Tower Hob­bies Ryan STA EP ARF

Clas­sic scale looks with per­for­mance to match

Electric Flight - - CONTENTS - By Rick Bell

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.


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.


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.

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