The Ugly Stick is an aircraft that has been around for more than half a century. This is quite an accomplishment, especially considering the original plans were drawn in just a few evenings. The Ugly Stick’s simplistic layout came to light when Phil Kraft needed an airplane for testing radio equipment. Ultimately, the Ugly Stick was designed as an expendable aircraft.
Fifty plus years later, the Ugly Stick (in many variations by many manufacturers) is still in production! This airplane has gone by many names over the years, and in one form or another, the Ugly Stick has been in nearly everyone’s hangar!
When Seagull Models decided to bring out their own version of this iconic RC aircraft, I knew I wanted one. Like the original, I knew the Classic Ugly Stick would be not only a great flying airplane, but a great test bed for new engines and radio equipment. As a reviewer for RCUniverse, I’m always trying out new products, so it makes sense for me to have a good flying test plane!
Let’s get going on the Classic Ugly Stick!
Wingspan: 70.9″ (1800 mm)
Wing Area: 1033.2 sq in (66.7 sq dm)
Length: 57.8 in (1468 mm)
Weight: 7.75 pounds (3.5 kg)
Recommended Engine Sizes: 10-15cc Gasoline or .60-.90 Glow
Recommended Electric Motor Size: .60 -.90 Brushless Motor (5055 650kV – 5055 500kV)
ESC: 80 Amp Brushless on 5-6S LiPo Battery
Radio System: 4 Channel (Minimum) Transmitter and Receiver
Servos: 4 Standard Servos (Electric Setup)
5 Standard Servos (Gas/Glow Setup)
Though the Classic Ugly Stick is in production now, I received a pre-production sample. Because of this, the Classic Ugly Stick arrived in a plain brown box. By the time you read this review, the box will be adorned with a full-color label featuring all the specifications. All of the parts were securely taped and bagged to keep them from shifting during transport. Speaking of parts, the Classic Ugly Stick has a low parts count, so it should go together quickly!
One of the features I liked really set this plane apart from others like it – the top hatch! This hatch will make fuel tank installation easy, or make quick work of battery swaps if going with an electric power setup. The balsa and light ply airframe is lightweight and sturdy, featuring several laser cut pieces. I also like that Seagull has kept the traditional ‘scalloped’ control surfaces, Iron Cross decals, and red/white color scheme.
There are also lots more laser cut parts inside the wing! I really like what Seagull has done with the landing gear. They have included parts for both tricycle landing gear AND tail-dragger setup – I don’t know about you, but I haven’t seen any other ‘Stick’ models on the market with this option! The included fuel tank does not come with any fuel tubing – it is up to the modeler to supply the correct tubing for the type of fuel that will be used with their engine.
Another nice feature is that Seagull has included parts for both gas/glow engine mounting and an electric power conversion.
Since I am assembling a pre-production sample, I didn’t have a manual while assembling the Classic Ugly Stick. I did have a chance to talk with Seagull and help edit the manual you will see in the box. As a result, I’m going to have to say that this is one of the better manuals not completely written in the US – there are lots of illustrations, and the instructions can be well-understood! Any intermediate modeler will have no trouble reading through this manual.
Assembly began with attaching the ailerons to the wing. With a T-Pin poked through the center of each hinge, the hinges were installed into the wing’s trailing edge. The aileron was then slid onto the still exposed half of each hinge, and a few drops of thin CA was applied to each side of each of the four hinges.
I attached a 12” servo wire extension to each of the aileron servos. Though there was no pre-installed pull string in the wing, a pushrod easily served this duty. I have a spare pushrod that I have bent a hook into one end specifically for this purpose, and it works well. Installing the aileron servos is easy, as they simply slip into pre-cut openings in the wing. The four servo screws were installed after marking and drilling holes for the screws. I attached the control horn to the aileron next by aligning the horn with the servo arm. The pushrod was then bent and cut to the correct length and installed.
I coated the wing roots, fiberglass wing tubes and aluminum joiner with 30-minute epoxy and slid the two wing halves together, a few pieces of masking tape held the wing halves together while the epoxy cured.
Moving on to the tail, I started by temporarily attaching the wing to the fuselage. I then secured the elevator to the horizontal stabilizer with CA hinges and thin CA. The stab was then set in place so I could verify its alignment to the wing. All looked to be in good order!
The stabilizer was pinned in place so I could trace the fuselage’s outline onto the stab. The covering inside the tracings I had made was carefully cut and removed, and the stabilizer was permanently attached with 30-minute epoxy.
The vertical stabilizer was slid into position, and I again traced the fuselage outline onto the fin. After removing the fin, the covering was carefully cut and removed. Another batch of 30-minute epoxy was mixed up to attach the vertical stabilizer to the fuselage.
It’s now time to make a decision – tricycle landing gear or tail-dragger. I really like that Seagull has included all the parts to let the modeler decide which way they want to set up their model!
I chose to make my Classic Ugly Stick a tail-dragger, so it was time to install the tail wheel assembly. The L-shaped end of the wire was inserted through the pre-drilled hole in the stab and I attached the tail wheel bracket using a pair of wood screws.
I mixed up a small batch of 30-minute epoxy, coated the hole in the rudder for the tail wheel arm, and installed the tail wheel arm into the hole in the rudder. At the same time, I attached the rudder to the vertical stabilizer using three CA hinges and thin CA.
As you can see, there are two sets of main landing gear mounting holes on the bottom of the fuselage. The forward set is for setting up the tail dragger version of this plane, while the rearward holes are used for tricycle landing gear. Since I have already installed the tail wheel, I‘ll be using the forward holes for my main gear. A few drops of blue thread locker were added to the holes before attaching the main gear with machine screws.
