Great Planes Super Skybolt ARF w/ OS FS91 II

Rich Noon has a fantastic time building and flying this great looking bipe ARF -- which he finds to be lighter, simpler to assemble at the field, and even better flying than the original kit!!



Wingspan:57" (1450mm)
Wing Area:924 sq in (60 sq dm)
Weight:7.5 - 8.5lb (3400-3855g)
Wing Loading:19 - 21 oz/sq ft (57-65 g/sq dm2)
Length:53" (1345mm)
Center of Gravity:4-5/8" (118mm) Back from leading edge of top wing
Engine:.60 - .75 cu in (10 - 12.5 cc) 2-stroke OR .70 - .91 (11.5 - 15cc) 4-stroke
Radio:4 - Channel
Servos:5 - Standard 54 oz-in (3.9kg-cm) (2-Aileron, 1-Elevator, 1-Throttle, 1-Rudder)
Servo Extension:6"
Y-Harness:1 for aileron servos
Misc. Items:Glow plug, 1/4" foam rubber padding, medium fuel tubing, fuel filter, propeller, building and field equipment.
Equipment Used:
Servos:Futaba 4-9204, 1 Tower 69 BB - Throttle
Transmitter:Futaba 9Z WCII
Receiver:Futaba 8 channel PCM
Battery Pack:Futaba NR4F1500 - 1500mah
Engine:O.S. FS-.91 II Surpass 4-stroke
Prop:Top Flite Power Point 14X6
Fueling:Great Planes Remote Fueler
Manufacturer:Great Planes
Available From:Tower Hobbies

The Super SkyBolt has a long history of great performances at air shows all over the world. And it seems the SkyBolt has been a favorite with both full-scale pilots and modelers for as long as I can remember. Great Planes has developed an ARF version of the Super SkyBolt in a very easy to assemble kit that really captures the spirit of this great aerobatic biplane.


I had my sealing iron out and heated up as I started to unpack the parts, but ended up just putting it away. Yeah, it was that good! Most of us would be hard pressed to get this nice a covering job. I'd rate the covering job as A+. Either I got lucky, or who ever covered this plane has it down to a science.


Great Planes has always had some of the best assembly instructions of any manufacturer. The manual for the Super Skybolt is no exception. It is complete with excellent photos and a detailed "check box by check box" building. Assembly steps are very sequential and logical. If you follow the instructions, you'll have no problems assembling (building) this great kit.

Although this is not a beginners plane, a person with an ARF or two under their belts should have no trouble assembling this kit.


The hatches in the bottom wing were very nicely done and the servos fit without any problems.

I chose to use Great Planes solder clevises on all of the pushrods instead of the 90 degree bends and snap connectors the instructions call for. I just find it faster and easier for me to get accurate positioning of the linkages using solder clevises. The L bends and snap retainers are fine and work very well, so its just a matter of personal preference.

As with the top wing, the fit was perfect without any sanding needed. Great Planes provided a spec for the dihedral at 2-1/8 (54mm). It was right on the money without having to make any adjustments to the wing root ribs.


The fuselage front and rear turtle decks were balsa sheeted foam. They were very well done and this is probably one of the reasons the ARF version comes out lighter than the kit version.

The firewall arrived tight and well glued, Fuel proofed and blind nuts installed for the Great Planes engine mount. The fuel tank fit perfectly.

My fuselage had a very slight right hand bow from the cockpit area to the tail. I noticed it when fitting the horizontal stab. All the glue joints were tight and very well done, and I could not correct it. It was mild enough that it had minimal effect on the flight performance.


The horizontal stab was a little loose in the fuselage slot, but since it is attached to a solid bottom mounting plate in the fuselage with the vertical stab glued touching the top surface, I wasn't concerned. The vertical stab was aligned perfectly and needed no adjustments before being glued into the fuselage.


