Sophisticated Lady - Sailplane

The first real RC plane I have attempted to fly. A large, graceful glider. When I received it from a friend, it required servos, radio and battery. First attempt at mounting the servos proved a challenge - I guess mine were bigger then the originals as the horns protruded past the top of the fuselage and rubbed the under side of the wing.



After some advice, I broke out the old mount and glued in a new one lower down. This also allowed me to reposition the servos more to the starboard (right) side to give more freedom to the elevator control horn.

I tried some hand launches in a nearby field and was doing quite well. The last flight (its always the last one right?) was a bit too close to a ridge of snow and with the glider flying away from me it was hard to judge the airspeed. So I stalled it about 5 feet off the ground and it nose dived into the snowbank. The crash broke the nose off the glider and cracked the canopy. Both turned out to be repairable. It was a few weeks later when I had the brain wave to try ridge soaring off an overpass that I did more serious damage. I had 3 flights that day.





And Ugly (fortunately? not recorded). The good one ended short but gently with the glider landing on the slope. The second flight ended with a stall from about 10 feet off the ground. The damage was minor, with one exception that I didn't notice. The battery drove the receiver so far forward that the antenna snapped off. The 3rd flight was short, crazy (no radio control) and bad. 2 big stalls and nose first into the ground. Tore a hole in one of the wings, shattered the canopy and cracked the frame.

With the exception of the canopy, all has been repaired and I am now awaiting more training before I take this lady out again.

Powered version

I have added a motor and speed controller from the MicroWhiz.


The motor has plenty of power to haul the plane into the sky, and while the prop doesn't fold away when gliding, the performance wasn't too bad. I'm not quite skilled enough for soaring anyway, so I'll just hit the throttle when I get too low.

Powered version - update

The nose mounted power plant was great from a balance / aerodynamic point of view, but not so much when landing. The geared can style brushless and related ESC was mounted on a wing pod mount. This lasted for many flights until the gears stripped. Since then a direct drive outrunner brushless and newer ESC have been mounted upstairs. A larger capacity battery sits on top of a modified canopy mount out in the open air. The large battery so far forward has eliminated any need for extra ballast, so all weight is productive. After a minute of climbing, the sailplane is plenty high enough to glide for many minutes. Climb/glide cycles lasting 5-6 minutes are not uncommon and I often get tired long before the battery runs out. (30+ minute flights).

First Person Video (FPV)

I attached a small keychain camera to the tail with velcro and made this video one afternoon (you can see the current power pod setup - messy, but it works):

Status: Fully operational


  • 6' Sailplane
  • 2 Channel (3 if powered)
  • 26-28 oz
  • Home made electric modification

Acquired: November 2007
First Flight: January 2008
Input Costs to date:

Body & servos - donated & used (had some kicking around)
Tx and Rx: $210 Spektrum DX6i / AR6200
Motor, prop, speed controller and battery (2200mAh): $75

Total costs: $285

Flight Logs:
Total air time: 7 hours 39+ minutes.

October 7, 2010 - 23 minutes. 3 flights. A nice evening out at Marty's (South of the city). Flew the Lady for two sets - second one started badly - was playing with mixing throttle and rudder/elevator - bad idea.

October 5, 2010 - 16 minutes. 3 Flights. A beautiful calm fall evening. Sun had set (but just barely, so still bright out), 18C and almost no wind (had been crazy windy the past few days - even today). Stupid amount of mosquitoes! Dale Blvd. Brand new Spektrum DX6i and AR6200 receiver. Flew great!

September 19, 2010 - 30 minutes. 2 Flights. (Wow a whole year). Motor replaced with direct drive unit from my Fokker. The first flight was over 20 minutes, the second just under 10 minutes. Quit because 1/2 hour is enough at one time. Made a collage video of the first part of the flight.

August 28, 2009 - 5 minutes. Stripped the gears. Not a happy night. Did make a safe landing though.

June 14, 2009 - ~30 minutes. 3 batteries. Didn't bother with battery management, just went. First battery was an older/smaller 1300mAh one that didn't last. Was at the new location (Wilkes & Perimeter).

May 24, 2009 - 23 minutes - 2 flights. First one at the usual spot - turns out it was fairly windy. SE wind was pushing plane over houses (never got that far, but made me nervous). Checked out a new location that is quite open - a bit further away, but with these birds I have to drive anyway. That was fun - herded some geese who squawked at the plane a bit :-)

May 10, 2009 - 27 minutes - 2 flights. The new pack definitely out performs the old. Old pack gave 16+ minutes of flying, but in many 1 minute climb, 3 minute glide cycles. The new pack I climbed twice for just over 1 minute each time (last one was 1:15?) - got up high enough that I must have been catching thermals. Glide times were easily over 5 minutes.

May 5, 2009 - 1 hour - 3 flights. Tried out 2 new packs from hobby city - lots of zip. The old pack seemed to give me 3-4 minutes of glide for every minute of climb, the new packs are more like 6-7 minutes of glide for every minute of climb. Weather was beautiful - wind < 5kmh, temp 19C. Flew from 6:30 until I ran out of juice - actually, only spent 5-7 minutes climbing per pack (followed by 15-25 minutes gliding). Was nervous launching and when setting up the landing, but soaring was peaceful.

