Mail and Frequently Asked Questions about Kit Building
These are questions I have received from visitors regarding kit building.
Other Mail and FAQ Pages
I build my own airplanes too. I have built four kits in five years as my flying skills improve and my desire and commitment to be in this hobby increase too.
Now I want to build a second GP Giles 202 (59" wing span). I built my first Giles three years ago but lost it in a high-speed stall on final approach. I have been studing the problem and I now understand a series of events: heavy plane, not enough elevator expo, not enough experience flying, probably different LE shape between wing panels, probably not consistent LE shape in wing panels and dual elevators not traveling at same rate.
Because in every build I strive for building better and better, I have been planning this building for six months now. During this time I have been improving my workshop, tools and accessories. My goal is to build it lighter but strong.
In regards to the airplane, this airplane comes with flat truss type stab. Reading about Rustik, you recomend using airfoil stabs when possible and replace plywood with balsa-made plywood. I would like to follow your advice in this building.
My questions are:
I am not sure about creating the stab as a mini-wing with two small spars at 30% chord, mini sher-webs, ribs spacing, small spars at other chord points, etc. Could you provide some advice on this?
Would NACA-0009 be good for the stab/elevator combo?
What airfoil to use for rudder if it helps to the design?
To replace the interlocking plywood for the fuselage, do I use the kit plywood as templates for my own homemade plywood out of balsa, or do I change the design to a Warren Truss design?
Any assistance and/or suggestions is highly appreciated.
Build the stabilizer just like you would build a wing. 1/16" light balsa ribs spaced about 1" apart will work well. If you build it up with ribs and sheet it then you can use 1/8" square hard balsa spars and 1/32" shear webs. It won't break in flight assuming you have good fitting joints and you selected the wood properly. Use medium-light balsa for the skins. If you glass the tail then you can use contest balsa for the skins.
6-9% should work fine for your stabilizer.
The rudder would be the same.
Please consider the role of the formers in the fuselage carefully before you replace plywood with balsa. There may be a good reason for them to be balsa. If you do cut new formers then I would measure the orginals instead of tracing them. If you trace them and they were a little inaccurate to begin with you'll just make it worse. Tracing a part makes it larger and it's hard to guess exactly where inside the line you should cut.
I'm getting ready to start construction of my first real kit ó a Smith Miniplane (I've built 2 Somethin' Extras, but this one looks like much more of a challenge). You've made a few references to your Miniplane build, and I was hoping that you could pass on any helpful tips for this cool little bipe.
I plan on putting a Saito 90TS up front, and covering using 21st Century Fabric. I will be buying the best jigsaw I can afford, and I think I'm gonna build your magnetic board as well. Probably pick up that Microlux table saw as well, just because I like it. Any tips/experiences that you could share to help with this build?
I fundamentally disagree with your whole approach to this project. I would use a .52 four-stroke which will give you excellent power and a reasonable weight. If you put in anything bigger youíre going to have all kinds of problems balancing the airplane. You can put the elevator and rudder servos in the back along with the battery and youíll still probably need to add lead.
The Miniplane is a wonderful plane as designed. Use lots of sandpaper and replace heavy wood. The model is over-built so you can replace some items such as sheeting and probably the spars.
I would not use fabric covering which is also very heavy. My choice would be Oracover light (Polycover from Hobby Lobby International). If you do a nice job on the plane then transparents would look very nice and are lighter than opaques. You could also do something like using opaques around the perimeter to cover the sheeting and transparents in the open bays.
Those are my honest suggestions for making the plane as good as it can possibly be. Last thingÖ use good quality mini servos that have about 40 in/oz or greater torque. You donít need heavy servos. A 500 mAh battery is plenty. You might want to consider using HS-85ís in the wings for a dual servo setup but the wings are thin so youíll have to plan carefully to make them fit and not stick out looking too stupid.
The Microlux saw is excellent but it works best with the carbide blade. The stock blade is useless. The micro-adjust fence is expensive but worth its weight in gold.
This site covers building with magnets so I donít have anything more to say about it other than if you use it youíll love it.
