Great Planes PO Box 9021 Champaign, IL 61826

 RCU Review: Great Planes Super Skybolt ARF More On This Product
Show user ratings Check for Retailers Contributed by: Mike Buzzeo | Published: August 2006 | Views: 81110 |
Email this Article | PDF
Review by: Mike Buzzeo (MinnFlyer) Email Me
First Look
Flight Report
Manufacturer Information
Great Planes
Model Manufacturing Company
P.O. Box 9021
Champaign, IL
In December of '93 I got the original Great Planes Super Skybolt
Kit. Two months later it took it's maiden voyage, and 5 minutes
after takeoff I had a new favorite airplane. I liked everything about
this plane. It was a bit on the heavy side, but that was in the days
before 3-D when everyone went "Weight Crazy", and personally, I
like a plane with a few pounds to it - They handle windy days
much better, and just sort of give the feeling that they take
command of the sky.
Only two months later, it lost a fight with a tree, but it got repaired
(Read that as "It got heavier") and as the years rolled by, it got
retired at least three times that I can think of. But I enjoyed it so
much that every now and again I would drag it out, dust it off,
replace the equipment and have a ball with it.
My Original GP Skybolt Kit
Window Media Player
Super Skybolt ARF
After 11 years it was so heavy and "War-Weary" that I finally gave
it away as a measure to force myself to build a new one. I even
went so far as to buy a new kit, but I just haven't found the time to
get to it.
Then, at this year's Weak Signal's Toledo Show, Great Planes
unveiled their new ARF version of this beauty. I was intrigued, very
intrigued, but I like the Kit version so much that I wasn't going to
jump the gun and get all excited until I could get better acquainted
with it.
Usually, when it comes to doing reviews, you take what is
available, but this is one case where I campaigned to get this
model. Who better to give you a good report than someone with
as much Skybolt experience as I have? Now, I know that you
should never compare a new girlfriend to an old one, but I'm
human too. So this review will be "two for the price of one". I'll let
the new Skybolt stand on its own, AND I'll throw in a few
comparisons to its predecessor.
Name: Great Planes Super Skybolt ARF
Ease of
of Kit:
Basic Flight:
Price: $299.99
Wingspan: 57 in (1450 mm)
Wing Area: 924 sq in (60 sq dm)
Length: 53" (1345mm)
Flying Weight (advertised): 7.7lb (3490g)
Flying Weight: (actual) 7.8 lb
Engine: .60-.75 cu in (10-13 cc) 2-stroke / .70 -.91 cu in (11.5-15
cc) 4-stroke
Engine Used: O.S. 91 Surpass 4-stroke
Radio Used: Futaba 6XAS / Futaba R168DF FM Rx
Construction Clearly Detailed
Manual Excellent Fiberglass
Wheel Pants Fiberglass Cowl Well-Designed
Tail-Wheel Setup MonoKote Covering Easily Installed End
Struts Pre-Cut, Colored
Canopy Radio Used: Futaba 6XAS / Futaba R168DF FM Rx
(4) Futaba S9001 Servos for Ailerons (2), Elevator, Rudder
(1) Futaba S3004 Servo for Throttle.
Channels Used: 4 total - Elevator, Aileron, Rudder, Throttle Prop Used: Graupner
14 x 7
Items Needed To Complete
4 Channel Radio (Minimum) w/ 5 Standard Servos
9" Servo Extensions (2)
"Y" Cord
CA Glue
30-min Epoxy
8-32 Tap w/ Handle
Various Standard Shop Tools
Unlike the Kit version,
on the ARF you
cannot remove the
Bottom Wing without
removing the Top
Wing first. Due to the
fact that the ARF's
Top Wing is bolted to
the Cabane, this
makes getting to the
radio compartment
fairly complicated. The packaging was really good. All major components were well secured and individually
wrapped, and the smaller pieces were bagged and taped into separate compartments. I did a
quick inventory and found all parts to be present and accounted for.
One thing worth noting is that the box claims that the contents include a Pull-Pull System
(Presumably for the Rudder) - It does not. It also states the two 16" Servo Extensions are required
when in actuality you need two 9" extensions.
State-of-the-art building
techniques make for a
strong airframe that is
much lighter than the
original kit.
With that said, several things immediately struck me as I unwrapped each part. First off, I noticed
the construction - it was beautiful! The wood quality was excellent, and all joints seemed to be
glued well.
The next thing that I noticed were the Wheel Pants - These have to be the nicest I have ever seen!
They had excellent construction, no seams, very nice plywood reinforcements, and a gorgeous
finish! Other nice features include a fiberglass Cowl, pre-cut and colored Canopy, and an
Aluminum Spinner - Nice touch!
