R/C Beginners

To the Beginner

A new interest or hobby can be very rewarding and exciting and for some folks, like myself, a life long hobby. I have been in all the variations of model aviation for a solid 60 years and actually got started because of health problems. It was a case of my parents finding something to interest me or I was going to drive them nuts during the periods I was confined to our home for days at a time.

Please read this, hopefully it will get you started on the right track.

First, it is the nature of business to sell the customer what the merchant has on his shelf and not necessarily what is best for the customer. Secondly, it is the nature of a new to R/C model aviation customer to buy something that looks good to him and maybe the cheapest too, but in many cases, only an expert could fly. So there it is, the uninformed customer and the merchant with a need to move merchandise. Look out, this is where many a new customer never become a repeat customer.

Sky Bench has heard all the horror stories of hobby shops and mail order houses and has real empathy for the beginner. When you do get your model ready to fly and take it to where other people are flying, you have a real good chance of meeting Mr. Know It All, who I quarantee will keep your best thermal flight under five minutes for at least a year and he will also reward you for landing anywhere on the field. Power clubs don't have this same mentality and many of them have a wonderful and helpful beginners program to teach the new guys how to fly well.

Here is the skinny on how to get started with an R/C Sailplane.

What Sailplane you should start with:

If you have never built a wooden sailplane (balsawood - spruce - plywood) , make your first attempt with my Airtronics OLY ll kit. The OLY ll has a flat bottom wing airfoil that is simple to build ( easy for me to say, right?) and is strong and easy to repair. Remember, it takes perseverance to learn how to build and fly RC sailplanes, but if you have watched an experience flyer your probably well motivated to plunge into the learning curve.

Your building task will be learning to read the "Instructions" as well as "reading" the construction "plans". What do I mean "reading" the plans ? Study the plans, identify the parts and where they are located on the plans. There are instructions on the plan, read each one and check it off with a marker pen to give you an inventory of each tip on the plan you read. It is easy to miss some of the tips and later, you may wish you had read them ALL. Some builders need to be told each step of construction, others, with experience don't need the instructions, they just study the plans. Visit the Sky Bench Assembly Tips page, be resourceful and look at tips other than on the OLY ll, maybe you find a photo on a different sailplane that will help you understand a question you have.

Notice: ...

If you start your first expierence building a sailplane kit from Sky Bench and chose a kit other than the OLY ll, OLY ll S, please do not expect me to get invloved with tutoring you. This also applies to any modifications you may decide to make to our kits. Currently I have 27 active kits I'm producing, this leaves very little time to spend on the internet.

The OLY ll is the recognized leader in helping new people learn how to build and fly RC sailplanes. Thousands of new builders and pilots started with the Great flying OLY ll.

What is the goal of flying R/C Sailplanes?

Flying an RC Sailplane touches a large number of experiences, each of us will put our own significance to the various aspects found in flying sailplanes. Most will simply enjoy the challenge of learning a new skill, others will enjoy the building part as much or more as the flying part. A smaller number of new flyers will be smitten with the desire to compete in sailplane contests, some because it is a great way to make new friends, others because they want to be a part of a group and others because they have mastered the art of Thermal Hunting to a high degree and want to compare their skills against others.

Observe R/C Sailplane contests to witness first hand how the experienced pilots fly their sailplanes. Go to the AMA web site for a contest calendar.

There is a lot more that could be said, but if you follow the above, you will be way ahead of the average new guy that usually never learns the wonderful art of thermal flying. If you can't thermal fly for an hour, your a beginner.

Ray Hayes
LSF 803

Old Buzzard's Soaring Book

I highly recommend the purchase of Dave Thornburg's How to fly RC Sailplanes book to anyone that doesn't have a copy.

It is an RC Soaring Treasure.

Oly II first launch

Oly II, 1st Flight ... Electric powered ...


Just wanted to thank you for an excellent kit in the OLY II.

Even though I am a first time builder, I was able to get it built and flew it today for the first time.

I installed an Art Hobby 1400 motor for power. It had plenty of power for near vertical climb. Even though the total weight of my Oly II with electric motor and fma's Co-Pilot assembly was 61 oz, it seemed to glide very well. I am sure some of my construction techniques contributed to the weight, I also had to add some balance weight in the nose.

What would you recommend for my next kit. I would like something about this same size or bigger, and electric powered.
Thanks again.

Bob Casto

Beginners tips: Flying R/C Sailplanes
Page 1, Page 2, Page 3, Page 4
Oly II box label
[Click image for closer view.]

Sky Bench is proud to announce the availability of the famed Original Airtronics Olympic II sailplane kit, better know as the OLY II. We are now producing this great flying and super durable Lee Renaud design.

The OLY II has been the best beginners R/C Sailplane for years and has taught thousands of r/c sailplane enthusiasts how to fly successfully. The OLY II will stay up on the slightest of thermal activity and produce long flights for the beginner, but don't be fooled into thinking it is only for beginners. The OLY II is still winning contests, Tom Kellevang flew his OLY to first place in the 2000 AMA/LSF Nostalgia NATS and the wind was fierce all day.

The kit was originally designed to build fast and now Sky Bench has improved on that with laser cut wing ribs that are stacked, and ready for immediate use with out needing to be punched out like a die cut kit. The fin is now a one piece laser cut part that saves building time and more importantly makes a much stronger tail section to better withstand a flip over landing. Both the stab and rudder also have laser cut parts to save building time and create more accurate and stronger flying surfaces. The fuse top and bottom are now laser cut and this will also save building time.

The wing leading edges are pre shaped and require minimal sanding, spoilers are optional, but installation is shown on the construction plan. All hardware to complete the model is furnished except the adhesives and covering materials. The 5/16" steel wing rod that joins the two wing halves is a competition level wing joiner.

Separate plans are furnished for the wings and the construction manual is illustrated with lots of photos to make building a snap.

Cool! Oly II Testimonials Cool!
Technical Data
Wing Span: 99.9" Wing Area: 928 sq. in
Fuselage Length: 49" Radio System: 2 or 3 channel
Wing Loading: 5.5-6.0 oz./sq.ft. Airfoil: 10% thick flat bottom
Kit Price, $168.95
Purchase direct from
Sky Bench Aerotech
Fort Wayne, IN 46804
e mail skybenchone@gmail.com

Sky Bench Woodys are strong and repairable.
Can't say that about most ready to fly sailplanes.

Big Bird XL - left wing repair

Big Bird XL - test fitting new joiner

Big Bird XL - ready for final sanding


Due to a malfunction in the controller in my electrified, XL B/B last summer, my Bird went in hard. Actually .... I did something stupid trying to "fix on the fly".

This Bird is on your web site, (the yellow and white one displayed, sitting on a trash can), along with my positive comments about this plane and your help.

The left tip panel broke at the attachment to the inboard left panel. VERY little damage to the fuse. Just a small bit of balsa that "popped out" of the block in front of the canopy. Amazing that this was the only damage as it really did go in very hard.

Anyway..... since I was rebuilding ............ I stripped both wings of covering and cut-in flaps. I made a big mistake not adding the spoilers or flaps in the original build.

I just cannot say enough about your product, the wood, the packaging, ........ and the wonderful way this XL B/B flies. It was my first sailplane kit. (I have done several glow and gasser kits). I love big planes............. so I see a Sky Bird, or Oly I I I in my future. :-)

Thanks for listening,
Bob Ruder



Sky Bench Aerotech 

Ft. Wayne, Indiana 46804

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