Tower Hobbies Ryan STA EP ARF
Classic scale looks with performance to match
Classic scale looks with performance to match
The 1930s are considered by many to be the Golden Age of aircraft, during which many innovative and beautiful aircraft were created. One such aircraft is the Ryan STA. With its streamlined fuselage, graceful lines, and colorful trim scheme, the Ryan STA is instantly recognizable, and it was used in several roles, including as a military trainer. Now thanks to Tower Hobbies, we have this sleek beauty in a convenient size for electric power. The Ryan is built out of laser-cut balsa and light-ply components, and is hand-finished in glossy iron-on film that faithfully re-creates the gorgeous, classic curves of the original aircraft. To keep the Ryan simple and lightweight, many of the components are molded out of strong fiberglass for superior looks and short assembly time. After having fully tested the Ryan’s flight characteristics, I can confidently say that it’s a perfect step up from foamies to more advanced aircraft.
As I unpacked the box, I was impressed with the quality of the multicolored covering and the painted fiberglass cowl, wheel pants, and landinggear fairings; the kit also includes an instruction manual and hardware. The underside of the wing panels and stabilizer are covered in the traditional black/white checkerboard pattern and nicely trimmed in red. The only flaw that I saw in the covering was on the bottom of the fuselage, where some very thin lines of adhesive showed at the seams of the red covering. I used a red Sharpie to make them disappear. The wing comes as two panels that need to be joined together. The ailerons are factory hinged, and the elevators and rudder have slots precut for the hinges that you need to glue in place. A nice feature is that Tower Hobbies leaves the gluing surfaces for the stab and fin uncovered. Also included in the kit are a plastic belly pan, headrest, and decal sheet. The fiberglass cowl uses a clever method of attaching it to the fuselage: Instead of using screws through the cowl and into the fuselage, a factory-installed plywood ring, with top and bottom tabs, mates into slots on the motor box, and a magnet holds it all together. I did have to lightly sand the upper tab and put a slight bevel on it to make it easier to slide in. The cowl looks good not having screws sticking out of it when in place on the fuselage.
Assembly is straightforward and follows a logical sequence. After reading through the manual a couple of times, I started with the wing. The aileron servos are attached to the underside of hatches that are screwed into the bottom of the wing. I really like this method as it hides the servos from sight. The wing panels are joined together with a dihedral brace laminated together from two pieces of plywood. I waited until I had attached the landing gear before joining the panels together.
The landing gear requires the most effort of the assembly, and while it isn’t difficult to do, it does take some patience. Following the manual, I fitted the right gear into the hardwood gear blocks; the holes were a little on the tight side, so I used a few drill bits to loosen the holes. You
then put the landing-gear straps into place and drill guide holes for the screws; be sure to harden the holes with thin CA. The next step is to slide the upper fairing over the landing gear, followed by the wheel pants and the wheel; you can then adjust the wheel pants into place. Two nylon straps and screws hold the lower fairing in place on the landing gear; you need to drill holes into the fairing using the straps as a guide. You then screw the upper fairing to the wing. This took about an hour to accomplish. The left gear went more smoothly as I first loosened the holes in the gear blocks and predrilled the holes for the nylon straps before putting the fairings in place; I also predrilled the holes in the lower fairing before placing it on the gear wire. All of this saved a lot of time as it took only 20 minutes to complete the left gear. I then joined the wing panels, and this completed the wing assembly.
The rest of the assembly was easy and went without a hitch. The stabilizer and fin slots were accurate and didn’t require any sanding. Before you glue the stabilizer in place, fit the elevators on the U-shaped wire joiner to make sure that the elevators are aligned with each other. When you’re satisfied with the fit, remove them and insert the elevator wire joiner in the rear of the fuselage. It’s easy to install the rudder and elevator servos and their pushrods in the fuselage. A Rimfire .32 motor and Castle Creations 75A speed control fit perfectly on the motor box. I was impressed that, after I had installed the motor and cowl, the spinner lined up perfectly to the cowl; this is a testament to the accuracy of the fuselage build. It was now just a matter of adding the wing belly pan, headrest, and decals. The battery compartment is spacious, so when it came time to balance the model, I only needed to place the battery appropriately in the compartment to properly balance the plane; no weight was needed. I added the decals to the model, attached the windshield, and was ready to go.
IN THE AIR
The weather was perfect to put the Ryan through its paces. My main flying club has a grass runway, which tends to be a little rough for small models. The wire landing gear on the model doesn’t have much give to it, and I knew that the model would bounce around some, mostly on landings. With this in mind, I did some taxi tests to see how the plane would react. Takeoff runs weren’t a problem at all as the Rimfire has plenty of power to get the model airborne in a hurry. Like most tail-dragger models, you’ll need to work the rudder for a straight takeoff. Once in the air, the Ryan is a true joy to fly. I only needed a couple clicks of trim for hands-off flight. For just cruising around, half throttle provides more than enough power; at full power, the Ryan has a lot of speed and excellent vertical performance. Landings are also a nonevent as the plane settles easily into a stable glide slope. But as expected, I found it challenging to grease in a landing. After several flights, I did manage to get some bouncefree landings by flying the plane to the runway instead of letting it glide in.
GENERAL FLIGHT PERFORMANCE
Stability: The Ryan has awesome stability and is very smooth. The hardest aspect of doing a review is the photo shoot as you really need a stable plane in order to place it precisely for the best camera shot. The Ryan made this easy to accomplish. Tracking: I was surprised that this model has a pattern-plane feel to it. It tracks well and goes where it’s pointed without any drama. Aerobatics: Another highlight of the Ryan is its aerobatic potential. I started off with some basic maneuvers, such as loops and rolls, which were quite graceful. Kicking things up a notch, I did some old-style pattern moves that required a lot of control input and the Ryan was right at home. Inverted flight is also within its performance envelope, but a fair amount of down-elevator was needed. Pushing back the center of gravity helped with this. Glide and stall performance: Stalls? What stalls? For the type of plane the Ryan is, stalls are all but nonexistent. On high rates when slowed down, the plane just mushes forward without dropping a wing and would just descend in a slight nose-up attitude. Needless to say, the glide slope is manageable with a slight nose-down attitude.
The Ryan is a capable plane that does everything well—something that you don’t often find in a model of this size—and it looks awesome while doing it. I found that it does what you want, when you want it, without any drama; it’s definitely a confidence-inspiring plane to fly.
The Rimfire .32 brushless motor is a perfect fit and delivers an abundance of power.
Access for the receiver and servos is through the wing opening in the bottom of the fuselage. No lack of room here!
There’s a convenient hatch for the battery just forward of the cockpit. Two pegs at the front and magnets at the rear securely hold the hatch in place. There’s also plenty of room for battery placement to adjust the center of gravity.
The landing-gear fairings are made out of fiberglass and painted to match the model’s trim scheme. Installing them isn’t difficult but does require some care.
The rudder control horn is factory painted to match the color on the bottom of the rudder. CA hinges are used throughout the model.
I dressed up the cockpit by adding some Fourmost Products cockpit coaming and an old pilot figure.