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F3A flyers are very welcoming community and always keen to see new flyers, even those who just want to sample the atmosphere before making a commitment. You can certainly “fly what you brung” as most if not all models are suitable for the “Sportsman” class. A more specialized model will make the progression through the classes easier and there a variety of directions that can be taken when deciding on a model.

40 size ARF - Entry Level

The cheapest entry level model. Almost every ARF manufacturer has an example which may be suitable. A well built stick will do the job equally well. The cost is low and the better quality examples almost build themselves straight!

Scale Aerobatic ARF - Moving Up

These are available from 30 size and up, plus in electric. The Extra 300 and Giles 202 are examples of readily available models and again most manufacturers have them in their range. The cost is reasonable and proportional to the size. They are easy to assemble but care needs to be taken to ensure correct alignment.

F3A Style ARF - Sub 2 Metres

A number are available in the 50 to 120 size range such as the Swallow, Spot-on and Groovy with the Angel S electric. A good range is available from a variety of manufacturers. Generally a little more expensive but still good value for money. Careful assembly is required to fully take advantage of smooth flying features of these models.

2 Metre F3A Models - Kit Form

These are available in limited numbers with most being from overseas. The exception is the Cyclone which is a John Payne (QLD) design and is produced locally. Most of these kits include only the basic components (fiberglass/carbon/Kevlar fuselage, foam wing/tail cores, basic drawing) with the builder supplying remainder (wood, accessories, etc). There is the odd kit around which uses a wood fuselage and supplies some of the wood and a comprehensive plan. These kits require a good degree of building skill to get a light, straight flying model and require in the order of 100 to 150 hours for building and finishing. The cost of these kits is a little deceptive as the builder needs to supply many of the components to complete the job. This could be an advantage as the cost can be spread over time by buying parts when that stage is reached rather than a lump sum at the beginning.

2 Metre F3A Models - Scratch Built

It is not difficult to design an F3A model, the rules are simple. The finished model must fit into a box which is 2 metres by 2 metres and weigh less than 5050 grams without liquid fuel (batteries included for electric). The difficult bit is to get the proportions correct so it flys well! As with the kits a good degree of building skill is required to get a light, straight flying model and require in the order of 100 to 150 hours for building and finishing. The added pleasure is taking a concept to a flying model and “having done it my way”. The cost can also be spread over a longer period.

2 Metre F3A Models - Used

There are many of the smaller ARF style available through various sources including eBay but the 2 metre size are generally found advertised in the specialist newsletters or websites. The older and superseded models such as Desafio or Maestro still fly extremely well and can be a bargain if in good condition. Even older 60 size models such as the Conquest still perform well in the lower classes. This can be an economical way to proceed as often the model is offered in the “just add radio and fly” condition, although there is a risk of you buying someone else’s engine problems.

2 Metre F3A Models - ARF

This is an expanding market with many excellent, even Championship winning designs available from a select group of manufacturers. The pinnacle of which is a model ordered from Naruke Hobby in Japan which comes delivered after test flight and trimming for around USD$15,000!!!! The ARFs we see in Australia are much more reasonably priced but do require some input from the purchaser to supply and fit their own radio gear and propulsion system. As with most things in life you get what you pay for, the cheaper end of the scale are a little heavier and the finish is to a lower standard. You may find it more difficult to win the World Championship with one of these……
The Oxai range of models are probably best ARF currently available in Australia with traditional and electric propulsion supported but you do pay a premium for excellence.

With all of the above the choice of traditional glow power or electric power is a personal choice. Electric is the newcomer but it has already developed into a mature option, not just one for those who like to be on the cutting edge.
Whether you decide to launch headlong into the F3A or just hover around the periphery the skills that are developed will improve your everyday flying and you will meet a friendly and helpful group of aeromodellers.

Contributed by John Brann - thanks John!

Last Updated on Tuesday, 21 October 2008 19:58