Great Planes has among the best manuals in the industry, but
nobody's perfect all the time. Two things I noticed that were
amiss were the omission of removing the tail post where the Fin
goes, and the other thing was that the section for mounting the
Cabane is somewhat vague (See Text). Aside from that, the
Manual was great.
Wing assembly begins like most by gluing the CA Hinges. Then the Servo Mount Blocks get
epoxied to the Hatches and the Hatches are screwed into place. Next, The Control Horn is added
without the use of a back-plate. After they are screwed in place, the screws are removed, thin CA
is added to each screw hole, and the screws are replaced. Now the Pushrods can be cut to size,
bent, and installed using a FasLink on one end and a nylon Clevis on the other.
Once the Servos are installed, the wings can be epoxied together. The only thing out of the
ordinary here is the Aluminum Joiner Plate that is used for mounting the Top Wing to the Fuse.
After removing some covering, the Tail Feathers get epoxied in place. This is where the Tail Post
Block must be removed before the Fin can be installed (An omission in the Manual).
Here's a little trick I'll pass along - Sometimes a drill bit is too short to drill in a tight area. So for
drilling Control horns in the tail, I just grind the end of a pushrod scrap to a "Pyramid" shape and
drill through the balsa with it.
Now the Servos can be installed, and the Pushrods can be cut to size.
One definite hardware improvement over the original Kit is the Tail Wheel. The new design is easy
to install, and puts no pressure on the rudder.
The newly designed Wheel Pants are almost too easy. Screw the axles to the Gear, Add wheels
and collars, Slide the Wheel Pants over them, and secure with two screws. Then screw the whole
thing to the Fuse.
Well, as always, things were moving a little too smoothly and then I came to the tricky part. The
Cabane is a real bugger to get in place - mainly because you are working blindly throughout the
installation. Let me start by saying that the Manual's instructions here are a bit vague. Both sides
must be assembled and inserted before bolting either one in (I found this out the hard way). But if
you do bolt one in before the other has been inserted, the second can be inserted into the Fuse in
two pieces (by unbolting the Cross Member) in order to work around the first.
The next thing that makes installation difficult is that you can't see what you're doing. I found that I
could "Find" the hole in the bracket with a jeweler's screwdriver, then while holding the bracket in
place, a screw needs to be inserted into the hole with a magnetic screwdriver (It really helps if you
have 3 hands with 6 fingers each). It was challenging to say the least, but I eventually got'r done.
OS FS-91 II Surpass Closer Look
The Engine Mount bolts to the
firewall using the pre-installed Blind
Nuts, and the mount provided will
slide open to accommodate a
variety of engines in this class.
O.S. FS-91 II Surpass The First Choice for
Quality, Durability and
The OS 91 four stroke motor is a ringed piston motor which puts
out 1.6bhp while weighing in at only 23 oz with muffler. It's
practical rpm range is 2,000 to 12,000 rpm. Full specifications are
Great Planes designed the new
Skybolt around the O.S. 91
Surpass. This is one of my favorite
engines - Lots of power with very
little fuss.
Bore: 27.7mm (1.09")
Stroke: 24.8mm (.976")
Displacement: 14.95cc (0.912 cubic inch)
Power Output: 1.6 BHP at 11,000 rpm
Practical RPM Range: 2,000 - 12,000 rpm
Crankshaft Thread Size: 5/16" x 24
Weight: w/o muffler- 21.3 oz (603g) with muffler- 23.0 oz
The manufacturer recommends this motor be run on fuel
containing 5% to 15% nitromethane and oil content at a minimum
of 18%. I chose to useCool Power with 15% nitro and 18%
synthetic oil as I've found it runs extremely well in all my motors
and especially the 4 strokes. The synthetic oil helps to keep the 4
stroke cleaner while castor can gum them up over time.
Some of the advantages of the 4 stroke motors are fuel economy,
their ability to swing a larger prop, and (My favorite) that cool
4-stroke sound!
Props recommended by the mfg. for the OS 91FS are:
Stunt planes: 11 x 11-12, 12 x 10-12, 13 x 9
Scale models: 13.5 x 8, 14 x 7, 15 x 6, 16 x 6, (12 x 8 & 12.5 x
7-3 blade)
The prop used for this review was a Graupner 14 x 7
The prop used for this review was a Graupner 14 x 7
I also like the way they designed
the front end so that the Muffler
stays hidden inside the Cowl.
This version II of the OS 91 sports more power than its former
model and comes with a full 2 year warranty from OS.
