Balsa is actually a forest tree of lowland Central America which has a strong but very light wood. It is usually used for the making of floats and rafts. It has been seen that Balsa as a material is very ideal for model airplane construction. Companies like Guillows which is a renowned manufacturer of traditional kits uses pieces which are made from balsa wood. The individual parts such as wing ribs and fuselage formers are made from sheets of balsa while balsa strips make the remainder of the construction. Thin modeling – grade balsa is also used in certain key areas of a model airplane such as engine bulkheads and landing gear plates. The main reason behind the popularity of balsa as a material can be attributed to the fact that it has a superb weight to strength ratio.
The Balsa RC model airplane kits come with a plan that is usually laid out on a flat board. You need to follow the plan on every step to properly construct the plane and to attach the necessary parts like wings, tail, fuselage et al. After this is complete then comes the most important task of covering the parts with a heat sensitive plastic film. You can attach the film onto the parts using an iron. The film sticks to the balsa with the help of an adhesive coating and this melts due to heat. A heat gun is then used to reduce the size of the film. But this is a more modern approach. If you buy a traditional balsa model airplane you will find that it is covered with lightweight tissue paper and banana oil. Nowadays you will find this method in those models which are replica of the vintage airplanes. In this manner the model looks traditional too. With changing times we see model airplanes being built from fiberglass, foam, plastics and of course, balsa.
In the last ten years or so the popularity of RC RTF (Ready to fly) and ARF (Almost ready to fly) have increased consistently. NexStar Select 46 is a very popular model that has helped lure many people into RC model airplane flying. The model is available in both gas and electric form. However, if you are looking for real fun and excitement wherein you can actually build a model RC plane from a kit then thebalsa RC model airplane kits are best for you. The kit is generally an all-inclusive one meaning it contains all the essential hardware. Apart from the kit you just need to buy the covering material, paint, and engine and radio gear. If you are completely new and feel that you need help in building the airplane you can always consult the book “How to make RC airplanes” by Carl Baer. There is some element of truth in the saying that building a model airplane from scratch and then flying it is more enjoyable and satisfying than ATF and RTF combined. Let us just hope that the balsa RC model airplane kits remain popular and the sales are not completely taken over by the ATF and the RTF.
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