Monday, June 30, 2008

Remote Control Planes

I've wanted to get a remote control airplane since I was 10 years old. As I got old enough to buy one, I procrastinated and never did.

One day my 10 year old nephew got a remote control airplane and I had the bug. A couple weeks later I bought my first plane from Hobby Masters in Red Bank, NJ. I got a Super Cub made by Hobby Zone. It cost about $170. The plane by itself only cost $100. Parts are quite cheap. A new engine is only $11. The propellers are $3 each. A new wing is $20. Here is the parts list.

I got a quick lesson at how hard it was to fly and how fragile it is. I've flown a lot of flight simulators but this different. When I assembled the plane for the first time, I didn't follow the manual (it was tucked in with the CD which I didn't watch until later) and as a result, I put it together wrong which resulted in a lot of damage. I broke the plane over and over, day after day, but I kept repairing it with duct tape and buying replacement parts. Eventually it was beyond repair so I bought another Super Cub from my friend who bought it but never used it. I used my old Super Cub as spare parts. The Super Cub shown above is half-old parts, half new parts. The engine is held on with duct tape. I had to buy a lot of propellers since most of the times I crashed, I'd bend the propeller and it wouldn't fly as good even if I bent it back. Eventually half the propeller would snap off. One time I flew it with half a propeller and it actually flew but the vibrations caused the engine to tear away from the plane. The tails on both planes snapped off but duct tape made them better than new. The front-ends of the planes also broke off and were re-attached with duct tape. Both wings snapped in half and duct tape made them all better.

I managed to destroy that it no time as well so I downgraded to the Firebird Commander which is what my friend flew. It costs about $140 with controller. I flew it once and it was very easy to fly. My first day flying was my last day. It was a disaster. I crashed it really hard and broke a lot of things. It got stuck high up in a tree right before a thunder storm. The next morning I went back and found it on the ground in pieces. It was dead. I've lost the landing gear and the wing and tail have lots of damage. I'm buying a whole new fuselage since the current one is dead. I'm also getting a new wing and landing gear so basically a whole new plane.

The local hobby shop near my house does not sell Hobby Zone. Instead they sell planes from Mega Tech. I decided to downgrade once again and I bought the A7 Tornado. It looks cool but it's amazingly fragile. The wings fell off in flight. The tail control broke off internally and I couldn't reach it so I had to poke holes in the side to secure it. The front end could not stand multiple impacts and fell apart. It's underpowered and the tiny battery only lasts about a minute before it starts to die. The prop also cuts out sometimes when I turn. In the picture shown, you can see that I've secured the wings with duct tape top and bottom. The front-end is pretty much gone and I've duct taped what is left for support. I have to secure the battery in place with duct tape. It has no landing gear. I have yet to have a successful flight with it. A successful flight is a full loop. I have managed to fly it straight for a few hundred feet then turn it and crash it. I've flown it about a dozen times and it's nearly dead already. I got it on sale for $60. It cost $80 retail.

So the adventure in RC planes continue. I still have all 3 planes and I plan to repair all 3 for the July 4th weekend and do a lot of flying. I think the lower parking lot at the PNC Arts Center would make a good area to practice take-offs and landings.

I'm always looking for good places to fly. Unfortunately these cheaper lightweight planes are highly affected by the wind. The A7 Tornado is rated for a light 5 mph breeze. The Commander can handle 10 mph and the Super Cub 15 mph.

I'll be retiring all 3 of these planes soon and trying something new.