Flyzone’s latest release is the reproduction of a plane that is at ease with three of the four classical elements: the Seawind flies through the wind, can take off from water, and is equipped with retractable wheels for handling the solid ground of earth. The last element is not recommended, as plastic and fire do not mix very well.
The full scale Seawind is an amphibian airplane of Canadian origin who did its first flight nearly 34 years ago. The plane has some distinctive features such as landing gears which retract into the hull and a rudder-mounted engine. The Seawind is a civilian four-seater plane, and has been sold as a kit since its first commercial introduction.
This is not the first time that Hobbico produces a scaled version of the Seawind. A now discontinued 60-size Seawind used to be available through the company’s Great Planes branch. It is now back as an Aerocell-molded electric airplane via Flyzone.
Every aspect of the full-scale Seawind has been reproduced with the pilot’s satisfaction in mind: functional flaps, lights, retractable landing gears, and a very detailed cockpit interior. Everything was reproduced with exception of one thing: the real Seawind is sold as kit whereas the Flyzone RC version is sold Ready-to-Fly—and we won’t complain about that!
Take off and landing on water
With the landing gear retracted, the Seawind can gently be pushed into a body of water. The rudder, which automatically extends when the main gear is retracted, is very effective, and the Seawind is easy to navigate. The Seawind is brought down the water runway, and the power is gradually increased in preparation for take-off. The Seawind tends to “stick” on water, and full power must be applied to be able to lift the plane off the water. The extremities of the wing act as floats and make the Seawind very stable at low speed. During take-off, when the plane starts building momentum, it is very important to work the ailerons to keep the wing tip floats from touching the water, otherwise the added drag at the tip of the wing forces the plane into a steep turn. In most cases, that would just abort the take-off, but in the most extreme scenario the plane could tilt over depending on the wind and speed of the plane when it happens. Because of this behavior, taking-off in cross wind is not recommended.
Landing on water takes a little bit of practice at first, but is real fun once mastered. The Seawind prefers to land with some tangential speed as it comes towards the water surface, so the hull glides gently before seating and resting on the water. If the plane comes in too slow, the steep angle of descent will result in a very unaesthetic splash, which is of no consequence for the plane, but will not satisfy the pilot. Too much speed could have a more catastrophic result for the Seawind, which could easily tip over if the nose gets under the water surface. Landing on water requires good speed management, but is very rewarding. The flaps help with managing the speed, and can deploy depending of the headwind condition.
It is not uncommon that the rudder grabs a few algae or plants lying on the water. A quick fix to this is cycling the retracts which will release anything attached to the rudder.
Take off and landing on land
Being an amphibian plane, the Seawind is not limited to taking off from water, and with the retractable gears extended, it is equally at ease on the ground. The steerable front wheel makes it easy to drive the plane on the runway, and track during take-off. The plane lifts off the ground in a shorter distance with the flaps extended to the middle position.
The plane is easily landed on the main gear while keeping its nose high for as long as the pilot desires, allowing for good power management and elevator input. This demonstrates the appropriate design of the main landing gear and its location compared to the CG of the plane.
Once the Seawind is correctly trimmed to fly straight and leveled at mid-power, the following approach can be attempted and is quite pleasing: the plane is brought at about 30 ft high towards the runway, and with the wing level and the fuselage straight, the flaps are fully extended and the motor completely shut off. The Seawind naturally keeps the fuselage perfectly horizontal, and descents gently towards the ground. A very light action on the elevator just before the plane lands is all it takes to see the Seawind softly touching the runway.
Once airborne, the Seawind becomes a very docile airplane for any pilot at ease with a 3-axis airplane. The plane is stable, even at a very low speed. For the plane to stall, the speed has to be reduced to nearly a stop while keeping the nose high. The plane drops slowly onto one wing, and recovers very fast. With the flaps fully extended, the stall is non-existent. The plane simply parachutes towards the ground while remaining controllable.
Even at full power the Seawind is not a fast plane, even though it has enough power to perform the standard acrobatic maneuvers. The plane is surprisingly stable in inverted flight, considering the location of the engine. Aerobatics are doable, but it is not the preferred flight condition.
The Flyzone Seawind is a good-looking and well-designed amphibian airplane. As it is not always easy to have access to a surface of water where RC planes are authorized, some pilots may find it hard to justify investing into a pure seaplane. The Seawind is good compromise, as it can fly equally well from a standard concrete runway to a lake or pond if one is available.
Flyzone did a very good job at reproducing the atypical shape of the Seawind into a model with excellent flight characteristics. They successfully incorporated scale features such as the complex and water-proof retractable landing gear. The Seawind is a good-looking park flier, which will please the scale enthusiast.