ParkZone™ is a brand of ready-to-fly, intermediate-level, radio controlled electric model aircraft produced and distributed by American hobby manufacturer Horizon Hobby of Champaign, Illinois. The name is taken from the term park flyer, denoting a relatively small, docile model plane ostensibly capable of being flown in a park.
The brand was introduced in March, 2004 as a logical next step to the the company's simpler HobbyZone® brand of electric model aircraft. Most HobbyZone planes are two-channel control, that is, two separate and discrete radio channels operating throttle and rudder. Most of these models were designed for first-time flyers and/or those transitioning from two-channel surface vehicles, specifically radio controlled cars and boats. ParkZone scale aircraft are constructed of lightweight foam with a polymer outer skin and styrene plastic bracing surrounding the radio equipment inside the fuselage. The Typhoon is manufactured from a special high-density foam with no outer skin, the Stryker flying wing is of one-piece molded foam construction and the Slo-V "slow flyer" has a carbon fiber "stick" fuselage with foam wings and V-tail. The Slo-V is capable of being flown in a large indoor area.
Most ParkZone aircraft are operated with three discrete channels, the third being used for up-and-down pitch. The fully aerobatic Typhoon adds a fourth channel for aileron control. These third and fourth dimensions of operation are difficult for first-time flyers and, as such, the brand is not recommended for beginning hobbyists without first enlisting the aid of an experienced R/C pilot. The addition of pitch control makes the models more responsive. In turn, the chance of a crash is far more likely. ParkZone models (or any flying model) which do not use ailerons to assist in steering will dip the nose with resulting loss of altitude if a small amount of "up elevator" isn't added. To avoid these problems, the aircraft's on-board radio system compensates with a small amount of up elevator with the application of the rudder. The amount of elevator throw is just enough to keep the plane smooth in the turns. Some up elevator is still required. On most models, the feature is easily disabled at the transmitter once the intermediate pilot becomes accustomed to steering with both rudder and elevator. On the "J-3 Cub," the feature is disabled with the removal of a small jumper on the radio receiver. The instruction manual shows the location of the jumper. High- and low-rate control surface throws are switchable at the transmitter on all but the J-3.
Like their HobbyZone brethren, ParkZone aircraft are sold as a total, pre-assembled package. Everything, including batteries for the transmitter, are included. All that is necessary is the attachment of the wing and landing gear, installation of the transmitter batteries and charging of the model's on-board nickel metal hydride battery pack. Unlike the HobbyZone models which employ Horizon Hobby's proprietary radio equipment, ParkZone aircraft can be retrofitted with standard radio control equipment from virtually any manufacturer. In addition, the radio equipment can be replaced or repaired independent of the fuselage and vice versa. A damaged fuselage or radio receiver on a HobbyZone aircraft once meant replacement as a unit of the blow-molded plastic main fuselage, pre-assembled radio receiver, servos, tail boom and electric motor. Consumer requests have led to the availability of bare fuselages in the HobbyZone line. Replacement parts for both lines of aircraft are readily available at most hobby shops, mail-order hobby suppliers and Horizon Hobby itself.
The "Super Decathlon," the "P-51D Mustang," the "Typhoon" and the "Focke-Wulf 190," ParkZone's newest models, feature radio equipment that can be transferred to other park flyers including delta wing and v-tail aircraft. The P-51D Mustang, Typhoon and Focke-Wulf 190 also have the ability to operate on lithium polymer batteries.
US-based hobby retail chain HobbyTown USA of Lincoln, Nebraska named ParkZone as its "2005 Hobby Company of the Year." That same company named the F-27 Stryker as "2005 Airplane of the Year."
Current model lineupEdit
This model is the least expensive in the lineup and one of its most popular. The Slo-V has proven itself to be a popular choice not only among fans of slow-flying aircraft but among indoor flying fans as well. A purely functional flying machine that does not represent any full-scale aircraft, performance can be increased with the use of a seven-cell battery pack like those used in the J-3 Cub and Super Decathlon.
- Wingspan: 46 in (1170 mm)
This is a faithful scale rendition of the full scale 1930 Taylor Brothers light aircraft, so much so that the Cub's flight characteristics are nearly identical to the prototype despite its lack of ailerons. Enterprising modelers have found this to be a popular subject for modification. Such modifications usually entail a more powerful motor, more aggressive propeller and even conversion to four-channel control. Cruising speed is factory rated at 20 mph (32 km/h).
- Wingspan: 37.3 in (950 mm)
Introduced soon after the J-3 and similar in overall execution, the Super Decathlon features a radio system that allows extended control surface throws (and therefore, more manueverability) with the flip of a switch on the transmitter. Onboard electrics are nearly identical to those in the Cub and Slo-V and will accept the same hop-ups. The Super Decathlon is based on the full scale Aeronca Super Decathlon aerobatic single-engine aircraft introduced in 1977. Like the J-3, cruising speed on the Super Decathlon is rated at 20 mph (32 km/h).
