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The Brett Buck's Starter Package

by Brett Buck, V.P. PAMPA district X
Brett Buck, who the current 2006 National Open Stunt Champion, has been entering local contest and scoring in the low 500's, with this setup:

A better choice to learn to fly and do the basic maneuvers is the SIG Skyray 35. This is a very easy to build trainer airplane that has a 40" wingspan. I would suggest powering it with an OS 20 or 25 FP engine. These make the airplane fly *much* better/easier than the usual 35-sized "stunt" engines, and can and should be run with no modification or special fuel. These engines are also very inexpensive - $53 a few months ago. Don't let the "trainer" tag fool you. The airplane will perform competition stunt patterns quite easily. It's also much better engineered than a lot of the older kits - some of which have been around since the 40's!

Here is a suggested set of equipment:


Sig Skyray 35 Sig Manufacturing/Local hobby shop
OS 20FP C/L engine Tower Hobbies/Mail order
Sig Champion fuel 10% nitro Sig manufacturing/Local Hobby shop
APC 9-4 propellers (3-4) Advanced Precision Composites/Local Hobby Shop
Control handle(adjustable) Brodak Manufacturing/mail order
Control lines .015 x 60' Sullivan Manufacturing/local hobby shop
Monokote Iron-on covering (1 roll) Tower Hobbies/Local hobby shop
some sort of fuel proof paint (avoid "dope") local hobby shop
wheels, glue, modeling tools local hobby shop

I would guess that you could put this stuff together and be ready to go for around $125.  I would also seek out the local modelers - you indicated Arizona. I know quite a few Arizona pilots who would be happy to help. Email if you want some references. Most modelers have a whole bunch of old airplanes, engines, parts, that they loan out or give away so that others can get a feel of flying before investing.


I suggest building right as it comes out of the box, with two exceptions - get some 2-wheel landing gear, and put the fin on with no rudder offset and no airfoil at all. For the landing gear, I have used both the landing gear SIG sells for the Phazer, and a Hallco fuselage-bottom R/C gear, cut in half, and re-bent to go up along the fuse sides. The rudder and fin offset should be self-explanatory, but measure it very carefully. Otherwise, build as shown, including Monokote on the wings, and minimal finish on the fuse.


Run the engine exactly as it comes out of the box, with the stock muffler, not modified in any way! This includes the stock needle/spraybar, stock .259 venturi, stock muffler baffle, stock muffler outlet hole, no changes at all. Use a 9-4 APC prop. Use either a 3 oz tank no more than 1.5" wide with uniflow open to the air, or a Sullivan 4 oz. clunk tank set up for suction, with muffler pressure into the vent, anbd with the wide side against the fuse. In the winter, or at sea level, or if you crash a lot, use a Bru-Line "fine" air filter. I use whatever 10% fuel I happen to have around - don't use all-castor, SIG, Powermaster, etc, it doesn't care much. More nitro is not necessary but it doesn't hurt.

The engine setting with the uniflow tank should be around 11,300 rpm+- a few hundred. With a suction clunk tank, you will have to experiment a bit. It needs to be *just barely* into a 2-stroke in level flight at the beginning of the flight. Too rich and it's just too slow at the beginning. Too lean and it sags off at the end. It's a pretty narrow range of acceptable.

Balance the airplane at 12-13% of the chord - about 1" - 1 1/8" from the leading edge. The centerline of my leadout guide is 2.25" from the LE. This is about right for a 34 oz airplane on .015x60ft lines at about 4.8 second laps. The position on my airplane is fixed - I just put it were Dr. Soule's "LineII" program said to. You can put in adjustable leadouts, but don't put the leadouts anywhere but program says unless you really know what you are doing.

This will fly pretty good as long as you get it straight. Get the wings level with warps and tipweight, then go to it.

I also recommend that you use the plans to clone a second and third airplane. Make the wings out of balsa - 3/32" ribs, full at every station, with 1/2"x1/8 medium balsa spars set vertically at the high point. Everything else is fine as it is. What this does is save about 5-6 oz. Surprisingly, without other mods, it doesn't fly significantly better (plenty of power even at 36 oz), but it's much more durable. The stock wings tend to self-destruct due to excess weight. When the nose hits, the tips just keep going, and the structure just disintegrates, even on grass. The lighter wings will just flex and then return to shape with no damage. On pavement, it's broken in any case.

The stock airplane will end up about 35-36 oz. The balsa-wing version will be around 30. The tail length is just about right for the stock wing, but the lighter airplane would probably benefit from a shorter but larger tail. It's rate-limited - it has plenty of lift to turn tighter, but the maximum pitch rate is too limited. My first significant mod will be to shorten the tail about 1.5" and enlarge it to get the same tail volume. This is just an experiment that I haven't tried. It's plenty good enough as is - I got a 540-something with it in P-40 one time, only to be beaten by David F. flying it to a 547 with no appearance points. Story of my life!