I'm plugging away at my first kit. I'm trying to be careful and good at it, but little problems creep into the build. I've framed up one wing and I'm pretty happy with it, now I'm forming the leading edge.
How close do I have to be before I call it a day? Right now I'm at about 85% of what I think is ideal. This is my trainer.
Iíd like to say that the leading edge isnít that critical, but it can be. If you sand it too sharp youíre asking for real problems. If you leave it too blunt on your trainer it wonít hurt anything, but both wings should match fairly closely.
I think you should stop where youíre at with the leading edge of the one wing panel. When the other panel is at the same stage, try to bring them to as close of a match as possible. Again, more blunt is much better than more sharp. Then donít sweat it too much. Youíre trainer will fly fine.
I am hesitating between a Midwest Aerostar kit and the Sig LT-40 kit for my primary trainer. I am favoring the Aerostar based on a friend's input.
Do you know this model? How it compares with the Sig? I read somewhere that the Sig may have some issues with the Stab construction.
Second question: Is it worthwhile to invest a bit more and go with a Futaba 7CAP instead of a 6XAS? If so, are the digital servos a bit overkill for a trainer? Should I buy supplementary servos and receiver and keep the better one for a future plane?
Lastly, do you have a plan for a good field box?
Iím not familiar with the Aerostar but I can say that the LT 40 is an excellent airplane. I havenít heard anything about issues with strength of the tail.
That being said, I would suggest that you go with the Aerostar simply because you know somebody who is familiar with it. He will be able to provide experienced guidance for you.
As far as your radio goes the servos that come with them arenít that great. Use them for your trainer, but donít even think about digital servos until youíre an expert pilot. They drain batteries and the typical pilot canít tell the difference in flight.
As you need more radio equipment, look at servos specifically for whatever the application. Avoid ďstandardĒ servos such as those included with the radio because they are heavy and slow for their size and weight.
If you think youíre going to stay in this hobby for a long time then get the best radio you can afford. I have an 8 channel but wish I had something with more channels. I run out of computer mixes. Youíll understand why this matters when you get there.
I donít have a plan for a field box. Itís an item that really depends on what you take to the field with you. I take very little so I put my tools in a tackle box and use as small of a field box as possible. Some guys take their whole shop to the field.
What I recommend is that you use what youíve got and pay attention to what you really need to have with you and what you carry ďjust in caseĒ but never use. After a couple of seasons youíll know what you want to have with you and can either buy a field box that comes close to what you need or design one yourself.
If I would want to reduce the dihedral to 1 or 2 degrees and add ailerons shouldn't I also consider a semi-symmetrical wing? Do you know the wing specs of the Senior ARF?
I don't know the specs of the model but if you know the span and area then you can calculate the chord easily: wing area = wing span x average chord. The Senior has a constant chord wing.
Dihedral provides stability as well as allowing a model to be steered with the rudder. The airfoil doesn't affect stability. A semi-symmetrical airfoil will allow the model to fly better inverted but it's not that type of model. If that's what you want then you might want to build a new wing with a new airfoil. Personally I would leave it alone and fly the model as a floater and go in search of thermals.
I am building a Sig Kadet Senior with major modifications. This is nothing new as this kit has been modified by hundreds in the past. My changes include the following:
Converted tricycle gear to tail dragger.
Converted rubber band wing mounts to dowels and wing bolts.
Increased tire diameter to 4 inches.
Changed landing gear to heavy duty aluminum flat gear.
Removed dihedral completely.
Added ailerons and flaps.
Strengthened all areas of the entire plane including firewall.
Changed standard engine to O.S. FS 91 Surpass 4 stroke with pump.
My questions are related to item 8 above. The engine sticks up too high on the firewall. I don't really want to put the engine on its side or invert it for simplicity sake.
Would lowering the engine by 3/4" to 1" on the firewall have detrimental effects on the performance of the airplane?
I have left the down thrust angle at 6 degrees according to the plans. However, I am not sure if the 2 degrees right thrust is sufficient for this engine. I am considering an increase in the right thrust to 3 or 4 degrees because of the torque of this engine.
