- 3D control surfaces: There is always a compromise between 3D and precision. 3D needs extremely large surfaces with lots of throw and precision is just the opposite.
- 3D flying is very weight and size dependent: These planes can vary greatly in weight depending on how you outfit them. Do your best to make them as light as possible. This means lightweight wing tube, landing gear, batteries, tires, spinner, tailwheel, etc.
- The larger the plane the better it does 3D and precision flying with the same wing loading. A really light 35% plane will fly better than a heavy 40% plane, but it won't fly as well as a reasonably light 40%.
- No plane will fly well if not set up properly. Digital servos, high voltage batteries, radio set up, right thrust, CG, sealed control surfaces, baffled engine cowls, gas/oil ratio and type, propeller and more make a lot of difference to your fingers!
- Do not screw around and buy cheap components for your plane or you will be sorry. If you can't afford to buy the right stuff in a certain size class, then stay in the lower class. Go to the highest class that you can afford to do right because the bigger the better. You will have a much better flying plane in a smaller class if done right than in a larger class done on the cheap.
PROS: The best plane for you is the plane you build for yourself, but only if you are an experienced builder who knows how and where to lighten and strengthen a kit. Most kits need some personal modifications to make the lightest yet strong plane. Note that I didn't say the strongest plane. You want a plane that is just strong enough to do the job, any stronger than necessary is a plane which is too heavy. You must decide how strong and thus how heavy to make the parts to do the job that you have intended. Take the landing gear attachment as an example. Will you make it just strong enough for a gentle landing or strong enough for a hard harrier landing? Your choice, but it's hard to change your mind later. Designed for gentle landings means repairs to the landing gear plate, engine, prop and cowl if the landing is not so gentle. If you make too many parts too heavy, the plane is a dog.
CONS: It will take a lot of hours to build the plane. Those hours could be spread over a 4 month period or a 4 year period. Repairs are very difficult. It you whack a wing, what are you going to do? This will take many hours to repair, especially if you need parts. If you had a builder make it for you, then you have to get in line again to have it made again. If you want the best, then you have to build it yourself, or go to a builder and have it built. Either way it's going to take many hours to build and thus there is a lot of money invested in the plane. You may have so much time or money invested that you may want to sell it to someone with a lot of money, someone who can afford to lose the plane more than you. If you have the money or the time and the skills, then a kit is the way to go, however, you will need two or three planes which are close in size so that you can have one sit for months on end waiting for repairs.
PROS: The quickest way to go and very inexpensive. The Asian builders are paid $2 or so per day. If it takes 8 weeks to build a plane, then that's only $80 or so. That's cheap! If you do have an accident, then repair parts are fairly easy to come by. Most people cannot build an airplane as well as an Asian ARF. The quality is going up and up all the time, so they are a great way to go. I greatly prefer ARF planes over kits. Some kits are better than others.
CONS: The quality varies from manufacturer to manufacturer, though it is becoming more consistent as workers go from one factory to the next. Quality is getting better all the time. Chinese planes are the most advanced followed by Thailand and then followed by South America. Now, having said that, the Thailand produced Composite ARF planes are a higher quality plane, probably due to the owner living in the shop, while importers who aren't on the production floor on a daily basis have less control on quality. Thailand is not as developed as China, so there are fewer NC machines and the aluminum heat treating is not up to the standards of China, much less the US. The adhesives used now are much better than before, the wood is better, the machining is better, the assembly is better, the paint is better, and the hardware is better. The covering now used in many planes is Ultracote though the "Chinacote" or "Procote" is much better now as well.
CONSTANT QUALITY IMPROVEMENTS - TBM provides feedback to the manufacturers for improvements which are being made on an ongoing basis. Each batch of airplanes are better than the last. Constant improvements are the nature of the giant scale industry.
ABOVE AVERAGE ARF PLANES: All the planes that TBM offers are the best value in a plane in my opinion. They have the lowest pricing, and offer a light yet strong and good flying plane. They boast the lowest wing loadings in most cases, and thus they fly very light. If we offer planes that we get bad feedback about, we will work with the factory to make improvements. If they cannot or will not make improvements, we drop them from our offerings.
WHICH IS BEST? - All of the planes that we offer fly very well. You will not be disappointed with any of them. If you are primarily interested in 3D flying, then the Yaks are the best. They hover pretty much all by themselves. They fly more slowly due to the large cowl, large fuselage, and thicker wing. If you want to fly with more speed, fly larger maneuvers, and do snaps much more easily, then the Extra's are the best choice. The Extra 260 is a mid wing version of the line of Extra planes, and it has the best pitch and roll coupling of any of the Extras. While the Yaks are extremely stable, they are more difficult to snap. The Extra's are less stable and are easy to snap. So, get a Yak for 3D and get an Extra 260 for IMAC.
Buying a plane is like buying a car, golf clubs or a tennis racquet. There are subtle differences in them, and the right one for you is determined by your unique abilities and preferences. You are best off talking to an experienced rep from TBM because we can ask the right questions and put you into the model which is outfitted with the components which best fits your needs. We point out an endless amount of variations in the planes, servos, engines, and electrical systems on the website, but we can't put in perspective which advantages outweigh which for you without a one on one consultation. So please read up as much as possible so you have a good knowledge as to what to look for, and then call or e-mail us for our recommendation for you.