Product Review - Parkzone Citabria

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(Update!: 1 Year review now posted!)

I have owned a Parkzone Citabria for just over a month now, and thought that I could collect my thoughts and opinions on this model to share with the greater community. For those who want the summary first, overall I am thoroughly impressed. It is a decent value, flies great and is reasonably forgiving. Depending on your skill, and location this would make a great first plane.

Type
Electric, brushed motor
High wing
Li-Po battery technology.


Cost
$149 - $159 (unless on sale)

Specifications

  • Type: Indoor Electric (or outdoor on very calm days - it stalls slower then you walk)
  • Wing Span: 16.5 in (420mm)
  • Overall Length: 13.25 in (335mm)
  • Flying Weight: 0.7 oz (20g)
  • Radio: 3-channel 2.4GHz (included)
  • Recommended Battery: 3.7V 70mAh Li-Po battery (included)
  • Battery Life: 8+ minutes at 1/2 throttle
  • Battery Recharge time: 15+ minutes


Handling

With the large dihedral this plane flies nice and slow (compared to the Cessna which has a smaller wing, and therefore moves a lot quicker). In a gym, the plane flies very smoothly at 1/2 throttle. At 1/2 throttle the battery will last nearly 10 minutes.

Outside in a very gentle breeze (the most it can handle) battery life is less then 5 minutes.

Acrobatic handling is minimal due to the wing shape and lack of ailerons, although I have watched an expert pilot fly a big loop and then come out on top inverted and hold that position until he ran out of room (indoor flying).

Dead stick landing - Being a LiPo battery, the controller cuts the engine when the voltage drops too low, saving some power for the receiver and servos. The plane glides smoothly when the power runs out.

Battery life / maintenance

I have 2 batteries that I rotate. Flight times can be as long as 10 minutes, although 6 or 7 is more reasonable. Recharge times are about 15 minutes with fresh AA's, Longer as they AA's run low. Expect to get about 20 recharges out a set of AA's (at least the ones that came with the plane seemed to last about that long).

Again, for the price of the batteries (about $10 each), get 1 or 2 extra. That way you can spend more time flying and less time waiting for a recharge.

Maintenance

Motor oiling. The motor / gear assembly is a bushing. The plane comes with a small amount of fine oil, and it is recommended to add a drop to the gears and bushings before flying. The motor / gear will have a buzz sound as the oil is used up / sprayed out. A fine stiff brush to clean the gears once in a while would be good, as the oil encourages the collection of dust, dirt, etc.

Repairing

Some pilots carry foam safe CA and accelerator, I have not had a need for that. So far, all my repairs have been with scotch tape, and when replacing the motor, plain white glue. CA has also been used to repair the props when blades go flying.

Summary

The plane is very light and relatively simple to fly. The first few flights (especially for beginners) should be done in a very large area since the prop shaft is not very forgiving of a head on with walls or cement floors.

For small entry level planes, I would highly recommend one. They are not a toy, so if you are considering a plane for your 6-10 year old go to Walmart and look at the Palm-Z's for $40.

These are great to keep your flying skills up in the winter, provided you have access to a sufficient indoor space.

Pros

  • Reasonably cheap (for a complete 3 channel airplane system)
  • Good for indoor flying, a school gym is plenty big enough once you get the hang of it.
  • Lots of parts available to handle any repair
  • Decent flight time on a single battery
Cons

  • I have spent almost $200 this year flying this, so it is not the cheapest option available
  • Extremely light - not suitable for outdoors, unless absolutely calm
  • Styrofoam based, so not CA friendly, need expensive foam safe CA
  • Charger requires AA's - does not have AC adapter option.


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