I plan on using either a 15 x 6 or 16 x 6 propeller. Do you have any suggestions on the amount of right thrust needed? Your assistance with these two items will be greatly appreciated.
I realize you asked for my opinion on only the last two items, but because this is the holiday season, my gift to you will be my opinion regarding all of your proposed modifications.
The pumped .91 FS is an awful lot of power for the Senior, but ok. Don't forget that most radios have a throttle stick on them some place.
I would do the same. Nose gears are heavy. Trike geared planes also seem to tip over on their wing tips more easily during taxi turns.
Another good idea. I've never noticed that rubber band mounted wings prevent much damage in a crash. The only real benefit is that they aren't as difficult to build.
No opinion on the wheel size. I assume this is due to the plane being heavier or local field conditions.
Have you checked around for a carbon fiber gear? This is a good place to save some weight.
I would have left at least a little bit of dihedral. Straight wings always look like they droop. A tiny bit of dihedral, perhaps one inch under each tip, would prevent the droopy look.
If you have a computer radio, be sure to make a butterfly mix. The plane will fly very slowly and land at a crawl. Personally, I like lightly loaded aircraft with flaps even though light planes are the last to actually need flaps. Nevertheless, hovering a model right in front of you on a breezy day is fun.
Take it easy here. Itís easy to add a lot of weight. At the very least, use techniques that have high strength to weight and avoid plywood slabs as much as possible.
A side mounted engine tends to run best because it puts the carburetor in a good relationship with the fuel tank. Lowering the engine will change the way the model flies, but how and how much are hard to say.
I would personally mount the engine inverted or side mount it before moving it too far from the designated thrust line. If you can get away with moving it a smaller amount, say up to 1/2Ē then ok, but I would think again before moving it more than that.
I like the idea of a low-pitch propeller. That will give you very good speed control and an awesome rate of climb. You may even want to go to a larger diameter propeller having less pitch. Iím not sure if one is made, but check try 4Ē and 5Ē pitch props as well. This all depends on the final weight of the model. If your modifications make the plane significantly heavier then it will need more airspeed to fly.
Right thrust, in theory, has nothing to do with engine size. I would build 2 degrees of right thrust into the firewall and then perform flight tests. Make thrust wedges if more or less of an adjustment is needed.
Thrust wedges are easily sanded from aircraft plywood. You can make a wedge in about 10 minutes if you use a sanding block with coarse sandpaper. Drill all the holes, check the fit, finish sand, and then fuel-proof it.
I do that by dropping the wedge in a can of clear solvent polyurethane and letting it soak for about 30 minutes or so. Then I slide a wire into one of the holes, hang it up and let it drip dry over newspaper. Use the corner of a paper towel after a few minutes to soak up the puddle of paint that collects at the bottom of the wedge.
These pictures show the aileron and flap construction on the wing. I think that you will be able to see the ailerons although not an exact end shot as such. If you look carefully you will be able to see that they look like little wings with symmetrical airfoils.
You might also note that I used the original trailing edges from the kit for the trailing edges of the ailerons and flaps. The corresponding trailing edges on the wings were added and constructed from 3/8Ē x 1Ē balsa. The leading edges of the flaps and ailerons were constructed of 3/8Ē x 3/4" balsa with rounded leading edge material added in front.
I am not sure at this point whether I will use y-harness connectors for the two flap and two aileron servos or connect the four servos to separate channels so that I can program the radio for mixes. I havenít flown since 2001 so may a little rusty. However I am practicing on the RealFlight G2 simulator using an Extra 300 which is super fast and agile.
I have also been practicing with a P3 that has flaps. I figure if I can take off and land 100% with the Extra I should be able to fly this bashed up Kadet. What do you think? Also, do you have any suggestions as to channel assignment configurations as described above?
I can't tell you what you need to do to set up your radio unless you have the same radio I do. If your radio comes with a Crow or Butterfly mix then that's one way to do it. The modification looks good. Assuming your radio gives you enough mixes to make it do what you want it should be a lot of fun!
