
Dare to Inspire
FlyingJFPV's Avatar
You can also look into the skywing or future model 38" edge, its a mix of a hard pp foam covering and ply construction, supposed to fly really well on a 3s, not sure if 1800 would be on the heavy side
Jun 03, 2019, 05:57 PM
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I actually have the Future Model 47" Edge with a power system built around 3S 2200mAh batteries. The construction, skin stiffness and graphics are nice, but it's still not as nice as a good film covered balsa airplane. I've been putting off flying it because I didn't have the confidence yet. I picked up a Hobby King Voltigeur when they were on sale recently and flew that last week for the first time. I found that to almost be easier to fly and land than my Timber X. The Edge might get its maiden flight this week to check it out. That should let me decide where I want to concentrate the flight minutes.
Jun 03, 2019, 07:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yardst1ck
I actually have the Future Model 47" Edge with a power system built around 3S 2200mAh batteries. The construction, skin stiffness and graphics are nice, but it's still not as nice as a good film covered balsa airplane. I've been putting off flying it because I didn't have the confidence yet. I picked up a Hobby King Voltigeur when they were on sale recently and flew that last week for the first time. I found that to almost be easier to fly and land than my Timber X. The Edge might get its maiden flight this week to check it out. That should let me decide where I want to concentrate the flight minutes.

The Future Model Edge is amazing! I am using it to practice 3d and XA so I can get better at flying my larger 65 inch plane.

The hobby has changed. It's changed to a hobby of how many ARF can one buy for their collection. But it also means that I can focus on bettering my flying skills .

Even though I didn't grow up building balsa planes I get the same feeling when I see people buying already built RC cars.

While I don't have the time these days to build a car I wonder what new drivers are missing out on when they haven't gone through the experience of building their own ball diff.
Jun 03, 2019, 08:25 PM
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I really do appreciate the ease and speed of assembly on the ARF & PNP models. More time flying and less time building is definitely an advantage. I started with RC in the late 80's and early 90's. All my RC cars were put together from bags of hardware and parts. I still have a .25 size Great Planes Super Sportster that is unfinished because of a motor issue. I should probably just convert that to electric or find someone flying nitro planes and let them have it. I think the building, programming and tuning was the appeal for me on quadcopters. I have more fun building those things than I do flying them.
Jun 03, 2019, 11:35 PM
Registered User
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yardst1ck
The Stevens Aero kits are nice to see. I think the Edge could use an update. There's a video showing how they go together and it looks like the battery hatch is relatively small and on the bottom. I think the Groove's hatch is on the top. I suppose that's something a builder could try to remedy on the Edge. Those give me something to look at while I continue learning on the flying coolers.
Agreed. I prefer the little G-480 for several reasons. But the Edge 540 is a bit more sophisticated, and has the potential to perform hotter if kept light and equipped with a power system that can swing an 11" or 12" prop while delivering 325 watts or more.

Best of all,, these are planes YOU make. If they are outstanding, it's because YOU did your job well.
Jun 08, 2019, 02:41 PM
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Thread OP
So Precision Aerobatics is having a sale and that Extra 260 got a little too tempting. It's no 'kit' but it sure looks nice!
Jun 08, 2019, 04:21 PM
Registered User
Try a Tower hobbies Uproar. Cheap fun. Flies great. Standard is 47.8 in. Mini is 43 inch. Watch ebay or similiar for the kit if you want to build one. Easy to buld.
Jun 11, 2019, 05:58 PM
AMA Another Mans Airplane
cale10's Avatar
to be completely honest, balsa 3D planes that are smaller than 48" really do not fly all that well. they will 3D, but they are squirely and you really have to force them to do what you want and that takes the fun out of flying when you have to constantly be ready for it to snap on you. that being said, someone above mentioned the future models and skywing 38" epp planes and they are actually very good fliers and so are most 48" balsa planes such as Extreme Flight and older 3D Hobby Shop 48" balsa planes. but, the sub 48" balsa planes are so so on flight performance.
Jun 11, 2019, 06:44 PM
Crash & Learn
Greasemonkey2u's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by cale10
to be completely honest, balsa 3D planes that are smaller than 48" really do not fly all that well. they will 3D, but they are squirely and you really have to force them to do what you want and that takes the fun out of flying when you have to constantly be ready for it to snap on you. that being said, someone above mentioned the future models and skywing 38" epp planes and they are actually very good fliers and so are most 48" balsa planes such as Extreme Flight and older 3D Hobby Shop 48" balsa planes. but, the sub 48" balsa planes are so so on flight performance.
Evidently you have never had the opportunity to fly a 42" 3dhs slick or a buck huck!
Jun 11, 2019, 07:23 PM
Old's Cool
The problem with these "smaller" planes is that they cost just as much to produce as those that are a bit larger. If Extreme Flight offered the same balsa airframe design in 42", 45" and 48" at exactly the same price, would you happy paying that much for the 42" plane? The difference in the cost to produce these planes is within a couple of dollars in material cost. The labor cost (most of the cost) would be the same. Thus, in my mind, the only way decent balsa planes in the smaller sizes survive these economic realities is if they are offered in kits where you provide most of the labor.
Jun 11, 2019, 09:59 PM
Team Extreme Flight
Doc Austin's Avatar
The 48s are at the beginning of a major renaissance. They are only a little bigger that the planes we are talking about and they fly a ton better. Right now we have the 48" Extra V2 set to debut soon, and it's not hard to believe we're going to see all the old favorites updated, and maybe even some new ones. They all fit in my car assembled, so they are practical enough for me.

Burnooly is right, though. 48 is as small as they can make a plane with a reasonable margin in it. Like, they could probably bring back the 42" Slick tomorrow, but who would pay $180 for one?


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