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Rapidly growing range of planes, varying cost and quality. - Some slow fliers good to learn on. Cheaper craft have novelty value which may wear off.

This is currently the most rapidly advancing area of model aircraft, thanks to (a) more refined "Almost Ready to Fly" (ARF) craft being produced, (b) advanced motors and electrics and (c) Li-poly batteries - which have MUCH improved capacity over nicad and nmh cells.

So, before reading the content of this page, please read the following comments (Jan 2004) from Don Stackhouse from DJ Aerotech.

Ian, - I took quick a look at your website, ... I have a few comments:

Some of the data on park and indoor flyers is a bit behind the times. While things like the Firebird, might be getting 4-5 minutes on nicads or NiMH cells, we were getting 15-18 minutes per charge on 110 mah NiMH cell in our Roadkill Series J-3 Cub and Curtiss-Wright Junior, both of which can be built with or without ailerons, and both of which are intended for beginners as well as sport flying. With a 2-cell 250 mah Li-poly battery, the Cub and Junior typically get in excess of half an hour per charge. Our new battery mounting kits allow the packs to be removed for charging, or swapping in a new pack for more flying, in less than 30 seconds.

Other battery setups can do even better. For example, our Ryan ST (granted it's not a beginner model, but would probably do well as a second airplane) typically flies with a 3-cell 700 mah Li-poly pack, and in "economy cruise" mode has been clocked in excess of 48 minutes per charge. With a 3-cell 250 mah pack I typically get 15-18 minutes of highly aerobatic flying form our notoriously power-hungry Fokker Triplane. The new Li-poly batteries have completely re-written the rules for what's possible in modern electric models.

For beginners, your recommendation of a double basketball court for flying indoors is probably not a bad guideline. However, a great deal of that depends on the speed of the model, as well as its handling characteristics. A slower model with good control response and good stability does not need as much room. While I would not recommend it for beginners, I have flown the Curtiss-Wright Junior indoors very successfully in a space about 6 meters by 18 meters with a 3 meter ceiling. Nearly all of the Roadkill Series models made their very first test flights indoors in a single basketball court. However, this does not mean that they are limited to indoors. I'm sure you've heard me discuss this before, but that very same Junior that flew in that tiny indoor area also flew successfully outdoors in measured winds of 10-12 knots with gusts to 15, and the Cub has flown in more wind than that.

I think the real key there is for the beginner to find an instructor who is also experienced with that type of model to help them, and to check out the suitability of a proposed flying area for the model in question.

One other item:
On our website we have a page of recommendations for beginners. A copy of this document is also included with every one of our kits, even the ones that are not intended for beginners (you can't control which model a beginner will choose for themselves). It is written around the model aviation environment in the USA, but much of it applies internationally as well. You are welcome to make a link to it on your site, or even to post a copy of it on your site. All we ask is that you properly mention where it came from.

Good luck with your site, it's a very worthwhile project!

Don Stackhouse @ DJ Aerotech - January 2005

NOW - you can read on to what I had previously written

Type of plane: various light electric planes with a motor smaller than Speed 400, a span of about a metre and a weight of 200 to 400 grams.

Indoor models are generally in the 200 gram range and can be flown in double basketball courts*. (*See "Locations" article.)

Flight Times: This will depend on your propulsion unit, weight, size and setup of the plane, the conditions, the thermals and your ability to stay in them.

Expect 3 and a half to 4 minutes minimum for a basic plane, or up to 15 minutes for a well set up light docile model. Double that for the new Li-poly batteries.

Location requirements: reasonable area without trees, roads etc etc. Although referred to as a park flier, it is illegal to fly in some community parks or school playgrounds.

Indoor models require at least the space of a double basketball court - and the walls come up real quickly - more quickly than the beginner can handle.

Cost: varies considerably. A$70 will buy you a LiteSTICK - but you will then need to add a couple of A$40 servos, a A$30 speed controller, and a A$100 receiver plus a battery pack or two, so you're up to around A$300 plus charger.

There are some el-cheapo "instant" units around - from about A$130 including el-cheapo radio. These are a cheap entry into the hobby but you do get what you pay for.


Some slow fliers are particularly good for beginners because they allow you

  • plenty of stick time;
  • plenty of time to react; and
  • slower "arrivals" (ie they don't hit the ground as hard!)

Easiest to fly - Models with channels for elevator, rudder and throttle. (Aileron and sporty models are not for beginners.) Will usually have polyhedral wings (bent about a third of the way out). - these are particularly stable.

Least prone to damage - Models which have pusher props - as the gear is well protected.

Cheap Models - Some models may be cheap initially but they can be false economy because of their fragility and the difficulty in repairing them. These can quickly lose their novelty value. This particularly applies to low powered 2 channel models.

Radio Gear: The better kits require a minimum of 3 channels, so this means you will end up with a multi-channel radio.

Cheaper kits can cope with 2. Some come complete with a cheap 2 channel radio, which provides steering and throttle control only. Increasing throttle increases climb. Some have 2 motors, turning off one causes a turn, but this is of no use if you have run out of battery.

In Australia, the frequency that some of the cheaper 2 channel units operate on (27 mhz) is not a recognised frequency for model aircraft and may be subject to interference form other legitimate transmissions. May not be welcome at some clubs.

Alternatives: there are a range of planes within this type. Or you can build/rebuild to your own design, within the parameters of the power plant that you have.

Moving on to other planes: more of the same - or something else less docile - perhaps Speed 400.

Further resources: The gear available for indoor is constantly improving - so speak to those who are currently flying them.

Search the net and read articles and reviews in the magazines.

There is a discussion group devoted to indoor and slow flying models, called SFRC (Slow Flight Remote Control)

See SFRC archives at the addresses below. Can be sorted in various ways, which is helpful.

To subscribe to SFRC go to

BUT subscribe in DIGEST and only receive 1-2 emails a day - not 20!!!

Also check out

To see lots of pictures of park flyer models, simply look at the Australian magazines.

Thes models are now being produced at a great rate - but vary in cost and quality.

Wayne Hadkins holds up is GWS LiteStik

A group of indoor fliers in Melbourne

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