- Wingspan: 35.4 in (900 mm)
Fast and highly manuerverable right out of the box, the original F-27 Stryker was extremely responsive to aftermarket hop-ups. Many modelers purchase only the replacement parts for the airframe and install their own electronics. The result is a park flyer capable of speeds of up to 100 mph (160 km/h). By comparison, a stock Stryker is capable of upwards of 50 mph (80 km/h).
An updated version called the "F-27B" was released in August, 2005. Though the new plane retails for a slightly higher price, the advantages are numerous:
- One-piece "Z-foam" wing which is stiffer and truer than the original wing
- Three-cell, 2100mAh lithium-polymer compatibility
- Optional propeller of the proper size and pitch for lithium-polymer operation included
- Vented electronics compartment
- Improved, heavy-duty elevon hinges
- Wingspan: 37.5 in (950 mm)
Modeled after one of the most successful fighters of World War Two, the P-51D, like the J-3 before it, exhibits the flying characteristics of its full sized counterpart and the most scale detail of any model in the lineup. The airbrushed paint scheme complete with "invasion" stripes is factory applied as are the decals. The scheme itself is patterned after a full-sized P-51D nicknamed "Ferocious Frankie," with the only variation being the kill markings changed from swastikas to the red, black and white cross of the Luftwaffe. The prototype, built at North American Aircraft's Inglewood, California, USA plant as serial number 44-13704, is currently on display at at the Old Flying Machine Company in Duxford, Cambridgeshire, England and is maintained in flying condition. A "Ferocious Frankie" replica is on static display at Robins AFB in Houston County, Georgia. The P-51D has also proven to be the single most popular model, with ready-to-fly versions on back order soon after its introduction. An almost ready-to-fly version less electronics was being test-marketed in Australia at a cost of AU$99 and is now available worldwide. This bare airframe ARF version is painted and trimmed like the RTF, lacking only the servos and speed control/receiver. In order for the P-51D to perform full aerobatics with only three channels, the model steers and therefore barrel rolls via ailerons only. The rudder is fixed in place. To keep the aerodynamics true to scale - and possibly to help keep the final cost down - the P-51D is a "belly flopper," that is, lacking the retractable landing gear under the wing of the full-scale prototype. Because of the impact the wing is forced to endure as a result, the thickness of its outer skin has been increased from 2mm to 5mm. Speed is factory rated at 40 mph (64 km/h) with the stock nickel metal hydride onboard battery pack.
- Wingspan: 39.5 in (1000 mm)
This model is ParkZone's first foray into the world of fully aerobatic, 3-D models. It features a brushless motor system and the aforementioned lithium polymer power capability. The Typhoon has the added advantages of industry-standard three-wire servo connections and 72 MHz radio operation. A "plug and play" version is now available less radio equipment, battery and charger.
- Wingspan: 39.5 in (1000 mm)
ParkZone's newest scale model is that of one of Germany's most successful piston-engined fighter of World War Two and may be used as a "dogfighting" companion to the P-51D when equipped with the "X-Port" sonic combat module. Size and specifications are similar to the P-51D, but the Fw-190 boasts an improved battery door with a magnetic latch and improved battery compartment adjustable for both the enclosed nickel metal hydride pack and optional lithium polymer pack. This setup allows minor adjustments to the center of gravity. Like the P-51D, the Focke-Wulf 190 is hand-launched and steers via ailerons only.
An interesting detail may be found on the model's fuselage. Its fully airbrushed paint scheme includes simulated engine oil stains above the wings. The prototypes had problems with oil leakage and most were stained in this same manner.
- Wingspan: 39.5 in (1000 mm)
Messerschmitt Bf 109 GEdit
This model is a rendition of the world most successful fighter - with an overall kill ratio of over 7:1 against Allied aircraft. The German fighter comes in a paint scheme accurately renditioned around Erich Hartmann's Bf 109 G-6, the world's most successful ace with 352 verified kills to his credit.
This aircraft requires an experienced RC pilot to takeoff and land with wheels, but has both great performance and handling when in the air. It is one of the most dynamic yet challenging warbirds to fly.
Maximum speed is around 90 - 95mph.
This new model is a factory-assembled version of the types of highly modified Strykers popular with many hobbyists. The F-27C comes equipped with features like an E-flite 25-ampere brushless ESC, an E-flite 1880Kv brushless direct-drive motor, a three-cell 2200mAh lithium polymer battery pack, DC li-po compatible charger and an industry standard 72MHz FM radio with three-wire servos. These make for an exceptionally fast ARF with a top speed of approximately 80 mph (130 km/h).
- Wingspan: 37.5 in (950 mm)