Thunder Tiger Raptor 30
I purchased my Thunder Tiger Raptor 30 after researching almost every helicopter available that was
suitable for a beginner. There were a lot of things to consider: Initial cost,
cost of repair parts, and availability of parts among other things.
There were a lot
of positive things being said about this little heli as well. All things considered,
the Thunder Tiger Raptor 30 seemed to be the best choice.
I decided that I really wanted to do things right
with this helicopter because my experience with my American R/C Mantis had been a
total disaster - mostly due to having insufficient finances to afford buying, owning and
maintaining a decent helicopter at that time.
In addition to the
Raptor kit, I laid out a small fortune in the tools and instruments used to make sure a
helicopter is set up properly. I also bought an O.S. .32 Helicopter engine and a
Futaba 8UHP radio.
Building the kit was simplicity itself. Everything fit well and the basic
assembly was completed in two evenings. I spent several more evenings
adjusting linkages, making sure the engine couldn't be jammed wide open and setting up the
transmitter. I found every way possible to play with my toy without flying it just
in case it did not survive initial flight testing.
The engine was broken in on a
PSP manufacturing engine test stand
using a 9-6 prop. I think a
test stand is essential if you spend any time at all in this hobby. Breaking in an
engine on an aircraft or in a helicopter just adds unnecessary wear and tear to the
airframe. The PSP stand is the best one I have ever seen or used.
After the engine was broken-in and back in the
Raptor, the moment of truth had arrived. The only person I knew of
in Germany who could help me was all the way across the country. I could
never go anywhere in Germany without getting lost for hours. So I set out
on my own - again. I mounted a Roto-Pod training gear to the Raptor to
prevent it from tipping over.
The first flight almost caused me a heart attack. I advanced the
throttle as slowly as I could so nothing would happen too suddenly. While
that was good in theory, what actually happened was a little bit disconcerting.
At about 1/3 throttle it leaped to about 20 feet in the air and was pitching
every which way.
I managed to keep it somewhat under control, but that is as much as I can say.
I pulled the throttle back too quickly and dumped it fairly hard. I guess
having all that negative pitch wasn't really necessary. No damage was
caused, but my respect for the potential damage a helicopter can cause and the
amount of ground it can cover in a short time increased enormously.
The next flight was better. I managed to keep it in the air for a
couple minutes until I dragged the tail rotor across the ground and broke the pitch
change fork. That was it for flying until a new part arrived two weeks later. After that,
I managed to hover the Raptor fairly successfully.
Overall, the Raptor experience
has been a mixed bag. On one hand, the kit was fun to build, I can keep it in the
air successfully and it is not difficult to control. On the other hand, parts keep breaking and that has become very frustrating.
did crash it once (actually, it did not crash - it just landed really, really
hard) when I got bored trying to hover and hit the throttle. It climbed
to around 300 feet very quickly and I soon realized I did not have good control. So I
lowered the throttle and it started dropping like a brick. I advanced the throttle
and managed to get her into a hover at about 50 feet of altitude. Unfortunately, the
Raptor had also blown about 75 yards down wind and I couldn't see what it was doing
I managed to land it and for a second everything looked ok.
Just as I started walking over to the helicopter, it exploded sending parts
everywhere. I had no idea what happened. I thought it was safely on the
In retrospect, I think I experienced a tail-boom strike. After landing the rotor blades oscillated up and down once or twice before contacting the tail
boom. The damage wasn't as bad as it looked. The entire repair was under $50.
The worst part was that all the linkages were destroyed which meant that
all the trim settings would be lost. That was early in my Raptor
experience and I have had no serious impacts with the ground since.
In spite of this, several parts have failed.
I have used 3-4 gallons of fuel so far and have installed the third clutch which
is now broken so I am grounded again. In fact, parts just keep breaking on
my Raptor even though I have not even had a hard landing since my first crash.
Several parts in the rotor head have broken along with miscellaneous other parts
and it is gotten frustrating and expensive. In spite of this, I am going to
keep at it until I decide that it is just not worth the trouble.
originally said that I do not recommend this helicopter, but to be honest I do.
I am just frustrated with the number of times it is been grounded due to parts
failing for no apparent reason.