RCM Pelican Bellanca Decathlon 480

RCM Pelican Bellanca Decathlon 480
 RCU Review: RCM Pelican Bellanca Decathlon 480 More On This Product
Discussions on this Product Show user ratings Check for Retailers Contributed by: Don Sims | Published: May 2007 | Views: 34294 |
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Review by: Don Sims
Test Flying
Manufacturer & Distributor
RCM Pelican Bellanca
Decathlon 480
Full scale Decathlon's were considered to be one of the best
aerobatic trainer aircrafts in the United States and a good
value for the money. Hobby-Lobby is continuing the tradition
with the RCM Pelican Bellanca Decathlon 480. The Decathlon
comes in the box almost ready to fly and it even had a radio
with it. Assembly time was under two hours and the
instruction booklet was well written and very easy to follow.
RCM Pelican
distributed by:
5614 Franklin Pike Cr.
Brentwood, TN 37027 Ratings
Manufacturer: RCM Pelican Available From: www.Hobby-Lobby.com
Ease of
Aerobatic Ability
Wingspan: 39" Wing Area: 245 sq. in. Weight: 22 1/2 oz. Servos: 2 preinstalled by RCM Pelican
Transmitter: 4 channel 27mHz FM, included Receiver: Preinstalled Battery: 8 cell 600mah NiMH, with an 110v. plug-in wall
Motor: Direct drive brushed 480 preinstalled
ESC: Preinstalled Broadband 14.9 MB
Dialup 1.23 MB Assembly
Box the Decathlon came in
Tightly packed contents
Decathlon spread out
The first thing that I noticed when I opened the box was that the decals were already applied. RCM
Pelican weren't kidding when they said that not much assembly was required. They had done an
excellent job packing all the parts in the box and nothing was damaged when I unpacked the
Bellanca Decathlon. While looking over the parts, I went ahead and plugged the battery into the
supplied wall charger. It was strange looking at an ARF (Almost Ready to Fly) plane that was actually ARF and did not
require seemingly endless extra hours of assembly to put the model together. Even the landing gear
had its cowlings pre installed as well as the receiver and servos installed with control wires ready to
go. RCM Pelican provided good quality control horns for the plane. The rest of the Decathlon
Stabilizer group and tail wheel
Landing gear, cowling, and
Within a few minutes, I had the vertical and horizontal stabilizers put on the plane as well as the
steerable tail wheel. Since I didn't plan to remove the stabilizers, I added some foam safe Zapp CA
glue for some extra security. Like its full scale inspiration, this version of the Decathlon is a tail
dragger. The next thing I did was to install the prop, spinner and landing gear. A word of caution
about the landing gear area is if you plan to land in grass, beef up the area around the landing gear
with epoxy or balsa. The plastic undercarriage is very flexible and allows the gear to flex backwards
on landing. On a hard surface the gear worked great but it bent back the first time I landed in grass
so I added five minute epoxy around the undercarriage area and inside the battery box for some
added strength.
This area needs reinforcement
Front of the Decathlon
Electronics were pre installed
Like the rest of the plane, the wing was easy to put on. The Decathlon has struts which are attached
to the wing with pins. The underside of the wing had striped decals so you can easily keep orientation
while flying. RCM Pelican also included the hardware for converting your Decathlon into a four
channel plane with ailerons. There were indentations in the wing to act as guides to cut the ailerons
out, all that was needed was a micro servo. I was impressed with the color scheme of the Bellanca
Decathlon; it closely resembled the color scheme of full scale planes that I had seen at air shows and
in photos on the web. Struts connected to
Struts connected to wings
I looked at my watch and noticed that less than two hours had passed since opening the box. My
battery hadn't even had time to charge on the wall charger. Since the battery and charger came with
different connectors than I normally use, I changed them out with Deans Ultra connectors and
hooked the battery pack up to my Triton charger for topping off. As mentioned earlier, the servos,
speed control and receiver were already installed in the plane. All I needed to do was put some
batteries in the 27mHz transmitter and plug the fully charged battery in. The servos were already
centered in the Decathlon and it was ready for its maiden flight. Test Flying
Flight Report
As with any new first plane I did a range ground check with the radio
antenna down. That was fine so I double checked the control
surfaces and found that they were centered and ready to go. It had
been a long time since I flew a plane without a brushless motor so I
didn't expect much from the motor when I hand launched the
Decathlon. It was a pleasant surprise when it flew out of my hand
with authority and had an acceptable climb to altitude as it got on
step. The plane needed no trim plus it responded well to rudder and
elevator input. The plane was a stable flyer; it fell off to one side
when forced into a stall but recovered well as soon as it regained
speed. Altitude is your friend when you get into a stall! I landed on a
gravel driveway and found the landing gear was too close together
causing the plane to tip from side to side on landing. I went back into
the barn, put the battery on the Triton charger, and spread out the
landing gear with some needle nosed pliers. Once the battery was
charged up, I was ready for flight two. This time I took off from the gravel driveway, the Decathlon was in
the air within fifteen feet but I had to use the rudder a lot to keep it
tracking straight ahead. I flew it around and did some basic
aerobatics with it. I had to dive the Decathalon slightly in order to
loop and did some more forced stalls. Because I was flying the plane
stock without the aileron option I didn't attempt to fly it inverted or
do any rolls. For landing number two, I decided to land in some grass
and found that the landing gear folded back so I went back in the
barn and added some five minute epoxy around the edges of the
undercarriage area for some extra strength. Another solution to this
would have been simply leaving the landing gear off the plane and
putting some clear backing tape on the belly of the plane. During the next several flights I found that the Bellanca Decathlon
480 was a nice relaxing flyer. The foam battery box was loose so I
added a little foam safe Zapp CA to make sure the battery didn't
move and change the planes center of gravity. I also added some
Zapp around the foam where the wing was secured to the fuselage
for some added strength. The plane continued to fly well and was a
nice one to throw up in the air whenever I wanted a quick flight. It
was small enough to fit in the trunk of my car so I could take it to
work and get in a quick flight whenever I had an opportunity.
Broadband 14.9 MB
Dialup 1.23 MB Summary
Whenever I fly a plane that is advertised for beginners, I ask myself
if it can handle the abuse that many self taught pilots put their planes
through. While the RCM Pelican Bellanca Decathlon 480 had a lot of
good things going for it, it would make a much better second plane.
The foam fuselage is hard and does crack on hard impact and would
have been excellent if it was made of EPP or a more durable foam.
With that said, I noticed that Hobby-Lobby had an extensive list of
spare parts for the Decathlon in case a new pilot dumb thumbs it into
the ground. As mentioned earlier, it was nice putting together a plane that was
truly almost ready to fly right out of the box. I could have assembled
it even faster but stopped frequently to take pictures of my building
progress. The plane flew well and had a nice semi scale look to it. I
really liked the decals that were on the Decathlon, I had no trouble
keeping orientation when the plane was in the air doing loops and
stalling out from side to side. The plane landed easily with no bad
habits or surprises on approach and once I spread out the landing
gear the Decathlon was much more stable on the ground. Manufacturer Info
RCM Pelican
distributed by:
5614 Franklin Pike Cr.
Brentwood, TN 37027
www.hobby-lobby.com Comments on RCU Review: RCM Pelican Bellanca Decathlon 480
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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
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