See-through aviation

After I saw this episode of Boing Boing TV...

...I of course had to check out Carl Rankin's Web site.

Wherein is prominently displayed The Mama Bear...

..."the largest radio-controlled plane constructed from plastic-wrap, drinking straws and tape ever built".

Super-light spindly radio controlled planes are not new. Gossamer concoctions of balsa, carbon fibre and Mylar film have been buzzing peacefully around in high-school halls for ages, and they're now even leaking into the commercial market.

Those indomitable little foam living-room planes and twin-motor helicopters (the original Picoo Z and its numerous, often inferior, knock-offs) are cheaper even than a plane made from take-out containers. But they're not actually very controllable - you can only kind of suggest where you'd like them to go, after which luck takes over.

Carl Rankin's creations, in contrast, are proper controllable aircraft made on a near-zero budget for everything except the electronics.

3 Responses to “See-through aviation”

  1. Changes Says:

    I disagree on the inferiority of the knockoff Picoo Z models. I have both an original and a knockoff (this one: ) and the knockoff is MUCH more controllable and pleasant to fly. The original behaves like a mad bee or something, and cost me twice as much. Only thing the knockoff lacks is some power... it's slower to go up than the original.

  2. Daniel Rutter Says:

    I said "often inferior", not "always inferior" :-).

    There are so many Picoo Z knockoffs out there that it's impossible to make a blanket statement about them. Perhaps the average quality now is better than it used to be; when the first wave of counterfeits struck last year, a lot of them were pretty dreadful.

    (Incidentally, are you quite sure that your hard-to-fly "original" Picoo Z actually is an original one? 'Cos the early knockoffs not only looked almost exactly like the genuine helicopters, but were also often sold as Picoo Zs!)

  3. Changes Says:

    Quite sure. I bought it in a very large store in Switzerland. I'd be surprised if large stores could get away with selling knockoffs branded as the real things.

    Well, to tell you the truth, if it happened here in Italy I wouldn't be surprised at all. But I believe the Swiss have harsher rules for this sort of stuff, and there are people who actually care.

    Plus, mine seems to have all the relevant stickers and logos and whatnot.

    That said, yes, I certainly can believe there are some awful knockoffs, but based on what I've read while lurking (with the occasional post every now and then...) on RCGroups I think most are pretty good, with the bad ones being the exception rather than the rule.

    Then again I haven't been on RCG for a while, maybe things have changed...

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