RCU Review: Great Planes Proud Bird ARF

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    Contributed by: Burc Simsek | Published: February 2013 | Views: 32140 | email icon Email this Article | PDFpdf icon
    RCUniverse.com Review of the Great Planes Proud Bird ARF

    The Proud Bird ARF from Great Planes is an exciting new release that is race ready and approved for NMPRA EF1 racing. Available in ARF form that has been covered in Jet White MonoKote, the Proud Bird is like a canvas that is waiting to be customized based on your trim preference.

    Capable of being powered with either a 'sport' or 'speed' setup, just how fast you want to go is left up to you. The hot setup which is also the one that qualifies this airframe for EF1 racing utilizes a .25 OS electric motor, a 70A ESC and a 4S battery which is supposed to create enough power to thrust the Proud Bird to speeds over 100 mph according to the marketing claims. During the time of review, the 'speed' components were out of stock so I will be using the 'sport' option which uses 0.15 motor, 45A ESC and 3S LiPo battery which should still propel the Proud Bird pretty quickly around the airfield.
    • Covered in white for custom trim 
    • 100+ mph with 'speed' setup
    • 3S 'sport' or 4S 'speed' options
    • Magnetic hatch for easy battery access

    • White plastic fairings do not match color of Jet White MonoKote.

    In the usual Great Planes fashion, the Proud Bird ARF is delivered in a colorful and nicely decorated box.

    A separate deck separates the box in two components which houses the fuselage and plastic fairings in the bottom and the wings and stabilizers on top. All of the components have been securely tied down and as usual, I was glad that I did not have to contact Great Planes for any replacement parts due to damage during shipping.

    The low component count of this ARF should make the assembly a quick one. 

    Great Planes Proud Bird ARF

    Price: $149.97

    Key Features

    • All-wood, built-up airframe with fiberglass cowl and wheel pants
    • Low parts count for fast, easy assembly
    • All-white finish allows for total trim scheme customization


    Designed by respected pylon racer Jim Allen, the Proud Bird EF1 is both a competitive EF1 class race plane AND a great everyday sport plane. It has the look of a speed demon, and backs it up with the capability of 100+ mph (160+ Km/h) speeds when equipped with the recommended racing power system. But it also handles exceptionally well and can perform sport aerobatics.


    Wingspan: 51.9 in 
    RTF Weight: 3.0-3.5 lb 
    Length: 40 in 
    Wing Area: 388 in2
    Wing Loading: 18-21 oz/ft2
    Requires: 4-channel radio with 3 micro servos, .15-.25 brushless motor, 47-75A ESC, 11.1-14.8V 2200-2600mAh LiPo battery

    One of the unique features of the Proud Bird is the inclusion of the plastic fairings and the distinctive cowl. A small space is left open under the spinner for air to enter and small holes are available where the fairing meets the cowl for hot air to exit in order to help cool the motor which will no doubt be running full throttle for most of the flight. Another unique feature are the hatch lower floor sections which are composed of two molded plastic pieces. One will get attached permanently to the fuselage to hide the receiver and servos and the other is removable for access to the battery. The hatch will seal with magnets in the back and once assembled creates a very secure connection and is very easy to operate. The wings are provided as two pieces and will be glued together. A carbon fiber wing tube and an anti rotation pin along with some epoxy will secure the two halves together. The two vacuum formed plastic fairing pieces will require trimming before they can be attached to the body. The horizontal and vertical stabilizer are not airfoiled and will require the control surfaces to be hinged during assembly.

    Several other bags contain the landing gear, the pushrods and various screws required during the assembly and a collection of spacers that are meant to accommodate a variety of motor options. The white spinner is included in the box along with a simple decal kit. Final trim is of course left up to you.

    The assembly process of the Proud Bird starts with the wing.

    The wing tube and anti-rotation pin is inserted in the wing and the two halves are epoxied together.  On the bottom of the wing, a support is added for the wing bolts. 

    The ailerons are hinged using thin CA and the aileron servo is installed in the pre-cut bay and the connections made to the control arms.

    A bit of covering is trimmed from the vertical stabilizer and the assembly slides in place on the tail. A metal U shaped joiner will connect both elevator halves. I was glad to see that the vertical stabilizer cut out did not require any adjustment as the stabilizer was perfectly level with the wings.

    The horizontal stabilizer is glued in and the tail wheel is installed in the rudder before hinging. The control arms and pushrods can then be installed using the pre-installed guide tubes in the fuselage.

    The elevator and rudder servo are mounted in the fuselage and the connections made to the control surfaces. A quick and enjoyable process.



