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Apr 10, 2002, 01:46 PM
Registered User

First RC Plane for me and Kids

Looking for a good first RC plane for me and kids (ages 9 & 7). Should I go HLG/DLG or standard thermal (how large an area is required for a standard 2M)? As building is half the hobby for me, I want a kit (or plan - not sure if I should start with plans for a first plane). Finally, I want a good performing plane that is enexpensive and can handle some rough landings (from the kids and me). Would appreciate any thoughts/recommendations. Finally, what type of flight times should I expect for both the HLG/DLG and the standard thermal ship?


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Apr 10, 2002, 02:00 PM
Registered User
Were you thinking of electric powered or straight gliders?
Apr 10, 2002, 02:01 PM
Registered User
Straight Gliders.
Apr 10, 2002, 02:11 PM
high-speed freak
opualuan's Avatar
first, find a slope. if you can, it will help a LOT to soften the learning curve. flatland thermaling with a heavy durable trainer glider can be more work than fun. the slope takes some of the difficulty out of getting it up in the air.

I strongly recommend the daves aircraft works schweizer 1-26 HLG. epp, durable, will still fly in light lift. build it polyhedral, very easy to fly, very slow, very predictable. it's what I'm learning with, it flies great, and it really takes crashes well!
Apr 10, 2002, 03:04 PM
Build To Fly Not To Crash
DryFly's Avatar
I think the old standby is still the best for build up kits. The Gentle Lady.
Easy build, classic lines, affordable and a proven floater that has been enjoyed by and been the first plane for thousands of us for many years. I still keep at least two of them flying and love to take them out regularly. Granted I am biased in favor of balsa and floater designs but if your looking for a fun no frills bird she is it. I have taught my wife and have been teaching both my kids on them. I still enjoy floating around the sky with an old GL a couple decades after it was my first plane.

As far as space is concerned..that's dependant entirely on skill and available lift. Thermaling effectively requires a good deal of room. A couple football fields worth for the new pilot, experienced pilots can pull it off in tighter spaces. However opualuan is correct in that your best bet is to find a hill with some lift coming up the lip. I have flown GL's on the lift created by wind crossing a road bed over flat land, or even a small cut bank on the beach. So a mountain is certainly not needed as long as there is a bit of breeze bouncing upwards a GL can usually ride it.
hint: don't let a shop sell you fullsize radio gear if you go with the GL. Stick with smaller servos such as the hitech hs-81's and the weight savings will pay off when hunting for lift on small hills.
Time aloft: Depends entirely on how high you can get it up yourself and how much lift there is around to find. I have had flights of 30 seconds to a couple hours.
Last edited by DryFly; Apr 10, 2002 at 03:10 PM.
Apr 10, 2002, 04:07 PM
high-speed freak
opualuan's Avatar
if you don't have an instructor, and even if you do, I'd still highly recommend epp, as bounce and tape is less crushing to the ego of the newbie pilot than crash and repair... gentle lady may fly great, I have a spectra I got from a friend built, I won't fly it yet, I'm not ready for 'crunchy' rather than bouncy...
Apr 10, 2002, 05:41 PM
Registered User
First Joe, welcome to Ezone and the Great world of RC flight!

Boy, there's some truth to each of these arguments. The Gentle lady is a fabulous choice for first HLG! But, nearly indestructable EPP is attractive too.

My suggestion would be to either, 1) Find a club and some help before attempting to fly the GL, or 2) get a flight simulator to practice with while building the GL, or 3) find a decent EPP kit to start with while building the GL.

Definately go with the smaller servo/receiver packages. I would highly recommend the Hitec 555 receiver and HS-81 servos. Both can be used in larger aircraft later. Minimum of 3 channel transmitter, preferably 4. (You'll need at least 4 channels if you stay with this.) The Hitec series radios are all good, reasonably priced and are available with the above rx/servo packages.

You haven't noted your location but, a slope to fly from is a great idea as well. (Sand dunes are a known delight to fly from.) I would have to agree with the "two football fields" suggestion for space as well. (Minimum.)

Duration will definately depend on your throwing arm, but I wouldn't count on more than 30 seconds until you're acquainted with flying. The GL glides very well, but finding thermals is an art that must be learned. (Fly over the unoccupied adjacent parking lot, or flat, black, school roofs on sunny days.)

Most of all, hang out here and ask questions. Try the FAQ's and searching too.

Good Luck!!
Apr 10, 2002, 09:23 PM
Registered User
John Gallagher's Avatar
If you go with EPP, I agree that the 1-26HLG is great. I'd also recommend the 2 meter Mad Aircraft Highlander. The larger the field, the longer a highstart that you can use. A 700 to 800 foot field should give you at least 500 foot launches. If you have a large field to fly from, go with the 2 meter. Here's a link for construction tips on the Highlander:
Apr 10, 2002, 09:53 PM
[intentionally blank]
fprintf's Avatar
Oooh, Oooh, Oooh! Me me me me!