Performance on mine was excellent. It ran right out of the box
and after being primed, it started on the 2nd flip by hand! Plenty
of power and I have still not fully broken this motor in. It starts
right up without the need for an electric starter & I found it very
user friendly to setup & adjust. It makes a great combination with
the Super Skybolt ARF or any other plane which requires a
powerful & reliable .91 size four stroke.
Download the manual in PDF format - Click here
Next, the Tank Slides in and is
secured with a rubber band.
With the Throttle Servo and pushrod mounted, it was time to add the Rx, Battery and Switch.
Great Planes provides a plywood plate for the Rx and Battery, but I decided not to use them only
because I wanted to leave this area available for the addition of a Smoke Tank at a later date.
I originally mounted an 800mah NoBS Battery pack where you see it, then I screwed the plywood
mounting plate OVER it to hold it in place (Again to make room for a smoke tank later). But I later
changed it to an 1100mah pack and moved it to the engine compartment for balancing.
I mounted the Rx to the side of the Fuse with Velcro. It was a little tricky to get the antenna into the
tight spot where the Antenna Tube is, but eventually, my persistence paid off.
Finally, I added a DuBro Kwik Switch & Charging Jack, and the radio installation was
Great Planes provides a Template for cutting out the Cowl, which works well providing you're
using an O.S. 91 Surpass, but it will be very helpful even if you've chosen another engine.
I am a little disappointed with the ARF's wing attachment compared to the Kit's where the Top
Wing slides into place, and the End Struts have a similar Slide-In arrangement. I do like the ease
of the new End Strut mounting, but the top wing now bolts to the Cabane. I didn't think this was too
much hassle, until I later realized that now the Top Wing must be removed before you can remove
the Bottom Wing. This makes accessing the Radio Compartment much more difficult than it used
to be.
Fortunately, the size of the Skybolt is such that most people will find that it will fit in their car fully
assembled, so the need to disassemble it is rare.
The Bolt Plate gets epoxied to the underside of the Bottom Wing, and the mounting holes in the
wing are followed with a drill to bore through the Plate.
The locking mechanism for the End Struts is now prepared by installing threaded rods into a
knurled "Thumb Nut". A little dab of epoxy holds the studs in the nuts, and with the addition of a
locating dowel, the End Struts are ready to be installed.
Next, the Bottom wing is held in place with two ¼-20 Nylon Bolts, the End Struts are screwed into
place, and Top Wing mounts to the Cabane with two bolts and lock nuts.
The Top and Bottom Ailerons are connected in the same way as the Kit with control horns
connected by pushrods.
With the addition of the Included Aluminum Spinner (For which Great Planes provides a spinner
nut that fits an O.S. 91), a DuBro "Fill It", and the Canopy, the Skybolt is ready (Although just as
a safety precaution, I did add some ¼" pinstripe tape to the edges of the Canopy before flying).
It's been almost three years since I last flew my beloved
Skybolt; so seeing this beauty taxiing out to the runway
was like meeting up with an old flame after a long
absence - And she looked great! Take off roll was very
predictable, and in no time, the Skybolt was airborne.
Seeing it climb out was an absolute thrill, it was just as I
remembered it (only now it was doing it with a smaller
With a few minor clicks of trim, she was flying "Hands Off"
and in no time, I had forgotten that I was flying the Maiden
Flight of a "Review Plane" and just enjoyed flying my
Skybolt. Loops and Rolls tracked perfectly, and I even
brought her into that beautiful Flat Spin that she does so
well (Note: This requires more control throw than
When it came time to land, I was again a bit
apprehensive. I loved how my old heavy Skybolt just
plopped itself in. Would this new, lighter version be as
easy? My fears were put to rest on the first try. She
settles in just as nicely, allowing the tail to drop into a
perfect 3-pointer, but without the heavy feel of the old Kit.
Check out the video to see her in action!
Great Planes Super Skybolt ARF
Two years ago, at the Toledo show, I asked Don Anderson (President and C.E.O. of Great Planes)
if they had any plans to reissue their famous Super Skybolt in a lighter version. Don was
respectably vague, but left me with, "I think you'll be happy with what we have in R & D".
Well Don, you're right - I am very happy with the new Skybolt ARF, and I can highly recommend it
to any advanced flier who is looking for a great No-Fuss Aerobatic Performer! She tracks like
she's on rails, her maneuvers are crisp and predictable, and she lands like a dream.
So, I'll sum this plane up in two words... Get one!
