Cessna Skylane

  • This review was first published in 2005. The kit is still available and has since been revised to include a brushless motor and folding prop.

There’s something about Cessnas… they just look ‘right’, and the Skylane is no exception. With its classic lines and balanced proportions it’s a delightful aircraft to look at. Searching the internet for some information on the type revealed that Skylanes are still in production, and 25 year-old examples still command 50% the price of a new one! It’s unlikely that I’ll ever get my hands on a full-size, so the next best thing is a faithfully replicated R/C model – say hello to World Models’ electric-powered ARTF.

Since arriving on the R/C scene the quality of World Models’ ARTFs has gone from strength to strength, leaving the modeller with little to do in terms of building. This being the case I’ll keep the assembly notes brief, though one or two points will be of interest. To be honest I think it’ll be more useful for you to know the electrics that were fitted and how well it flies.

Opening the box reveals a well-packed set of completed assemblies and a number of separate bags containing the other parts required. The fuselage and one-piece wing are traditionally built using interlocking laser cut ply and balsa strip, whilst the tail feathers are from sheet balsa. A white heat-shrink covering has been used throughout.

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Carefully cutting through the wing covering exposes the mounting plates for the aileron servos and these are just the right size for Tower Pro SG-50 5g servos from BRC Hobbies (£27 for 4 – you can find them on the internet at www.brchobbies.co.uk). Having extended their leads so that they reach the fuselage and plug directly into the Rx (I used a Jeti 4-channel unit), I placed the aileron servos into the wing and ran some cyano’ around them to secure. With superglue in hand I also wicked some into the control surface hinges, ensuring a secure and free-moving installation. After this all that remained was to hook up the pre-formed control rods, and the wing was done.

The next task was to glue the stabiliser and fin into the fuselage; the instructions suggest epoxy but I’ve used cyano’ in areas of far greater stress than this. I’m pleased to report, however, that the covering has been thoughtfully left off the stabiliser gluing area, so there’s no problem with peeling it away and no chance of accidentally cutting the balsa beneath. As such it’s very easy to achieve a good joint. With this complete, two more SG-50 servos were set into the (pre-cut) mountings in the fuselage, and the pushrods coupled up. Note that the pushrods have a sticky preservative on them, which needs to be cleaned off before giving them a lick of ‘3 in 1’ oil to allow them to run freely in the pre-fitted tubes. All the supplied horns, clevises and swing keepers were more than up to the job and fitted very well.

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The nicely preformed wire undercarriage is held in place with straps, whilst lightweight foam wheels take refuge underneath some lovely spats, which, incidentally, boast a simple yet incredibly effective method of attachment.
For the powertrain a supplied Speed 400 can motor drives a folding propeller via a 2.5:1 gearbox. A simple combination made foolproof by virtue of the fact that World Models supply a piece of thin paper, along with instructions for setting up the meshing of the gears; simply run the paper into the cogs and then lock the screws before removing it. This leaves a very free-running gear with correct meshing that’s super-quiet in use. The motor is inserted through close-fitting holes in the front bulkheads, its position being preset with the gearbox then secured by two bolts through the firewall. I used an 18A Kontronic speed controller and a 1300mAh 3s Li-Po pack to complete the drive system, which, I have to tell you, induced a fair old waft from the prop’ when run up on the bench.
The glazing fitted nicely into the fuselage, secured with a drop of cyano’, and after applying the supplied decals a very pretty model emerged. Ready to fly, my example weighed just 1 lb 61/2oz (640g).

Despite the Skylane’s diminutive size, those gathered to witness the maiden flight voted to try an ROG from the grass strip and all were taken by surprise at the way it sprinted forwards and took to the air. Small trim adjustments were followed by a good 10 minutes of spirited flying. Huge loops pulling all the way over the top, inverted flight, slow passes, rolls… all done with ease and with throttle to spare. What a delight, and on a cheap 400 can motor and gearbox, to boot!

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Upon landing the battery was recharged and found to have used just over half its capacity, so 15-minute flights will be perfectly within reach. Imagine how well it would fly on a brushless set-up! Actually, I’ve bought a brushless motor for it but in all honesty I’ve not yet felt a desire to fit it as the model flies so well already. Well done, World Models – I can only liken this experience to the step forward cheap electric flight made when Twin Stars appeared; all of a sudden an electric model performed well enough for modellers to want to own one.

The Skylane does tend to nose over when landing on grass, probably due to its size and weight; I’ve had to glue the wing mountings back in place (after many flights), and the nose wheel has required attention after being grabbed by the grass, but a few minutes with a tube cyano’ has it ready to go again.

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If you fancy dipping your toe into electric flight or if your i.c. flying field is being compromised by noise or space restrictions, give this little Cessna an airing. It won’t disappoint – it looks good in the air and has a sparkling performance, without the need to go brushless.

Name: Cessna Skylane EP261B
Model type: Electric ARTF
Manufactured by: World Models
UK distributor: Steve Webb Models
RRP: £99.99 (Jan 2011)
Wingspan: 41'' (1041mm)
Fuselage length: 30'' (762mm)
Wing area: 1.8 sq. ft. (0.17sq. m)
All-up weight: 1 lb 6.5oz. (640g)
Wing loading: 121⁄2oz / sq. ft. (3.8kg / sq. m)
Control functions: Aileron, elevator, rudder, throttle (4 servos required)
Rec’d motor: Speed 400 (supplied)

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