RTF fiberglass/balsa construction - RC Groups
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Jun 13, 2007, 08:13 AM
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RTF fiberglass/balsa construction


I'm trying to get started out in the RC airplane field because I've donw cars and boats and would liek to try airplanes now. Anyways, i've been looking around for a great RTF airplane and I've found alot that are made out of foam, however, my question is, does anyone know of any goof RTF airplanes made out of fiberglass or balsa wood? I want something nice and sturdy, not something that can be pushed around by the wind like foam. Price is not big deal, it just has to be RTF. Thanks everyone!
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Jun 13, 2007, 02:15 PM
An itch?. Scratch build.
eflightray's Avatar
There is nothing wrong with foam, especially epp foam if your learning, it will take knocks that fibreglass and balsa certainly wont. Foam is very light in weight, and the amount of energy dissipated in an 'arrival' is often proportional to the number of bits you have to pick up, heavy models, more bits.

Flying isn't that easy, you are going to crash a model while learning, better to have one that survives. Some of the lighter foam models can be flown in moderate winds, once you gain some experience, better to learn on calmer days.

There have been numerous threads on what's good as a trainer, such as the E-Starter, Slow Stick, various Cubs etc.

At least you are well used to rc with your cars and boats, and a good place to start, if you haven't done any model aircraft there are some threads at the top of this forum called 'Sticky's and well worth a read.

If you have an experienced flyer locally who can help teach you, you could probably miss the basic rudder trainer and go for an aileron trainer, if not, stick to a genuine model designed for training.

There are so many models out there that asking what is best will probably get you a different answer from each reply.

Sorry for the long winded and perhaps not too helpful reply, but best to start with something that you will enjoy than destroy.
Last edited by eflightray; Jun 13, 2007 at 02:20 PM.
Jun 13, 2007, 03:14 PM
Registered User
Basically, you need to decide whether you want to spend most of your time building and repairing or flying. Fiberglass and balsa are significantly more rigid than foam, therefore they give more precise and accurate control FOR SOEMONE WHO ALREADY KNOWS HOW TO FLY! Foam is much easier to repair and can take much greater hits without significant damage. For this reason, practically every good beginner plane is made out of foam.

The two planes that are generally considered the best beginner planes are the HobbyZone SuperCub: http://www.horizonhobby.com/Products...ProdID=HBZ7100
and the Multiplex EasyStar: http://www.redrockethobbies.com/product_p/mpu13203.htm
You won't go wrong with either one of these.
Jun 13, 2007, 07:04 PM
Registered User
do you know of any that are atleast made from a plastic body? I'm aware that foam may be forgiving, but i'm really reluctant on getting it haha. THanks guys!
Jun 14, 2007, 08:39 AM
An itch?. Scratch build.
eflightray's Avatar
There are plenty of balsa built models out there that are suitable for learning on, most of them are likely to be of the electric powered glider style, (sailplane). Actually if you have plenty of room to fly in the powered glider can be a good way to start. Also there are more scale like models as well, (Piper Cub/Cessna style).

The reason for the room is they tend to be bigger and need a longer approach to land, don't forget balsa wood and trees are also magnetic, they attract.

If you click on the Beginners tag right at the top right of the RCGroups home page, you will see some of the sort of models.

But there are many more out there, but look for 'suitable for learning/training on'.

Some people want models that look like real planes to learn on, (often a Spitfire or Mustang and totally unsuitable), and don't bother with sailplanes which actually tend to self correct and almost fly them selves. They are extremely good for orientation, (there bigger), but still dis-assemble to fit in the car.

There are some models that are made out of Elapor/Arcel plastic, another form of foam like material, but I believe with a good surface skin. Someone is sure to quote some model names.

Have a look at some of the model shop and distributors web sites to get an idea of what's available and then narrow you choice.
Jun 14, 2007, 09:08 AM
Registered User
what about the Hangar-9 PTS P-51 mustang? for a long time, i wanted to buy that and turn it into an electric plane and then learn on that. Is that a good idea or not? opinions?
Jun 14, 2007, 11:15 AM
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squidbait's Avatar
Originally Posted by aznsupremacy
what about the Hangar-9 PTS P-51 mustang? for a long time, i wanted to buy that and turn it into an electric plane and then learn on that. Is that a good idea or not? opinions?
You'll find several opinions on the PTS... it seems the general consensus is that if you're learning on your own, and have never flown before, it's going to be very hard to learn on. If you've got an experienced pilot to fly it with you on the buddy box, you should do OK.

Second, converting a .40-sized trainer to electric is not cheap. You're lookiing at about $200 for motor and ESC, and another sizeable chunk of change for the battery - less if you use NiMH, but short flight times, more (potentially much more) for lipo and longer flight times. Nevermind the job of rebuilding the motor mount to take the new (and differently-shaped) electric motor.

Don't poo-poo foam. It may not have the shiny finish that fibreglass and plastic do, but it doesn't break like they do either. And you can glue it back together, unlike fibreglass and plastic.

Planes are made of foam because it's a) light and b) very durable. Planes need to be light, unlike cars and boats. If you want a big electric plane, look at something like the Hobbico ElectriStar. Don't think that your car/boat experience is going to make you a "natural" pilot. The only thing you have going for you right now is you've probably got the left-right reversal figured out when the thing's coming toward you.
Jun 14, 2007, 11:19 AM
Registered User
If you have an instructor who will be helping you learn, then its not a bad choice. If you plan to learn on your own, then its a pretty lousy selection. If I recall correctly, the Beaver has a plastic skin and is a pretty decent beginner's plane, but not nearly as good as the SuperCub and the EasyStar.
Jun 14, 2007, 01:53 PM
An itch?. Scratch build.
eflightray's Avatar

Imagine wanting to take up full size flying, would you expect to learn on a P51 or a Cessna, model flying is similar.

Even full size pilots that take up model flying admit it isn't as easy as they thought.

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