Toy Shopping Time!
For as long as I can remember, the holidays have been my favorite time of year. From the time I was about 9 until I was 18, I remember faking being sick so I could stay home from school to find all the presents and peek. Ok, so I admit it was one of the sneakier and more underhanded things I did as a kid, but a kid’s gotta do what a kid’s gotta do, right? So with the holidays upon us and “Black Friday” only a few days away, I wanted to put together a list of a few things that will be on my wish list this year, along with items that anyone would love to see gift-wrapped with their names on them.
E-flite Blade CX (EFLH1200)
This is the one biggie on my personal list for a number of different reasons. Just from the “wow factor,” the E-flite Blade CX is just simply cool to see in the air. Since I had a chance to try one a few weeks ago, I was very impressed with how easy it was to fly and can’t wait to fly my very own. With an included transmitter, charger, Li-Po battery, and instructional DVD, the Blade CX is one killer ‘copter.
HobbyZone Firebird Freedom (HBZ7000)
The Firebird Freedom is the first “teach yourself to fly” 3-channel plane from HobbyZone, and it’s a great value. Equipped with ACT (anti-crash technology), the Firebird Freedom is easy enough to fly for the rawest beginner or the seasoned park flyer who just wants to have some fun. The 3 rd channel adds basic aerobatic flight to the Firebird Freedom.
E-flite Cessna 182 370 ARF (EFL2200) and Spektrum DX6 (SPM2460)
The first time I saw the Cessna, I was hooked. I prefer to just cruise around in the air at this point and, while it is somewhat aerobatic, the Cessna looks like it is right up my alley. Now take the Cessna and install a Spektrum DX6 2.4GHz DSM transmitter and you get an awesome-looking park flyer that you can fly anytime without interference worries.
I also wanted to take a moment and wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving. I will be back with a new posting next week, but now I am off to stand in line for some Black Friday Specials that will more than likely get returned on December 26 th anyways. You have to love the holidays!
The Big Decision
So, yesterday I spent some time talking with Eric Johnson who is one of the product managers here at Horizon Hobby. I spoke to him about my concerns as a first-time flier. He agreed that a ParkZone aircraft was geared towards a more-experienced pilot, and that I would be doing myself a favor to stick with the HobbyZone planes, more specifically the Z-1 planes. Eric reinforced the idea of progressing from a Z-1 plane to a Z-2 to a Z-3, taking a natural progression instead of one big leap. Soon my search was down to two planes: The Firebird IIST and the Firebird Commander. Each plane’s transmitter also called radio or controller. This is the device that a pilot holds to control a plane. uses more conventional twin sticks instead of the slide switch for throttle, and both planes also feature Smart-Traksoftware that makes a plane easier to fly for beginners. After several seconds, the Smart-Trak will reduce the angle of the control elements by 50%. The Commander has a larger motor and a higher output battery, meaning it would be faster than the Firebird IIST, which is a good thing, but also shrinks the margin of error while piloting the Commander.
And the Winner is…
…the HobbyZone Firebird Commander. This particular plane appears to have a good balance between a plane that’s easy enough for me to fly and maneuver, while still being just advanced enough to challenge me for some time. Now that I have my first plane, I need to figure out how to contain my excitement; after all, I still need to finish the final assembly, pre-flight checklist, and choose an appropriate area for flying, which I’ll cover with you in just a few days.
Jay Gordon, Owner of Greenfield News and Hobby in Greenfield, WI presents me with my new purchase: A HobbyZone Commander.
A Man’s Got to Know His Limitations
The time for the big decision was closing in. As I looked at all of the different electric planes out there, several things kept coming to the forefront. It seemed like some of the HobbyZone Zone 1 HobbyZone planes that offer throttle and steering control, but pitch is controlled by throttle inputs. These are generally smaller and slower planes. planes, such as the Firebird Scout (HBZ4600) and Firebird IIST (HBZ5500) were geared towards the absolute beginner, the type of person without any RC experience at all. One of the hardest things for people to learn when starting with RC is that when a car or plane is heading towards you the steering controls are reversed; to turn right you hold the stick or wheel to the left, and to turn left you hold the stick or wheel to the right. Since I have already become acclimated to this, I began looking at some more advanced planes, like the faster and larger Zone 1 Firebird Commander (HBZ2500), Zone Two Aerobird Challenger (HBZ3500), and even the ParkZone P-51 Mustang (PKZ1500).
In my excitement, I really wanted to go with the ParkZone P-51 Mustang. Aesthetically, I think the scale appearance of the P-51 just looks awesome, but while my excitement was getting the better of me, I took a deep breath, re-evaluated things, and spoke with some more experienced pilots. While the P-51 looks great and is very fast, the addition of a third channel could make the P-51 more difficult to control and become comfortable with. Additionally the 480-size motor Generally speaking, the higher the number, the faster and more powerful the motor. A 480-Size motor is longer than a 370. A 540-motor has a larger diameter and is longer than a 480. and 9-cell battery A battery pack with an output of 10.8 volts. Battery packs are made up of a number of smaller batteries soldered together. The higher number of cells in a pack, the higher the output voltage. would definitely get this particular plane up to some pretty fast speeds. All these factors added up to the realization that the P-51 would be beyond my abilities right now, which narrowed my decision down to the Zone 1 Commander and the Zone 2 HobbyZone planes that in addition to throttle and steering, also offer pitch control. These are larger and faster than Zone 1 planes. Challenger. So what plane am I going to go with? Well, I need to sleep on this one. Check back in a day or two and I’ll let you know.
Getting Started the Right Way
So here I am, this “car guy” as I’ve become known, trying to figure out exactly how I am going to get into the world of flying. I've spent several hours looking through different Web sites, product pages, and even a few back issues of some popular magazines to try to figure out just which plane would be my first. What I need to keep in mind, and what one of my co-workers keeps telling me this too, is that while I have all this experience with cars, flying is totally different. I know that I need to take baby steps, and if I get in over my head with my first plane, I might wind up discouraged, potentially hampering my development and excitement for flying down the road.
The first decision I've made was whether I would start with a fuel-powered plane or an electric one. I’ve had experience with glow or nitro engines over the last three or four years, but my background is pretty securely rooted in battery-powered vehicles. While I have been running more and more 1/10- and 1/8-scale nitro cars as of late and have experience with glow engines, I figured it would be best for me personally to stick to electric planes, at least for starters. With the power plant decision made, I have started to better zero in on the specific type of plane I am going to start with. It's going to come down to either a ParkZone or HobbyZone plane, but which one…now that’s tricky.
In the Beginning…
I sit here reflecting, some 14 years after I initially entered the hobby, finding myself with many trophies and awards from my racing career, and am fortunate enough now to actually be a part of what makes this hobby grow. Since joining Horizon Hobby in June of 2005, I have been absolutely amazed by the number of gifted and talented people who work here at Horizon Hobby and also fly RC airplanes and do incredible things with them. After attending the Team JR Aero Tow, and then the USRA Race over Rantoul, I realized how much fun flying can be, and I made the decision to get into flying. When I looked into how to begin flying, I discovered that there really wasn’t a step-by-step guide on exactly how to get started myself, so I turned to the experienced folks I get to work with every day for advice and tips. Very few people have had that kind of resource to tap into though, and feel that there are very few places to turn if and when questions arise. That is until now. I plan to have articles, how-to’s, interviews with Team JR members, and journal postings so that you can follow along with me as I earn my wings. Let’s get started, shall we?