Phoenix Models Tucano GP/EP ARF

I rescued this airplane from hanging from the ceiling in my local hobby shop on consignment. It is an ARF (Almost-Ready-to-Fly) model. It had the electric motor and the speed control and all of the radio equipment installed.

This airplane is made to accept retractable landing gear. Today’s modeler can get all kinds of landing gear that don’t require any outside servo. They just plug right in to the radio and mount onto the plane and you’re off and running with retracts. The problem is, you hear people complain about them a LOT. You see them fail a LOT. Tower Hobbies had these retracts that are made just for this airplane. They require servos to do the work, but I find them a lot more reliable and durable than the cheaper servoless models. Plus they are kinda old school, so I went with them.

The guy who put it together mounted an Elite Power 52 Brushless motor on it. This motor is rated at 590 K/V and will take a 6S battery. With the extra weight of the two retract servos, I opted for 6S power. I propped it with an APC 12-10. It has a Castle Creations Lite 100 ESC that seems to work just fine. It has a consistent beep every few seconds to let you know that it is armed. The instructions say you can remove that beep if you use Castle’s programming interface for the ESC. Problem is, this works only on Windows computers and I haven’t had a Windows computer in my house since the early 2000s. So I live with the beep.

With the Power 52 motor and the 6S 45C 5000mah battery, I get crazy fast flight for about 5 minutes. The plane sets up and lands better than anything I have. It is smooth and very, very stable on landings.

I added 3.5 oz to the tail to get it to balance.

Overall, I really like this airplane. It’s very aerobatic and has lots of reserve power. I get lots of comments on it.

E-flite UMX Pitts S-1S

I’ve always loved the Pitts Biplane. It’s a great looking airplane and quite popular in the world of RC.

After such a great experience with the UMX A-10, I got the Pitts, hoping that it would be as much fun… and it is. It’s a great flyer, very nimble and has plenty of power to get through most any maneuver right out of the box.

Like the A-10, this one is also Bind-n-Fly. The battery that you fly it with only has ne connector, so you do have to buy a special splitter to be able to connect to a balance charger via the power port and the balance port. That connector was $5 I think.

It flies on a 2s 200 mah lipo. Flights aren’t terribly long, maybe 4-5 minutes at full throttle. This one also has the ASX3 stabilization and it works beautifully. For being as quick and as tricky as this plane is, it is still pretty stable… incredibly stable for a plane this size. It’s tiny at just a hair over 17″ wingspan.

Again for the $125 or so that this thing will set you back, it’s a great buy. I managed to fly this airplane into a chicken wire fence at full throttle on a downwind run. It literally slammed head on in to this fencing. I had to buy a new hatch cover. That cost $8 and I was right back in the air. It’s tough!

E-flite UMX A-10 Brushless EDF

I’ve always loved A-10s. This airplane is a blast. It’s powered just right to have fun with, using the suggested 2s 800 mah lipo battery. The unique sound is what you would imagine a mosquito this size to make, but a lot louder.

This is a Bind-n-Fly (BNF) airplane, meaning that you need only a transmitter and a battery for the airplane to fly it. All of the onboard electronics are in place and ready to fly on this airplane.

You will need to beef up the fuselage on this plane. The section forward of the wing is very thin and the first time you have a hard landing one of the sides will likely cave in a bit. Fixing it is easy enough, but beefing this area up with clear tape is suggested. I also put a foam cross member just forward of where the battery goes. You can see it in the picture. This went a long way to shore up the sides.

This plane is lots of fun. The ASX3 receiver in it helps you fly it. It’s very easy to fly really. I don’t use the wheels. I hand launch it with my left hand with my right thumb on the elevator/aileron stick. I generally end up in full up position on launch. It dives toward the ground but always recovers. From there, just hang on!

Tower Hobbies Millennium Master EP – Foamie Paint Job

I’ve always liked Tower products and this Millennium Master plane looked like fun for the money. It flies really well for a foam plane. It actually flies as well as any of the wood planes I have. It’s small and lightweight, so winds over 10-12 mph keep it in the hangar.

I did a little research on painting foam aircraft and found that Krylon Short Cuts seemed to be what I needed. It’s gentle on foam, but if you spray too close to the foam, the accelerant will eat the finish off of your foam, so be careful.

My plan was to cover the existing scheme. The purple covered very well in two coats. The yellow didn’t cover at all. After several coats of yellow and the stock trim still showing, I had to paint the fuse purple as well and do it that way. So the paint covers well in dark colors at least.

A roadblock I encountered in doing this is that masking tape, even the soft blue tape, pulls the original paint off of the plane. So if you mask it and paint it, everything between the tape and the foam comes off on the tape. A little more research and I saw about people using Post-It Notes to mask with.

I grabbed a stack of Post-It Notes and to my surprise, I realized that the notes of today are all sticky on the back with only a small edge being not sticky. They used to be the opposite of that, with a row of sticky across the top.

So I laid out about ten Post-It Notes sticky side down, in a line, overlapping them by about a quarter inch. Then I put regular masking tape on the non-sticky side to hold them all together. Then I was about to cut that to make straight lines or whatever I wanted to do, essentially making masking strips out of Post-It Notes. I didn’t take any photos of that process. I will the next time I paint foam and will post them here.

Carl Goldberg Jr. Tiger – Electric Conversion

I went to a swap meet Saturday. There were LOTS of airplanes in many forms and states of repair and disrepair. This Jr. Tiger caught my eye.

Goldberg made this airplane for .15 – .25 glow power back in the 70s and 80s. It’s still available in the .40 size and the .60 size today.  Eddie Taylor of cut this plane as a parts package. He removed some of the ply from the fuselage and added cutouts in a few locations on the fuse to save weight. He built this plane himself and I have to give it to him. This plane is built beautifully. Everything fits well.

I’m running a Great Planes Rimfire 35-30-1450kv motor (also bought at the swap meet) with a 3s 2600mah lipo and a 60 amp ESC and an APC 9-6E prop. The motor is only rated at 30 amps, but I had the 60 amp ESC so it goes on. It is my understanding that going up a little is not a problem in ESCs.

I found an amazing ESC, motor, battery, prop calculator. This takes some of the guesswork out of pairing components for electric RC.

This plane balances just a little back of where I like a plane to balance. Determining the CG for this plane is fairly simple because it has a constant wing cord. It should balance about 25% back, usually just on or barely in front of the main spar. This one seems to be at about 30%. I’m going to fly it once before I add weight. There is nothing I can do to shift existing weight forward. I haven’t checked yet, but I’m probably an ounce to an ounce and a half of nose weight from being just where I like to be.

She weighs 3 lb. 4 oz. ready-to-fly, with the 3s 2600mah battery. The rule of thumb of having 100 watts of motor output for each pound of airplane is in play here. 100 watts per pound of plane is plenty of power for aerobatic performance, but not 3D.  With a draw of 30 amps on the 11.1V 3s battery, output watts are 333 (11.1 x 30). A ratio of 100 watts per pound would be 325, so it is perfectly in the correct power/weight range.

All in, including the obligatory trip to the hobby shop for spinner, a random servo and a few EC3 connectors, this plane came in right around $190 and it’s a quality plane.

I’ll post an update after I fly it. It should be a gentle flyer with plenty of power. I hate underpowered airplanes 😉


Maiden flight required two clicks of aileron and three clicks of elevator trim. As expected, very predictable and easy airplane to fly. This plane is so much fun to land. I’ll mostly shoot landings with it. Had a 15 mph direct crosswind today. No problems really. I won’t fly it in much more wind that that. It’s light.