Radio Control Car Action

Flying with the Hobby Zone Firebird II

Flying with the Hobby Zone Firebird II

Chianelli, Chris

Let’s get one thing perfectly clear: this is RC CarAction, and our focus will always be RC cars, but judging from the letters and email I receive, a lot of you would like to experience other types of RC as well, if for nothing more than some diversionary kicks and giggles. That’s where I come in; I’m into RC everything (hmm … Mr. Everything RC … I like it!). Anyway, there’s so much fun to be had out there with all kinds of RC stuff, and, being Mr. Everything RC, naturally, I want to show you all of it. For this first installment of “Alternative RC,” I’ll show you how easily and inexpensively you can get involved with another popular type of RC action: flying!


If you start off with an electric plane-and I suggest that’s what you do-chances are, you already have some car gear that can also be used for flying.

GENERAL TOOLS: pliers, screwdrivers, hobby knives, etc.

CHARGER: If your charger can juice up receiver packs, it will be fine for most RC planes’ onboard batteries.

SERVOS: If you like flying well enough to build your own kits, your mini- and microservos will work great in “backyard,” or “park-flyer,” airplanes.

BATTERIES: depending on the plane, you may be able to use your rechargeable AA-, sub-G-, or receiver batteries for power.

SKILL: half of mastering flight is nailing down the whole left/right thing both in the going-away and the coming-at– you modes, which as a car guy, you’ve already done.

You’re already halfway to getting airborne! Really-it’s true; would I lie?

So, what it’s like to FLY?

Easy-very easy. Don’t let my earlier crash course in aerodynamics throw you. This is about the easiest to fly RC model airplane I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen ’em all! If you’re an experienced RC driver, think back to that very first electric car you drove around a local parking lot. Well, flying the Firebird is somewhat the same, but it rises and floats above that parking lot. And instead of “steering,” as you do with a car, think of it as more directing and redirecting an airplane’s flight path-a somewhat less aggressive affair than steering.

Don’t fly in wind. The Firebird just can’t handle it. The instructions tell you not to fly it in more than a 5mph breeze.

In-depth instructions are included with the Firebird II in both written and video formats; they are very clear and are true learning aids. So read the instructions and view the video. If, however, you refuse to do either, let me give you a few first-flight tips.

When you launch the Firebird, do so into the wind, if there is any. Apply full throttle, lightly tossing the model at a level attitude-not pointing it up or down. Allow the Firebird to climb to a good altitude (several hundred feet) with it moving straight away from you without turning.

At a safe altitude, make a gradual go-degree left turn until the model is flying perpendicular to your line of sight, and let it fly this heading for a few moments. Repeat this procedure so that ultimately, you will have flown a lefthand box With rounded corners around yourself. Do this for a while, or even for your entire first flight. You might want to do this for the next few flights, too, and once you feel comfortable, try the same thing but make right-hand turns to form a box around yourself.

We car guys have one thing going for us: we are already used to the reversed steering involved when a model is coming toward us. This is something that new airplane guys have to put in lots of practice to overcome. We’ve already got that problem covered. Remember; don’t apply any one control input for more than a few seconds, or the model will start to spiral toward the ground.

The most important thing to remember regarding flight is this: an airplane knows how to fly better than you or I ever will. So stay out of the way and let it do its thing. A good pilot just redirects the airplane when needed. Bad pilots try to force an airplane around the sky. Fortunately, the Firebird II will make even a bad, instruction-ignoring pilot look good. I think it’s worth mentioning that the easy flight characteristics of the Firebird didn’t stop Greg from hitting two trees, one baseball backstop and our redbrick office building, and the Firebird kept flying in spite of it all. It’s one tuff bird.


If you want to find out more about different kinds of small models that can be flown close to your home in baseball diamonds and parks, check out our new magazine-Backyard Flyer-that is dedicated to that subject and that subject alone.

HOBBY ZONE; distributed by Horizon Hobby Inc., (217) 355-9511;

Copyright Air Age Publishing Mar 2002

Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning Company. All rights Reserved.