I was lucky enough to be given some funds to purchase a HobbyKing DuraFly Ryan STA, this is a one HobbyKings new balsa build Durafly series of planes.While foam is the building material of choice these days I still felt the need to buy this plane for the simple reason that it looks amazing, also I find that balsa models just seems to fly better. One thing I don’t miss about the old days is balsa repairs, I have rebuilt and recovered many a plane in the past and when compared to the quick and easy re-glue of a foam model balsa repairs are just a bit too time consuming and fiddly. But I saw that HobbyKing has plenty of spares and these days if a part is cheap enough I am probably going to buy a new one rather than try and fix it.
I will start with the bad and get it out of the way, because when it comes down to it the bad was very much outweighed by the simply awesome.
The Ryan took about 2 hours to build with a good portion of that being setting up the wing support ‘wires’. These are simple elastic strings but fitting them is very painful and I do not think the end result was worth the effort. The arrangement for holding them onto the fuselage was fiddly and you would need to redo it anytime you took the wing off which just added to the annoyance factor. The wooden struts were easier but again the fit on these was a little sloppy and looked like it was added as an afterthought, as neither the wires nor the struts are actually structural in any way I opted to leave them off after a crash required me to purchase a new wing.
The decals were also a bit fiddly and required cutting out from a sheet but the end result was actually pretty pleasing, at the time of writing this though HK don’t seems to be offering the decal sheet for sale which means my new wing is looking rather plain.
Update – 15/01/2014 –
HobbyKing now have the Decals in stock
While the wheel spats also needed some trimming so that they were not touching the wheels, the design meant that even after losing a nut on one landing, the spats actually kept the wheel in place.
After the build I installed a Spektrum receiver and went about binding the model to my DX8 radio, while the binding went without a hitch, actually getting the speed controller to initialize was a painful and sometimes random affair which involved a combination of plugging the power in with the throttle set to full then waiting for some beeps then reduce throttle to zero and finally just crossing fingers, this worked about 50% of the time..
I had worried that the spats would make rolling off the ground a little bit difficult so my first take off was from a cricket pitch, I had put in maximum throws with the theory being I can always program them down once I had everything dialled in. Well this made for a very exciting maiden flight the Ryan rolled off the ground with very little fuss and under full throttle launched itself into the air within 2 meters, it was at this point I discovered two things,
1. With maximum throws the Ryan is extremely twitchy on all axis but especially on elevator.
2 At full throttle the Ryan felt like a pylon racer.
This meant that the maiden was a very sweaty palms affair with the only saving grace being that I was able to very quickly get some height as I came to grips with the overly sensitive plane. After gaining some much need height I brought the throttle down to about 1/3 and found that the plane need a little bit of trim on the elevator and the aileron, however I decided that trying to trim the plane was pointless until I could dial everything down a bit. I proceeded to land and despite everything the landing was pretty uneventful, I kept a bit of speed on in the landing but otherwise it landed beautifully and it’s ground handling was surprisingly good with a just a touch of up elevator needed to stop any nose overs.
I then set the Elevator to 70% and everything else to 80% and took off again, this time with ¾ throttle The Ryan still popped into the air pretty quickly but this time everything was decidedly less scary. After a few circuit’s used to trim the model out I started to fly the plane, in short it was brilliant, it would happily fly around at a scale speed with 1/3 throttle and could do some nice scale aerobatics. If I open the throttle up the plane was again happy to scream around the sky and would take pretty much anything I threw at it and while it is no it’s no 3D model it can handles it own.
The plane seems to have no really nasty surprises, though at really low speed it does slowly dip a wing, so I tend to keep a bit of speed up on landing just to be safe. I got about 10 minutes out of a 2300mah battery with a mixture of fast and scale speed. As I mentioned earlier I crashed the Ryan, I did this while holding a spin for to long and not giving myself enough height to come out of it, the Ryan hit the ground at about a 45 Degree angle with a fair bit of speed. The damage from this was part of the wing snapped off when the under carriage punched up through it, a damaged cowl and of course snapped prop, considering the impact speed and angle I was very happy with the limited damage. One new wing and a new cowl and all is well (Even found new Decal Sheet).
I can definitely recommend this plane for the intermediate flyer, once setup it flies beautifully and look pretty spectacular