Have you ever added Barn Door Ailerons to a Sig Kadet Sr.? I'm working on the kit now and noticed the ARF's have the Ailerons and would really like to add them to my kit.
I've searched the web but have not found any info on how to add them to a Kadet. I also thought I would just buy a wing for the ARF, but it is $150 & could get the entire ARF plane for $219.
In all honestly, I would leave this kit the way it comes. I like 3-channel airplanes and the Kadet Senior is a very good airplane. But thatís just me.
Draw a complete cross section of the airfoil including all details. Sig plans usually have a rib cross section on the plan someplace so that part is already done.
Draw in the aileron. The aileron should have a leading edge that is at least 3/8" thick (front to back). You will also need to cap the trailing edge of the ribs so that the covering can be terminated and so there is material to install hinges. Draw in these details.
Now select the ribs from both wings where the ailerons will be. Trim the excess from the aft end of the ribs. Leave the ribs over length for now. Pin the ribs together and sand them to match.
You can attempt to use the leftovers to build new ailerons or simply cut new pieces from balsa sheet. If you use the leftover pieces you will still need to cut a few extras because the ailerons will have more ribs if you line the aileron ribs up with the wing ribs.
For control you can either use 90 degree bellcranks with a servo in the wing center section or you can use a separate servo for each aileron and mount them in the wing using hatches. I prefer the separate servos.
I would like to move forward to a low wing. Been in love with my Bridi Trainer 20 and after it an RCM Advance Trainer I built myself from the plan, I would like to try a Kaos.
First question: do you know what is the differences between all the versions (Super, Ultimate, Utter Chaos, Killer)? Second question: is it true that rotating the 90 degrees you can avoid the right and down thrust?
I donít have any idea what the difference is between the various Kaos models. Try contacting these people who now kit Bridi designs.
As far as rotating the engine goes, it has no effect on thrust adjustments. If the plane needs right or down thrust it will still need it regardless of how the engine is rotated.
I build quarter scale, gasoline engined military scale airplanes. The span is a transport problem and I want to build the root span into the fuselage, allowing the outboard spans to be removed for transport and easily rigged to make the aircraft flyable.
I have a Sopwith Pup on the bench and I'd really like to include this feature if I can. I know that metal and composite tubing is available but have not found it yet in my search. Thank you for your response.
The method will depend on what you want to do exactly. If you want the flying/landing wire to be functional then you can reinforce the root rib of the outer panels and glue a dowel stub into them. Have the dowel key into the center panels and use the wires to hold it all together.
If you go with the dowel and flying wire system, the dowel needs to go through more than one rib in the outer panel.
That is the system I would probably use. It's lighter overall and even with the thicker airfoil you plan to use, the tube-in-tube may not be able to have a large enough diameter to be strong enough.
If you want the wings to be self-supporting then a tube-in-tube arrangement is probably the best way to go. Iím not sure how big of a tube youíll need. I donít do a lot of large scale stuff.
Check with Aerospace Composites to see if they might have what you need.
I read my instructions wrong and drilled my wing bolt holes 17/64" instead of the 13/64" that's called for so I have to use a 5/16" 18 tap. No big deal, I have the correct size.
What I'm unsure of is where do I find plastic screws that size? I can't use the 1/4" x 20's that came with the kit. If you could come up with an alternative to plastic that's commercially available that would help too.
You have several options at this point. I took a quick look at the Micro Fasteners site and didnít see anything larger than 1/4 x 20 nylon bolts. But, you should contact them anyway because they may have 5/16 and just donít list it.
You can chisel the wing bolt blocks or plywood plate out and replace it if necessary. If that's not an option then you can try drilling them out and plugging the holes with a dowel and then redrilling the holes for the bolts through the dowels.
You can also try using blind nuts on the underside so that you can still use 1/4Ē bolts. The blind nuts need a larger hole to go into so that may resolve the problem.
I need some advice. I have just bought a Graupner 40 trainer with servos, .61 engine (supplied loose), tank etc. I am new to this sport and a little stuck as to what I must do to mount this engine. Could you tell me what I need to address to mount the engine?