March 29, 2009 - Crashed - no appreciable air time. Recently installed micro servos, had rebalanced to carry a camera, but could not power it, so reverted back to nose weight. Changed canopy cover to carry battery on top of nose (cooler, easier to change). Installed a new battery (which checked out good voltage wise). Balance seemed good. Range check was not clean - with Tx antenna not extended, at 75' away the throttle suddenly opened up for a few seconds - stopped as I ran back. Assumed I was too far and proceeded to launch. Plane flew about 30' and then arched nose down and hit the ground from about 20' up at a 20-30 degree angle. Nose was crushed and prop cracked - will require a fair bit of glue to repair. Not sure if it was a balance, trim, battery power or radio issue.

September 13, 2008 - 6 minutes. 2 flights - from a high-start. Portage R/C club was lending their field to MAAC Men as part of their fun fly. I just happened to be in the area with my glider. Got some great pointers on CG and how to launch from a high-start.

August 24, 2008 - 42 minutes. 3 flights. WHAM Airfield. Kept the first and third flight short (10-12 minutes). The second flight was on the smaller (lighter), and on the 4th climb, I really climbed. Cut the throttle and soared for nearly 10 minutes - eventually had to put a bit of nose down to bring it back. Sweet. (Nice club, grass field, good natured bunch of guys out this afternoon.)

August 1, 2008 - 14 minutes. 1 flight. Crashed. Winds got the plane behind me over some trees and I panicked. Had I hit the throttle sooner, there is a slim possibility I may have been able to climb over them. Recovered it upside down on a garage roof of a neighbour - very bad. The lady was very kind and patient - others may not be.

June 29, 2008 - 40+ minutes, 2 flights 17 & 23. Sunny, a few puffy clouds, wind NNW 13 - nice and stable 100' up, but a bit choppy as it rolls over the houses / trees on the North side of the field I fly at.

June 8, 2008 - 37 minutes. 2 flights. 23 & 14 minutes. With a thunderstorm approaching.

May 11, 2008 - 26+ minutes. 3 flights with the High Start. First couple were quite short, the 3rd one lasted a couple minutes. Need to really pull back and then don't be afraid to point the nose up! 3rd flight was on the pod - 23 minutes. First 10 minutes were good soaring, then the wind started picking up and I used a fair bit of battery.

May 6, 2008 -10 minutes. First official flight at WRCC's field. Tue/Thur is training night. Crosswind. Wayne (a new trainer) helped me with launching, trimming and eventually landing - quite helpful. Did a few turns and figure eights.

April 29, 2008 - 20+ minutes. A long flight, plus a short little one to confirm the battery was almost done. Over a farmer's field in Headingley. Turned out to be quite windy - plane could barely penetrate. (Officially the wind was SSE @ 15km/h, but again, I'm sure it was actually faster where I was). Mounted the engine up high on the pod for this flight. Had to add weight to the nose. I think the extra weight and less streamlined shape resulted in poorer climb capability and hence not as long of a flight as previous.

April 19, 2008: 28 minutes - one flight! This time in a wide open field. Wind was ESE at 17km/h at 7pm when I started, and I'm sure was over 20km/h by the time I was done. Lots of hang time. A bit shaky on the landing, and so once again one of the blades of the prop came off.

April 17, 2008: 10 minutes. Same place as last time. Prop glued back together, flew quite nicely. Didn't do as many 'touch and go's' as I had spectators with an excited puppy - didn't want him trying to catch the plane as I came down.

April 13, 2008: 10 minutes. Open field near out place. 3 Flights with Electric Assist. (On repaired prop - just CA'ed it back together). First flight was a shake out flight. A little nervous, but went alright, landing was surprisingly comfortable when setup from a distance - ie: lots of time to make minor corrections to flight path. Sent it up again, and did lots of turns and figure eights. Have to learn how much back stick to put into the turns to keep the level, but over all not bad. Practiced 3 "touch and go's" where I'd cut the throttle and glide it in for a landing and just at about 1-2 feet off the ground give it full throttle and try again (if the prop touches the grass it counts as a touch and go, right?). Spotted a dog, and decided to land before I forced to land AND dodge the dog. Not on target, but seemed ok. Third flight was less then 30 seconds. Within 5 seconds of launching the prop broke and I had to cut the throttle and land fast - which wasn't as bad as it could have been, but into the mud!

March 2008 - 5+ minutes.Electric assist. 2 flights in a school yard. Gentle breeze. Flies quite nicely at 1/2 throttle, climbs well at full. Does not soar well at idle (a bit nose heavy). Second flight found a tree and snapped the prop and tail.

February 2008 - 1+ minute. Tried ridge soaring off an overpass. Flew very nice. I need to learn not to stall. First flight was a premature fluke landing. Second flight was a minor lawn dart that caused minor damage (possibly the radio). Third flight was 2 big stalls and core sample. Not good.

January 2008 - < 1 minute. Tried a few hand launches in a school yard. Flew very nice. I need to learn to not stall. Crashed into a snow/ice back and broke the nose.


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