In the fun, easy-to-fly spirit of the FirebirdTM RTF airplane, HobbyZone recently introduced the Sky Surfer paraplane. Perhaps the most remarkable thing about the Sky Surfer is not that it's a paraplane, but that it has zippy climb performance and handling that, until now, has largely been missing from R/C paraplanes.

The Sky Surfer's Mabuchi 370 motor geardrive and composite propeller make a potent combination that provide enough "oomph" to allow rolling takeoffs, in addition to the normal hand-launch technique. Climb performance is spirited as well. Cruise speeds are in the very manageable 7-10 mph range, thanks to the excess power of the Mabuchi that lets you throttle back to half power for maintaining level flight.

The Sky Surfer's sophisticated patented steering system allows positive and precise control during lots of maneuvers. We were able to slalom around obstacles, execute tight spirals up and down, thermal, pylon race, and shoot precise touch-and-go's with complete control authority. The Sky Surfer's combination of manageable speed and positive control should make it a favorite for beginners, since it practically assures a successful start and will soothe some of the butterflies most first timers feel as they learn to control an R/C aircraft.

The Sky Surfer comes with everything needed to get it flying, except 6 "AA" batteries for the included transmitter. All the electronics are installed, hooked up, and ready to go. All that's left to do is 20 minutes of assembly. This involves snapping together the gondola parts and attaching the big 50'' x 18'' parafoil's shroud lines to the steering mechanism. The included instruction manual and real-time video eliminate any guesswork and should allow a first timer to finish the assembly with confidence. After assembly is complete, just charge up the 600mAh battery pack with the included quick charger and fly!

The Sky Surfer is about as easy as it gets when it comes to flying a radio control aircraft, and it's virtually crash-proof due to its durable construction. It uses the same super-simple throttle and steering setup of the HobbyZone FirebirdTM. To steer, push the radio's rudder control to the left or right. Push the proportional throttle control full forward to climb, throttle back to mid-throttle for cruise, and simply pull the throttle all the way back to descend. The big parafoil canopy brings the Sky Surfer gently back to earth while maintaining full steering control all the way down.

The Sky Surfer's receiver, motor, and steering servo are all driven off the one 600mAh battery pack. This saves weight and hassle. When the battery gets low, power to the motor is shut off automatically, reserving the remaining power for the steering controls so a safe landing can be made.

While the HobbyZone Sky Surfer will definitely have loads of appeal with beginners, we're certain there are plenty of people who already fly R/C who will get a real kick out of it too because of its unusually spirited performance. The Sky Surfer is unlike most R/C aircraft out there, including other R/C paraplanes. Whether you're a beginner or a bonafide wing nut, the HobbyZone Sky Surfer is nothing short of flying fun for everyone.

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Sky Surfer RTF [HBZ7800]


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