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Towing with the Giant Big Stik XL

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  • Towing with the Giant Big Stik XL

    Our club tow plane re-kitted itself at the end of last year's towing season, so over the winter we started looking for a replacement. Considering the lower cost options, we settled on the Giant Big Stik XL manufactured by Great Planes. For power we chose the DLE61.

    This combination turned out to be a very successful solution for our club. This past week at our first aero tow of the year, the Giant Stik easily pulled gliders as large as 5 meters and 20 pounds weight. We expect that its ultimate capability is much higher. The tow pilots found it to be easy to fly on tow and nicely visible at altitude.
    The DLE61 has run very well for us so far. It regularly starts on the first flip or two and has required no fiddling with the factory needle valve settings.

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  • #2
    We were pleasantly surprised at the high quality of the Giant Stik kit. The covering was nice and tight with only a few wrinkles to iron out. The firewall to fuselage joint was already reinforced with metal angle braces and the main landing gear attachment was solid plywood. No additional fuselage reinforcing was judged to be necessary. We figured that we would be swapping out all the hardware but the materials supplied with the kit were plenty adequate.

    Our only concern with the basic design of the Stik was its spindly landing gear. So far, with around 30 landings, the gear is holding up fine but it has not as yet been tested. Our tow pilots have greased in every landing. Whether the gear can survive an "oops" landing won't be known until we actually have one. We have the advantage of a large, smooth grass runway which should be easy on the gear otherwise.

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    • #3
      Three changes were made to the Stik to turn it into a tow plane. First, some of the light plywood on the floor of the fuselage was removed so that a 32 oz fuel tank could be installed at the airplane CG. A 1/8 inch plywood shelf was added at the rear of the tank to keep the tank from sliding aft and to serve as a mount for the receiver and battery. A couple of 1/8 ply braces were also installed across the fuselage below the tank to restore any strength that might have been lost when the original light ply was removed.

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      • #4
        Next, a tow release was installed on the bulkhead at the wing trailing edge. A shelf was built above the rudder control rod to accommodate the tow release servo. The bulkhead was reinforced on its backside with an additional layer of plywood.

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        • #5
          The final change was to install braces on the vertical tail to ensure that the tow line could not become entangled on the rudder and elevator control horns.

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          • #6
            Our initial flight testing and first aero tow were flown with the standard DLE muffler. While this nicely diverted the exhaust gunk downward, it didn't do much to reduce the engine noise. So the first upgrade to Stik was to install a 65 cc K&S canister. With this addition, we hope that the Stik is in its final configuration.

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            • #7
              Our club is the Heart of Texas Soaring Society located in San Antonio, Texas. This year we will be holding aero tows on May 31, July 12, and Sept 6. All AMA members are welcome to come join us. Check our website hotss-rc.org for more information.

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              • #8
                Very nice report...thanks for sharing your experience. It does not take a big investment to have a lot of fun!

                Also shows that you can get into aerotowing without the need for some exotic equipment.
                A Site for Soar Eyes

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                • #9
                  I've always loved the way a the Stick series planes flew. One of my first few planes was a sweet stik from Midwest back in the day. Lots of fun and always good landings.

                  Thanks for the excellent thread and detailed info, I hope other clubs looking for a reasonable priced tug will see this and follow suit.

                  Len
                  Len Buffinton
                  Team Horizon Hobby

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                  • #10
                    Nice! Does the underside of the wing look the same as the top? Glad things are working out well for you with this plane.

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                    • #11
                      Yes... thanks for the info! A friend of mine has one of these so I will get him to look at this thread. I keep trying to get folks into this aspect of the hobby but I guess I'm not a very good 'salesman'.

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                      • #12
                        Hi Mosquito. Yes, the bottom of the wing is decorated the same as the top.

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                        • #13
                          Very nice. I like the fact that it took only a few simple modifications to make it into a functional tow plane. You folks need to be congratulated for your well thought-out and well-executed project. 👍

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                          • #14
                            A friend of mine and I started aerotowing with a Big Bingo with a Quadra 42 in it. Small compared to todays standards but the thrill of getting a scale ship in the air via aerotow was all that we cared to achieve. We had a great time learning to tow on that plane. Great to see that you are having a good time towing with your tug. Love it.

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