PLANE: Hobby Lobby Busy Bee
by Jason Carter jasonc@flyrc.com
TYPE: Outdoor electric park flyer
resh off the heels of last month’s TB-20 review, we go
into another aileron trainer from Hobby Lobby, the
Busy Bee. With an overall length of over 42 inches, the
Busy Bee is over a foot longer than the TB-20. In fact, the Busy
Bee is larger in every way. With 372 square inches of wing
area, the Bee has 116 more square inches than the TB-20. If my
instinct is correct, a larger plane, with more wing area enclosed
in a high-wing, pusher-style plane, should make for a very forgiving aileron trainer. Let’s find out.
The Busy Bee’s main wing and fuse is constructed of molded
bead foam while the tail feathers are made from smooth molded foam. Spring steel nose gear is installed from the factory, as
is all radio gear. To get airborne, you will need to charge the
included 2S 1800mAh Li-Poly battery, then install the 8x6 propeller, main landing gear, tail feathers, and main wing. It takes
about two hours to charge the battery with the kit charger, so
you have plenty of time to assemble the Busy Bee.
Installing the wing is a little challenging, but only because
the rest of the job is so complete. The receiver is located in the
bottom of the fuse, so you’ll need to thread the aileron servo
lead down to the receiver with the wing sitting high on the
fuselage. This is tricky if you are trying to hold everything in
the air. An extra set of hands helps here, as does simply laying
the components in the grass while you run the cable.
FOR: Intermediate pilots
WINGSPAN: 44 1/8 in.
WING AREA: 372 sq. in.
WEIGHT: 23 oz.
WING LOADING: 8.9 oz./sq. ft.
LENGTH: 42.75 in.
RADIO: 4 channels required; flown with included 72MHz Mode
2 radio gear with neck strap
POWER SYSTEM: TowerPro 2408-21 brushless motor, 18A ESC,
Starmax 2S 1800mAh Li-Poly battery
FULL THROTTLE POWER: 9.9 amps, 73.3 watts, 3.19 W/oz.,
61.7 W/lb.
TOP RPM: 7,760
DURATION: 10+ minutes
MINIMAL FLYING AREA: Baseball or football field
PRICE: $182
The Hobby Lobby Busy Bee makes a good aileron trainer for enthusiasts who have grown accustomed to flying with rudder and elevator or a V-tail. Foam construction means you can make repairs
quickly at the field. Priced at less
than $200, the Busy Bee provides
you with a complete ready
to fly four channel aircraft
with 72MHz radio, brushless motor, ESC, and
Li-Poly battery.
Step up to ailerons with this distinctive trainer
SEPTEMBER 2007 111
One of our local flight areas is a soccer field where the thick, lush grass
of late spring prevented a ground takeoff. Instead, we throttled up and
gave the Busy Bee a firm toss into the wind. The Busy Bee climbed and
handled well for a plane of this size, despite the breeze. The large profile
of the fuse caused the Busy Bee to be pushed around by gusts. This isn’t
a problem since the Busy Bee is a fairly stable and forgiving aircraft. If
the Busy Bee stalls the recovery is gentle and uneventful. Since we
found ourselves to be fighting the wind more than actually flying the
Busy Bee we decided to hold off on flying until conditions were a bit
more favorable.
Our second trip to the soccer fields netted better flying conditions
and much more fun from the Busy Bee. In the calmer winds, we managed to get a feel for how well the Busy Bee performs. We still handlaunched the plane, but once at altitude and comfortable with the plane
we passed the transmitter amongst our crew and took turns performing
various maneuvers for the camera. The Busy Bee was easy to bring in
close, very stable and predictable. With a slight bit of elevator and a little
throttle the Busy Bee would creep through the air without stalling. We
also took the Busy Bee up high and put it through some loops and rolls,
which it handled just fine.
Since then, I have had the Busy Bee out in near calm conditions, and
flown from a smooth surface. I taxied into the middle of the paved runway, lined up, and rolled into the throttle. The Busy Bee lifted off and
climbed high over the vacant lot behind my neighborhood that was
serving as my private airstrip. Without much wind to push the plane
around, aileron inputs were much more precise and I started to really
settle into a groove. As I continued to make laps around the lot, several
neighborhood kids came to watch the Busy Bee in action. I made several
low passes then brought the Busy Bee around for landing. Even in calm
winds, the Buy Bee wants to float in the air—simply throttling back and
allowing the plane to descend didn’t bring it down fast enough. With a
touch of down elevator, I made my final approach and eased off the elevator just prior to touchdown. The stable tricycle landing gear with steerable nose wheel make it easy to keep the Busy Bee aimed down the runway on rollout with a few touches of rudder. The landing was smooth
and uneventful, much to the displeasure of a couple of kids that seemed
to want to see a good crash. Not today, kids!
The Busy Bee comes with a compact and powerful brushless motor
already installed. The aileron servo lead needs to be threaded through
the fuselage ahead of the motor as you install the wing.
Check incidence on the horizontal stab. Our review plane was
assembled following the instructions using the pre-existing
holes in the stab. The result was that our stab wasn’t square to
the fuse or aligned with the main wing. It is a simple manner to
realign it though.
After suffering from a ground-induced structural failure
(A.K.A. crash) during a windy launch, the wing needed repair.
The wing has carbon fiber tube spars, but they are joined in the
middle by a soft wire joiner only a few inches long. We repaired
the wing by installing a 1/ 8-inch music wire joiner that was
approximately six inches long and epoxied it in place with fiveminute epoxy while rejoining the wing panels. We also added a
1 / 2 -inch-wide strip of fiberglass tape across the top of the
assembled wing for further reinforcement. Since the spar is on
the bottom of the wing, adding the tape at the outset may have
prevented the initial break.
Pay attention to the throttle setting. There is no need for full
throttle if you are training, and all the controls become more
sensitive as you fly faster. It also noticeably shortens the available duration. The Busy Bee has a throttle-related handling
quirk, due to the general layout. With the high motor thrust
line, and all the parasite drag below, increasing the throttle
would cause the nose to drop slightly. This effect is entirely
predictable, and it was easy to compensate for it with a little
backpressure on the elevator.
Hobby Lobby’s Busy Bee is a great aileron trainer in calm conditions. With the large forward profile of the fuse, it seems to be
affected more than other designs when the wind breezes up.
Fortunately for those who may be considering a plane like the
Busy Bee to polish their skills, the Bee is a very forgiving plane
with a gentle stall. When you factor in the forgiving flight characteristics and the fact that it comes with 72MHz radio gear, a
brushless motor/ESC combo and a Li-Poly battery and charger
that can all be used in other aircraft down the road, the Busy
Bee is a great trainer that offers a lot of bang for the buck. =
Hobby Lobby International, Inc., www.hobby-lobby-com,
(615) 373-1444
For more information, please see our source guide on pg. 177.