    The original 8FG was already the best 2.4GHz radio value available. Now, for the same cost, the 8FG Super offers six additional channels ? plus new software with menus tailored to Futaba's super-fast CGY750 gyro. Recommended by Bobby Watts, Matt Botos and Kyle Stacy, it's the first radio that really supports flybarless helicopters. And it's perfect for all other applications, too...a smart choice for ANY forward-looking flier.

    Key Features

    • Expanded with 14 total transmitter channels ? 12 proportional and two switched.
    • Included R6208SB receiver's PWM (Pulse Width Modulation) channels support up to 8 standard analog or digital servos ? and it handles up to 18 channels when used with an S.Bus system.
    • Gyro menu supports 3-axis gyros and is perfectly tailored to the CGY750.
    • User menu allows pilots to customize and display frequently used functions.
    • VPP (Variable Pitch Propeller) compatibility can be set to three conditions for throttle and pitch curve.
    • Swash trim can be adjusted from the swash screen.
    • SensorTouch? programming maximizes navigation ease.
    • Numerous factory-defined mixes help you program like a pro.
    • Low latency and cutting-edge 2048 resolution combine for fast, accurate Real-Time Response?.
    • Accepts 32MB to 2GB SD memory cards* ? add as much memory as you want.

    Key Features

    • High sensitivity receiver weighs only .25oz (7g) without case yet is a full range system for all aircraft from giant scale to park flyer applications-no need to buy separate receiver for
      specific aircraft
    • Simple one-touch linking - no plugs to mess with or loose 
    • Dual Antenna Diversity allows 2.4GHz FASST Futaba transmitter to select the best reception between the two receiver antennas with no signal loss
    • Rubber grommets installed where antennas exit to eliminate stress and fraying of the two antenna wires
    • One year limited warranty

    Key Features

    • Ideal for electric planes and small electric helis
    • Nylon gears
    • One year warranty


    Speed: 0.15 sec@60o  
    Torque: 39 oz-in (2.8 kg/cm) 
    Dimensions: 1.1 x 0.5 x 1.2" (28 x 13 x 30 mm)

    Key Features

    • Enormous 50C continuous discharge currents and 100C burst currents provide massive power for brushless motors used in large-scale aircraft and 3D performance models
    Weight:8.64 oz  
    Dimensions:5.43 x 1.81 x 0.71" (138 x 46 x 18 mm)

    After trimming the excess from the plastic fairing, you can trial fit the components before gluing them in place. I was not happy with the color match of the pure white plastic fairing to the Jet White MonoKote so I sprayed all the plastic parts with TopFlite Jet White to get a perfect match. After the paint dried, I glued in the side fairings, installed the wing and proceeded to glue in the bottom tray.

    Power System

    Key Features

    • For Sport airplanes up to 4lbs (1815g) and 3D airplanes up to 2.5lbs (1135g)
    • Designed for explosive acceleration and maximum torque 
    • Lightened aluminum can houses high torque rare earth Neodymium magnets
    • Double shielded bearings
    • Virtually maintenance-free; no commutators or brushes to wear out


    Diameter: 1.38" (35 mm)
    Length: 1.42" (36 mm)
    kV: 1200
    Burst Watts: 650 W
    Weight: 3.6 oz (102 g)

    Key Features

    • Great for larger higher performance airplanes
    • Delivers 45A of continuous current and 50A of surge current
    • Includes a powerful 2.0A BEC
    • Very simple to use, with on/off brake and Safe Start

    Dimensions: 2.76 x 1.30 x 0.39" (70 x 33 x 10 mm)
    Weight: 1.76oz (50 g)
    Input Voltage: 2-4 cell LiPo
    Output Current: 45A continuous, 50A surge
    Max Output Power: 500

    The motor is attached using several spacers. I was surprised to see that a specific measurement was not provided from the back of the firewall to the tip of the motor. I trial fitted the cowl and the motor and played around with the number of spacers required until I got it right. The cowl can be a tight fit after you have glued in the side fairings.

    Do not force the cowl as I cracked my first cowl when I was just about right and decided to push it a bit further. Instead sand or cut the plastic fairings to get a nice fit as most of the plastic will be concealed by the cowl anyway. I ended up using 7 spacers for the RimFire 0.15 motor. Once the cowl has been fitted, it is secured to the fuselage using two screws on each side.

    The receiver and ESC can then be attached in their recommended positions using hook and loop material and the plastic canopy floor glued in place which does a great job of concealing the electronics.

    The forward canopy floor is not glued in but held in place with friction. The manual recommends that you cut and place a few pieces of plastic to create a latch for the front but I found that when squeezed in place, it already rests against the back of the cowl which holds it securely in place. Once all plastic components are in place, you will have to glue the magnets to the hatch by placing the magnets on the fuselage, applying some CA to the magnets and placing the hatch over the magnets to secure the magnets to the hatch. After the CA has bonded to the hatch, it should be easily removable.

