Power Planes

WattAge Mini-Max

Type: Park flier
Wingspan: 40.5"
Wing Area: 270 sq in
Airfoil:under cambered
Weight:9 oz
Construction: Sheet foam with plastic and wood parts.
Controls:Rudder, elevator, throttle
Power:Geared 280

This is the first real "park flier" I've owned. I have to admit, I mainly bought it because Hobby People was selling it in a sale-priced package deal that included the battery, speed control, motor, and a subscription to S&E Modeler magazine. All I had to buy to finish the plane were a couple of micro servos.

What you get: The plane is pretty much an ARF. Most of the construction is of a sheet foam, about 1/8" thick. The fuselage is made up of three such sheet foam panels, giving it a triangular cross section. A light ply fire wall comes glued to the front, and a dowel is glued along the length of the bottom for reinforcement. The wing comes as two large under cambered foam pieces, and the tail feathers are all precut from flat foam sheets. Also included are 2 light weight wheels, a pre bent landing gear wire, motor, gearbox, prop, various plastic parts, and all hardware you'll need.

Jack seems happy about his plane.

Construction: The instructions are very thorough. There are an abundance of good pictures showing the assembly process, and each step is meticulously detailed. Don't let that fool you, though. Anyone who has built an R/C plane before shouldn't have a problem building this plane in a single evening.

On the fuselage, you start buy a applying a cardboard doubler to the top of the front deck. This doubler has rectangular holes cut in it, which provide a template for cutting out the holes for the servo and radio gear. The cardboard also folds over the sides of the fuselage and provides a doubler for the wing hold-down dowels, which you glue into place. Next, you drill some holes in the fire wall for the gearbox/motor assembly, attach the landing gear to the gearbox, and attach the whole thing to the fire wall. Finally, you hinge the elevator and rudder, and glue both surfaces to the fuselage.

On to the wing. Each wing panel has a fiberglass rod on it's leading edge that acts as a spar. Once the rods are glued to each panel, you join the wings with a pre bent aluminum joiner tube that provides the proper dihedral angle. Next, you cut and trim the plastic wing mount, and attach the wing to it with the provided double sided tape. On the top of the wing, another, plastic piece gets placed across the root, which provides reinforcement and helps hold the wing together. I had a bit of trouble here as the piece kept wanting to pop off the wing because it really didn't sit properly. I ended up brushing some epoxy under the plastic and held it down until it dried. So far it seems to be holding well.

Electronics/Radio Gear: The fuselage template is sized just right for Cirrus CS-10 sub micro servos, so that's what I used. You just pop them in and screw them directly into the foam fuselage. I initially used a Hitec 555 for the receiver, and it fit snugly in the middle of the fuselage. For the battery, I used the provided 6 cell 270 mAh pack, which gives around 10 minutes of flight time. It gets velcroed to the top of the fuselage.

The initial flying weight was about 10 ounces with the Hitec 555.

Flying: The first flight was a bit unusual, in that I did it in the vacant top floor of an office building. I use the term "flight" loosely here, since all I really did was take off, fly straight for a bit, then land...there was not enough room to turn. The first real flight was during the evening at a school yard. Unfortunately, the wind hadn't quite died yet, and the plane was quite a handful, getting bumped around all over the place. It will fly in wind, but it's not much fun.

First flight: in an office building.

I finally got to fly it in calm conditions, but this time on a narrow strip of grass bordering a small creek. This was actually pretty fun, and I got to maneuver the plane under the branches of an overhanging tree. What was even more fun was that my dog was chasing the airplane the entire time. She was so excited that I was afraid she would take a bite out of the tail if I flew too low, and I began to become a bit worried about what would happen when I landed and she caught up to it. As it turned out, when the plane landed, she stopped, layed down next to it, and patiently waited for me to launch it again.

Oh, you probably want to hear less about my dog and more about how the plane flies. Well, its not terribly exciting, but I guess that's to be expected. As you can probably guess, it's fairly underpowered, though it does have enough power to R.O.G. off a fairly smooth surface. The climb out is pretty leisurely. For the first few flights I was using the 555 for the receiver, but I later switched to a Great Planes Electrifly, a park flier radio. This brought the weight down to 9 ounces, and increased the climb performance somewhat.

The plane can be maneuvered in a pretty tight area. I think it could easily be flown indoors in a small gym or something like that. In can do loops, but they require a dive to pick up airspeed first. Rolls are possible, but they are very slow and the plane will lose a whole lot of altitude before the roll is complete. Landings are very gentle.

Unless there's a dog chasing it, its pretty boring to fly this type of plane around in a big field. There's just not a whole lot you can do. On the other hand, in a small field, with lots of obstacles, I found it quite fun to fly. Of course, having a dog to chase it couldn't hurt in that case either.