Shortly after getting married, I realized I'd have to try and buy planes that fit within our meager budget. In the name of saving money, I started to look for an easy to fly, durable cheap airplane.
I've made a decision to focus on electric planes, mainly because they are cleaner, quieter, and in general less headache. The plane had to be electric, but I could not afford a motor, speed controller, and lipo battery. I started to look at every powerless glider made. Finally I arrived at a verdict. The Fling ARF from Great Planes.
Assembly consists of gluing the pre-covered balsa main wing together with epoxy, and super-gluing the tail together, then super-gluing it to the tail boom. Fuselage construction is of fiberglass, and the tail boom is carbon fiber. The flight pack consisted of 2 micro servos, 1-rudder and 1-elevator, 1-300mah battery pack, and a micro 72mhz Futaba receiver. The only annoying part of assembly was the pull-pull configuration of the servos. A fishing-line size thread is attached to both sides of the rudder and elevator, and to both sides of the control horn on the servo. It works very well, but the fuselage is small and if you didn't earn a knot tying badge in Boy Scouts, it can be quite a pain to get the strings taunt, and still have your control surfaces in a neutral position when your done.
The plane can be hand launched, or it can be launched using the high-start that comes in the box. Launching with the high-start is quite a thrill, akin to a rocket launch. The high start consists of 30 feet of surgical tubing connected to a very long thin line. You peg the end with the surgical tubing into the ground and you connect the plane to the string. You walk away from peg, putting tension on the surgical tubing, and when you release the plane it really soars. Usual launches result in about 300 feet of altitude in a couple seconds time. Technique is key! If you don't have enough room to use the high-start, no worries, a good hard throw can get you 60-80 feet of altitude, which is enough for a lazy lap around the park before landing in your hand.
I tested the planes durability by forgetting to turn on my radio before launching with the high start. The elevator was in the full down position when I released the plane. The nose was instantly buried 2 inches in dirt. It looked like an expensive lawn dart sticking out of the cow pasture. Thankfully there was no damage, all I had to do was clean the fiberglass nose, turn my radio on, and re-launch!
I've flown this plane over a year, on hundreds of flights, and it has been a blast to fly. Part of its thrill is in the fact that its small, easily transported, and can be flown with minimal space. The Fling has gentle flying characteristics, very decent flight times even with out thermals, and its a very affordable model. Great Planes has a great airplane in the Fling, it's a model I'd recommend for a beginning plane, or for a fun everyday flier.