What kinds of RC sailplanes are there?
RC Sailplanes come in numerous shapes, sizes, and materials.
In the early days of flying rc gliders (way back in the 70's and before), the pilot made his own sailplane from scratch, cutting out the pieces from wood, gluing it together and covering it. This is still a great way to get started and probably the lease expensive. Plans are available on the Internet and materials can be purchased from a local hobby shop.
Buying a kit is very popular. Ray Hayes from Skybench Aerotech has kept the "old school" soaring community alive by offering excellent kit sailplanes for a reasonable price. The Woodcrafter's soaring competition is becoming very popular and the WMSS Woodie contest is our largest contest of the year. Other companies like Polecat Aero, Laser Arts and Aerosphere also make fine sailplane kits. The built up sailplanes come in a huge selection of designs. One of the most poplular is the Gentle Lady. For many the Gentle Lady was their first glider being inexpensive to build and fly and fly is does. Harry DeBoer, a club member, completed an 8 hour LSF Level V task with a Gentle Lady, not too shabby.
If you're like me, I don't have enough time in my day to build sailplanes even though I would like to. Many companies offer ARF (almost ready to fly) sailplanes. These range from beginner planes like the Easy Glider a foam winged plane that can take some serious punishment and still be modest on the wallet, to a Sharon Pro or Icon both are very costly high performance completion sailplanes for advanced pilots. There are a wide range of ARF's available.
RC Sailplanes come in different shapes, sizes and for different purposes. The typical types today include:
- Handlaunch (DLG)
- Two Meter (2 meter wing or smaller)
- RES (limited to Rudder Elevator and Spoiler controls)
- Standard Class (100" or smaller) - now only flown now by a few clubs
- Unlimited (the most popular class)
- Electic Powered Sailplanes
- Nostalgia (gliders designed prior to 1/1/1980)
- Woodcrafters (All wood construction except for fuselage)
- Slope (can also be several of the above)
- Combat (typically a foam sloper)
There are several others classes like F3B and F3J which are for International competition.
Here are links to some of best locations to buy RC Sailplanes:
http://www.soaringusa.com - High Performance Sailplanes and Electrics
http://www.kennedycomposites.com/ - AVA - Super AVA, Supra (nice)
http://www.polecataero.com/ - Denny Maise makes great handlaunch gliders and I like the Thermal Dancer (similar to my Agea X-Tail) Also, if you're a builder, the EZ Bubble Dancer can't be beat.
http://www.skybench.com/ - Ray Hayes has some excellent kits and supports to Woodcrafter's and Nostalgia events
http://www.skipmillermodels.com/ - Skip Miller offer some of the best if you're into top end competition. I have a Sharon Pro, the Espada and Pike Perfect are beauties too.
http://www.laserartco.com/ - I have a Majestic, it was a great kit and fly's excellent.
http://www.mapleleafdesign.com/ - the Icon is top notch, but takes a long time to get.
http://f3x.com/ - Shadow, Tragi, Experience Pro
http://www.icare-rc.com/ Artimus, Eraser and more.
http://isthmusmodels.com/ - Evolution, Soprano, Piper
We have more on our RC Soaring Links page.
Before choosing a plane, try to get some help from experienced flyer's. They will steer you in the right direction, at least away from the wrong direction.