Also, how do I go about determining the centre of gravity on this bird? She is 15 years old and needless to say I have no instructions.
A safe starting point for the CG is 30% of the chord width measured back from the leading edge. I'm assuming the wing is a rectangular planform and am speaking about trainer-type aircraft only.
Whenever new guys get confused about engine mounting, it's normally because the mount is a plate, not a firewall mount.
I know that trainer, but I can't place the name. It might be called the "Solo". You might want to try contacting Graupner to see if they can help you out with a set of instructions for the model. They're a good company - long established and well respected in Europe.
To answer your question, your plane is designed for what's called a "break-away" mount. The engine is mounted to a separate plywood plate that is then bolted to the existing plate seen in the photo.
Cut a plate from high quality aircraft plywood. I would use 1/4". Actually, what I would do is lamination two pieces of 1/8" ply under a lot of weight. The reason being that first, it will be flat, and second it will be harder and resist crushing better. The plate ends up with more laminations this way.
Cut the plate to fit the entire area in the nose on top of the existing plate. Drill the new plate to match the holes in the existing plate.
Next, remove the plate and cut it out for your engine. I would use about 3 degrees of Right thrust. In other words, the front of the engine should point slightly to the right when viewing the plane from above and looking forward.
After the cut-out is made, drill the plate for the engine mounting holes. Use good quality bolts with lock nuts. Put a flat washer under the head of the bolt and between the nut and the plywood.
Be sure to fuel proof the mount well. I would drop the mount in a can of clear solvent-based polyurethane - the same stuff used for furniture. Let it soak for an hour and then hang it up and let it drip and dry for a few days in the sun.
Finally, sand the polyurethane flat, but try not to take off too much paint. If you go through the paint, then brush on a final coat.
Is it just me or are the kits that are being made now a days of less than top notch material?
No, it's not just you. It's the market. More people want cheap kits than want quality kits but they still want some quality. The little guys in this industry always seem to try harder so check out some of the offerings from less well known companies such as JGRC Models and BMJR Models.
What is the best way to join plastic cowl halves together? I am referring to the Extra 300 S .60 kit built model from Great Planes.
Plastic cowls are far inferior to fiberglass cowls.
The problem with plastic cowls is that the seam will always show eventually. The only way to prevent it is to glass the outside of the cowl and that still may not work unless you use heavier fiberglass or several layers of light fiberglass.
More often than not a plastic cowl that is glued together using strip of plastic to join the halves will start to crack along the edges of the plastic strip. If it doesn't crack, it will still bend and show where the plastic strip is. All of these things seriously detract from the appearance of the model.
Before I join the halves I make sure they mate very well. I also rough up the inside of the cowl using 220 grit paper.
What I do is join the halves without the plastic strip. I use a thin glue for plastic models such as Tenax. Any good plastic glue will work.
Once that has dried, I handle the cowl carefully because it is still very weak. Now I glass the inside of the cowl. The reason I rough up the inside of the cowl is because epoxy does not stick well to ABS.
From there I fill the seam either using a putty for plastics or epoxy and micro-balloons. No matter how well the seam is filled, vibration and flexing will cause the seam to open slightly which will show through the paint.
My ultimate suggestion is to not buy kits having cowls made of ABS. Frankly, they're junk. If you really want the kit, then look for an after-market fiberglass cowl.
I have been out of modeling for at least 8 years, and I have finally gotten the bug and want to have a go again. I have 3/4 finished building a workshop in a spare room at the back of my kitchen (I even have the blessing of my wonderful wife!!) and it's to a point where I have a good flat workbench, and basic tools.
I have a plan that I want to build (Flair's 'Puppeteer') and I have a good stock of materials, wood, radio gear, engine, etc. The problem is I have not picked up a piece of balsa in such a long time I am a bit scared. Where do I start?
I have sat in my rapidly progressing workshop a few times now with the plans in front of me and sat there...and sat...not knowing where to start. I know what to do, but just can't do the 'wood' bit'.
I used to build quite nice models so I'm told. Should I start with an easy bit like the tail feathers or jump in and start cutting formers and making sides for the fuse? I think I need someone who knows a lot more about models to tell me 'to get on with it'. (or kick me up the rear.)
