Park Flyersand Slow Flyers: Freedom to Fly Just About Anyhwere.
Imagine being able to enjoy the fun of flying an R/C airplane while having a picnic at the local park. Or how about flying an airplane that is small and slow enough to be flown indoors at the high school gym on those days when it's just too cold or rainy to go to the flying field. This isn't just wishful thinking, this is exactly the kind of fun and freedom you can have with today's current crop of electric park flyers and slow flyers.
As R/C electronics technology has advanced, so has the ability of manufacturers to create smaller receivers, servos, and speed controls. The development of these micro-sized components has led to all kinds of fun and exciting developments in the hobby of R/C flying. Namely, the development of small, relatively slow flying R/C aircraft that are inexpensive, easy to fly, and can be flown at the local park or, in some cases, indoors! These aircraft are roughly divided into two main categories: park flyers and slow flyers.
Park flyers and slow flyers actually have quite a bit in common. Both are relatively smaller and slower than their nitro-powered cousins. Their compact size and gentle, slow flying characteristics don't require a whole lot of operating space. Because they both use clean and quiet electric power, they can be flown in public parks or gymnasiums without making an oily mess or disturbing bystanders. Best of all, they are usually very inexpensive. You can usually get everything you need - radio, kit, and batteries - for under $150!
Controlling these lightweight models is pretty simple. Both slow flyers and park flyers only require 3 channels: rudder, elevator, and throttle. Since, in most cases, the rudder is the only control surface that controls direction, park flyers and slow flyers use specially shaped airfoils that are designed to be flown at slow speeds and provide exceptional stability. Where park and slow flyers mainly differ is in their size and speed relative to each other.
Park flyers, as the name suggests, are ideally suited for the local park setting. While they are slow by glow fuel standards, they are just a bit too big and fly just a little too fast to be operated indoors. A typical park flyer can fly at speeds anywhere from 10 to 15 mph. While they can be flown safely in a slight breeze, ideal flying conditions for park flyers are when the air is calm.
One of the more popular park flyers around these days is SFM's fun and easy-to-fly Soar Star. The Soar Star goes together quickly with most of the parts being molded from durable EPP foam. Its generous wing area is ideal for slow flight and provides plenty of stability for any skill level. One of the really nice things about the Soar Star is the fact it comes with a speed control, charger, and battery-right out of the box. All the modeler needs to add is the radio equipment. J-Line's new Quattro Lite R/C system would be an ideal choice for the radio. It includes two microservos and a micro receiver, which combined weigh less than an ounce.
J-Line™ Quattro Light
Slow flyers are the true lightweights of R/C flying. Many consist of nothing more than a stick of balsa for the fuselage and delicate wings weighing little more than a feather. Because they are so light and fragile, they require absolute no-wind conditions. These types of conditions usually only exist indoors. Even the slightest breeze can overpower these gossamer flying machines that usually fly no faster than 5 to 10 mph. Often, slow flyers use large propellers that are geared to the motor to turn at low rpm. This setup gives them the same amount of thrust they would get from a smaller prop turning at higher rpm but is much quieter and better suited for indoor operations.
The GWS Pico Stick™ is just such an aircraft. Its design is about as simple as they come. The fuselage consists of a stick of balsa and the wings are molded from lightweight foam. It comes with a motor and requires a speed control, 3-channel radio control system, and batteries. The Pico Stick flies very slowly but is surprisingly maneuverable. This makes it ideal for indoor flying adventures.
If you think that electric flight is for you and yearn for the freedom to fly just about anywhere, park flyers and slow flyers are a fun and relaxing way to dive into this fast growing hobby. Even if you've never flown before, the slow, stable flight characteristics of most slow and park flyers is easy to master and a lot less expensive than traditional glow fuel airplanes.
GWS Pico Stick Slow Flyer
GWS J-3 Stick Slow Flyer