If you are new to LISF, then before you rush out to buy a plane please review these lists of planes for beginners that are acceptable at our field.
The links in these lists are provided for reference, not to direct you towards purchasing from any particular source. Whenever possible, we recommend that you purchase your planes, equipment, parts and services from your local hobby shops to help support them, so they will be there when you need them.
These lists of suggested beginners’ airplanes are to help prospective and new members get started with a plane that suits them and is good for flying at the field in Stillwell Park. If you are contemplating getting a different airplane you should ask the club officials if it is acceptable to fly at the field.
While we also fly free-flight models, LISF is primarily a sailplane club. We feel very strongly about this, so we encourage members who are learning to fly to use sailplanes as training planes even though we list other types of planes on this page as being useable as trainers. The reasoning is simple: sailplanes fly slowly making them easy to learn with and once you get past the training stage you will be expected to fly only sailplanes, so it is best that you start out with one.
LISF will be happy to help you choose a plane and to learn to fly it.
Many of our members fly electric sailplanes. Electric sailplanes, having propellers, unlike pure sailplanes, give you the convenience of being self launching, so once you get to the flying field the time spent setting up to fly is small.
For decades a pure sailplane and hi-start or winch have been used in LISF for flight training. That combination has been almost completely supplanted by electric sailplanes (having a propeller), such as the Radian. In fact, the standard (rudder/elevator controlled) Radian is the most popular sailplane used by LISF members, and with good reason. The RTF (Ready to Fly) version of the Radian includes the sailplane, transmitter, batteries and charger, all for about $250. That’s all the equipment you need to get it in the air. Additional benefits are that it has foam construction, making it impact resistant, and replacement parts are available for repairs. It is a sailplane with thermaling performance good enough that you could keep flying it years past the point where it stops being a trainer, making it a good initial and long term investment.
Parkzone Radian – RTF $250. This is easily the most popular e-sailplane amongst our new sailplane pilots. It is also a favorite with more seasoned pilots and a consistent winner in our club’s ALES contests. In short, it’s a great trainer, sport flyer and contest machine. The foam construction is hard to break and easy to fix. It is available as an RTF (Ready to Fly) or as a PNP (Plug-N-Play): a less expensive receiver-ready package.
Parkzone Radian – Video – No we don’t fly as this example depicts.
Parkzone Radian – Video – Shows how easily it can be assembled at the field and the equipment that comes with it.
Parkzone Radian – Online discussion about Radians. Check out other’s Radians. Ask a question, get an answer.
Parkzone Radian – Purchase a RTF or PNP version
Pure sailplanes have no motor. Instead, a Hi-start or winch is required for launching.
So, if electric sailplanes are such good all around planes to fly, why would you want to get involved with winches or Hi-starts. Because that is what we use to launch high performance thermal duration sailplanes, where launching, finding thermals and precision landing increase, by at least a factor of ten, all of the challenges and fun. Then again, maybe you are just interested in flying nostalgic pure sailplanes that require a Hi-start or winch to launch them.
The pure sailplanes listed here require additional servos, receivers, batteries, chargers, wiring and a two or three-channel radio/transmitter.
Carl Goldberg Gentle Lady – This is a classic rudder/elevator wood plane that flies well, soars well and is easy to handle. The Gentle Lady can be found as a kit or an ARF.
Great Planes Spirit 2-Meter Kit 78.5 inch – This is a classic wood plane that flies well, soars well and is easy to handle. The Spirit can found as a kit or an ARF. The Spirit can be flown with just rudder/elevator controls or you can add the included spoilers.
The hi-start is a simpler and less costly way to launch pure sailplanes than a winch. Hi-starts are easy to transport, simple to use and silent in operation. The club also has winches for launching sailplanes, but you will probably want a Hi-start for flying when there is no winch at the field.
Great Planes Dynaflite Standard Hi-Start – Budget Hi-start for light weight planes.
Great Planes Dynaflite Heavy Duty Hi-Start – Budget Hi-start. Definitely not heavy duty.
Hose Monster Bungees – Popular in the club. Launches heavy 3 meter and larger wingspan sailplanes. Get an experienced person to help selecting the correct one to avoid a costly mistake.
Hand Launch Sailplanes
Some of our members enjoy flying hand-launch sailplanes. With nothing more than the swing of your arm these planes can be launched 60 to 120 feet in the air and are excellent for hunting for thermals. There is no need for motor batteries or chargers, hi-starts or winches. All it takes is a quick toss and you are flying!
Listed here are a few low cost hand launch sailplanes that may be attractive to new club members and pilots in training. As with all of the planes here, if you are a new pilot you will want to spend time with an instructor to learn how best to launch and fly these planes.
Quick Flick 2 – Kit
Mountain Models DL50 – Kit
The Gambler+ – Kit
The Gambler+ – Kit. Review 1.
The Gambler+ – Kit. Review 2.
Glider-Like Electric Planes
LISF has received permission to fly small electric planes as trainers that are not sailplanes, but that have glider-like flight characteristics: slow to moderate flying speed and good glide ratios. You would be better off using a sailplane as a trainer, but if you already have a plane that is listed here, using it as a trainer could save you the costs of purchasing a sailplane to use as a trainer and then moving on to a higher performance sailplane. From the club’s point of view, these planes may be used by new members to learn to fly, but learning to fly with them is merely preparation for learning thermal soaring with a sailplane.
As Stillwell Field has no runways, all the planes listed here are high wing or top wing planes with light wing loading that can be hand launched. These high wing designs also provide needed stability for new pilots. We recommend that, if possible, the electronic speed control has propeller braking and is set up to use it. This stops the propeller from spinning when the motor is off for an even longer glide.
Planes that are not listed here and that have a high wing design and wingspan of no more than 60 inches may be submitted for qualification as a trainer. Typically trainer planes will need to have wing loading of less than 10 oz/sq. ft. in order to pass the glide test. In addition fuselage design, propeller type, landing gear and other characteristics will effect the decision to approve them or not.
High speed planes or planes specifically designed for aerobatics will not be approved. These include hotliners, pylon racers, pattern planes and warbirds.
Some of these planes may be capable of aerobatics, but areobatics are not compatible with the nature of the club. While an loop or roll is okay when performed well above the tree line and well away from the flight line, it should be a rare exception to normal flying. Pilots who wish to pursue aerobatic or high speed flying are encouraged to join one of the many power clubs in the area that teach and encourage this type of flying. Some LISF members are also members of other clubs to take advantage of the different types of flying they make available.
Ready to Fly Planes
Once again, if you have one of these planes it can be used as a trainer. If you don’t, look into getting an electric sailplane.
Kits and ARFs
These planes are welcome at our field. However, due to their very light wing loading and very slow flight they are difficult to fly in breezes over 5 MPH. You will have to get up very early in the morning, when the air is still and the grass is wet, if you want to fly them and even then you will be limited in the number of days you get to fly.
Electric Plane Power Restrictions
Less than 36 inches wing span – motor pack not to exceed 8.4 V nominal (7 NiMh or NiCd Cells or 2 Lithium cells)
36 to 60 inches wing span – motor packs not to exceed 11.1 volts nominal (9 NiMh or NiCd Cells or 3 Lithium cells)
Field qualification flight test for non-sailplane electric powered planes
If you are looking at a plane that is not listed on this page, it is highly recommended that you consult with the club officials before buying. The standard approval process, as outlined in the new member packet, will be used.
The goal is not to make it hard for you to buy new planes but for you to understand the types of planes that work well at our field. We would not want you to buy a plane only to find it can not be flown at Stillwell.