    I decided to complete the Proud Bird in a simple trim scheme that resembled the image on the box but with some slight modifications to the pattern and color. The completed airframe came in at 43 oz. The provided 3S 2550mAh flight battery came in at 8.2 oz. The 0.15 RimFire motor at full throttle is good for 450 Watts of power at 40A. While it wont be a speed demon at this rating, it is still 166W/lb and should provide a good performance envelope.

    The maiden of the Proud Bird happened to land on a calm and sunny day. After charging the 3S2550mAh battery and double checking the control surfaces and C.G., I took the Proud Bird out to the runway and prepared for its first flight. The ground handling did not provide any noticeable issues thanks to the steerable tail wheel which allowed me to easily taxi the Proud Bird and line it up against the wind. After starting my timer, I advanced the throttle and the Proud Bird started to pickup speed as it accelerated towards its first flight. Liftoff was uneventful and as the Proud Bird started to climb I noticed that it was perfectly in trim which was a good sign.

    Once in the air, I had to resist the urge to take her to full throttle to see what the power system was capable of delivering. I flew a couple of simple circuits to get acquianted with the flight envelope of the Proud Bird. On low rates, the Proud Bird performs like a sport plane meaning it goes where you point it and is capable of performing a majority of your basic acrobatic maneuvers such as rolls, loops and stall turns. Even though it has a very small rudder, the Proud Bird is capable of performing nice knife edge passes but they have to be flow with some speed to keep the nose from dropping. Snaps are possible with low rates and the Proud Bird performed them without a hitch allowing me to stop on command thanks in part to its long wingspan. After flipping to high rates, I noticed immediately that I had too deflection on the surfaces as pulling up on the elevator caused the Proud Bird to unexpectedly snap and stall. Since this is really a racer setup with a sport plane power system, I was perfectly happy to fly the Proud Bird around with lower rates and perform smooth and fast circuits.

    After getting comfortable with the airframe, we brought out the radar gun and I opened up the throttle and started to perform full throttle passed over the runway. We repeatedly clocked the Proud Bird around 70mph for level flight. I was able to squeeze out a 85mph pass coming out of a dive with a slight tail wind which was quite satisfying but quite a ways off from the 100+ mph number that was etched in my mind which of course is only possible with the bigger motor and battery. Regardless, the speed that the sport setup provides is more than sufficient to get your adrenaline going on those full throttle passes.

    The Proud Bird is a very slippery airframe. After deciding to come in for a landing, I had to abort several times and go around since I could not bleed off enough speed to perform an acceptable landing. Even when I cut the throttle on the upwind approach right before the final turn, the Proud Bird still glided forever and just wanted to keep on flying. At this point I was glad that we have a very long runway which allowed me to land the Proud Bird and make the final turn right before I ran out of pavement.

    Great Planes Proud Bird ARF

    The Proud Bird is a well constructed ARF that is easy to assemble and thanks to its all white covering can be customized per taste. The white of the plastic parts did not perfectly match the Jet White MonoKote® covering but that was easily remedied by spraying the parts with a spray application of Top Flite LustreKote Jet White.

    The Proud Bird allows the user to use a variety of power options. Two setups are recommended. The 'Sport' .15 motor and 3S battery setup and the 'Speed' .25 motor and 4S battery setup. When setup as a sport plane the Proud Bird is capable of carving out fast and smooth lines across the sky and can perform a variety of basic acrobatics. I was not able to test the 'Speed' setup as the required components were out of stock at the time but I will most definitely be replacing the power system with the higher performance counterparts to squeeze even more speed out of the Proud Bird in coming days.

    The Proud Bird is approved for NMPRA EF1 class racing but I do not personally have enough experience with pylon racing to comment about its performance in that regard. The manual contains a good bit of information on how to setup and trim the Proud Bird for a racing environment which I hope to try out once I get the speed setup installed in my bird. I think Great Planes has another nice offering in the form of the Proud Bird ARF and I look forward to many more enjoyable flights.

    Distributed by:
    Great Planes Model Distributors
    P.O. Box 9021
    Champaign, IL 61826-9021

    Futaba Corporation of America
    Distributed by:
    Great Planes Model Distributors
    P.O. Box 9021
    Champaign, IL 61826-9021
    Phone: (217) 398-8970
    Website: www.futaba-rc.com 

    17260 Westheimer Parkway
    Houston, TX 77082


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    The comments, observations and conclusions made in this review are solely with respect to the particular item the editor reviewed and may not apply generally to similar products by the manufacturer. We cannot be responsible for any manufacturer defects in workmanship or other deficiencies in products like the one featured in the review.

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