I have a Highlander and I just flew it. A couple of observations from someone just a little beyond your shoes...

a) if you have a slope, you *lucky* dog!
b) there are glider pilots all over the country and most are very eager to help new pilots out. I found three people within 10 minutes of my house in CT to help me setup my plane and learn to fly.
c) if you are thermaling only, the bigger the field the better. Bigger fields tend to generate better thermals and not having to worry about trees and people is very nice. Sod farms are perfect for this.
d) the MAD Aircraft Highlander was recommended to me for more than a year before I decided to buy it. I am thrilled with its performance - not only does it thermal very well for its weight but it is very forgiving of slightly rough landings (I dorked mine in nose first on my third flight and nothing is broken - a GL might have crunched the nose a bit)
e) take a look at the Hitech Flash 5x radio series. It comes with everything you might need to get started and comes with standard servos that make the Highlander balance pretty well.

Ok, now onto the kids. I found my 6 year old did not have the patience to watch me learn to fly. If you are buying the glider for the kids, then by all means let them fly it because they sure as heck won't be willing to watch you flying. Expect some tears or at the least some frustration when servos get stripped and wing bolts snap (they are nylon) and the flying is done for the day. You might also consider getting a simulator - I already had Microsoft Flight Simulator 98 (can be bought for $25 at Walmart), set it up in Tower view with an Extra 300ss to teach myself how to fly while looking at the plane from the outside. You could arrange with both kids that you will fly until they can fly the simulator plane around Meigs field and land it without crashing (very hard but teaches how sensitive the joystick/transmitter movements are). My 6 year old son and 10 year old nephew are practicing frequently so they can fly the RC glider.

If building the model is the attraction to this sport, then by all means build a balsa model. The EPP glider that I have went together in a week of evenings, which included plenty of time waiting for epoxy to dry and ensuring things were well lined up. I think it was good practice for building a good balsa model as well - I learned covering, balsa shaping, servo installation, decalage and satisfaction of a job well done when it flew right up the Histart line.

Finally, go for it!!! I did and couldn't be happier right now. Only three flights under my belt but it was such a blast, and the EPP glider will be perfect for the 10 y.o and 6 y.o when they are ready, and I am ready for a Chrysalis or Lil Bird.

Cheshire, CT, USA
Apr 11, 2002, 08:58 AM
Registered User
Do a search on "simulator". There are a couple of people selling the transmitter interfaces for FMS which is a FREE sim. I've seen the interfaces go as cheaply as $10 - $15 on EBay, but typical is $21 shipped. (FMS can be used with a keyboard or joystick too.)
Apr 11, 2002, 01:56 PM
Registered User

Re: First RC Plane for me and Kids

Originally posted by NC Joe
Looking for a good first RC plane for me and kids (ages 9 & 7). Should I go HLG/DLG or standard thermal (how large an area is required for a standard 2M)? As building is half the hobby for me, I want a kit (or plan - not sure if I should start with plans for a first plane). Finally, I want a good performing plane that is enexpensive and can handle some rough landings (from the kids and me). Would appreciate any thoughts/recommendations. Finally, what type of flight times should I expect for both the HLG/DLG and the standard thermal ship?


Read carefully the preceeding posts. There's a wealth of good advice in them.
If you're still thinking 2 meter, the Gentle Lady and Great Planes 2m Spirit are excellent choices for built ups. The Bird of Time has a fabulous reputation. Don't think anyone still produces a BOT kit though. Unfortunately there is a direct relationship between performance and fragility. All those planes will suffer damage from rough handling/landings. The EPP Highlander performs suprisingly well for a foamy. You just don't get as much pleasure out of building it.
As for hand launch vrs 2m. Depends on several things. How much room you have. Age and interest level of the kids. Availibility of soaring or glider clubs/groups that can provide assistance in getting started. Your own experience with building and flying models. What you cosider reasonable flight times for the effort of launching the plane. Etc.
Hopefully we've helped narrow things down enough for you to have some specific questions.
Lot's of luck. This is a fantistic hobby.
Apr 12, 2002, 11:53 PM
Lifetime Beginner
jlk's Avatar

Just one more opinion. I have found that gliders work well for instruction with a winch or highstart to launch (thermal gliders). Slope gliders while giving good flight time require positioning the model in space more precisely and can be less forgiving. Both are much better if you will have an instructor. Hand launch gliders don't give enough flight time per flight to learn at a decent rate.

My recomendation is an electric glider like the Tipsy. I like the Spirit and the DAW EPP 1-26 for a thermal and a hand lauch/slope glider (I have both these models and they are years old). The Gentle Lady was a good plane in its time but the Spirit is far superior more up to date design. If you have an instructor the electrified version of the Spirit is a good choice. Best of luck whatever you decide.