The axles were attached to the gear next, followed by the foam wheels. I added a drop of blue thread locker to the wheel collar set screws to make sure they’ll stay tight.
Next came the elevator and rudder control horns and pushrods. I assembled and installed the pushrods first, so I knew where to attach the control horns.
It’s time to install some POWER! I’ll be installing an RCGF 15cc gasoline engine on the Classic Ugly Stick. Because this engine includes its own custom mount, I decided it would be best to use it in place of the gas/glow mount supplied with the ARF. After attaching the mount to the firewall and double-checking the engine’s fit, I placed the ignition module inside the fuselage and ran the spark plug wire through the hole in the firewall.
The RCGF 15cc gasser was then permanently attached to its mount, and the spark plug cap was installed on the plug. I then attached the pushrod to the throttle arm.
The muffler was installed using machine screws, and I assembled and installed the fuel tank. The Ignition module and fuel tank were held secure with a single Velcro strap. I also added DuBro 1/4 “ foam rubber under the fuel tank and in between the tank and ignition module.
With the fuel tank and ignition module strapped in place, I ran into a small problem. The throttle pushrod didn’t move as freely as I wanted it to, so I swapped the pushrod for a <b>DuBro</b> braided cable pushrod. Since the carburetor has a spring return on it to pull the throttle closed, the braided cable works well – It only has to pull the throttle open on the carburetor. With the pushrod replaced, I installed the throttle, elevator, and rudder servos. The elevator and rudder pushrods were cut to length, bent, and attached to their respective servo arms.
With the fuel line attached to the carburetor, I found it a little difficult to access the choke mechanism. I made a choke pushrod from a small piece of scrap pushrod wire and attached it to the engine mount with a metal strap. The Falcon 15×8 Beech wood propeller and spinner were then installed.
The last item to take care of was checking the Center of Gravity (CG). According to the manual, of which I now had a rough draft copy, the CG was to be set at 100mm (3.9”) behind the leading edge of the wing at the fuselage. I had everything assembled and installed except the receiver and ignition battery, and the plane balanced perfectly. I simply secured the batteries inside the fuselage on the CG to complete the Ugly Stick.
That’s it! The Classic Ugly Stick is ready to fly!
The RCGF 15cc gasser was fired up and let run for a couple of minutes. I really like this engine, but it does need to be warmed up before opening the throttle. With the engine at operating temperature, the Classic Ugly Stick was taken off the starting stand and set on the ground outside of the pit area. Because the main wheels are quite large, the plane handled well in the grass at our field. As the plane was taxied out to the West end of the textile mat runway, it became evident that the steerable tail wheel had sufficient authority to direct the plane on the ground.
With the Ugly Stick lined up into the wind and ready to go, I advanced the throttle – the RCGF 15cc gasser and 15×8 Falcon prop were definitely a good match for the plane! The Ugly Stick started rolling quickly, and was airborne soon after. Climb out was brisk, and it took very little time for the plane to get to a safe altitude to check the trim settings. Speaking of the trim, the Ugly stick required only minimal inputs (left aileron and down elevator) to fly straight and level at one-third throttle.
High and low speed flight testing was done next. At full throttle, the Ugly Stick does move fairly quick. Now, we’re not talking about a pylon racing airplane by any means, but she’ll move across the sky nicely. I pulled the throttle back to a click or two below one-quarter, and the Ugly Stick just seemed to putter across the sky. There was no loss of control at slow speeds, and I had to pull the throttle to nearly idle and hold up elevator to stall the plane! When she did finally stall, the nose dropped straight forward – a few second after the nose dropped, the Ugly Stick had regained enough speed to fly again. After several similar attempts, it was clear that there was no wing drop in a stall – this is a perfect characteristic of a good ‘second plane’.
OK, moving on to the really fun stuff – Aerobatics! Though the Ugly stick has fairly narrow ailerons and elevator, there’s plenty to do some really fun maneuvers – especially when you flip over to high rates! In fact, the low rates are just too mild to get a decent roll rate out of the Ugly stick. The good news is that these lower rate settings will help pilots, fresh off their trainer plane, not over-control the Ugly Stick! As far as standard maneuvers go, the Ugly Stick can handle most everything. Loops and rolls are fun, stall turns are a blast, and Cuban Eights and half loops are fun too!
As I had stated earlier, slowing down this plane is easy and presents no bad habits. Therefore, bringing the Ugly Stick in for a landing consisted of simply lining the plane up on the grass strip and letting it settle in – though the plane has no dihedral, it settles in nicely and felt really solid.
Check out the video to see the Seagull Models Classic Ugly Stick in action!
Well, that’s it. I really like the new Seagull Models Classic Ugly Stick. It went together quickly and easily, looks as good as an Ugly Stick can, and flies very well. For years, the Ugly Stick has been a ‘no-brainer’ when pilots are looking to go beyond their first trainer. Seagull’s Ugly Stick is definitely no different, and will instill loads of confidence in low-time pilots. Well done, Seagull Models, well done!
Since the maiden flight, I have lost count of the flights on this plane. Each time it goes up, it’s been a lot of fun to fly! I put some demo flights on the Classic Ugly Stick at the SIG fly in, and I’ve had it out at my flying field on many occasions. I even used the Ugly Stick as a test plane for the brand new RCGF 21cc twin cylinder. Believe me when I say that that little twin made the Ugly Stick even MORE fun to fly! With even more power on tap, high speed passes were exhilarating, and the plane had a nearly unlimited vertical climb! I really like this one, and it’ll stay in my hangar for a long time – I’m even thinking about getting a second Ugly Stick and setting it up as an electric!