You sound like me when I'm between projects and don't have any custom builds. Whenever I'm in a position where I can start on anything I want, it's like I have too many choices and it's hard to decide what to do next.
What you might consider doing is purchasing a newer kit that is laser cut. My experience with the handful of these type kits that I've built is that they tend to be easy to assemble and the parts fit well. A far cry from die-cut to be sure.
If you have your heart set on building the Puppeteer from plans, then I suggest you start by cutting the "kit." Cut parts for the whole plane and get it over with. By the time you've finished cutting everything out you will be intimately familiar with each and every part. At that point your question of where to start will probably answer itself.
By the way... Get on with it!
*kicks dude in the rear*
Reading your build of the Herr Pitts prompted me to buy one. I have 3 questions:
1. How thick should the material be for the aluminum landing gear?
2. I was thinking of using Hi tech 81 servos with 33oz of torque?
3. Do you think the Norvel .074 is too small for it?
Iím not sure how thick the gear should be. Anything that can support a .15 size plane should be fine. Check the Sig website. A carbon fiber gear might be a better choice because you really want to keep the weight down.
As far as the Norvel goes, I wouldnít do it. The plane will fly, but performance will be less than spectacular. In fact, I think mine with the O.S. CV-A could use a little more power, but again, thatís more weight.
If you go with a larger engine, the plane will probably be nose-heavy as mine was. Donít mount the servos until youíre about ready to cover. Then check the balance with everything installed but the radio. You may find that the servos need to be in the rear and battery may need to be in the fuse behind the trailing edge of the lower wing.
If you get the balance right and sand all the sheets before you start building, yours will come in at a good weight.
The HS-81ís will probably be fine if you use the .074 and maybe even a .15. Itís not a torque issue as much as a gear train issue with those servos. I would probably use HS-85ís with the .15, but a lot of that depends on how much you stress you put on the plane when you fly. The structure can handle just about anything you can do to it. Choose your servos accordingly.
I am considering building a Herr Pitts Special ó from what I have gathered it is a pretty good kit. I have only built ARF's to this point and would like to build something from a kit, but I do not want to build something I am not really interested in and that is usually what people suggest ó for instance a Sig 4*.
Every one says they are easy to build but, they just do not do anything for me so I do not want to waste my time and money on one. Is the Herr Pitts easy enough for me to try for a first kit build or should I try something else? I read your review and would probably incorporate some of your suggestions as to the landing gear, motor and servo placement. How far back would the servos have to be moved ?
The Herr kit is very easy to build. Everything fits and aligns well. It was my first laser cut kit and I was really impressed with it. If you modify the kit for a dural gear, then try to find a small gear that puts the wheels at about the same place as the original gear. It will be heavier than the stock gear, but should work better. Of course you will also need to add a plywood mount under the fuselage. The stock kit has a balsa underside.
Where you put the servos really depends on where the Center of Gravity ends up. The .15 I used is one of the heaviest .15ís available. A Magnum .15 is lighter. If I were to build another of these, I would still use the O.S. .15 CV-A because it is a power house and honestly, the plane could even handle more power than that. But I do not suggest using a larger engine, because this plane really needs to be as light as you can make it. The Magnum is a lightweight in power compared to the O.S., but itís also half the price.
The plans show how to mount a .15 engine and I suggest you follow them. To help balance the plane, I would use HS-85 BB Nylon gear servos mounted as far back as I could get them.
Another thing I would do is remove any weight I could. Sand the ribs to half their thickness, drill holes in them or both. I donít remember the kit well enough at this point to give specific suggestions of where weight can be eliminated, but most of the reason mine was over-weight was because of poor planning on my part which resulted in having to add a lot of lead to the tail.
I have a new in box kit of the Sterling Stinson Reliant. I was going to build it this winter and was given two articles out of old flying mags stating that it can do a wing tip stall even if the speed is kept up on a climb after take-off or when landing. The two authors ended up repairing and making their models hanger queens. I was wondering did you every fly this model and have any wing tip stall problems?