Builder's Note:

The included bolt for the spinner was a bit too long, allowing it to bottom out on the end of the crankshaft before tightening completely on the OS .91. I trimmed the bolt a bit and it then tightened properly. Also if you plan to use an APC or other fiberglass prop you will need to enlarge the openings in the spinner. It worked fine with the Top Flite Power Point 14X6 wooden prop I used.

The instructions show a three line fuel tank setup, but I opted to install a Great Planes remote fueler.

I checked the cowl over carefully, although very light weight, it didnt show any signs of cracks or flaws. The paint was very well done but didnt quite match the Monokote. Very close though.

Cabanes and Struts

Builder's Tip

The manual states to build a right and left center cabane and then insert them into the fuselage. After a few minutes of frustration I unassembled the cabanes and inserted each of the individual uprights into the fuselage and then added the cross braces. This worked much better than trying to install them as a unit. I don't think I would have gotten them installed assembled without opening the holes on the fuselage. It's a snug fit.

Radio installation

I added a little balsa reinforcement to the throttle pushrod tube at the former for a bit more support.

Final Assembly


The manufacturer recommends fingertip balancing for simplicity. This is simple, but especially with a large performance biplane, I DON'T like to trust that approach. I tried to fingertip balance her to what "LAR" (looks about right), then balanced her on a stand and found her to still be SIGNIFICANTLY tail-heavy. Had I not used a stand, the first flights could've been nightmarish. If possible, I'd really recommend buying or building a stand.

I set the control throws to the recommended throws and was ready to balance the plane. After marking the 4 5/8" from the leading edge of the top wing balance point, I checked the CG and noticed it was tail heavy. My solution was to build a mounting plate under the engine, wrap the battery in plastic and foam and move it to the firewall. With the Futaba 1500 mah battery moved to the firewall, I ended up adding 6.5oz (195.6g) of lead weight. Using the battery for weight was better than adding more useless weight up front.

Weight ready to fly was 8.4 lbs. Well within the advertised weight. With a calculated wing loading of 20.9 oz/sq ft.

I attribute some of the all up weight to the slightly heavier battery and servos I used. Still very respectable numbers for a biplane this size.

Control ThrowsHigh Low
Ailerons Up & Down 5/8" (16mm) 3/8" (10mm)
ElevatorUp & Down 1" (25mm) 5/8" (16mm)
RudderRight to Left 3" (76mm) 1-1/2" (38mm)
Weight:Ready to fly 8.4lbs (3810g.)
CG:4-5/8" from leading edge of top wing

Field Assembly

I transported the plane assembled to the field. It's 57" wingspan fit just fine in the back of my van. It's always nice to be able to transport a plane assembled to the field!


We arrived at the field just after lunch. It was 92 degrees in the shade. (And of course no shade.) The wind was blowing from 10-15 mph in a 45 degree crosswind.

I unloaded the plane and gave it a good once over, then fueled it up and got ready to fly. After the obligatory radio check, I started the engine and repeated the radio check. Everything was working fine so I taxied out to the runway, made a couple taxi runs to check ground handling and it tracked great! Very solid on the ground without any tendency to nose over on the rough grass strip.

Even after the many planes I've built and flown there's just something about the first flight that always gets the adrenalin pumping. A new plane just sitting on the runway waiting to take off is always a thrill!

I advanced the throttle and it tracked like an arrow down the runway. A touch of up elevator and it was gracefully climbing in about 30 feet. No surprises. It felt very smooth and solid.

I climbed out to about 75 feet and made the turn into the pattern, then reduced the throttle to a little less than half. It took two clicks of up elevator and was flying hands off. That was it! I've had very few planes that required only two clicks of up elevator to trim. I made a few circles of the pattern and even in the gusty winds the plane felt very smooth and solid.

I did a few loops and rolls to check the control throws. Low rate felt very smooth and stable and high rates seemed just right. So I made the few slow flyby's to see how the plane would handle at low speeds. I stalled the airplane, and it just mushed straight forward dropping the nose. The wings were solid with no tendency to drop a wing tip. It only took a little throttle and she was flying again.