Great Planes
Model Manufacturing Company
P.O. Box 9021
Champaign, IL 61826-9021
Futaba Corporation of America
Distributed by:
Great Planes Model Distributors
P.O. Box 9021; Champaign, IL 61826-9021
O.S. Engines
Distributed Exclusively in the U.S.A., Canada and Mexico by:
Great Planes Model Distributors
P.O. Box 9021; Champaign, IL 61826-9021
Graupner Propellers
Everything For The R/C Hobbyist
Phone: 1-800-848-9411
Comments on RCU Review: Great Planes Super Skybolt ARF
Posted by: savyboy88 on 02/24/2008
does it come with the engine
Profile Posted by: MinnFlyer on 02/24/2008
Profile Posted by: VeeAte on 10/23/2008
Profile Nice looking bipe. :) How do these compare to the Ultimate Bipes? Or is it too difficult to compare them? I like the
addition of a pretty lady to hold the plane in this review too. ;)
Posted by: MinnFlyer on 10/23/2008
Profile The Skybolt is a little more stable and flies a bit smoother than an Ultimate
Posted by: VeeAte on 03/28/2009
Profile Thanks Minnflyer. Still considering this plane. Does it knife edge well? From some reading I have been doing it seems a
lot of bipes dont have a lot of rudder authority. I love my .40 size Ultimate. Time for a larger bipe :)
Posted by: MinnFlyer on 03/28/2009
The Skybolt has a huge rudder with lots of authority - It does a knife edge very well
Profile Page: 1 The comments, observations and conclusions made in this review are solely with respect to the particular item the editor reviewed and may not apply
generally to similar products by the manufacturer. We cannot be responsible for any manufacturer defects in workmanship or other deficiencies in
products like the one featured in the review. EMAIL THIS ARTICLE OR CHECK OUT THESE OTHER GREAT REVIEWS!
Ok, enough about Paul because this article is
Brushless RC Moto about the MOTIV line of “M-Code” line of motors.
The “M-Code” motors come in ma...
In late June, 2014, Trinity released the D4 motor
to replace the D3.5. Since that time, the D4 has
powered cars to 8 ROAR Nat...
D4 1S
Airbrushing – Take I’ve decided to create a series of articles
Your Painting To dedicated to helping the average hobbyist get
into, or at least consider whether ...
As an official vehicle of the 2014 Sochi Olympics,
Amarok Custom Lift Volkswagen built specialized polar edition custom
lifted Amarok vehicles u...
21cc Twin Cylinder RCGF, a Chinese manufacturer of gasoline
Gasoline Engine engines, designs and manufactures engines
specifically for 'the RC aircraft market. ...
120cc Twin
Cylinder Gasoline
RCGF, a Chinese manufacturer of gasoline
engines, designs and manufactures engines
specifically for the RC aircraft market. T...
In June, I tested and wrote about the Traxxas
Slash VXL
Brushless with OBA Slash w/ OBA and how much I enjoyed what the
Slash offers. It's been a goto veh...
With its distinctive looks, it is probably safe to say
that the J-3 Cub is one of the most recognized and 11/23/2015
known airplanes in ...
J-3 Cub
Maule Super
Rocket 10-15cc
When Seagull Models announced that they were
going to produce not just a model, but an ARF of
the Super Rocket, I just had to...
Edge 540
The Flitework Edge 540 is an electric only ARF
airframe with a generous wing span of 66.9" and
also beautifully dressed up in...
Steen Super
Skybolt 15cc ARF
Seagull Models introduced this biplane early on in
2015, and SIG mfg. had a pre-production sample
at the Toledo Expo. That pr...
ST Model
ST model brings us a fun aerobatic glider with the
H101 Salto. The self-launch electric glider has no
bad tendency and will b...
10cc Gasoline
RCGF, a Chinese manufacturer of gasoline
engines, designs and manufactures engines
specifically for 'the RC aircraft market. ...
Funky Cub 10-15cc The new Funky Cub has some really cool
attributes, borrowed from scale aircraft, that
should add up to make it a great flying...
20cc Gasoline
RCGF, a Chinese manufacturer of gasoline
engines, designs and manufactures engines
specifically for 'the RC aircraft market. ...
Return to Magazine Homepage
RCUniverse is a service of Internet Brands, Inc. Copyright © 2001-2017.
Terms of Service | Privacy Policy
Search | Marketplace | Event Central | Local Clubs | Magazine | Product Ratings | New Products | Discussion Forums Photo Gallery | Instructor Search | Field|Track|Marina Search | RCU Youtube Channel | | RCU Twitter! Member Locator | Advertisers | Hobby Vendor Resources | Rate Manufacturers | Sign In/Sign Up
Products Videos RC Classifieds
RCU2 | | 0 | 1 | 11:58:34 AM EST | NC 11/16/2015
Download PDF
Similar pages