I made some abortive attempts toward building a glow trainer from a kit as a kid, but I never got much past the wing. I enjoyed the building, but the time wasn't really there for me. The smell, noise, and hassle of glow didn't really appeal to me, and I'd mostly forgotten things until I ran into some friends at school that were flying simple RC electric planes.
I got a Firebird XL, which by all accounts is a simplistic trainer; two-channels -- one for proportional throttle, the other for a v-tail. The only pitch control you have comes from the glide and power you apply, unless you decide to put it into a spin to drop fast. The handling isn't great, but it teaches you a lot about maintaining airspeed and orientation while flying. In addition to the flying experience, you get lots of retrieval practice. I recommend that anyone interested in this sort of plane purchase one of the three channel models that allows control of throttle, elevator, and turning -- it may be a little bit harder to fly at first, but you will be rewarded with a model that takes you a lot further along the path.
The next plane I messed with was a Trick R/C Zagi 400X. This plane (and others like it) have become almost cult classics in the R/C world, as they are cheap to build, forgiving, fun to fly, and difficult to break. I have literally drilled mine into the groud from 150' at full throttle and caused no damage. The worst I've done to it so far was to break a receiver crystal on a light but unlucky impact. You can read more about my experiences with this plane on the Zagi 400X page. The big downsides of a Zagi-style plane are that it doesn't look like a plane and tends to be a little bit noisier than most electrics because the prop is usually high speed direct-drive.
Sunday, 23-May-2010 08:53:36 PDT
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