Heading into the cross wind required just a touch of rudder and aileron to keep it straight down the runway at slow speeds.

First landing I just lined up with the runway and chopped the throttle on approach. I added a couple clicks of throttle as I crossed the end of the runway and the plane just settled in to a gentle two wheel landing. The tail came down almost immediately and steering was solid as I taxied back to the pits.

After a refueling and a check over, I headed it out to do it again. This time were going to see what itll do!

Half throttle and I was airborne. Turn into the pattern, level out and a quick right then left snap roll. Stall turn, open it up and check the roll rate. Very quick and crisp but not blindingly fast. Felt just right, when you bring the sticks back to center it just stops. Large and small loops were very smooth with no rolling out. Knife edge was a little tough in the cross wind but the plane does just what you tell it to. Inverted required a bit of down elevator. Cuban eights and split Ss were very smooth.

It almost felt like a little pattern plane. Its no 3D machine but a very honest and capable airplane. In the right pilot's hands it should do everything youd ask of it.

The wind was gusting up as I made the landing approach. The plane handled it like a trooper. Little rudder and touch of aileron and it just settled in.

Did you ever fly a new plane that just felt comfortable? Like youd been flying it for a long time? By the third flight it felt like Id been flying it all season. I had a ball with this airplane and flew about four more times that day till the battery was getting low. I have a new everyday flyer!


Field Photos

I'd like to thank Aaron Shepler for the great job taking the in-flight pics. It was hot out there!

Beginners plane?

This plane is not for beginners. It isnt difficult to fly, but it has no self correcting tendencies. It goes where you point it", and does require an experienced pilot to land. The Super Skybolt would be a great choice for any intermediate or advanced pilot who loves biplanes, tail draggers and aerobatics. I'd say after a you were comfortable with a low wing tail dragger it would be a great first biplane.


I haven't seen too many airplanes as nicely done as the Super Skybolt ARF. The covering was some of the best I've seen. The build quality was excellent. It flys so smooth and solid it made me look like a much better pilot than I actually am. (really) The building was fast and the flying was truly enjoyable. No real problems encountered anywhere.

The first thing everyone that has seen the planes says is "Wow! That's gorgeous"! Whether sitting on the ground or flying, it is. I've received more compliments than I have in a long time on the airplane and my flying. This airplane felt like I had been flying it for a long time by the third flight.

The Great Planes Super Skybolt ARF is an amazing airplane. If you're a classic biplane fan, this design is both functional and gorgeous. That is probably why it's been kitted and built for so long. It rates a true keeper in my book. It's an airplane I would replace if anything ever happened to it. And I don't say that about many airplanes.


  • Fast building
  • Excellent covering
  • Great hardware
  • Excellent building instructions
  • Flies incredible!

Hmmm Points:

  • Very slight bow in the fuselage (Didn't effect flight)
  • Slightly loose vertical stab slot
  • Cabane mounting procedure
Last edited by AMCross; Jul 19, 2006 at 02:49 PM..
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Jul 19, 2006, 02:37 PM
Fun Manager
AMCross's Avatar
So, guys and gals, what do you think of the new article system? Now reviews, like this one, are published directly into the forum to which they are most fitting. Hope you enjoy having this increased visibility to the articles! They are also still on the splash page (, but they'll be here for you to see, search, and read, with ease....

AnnMarie Cross
Fun Manager
Jul 20, 2006, 10:35 AM
Pro Bro 1488
Berwyn Bill's Avatar
I like the new system. Should encourage discussion a bit more and havin gthem pop up in searches will make the info more available. Nice job.