Sterling kits are known for their heavy wood which in turn builds into a heavy airplane. Additionally, my kit ended up getting damaged by termites while it was in government storage during the time I was in the service. I have not built my kit yet, but when I do I expect to replace most of the wood either because it is damaged or was poor quality to begin with. Essentially I will be using the supplied wood as patterns to cut a new kit.
The Stinson Reliant does have narrow chord wing tips which may make it more prone to tip stalls. However, a simple fix is to set both ailerons so they are slightly up to give the wing some washout. That should significantly reduce any tendency to tip stall.
Of course, building light and straight will also help, so I suggest that you replace any wood in the kit that you feel is too heavy.
I have been very interested in RC Planes now for some time. I have been learning to fly on a trainer aircraft and still have a bit to go before I am a master at it. I am looking for a plane with a bit more character and has a nice feel too ó something like a Cessna 182, Cap 232... anything with a sporting feel to it, but at the same time scale like features as well.
Because I am only still a learner at all of this, I really need advice as to what sort of kit to build for the first time. The winter is coming in, so flight times are going to be scarce, and it is the perfect chance for me to build my own plane and watch it progress into something amazing.
As for tools and supplies, what would you suggest?
I really hope you can help me, as I am in need of some serious advice.
What I gather from what you have written is that this will be the first Radio Controlled airplane you will build and the second plane you have flown. I perfectly understand your desire to build a model that has more "character."
While it may be possible for you to build a respectable scale aircraft at this point, I suggest you put that idea on the back-burner for now. I look at flight-training and kit-building as a three airplane process.
The first R/C plane is the primary trainer such as you are already flying. The second plane should be a shoulder wing model that is less stable and faster. There are several great choices in this category. The Sig Kavalier is my first choice as a second trainer. A Stik model is also a good choice. The third model is a low or mid-wing aerobat. In this category you need to be careful to stay away from models that snap roll at the slightest provocation. Instead look for something relatively stable such as a Sig Kougar or Cobra.
Please keep in mind that the idea here is not only to learn how to fly, but to learn how to build. The sequence of kits above will teach you the fundamentals you will need to build high-quality models for the rest of your life.
These pages have been posted to help you learn how to become a better builder.
Refer to the Tools pages for information about how to equip your shop. Keep in mind that there are many more tools available than what I have listed. These are the tools that I have that work for me, but you may find many other tools that fit your building style better than what I have presented.
Any model can have character if you personalize it. For example, I have take the standard Stik concept and added a few touches to it that will certainly attract a lot of attention and make it stand out from all other Stik clones. You can find ways to personalize your own kits too.
As for a good choice for a first scale model, I am going to refer you to an expert to ask for advice.
The kit that I will build using magnetic jigs is a Bridi Utter Chaos. Do think that is a good Kit for me to build not having a lot of experience in building? I have built two kits and two ARF's. The kits I have built are a Piper Cup and a Midwest Aero Star 40 for my first plane.
I have not purchased a Bridi kit since the early 80's. At that time they were some of the best kits on the market. Unfortunately, I have no experience with his current kits so I can not say anything about the quality, but I have no reason to believe that they wouldn't be as good as kits I built.
Because this is a aircraft intended for precision aerobatics, you really want to take your time to ensure it is as straight and light as possible. I do not think it will be difficult to construct, but taking your time and checking your work frequently will pay-off big when it comes time to fly.
I noticed you had built 2 Sig Kougars. I just acquired one in a trade that needs a little work done to the tail. I wanted to know if you had any suggestions/mods you could share with me.
The Sig Kougar is a good airplane as designed. It is not the lightest model of that type due to the foam wing construction and the robust fuselage. I built both of mine per the plans and was pleased with them. The only modification I would consider making would be to add retractable landing gear. It may be worth the effort to lighten the model wherever possible, but if you only make a small change here and there such as using a built-up tail you will not see much of a difference in flight performance. In other words if you want to see a noticeable difference then cut up the wing cores into lattice-work, build up the tail, replace kit supplied wood with lighter woods, etc.
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