Toy planes that actually fly – My take
You can get a pc and a flight sim and thats well and good, but what about IRL toy planes? Plastic static models such as Airfix and Revel brands are pretty great, except you gotta build em and paint em and apply the decals. Then you gotta make sure you dont break them because theyre so fragile. BUT they look great on a desk or suspended from the ceiling by fishing line. But they dont actually fly.
So whats good that flies? I reckon to get started you want a rubber-band powered foam warbird. They have approx a foot wingspan and around a foot long fuselage. They have a rubber band inside the fuselage and when the propeller is wound up, the rubber band takes on potential kinetic energy and bam. You have a power source. Get a Spitfire, a Mitsubishi Zero or a Mustang. They are actually really great. Wind up, throw-launch into the air on a relatively still day and watch the plane ascend gracefully and fly around for up to around a minute. If you go up on a big hillside and launch, you can fly for ages. No joke, these little foam wind-up rubber band powered warbirds are actually a worthwhile thing.
Downsides: Eventually the foam area around the spinner axle, becomes fatigued and under the pressure of the rubber band it caves in and effectively renders the power source useless. You can fix it somehow but its never good as when new.
They break on hard landings and impacting objects such as tree branches. In a suburban environment they can fly over the fence – once you launch you have no control where the plane goes. So the best place to fly is in a big empty park, or in the country side or on a farm. Or a sports oval.
Whats the point? One thing I liked about these type of toy planes that fly is they fly!!! More specifically and perhaps unexpectadly, you get a really good opportunity to kind of learn basic physics and aerodynamics. You throw your Spitfire into the air and it just sails off so gracefully. You kind of get an appreciation for that eliptical wing shape. And weight and balance. Even a kid can start to intuit things like the usefulness of dihedral, weight in the nose, lift acting through the center of lift of the wing, center of gravity, how the nose lifts and the plane climbs under power, but the nose declines and the plane descends without power etc etc etc. Even as a kid if you dont yet have the terminology to describe this stuff, you can kind of learn it by owning and operating a rubber band powered plane. Further thrust becomes apparent when you cant figure out why the Spitfire stalls out straight after launch and you finally realise you have been mistakenly winding the propeller the wrong direction – reverse thrust.
There you go, there is some insight on rubber band powered warbird toys. Finally, some people like to spend 6 months building a really complex plane out of balsa wood and doped tissue paper and thats great but I recommend just buy a ARF (Almost Ready To Fly) foam model warbird, because A they look great B they fly great and C they are cheap and also they are easy to replace when they get battered over time and that all represents great value in my opinion. Below are some balsa and tissue models Its gonna suck building them, but hey they have some great models there even a Nakajima float plane and a TBF Avenger AND a B17 Flying Fortress, a PBY Catalina, EVEN a Cessna 150! – thats a seriously comprehensive range and the customer reviews look acceptable. Ill probably get the Spitfire and If I do Ill make a vid of the build and of course the plane in flight. Note make sure you’re getting a FLYING model, not a DISPLAY model as they seem to have a few display only kits.