As usual, nice job. Very thorough. I liked the bit about leaving the plastic wing bags on until after the halves were glued. You know, that OS 1.20 you reviewed would let you get rid of some of that lead!! J/K (sort of... )

Jul 20, 2006, 05:32 PM
Registered User
Hi Bill,

Thanks for the kind words. I'm really enjoying this airplane.

You've got a point on the 1.20, but it'd be a rocket! The .91 flys it at half throttle with no problem. But on second thought, the 1.20 would be a lot of fun! Now you got me thinking....

Last edited by RichN; Jul 20, 2006 at 08:00 PM.
Jul 23, 2006, 06:57 AM
Pro Bro # 2398
GassPasser's Avatar
Thanks Annmarie, Im Glad Someone Is Thinking There At R/c Groups,,
Jul 23, 2006, 06:58 AM
Pro Bro # 2398
GassPasser's Avatar
I Wonder If The New Zen G 20 Would Fit Under The Cowl Of This Birdy, That Would Be Sweet ! AND ALSO SOLVE THE BALANCING ISSUE.
Last edited by GassPasser; Jul 23, 2006 at 07:01 AM. Reason: LEFT OUT SOME INFO
Jul 23, 2006, 09:05 AM
Registered User
I just held the Zenoah 20 up to the cowl. Just eyeballing it, I think it could be done. The cowl would have to be carved a bit for the carb. Not sure about the length, but looks pretty close. Maybe beef up the firewall a bit. Also bear in mind a 15x6 to 16x8 prop on the Zenaoh. It would be an awesome combination!
Jul 23, 2006, 07:05 PM
Pro Bro # 2398
GassPasser's Avatar
rich, do you own a hobby shop, or just happen to have the skybolt and the engine?
Jul 23, 2006, 08:29 PM
Registered User
No hobby shop, I just have the Skybolt and engine. Will be doing a writeup on the Zenoah very soon. Nice little engine!
Jul 23, 2006, 09:09 PM
Pro Bro # 2398
GassPasser's Avatar
keep us posted, wife just agreed to get it for me as a early christmas present(very early) !!!
Feb 13, 2007, 07:39 AM
Suspended Account
sorry to bring this up, but this is exactly the plane i've decided to get to start flying again.
i built one some years back and when i got to the finish part, i got a little discouraged as my monokoting skills are nowhere near these guys.

question is, what does anyone think about actually putting a 1.20 surpass in the nose of this bird?
Feb 28, 2007, 03:10 PM
Suspended Account

Super Skybolt from kit (not ARF)

Hello to all Modelers and Flyers

Zor here (that is my name)

I have nearly finished building a Great Plane Super Skybolt from the kit. It is not the ARF version. There is quite a few differences.

I would like to get in contact with other Modelers having built that kit or building it now.

Please reply in this thread if interested.

I have experienced a few problems with the supplied material particularly the "cabane wires 1/8 inch dia)

I would like to discuss the final finishing (covering)

An old Modeler coming back to become a Flyer again by the name of Zor.

Thanks for any contact.
I have not yet found how to send personal messages on this web page and I have tried to contact Administrators and Moderators but without any reply to me.
Jul 18, 2011, 10:13 AM
Why Yes I Fly!
schroeder4's Avatar
Is anyone still looking at this thread
Jul 25, 2011, 10:09 AM
Suspended Account
Originally Posted by schroeder4
Is anyone still looking at this thread
Hello schroeder4,

Yes I am still watching this thread.

It appears to have little interest from the forum participants.

Nice to read your posting.

Sep 09, 2011, 07:50 AM
Why Yes I Fly!
schroeder4's Avatar
Hi I ordered the super skybolt arf and sadly it was tail heavy once we finished it. Luckilly because of this thread we now know that we can mount the battery in the cowl. We are also using the new o.s. 95 engine it's about the same fit. It is lighter than the 91., and gives more power. The maiden will probably be in two days.

P.S. the only way you could build this plane in 12-15 hours is if you have already memorized the instrutions, and have all the parts you need on hand

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