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Relive the excitement of aviation's Golden Age
Article, photos, and video by Jon Barnes
Read the full article in the May 2014 issue of
Model Aviation.


Model type: Semiscale Plug and Fly
Skill level: Beginner builder; intermediate pilot
Wingspan: 38 inches
Length: 32.5 inches
Weight: 31 ounces
Power system: NTM 3530 1,100 Kv brushless outrunner (included); Turnigy 25-amp ESC with 5-amp BEC (included)
Radio: Tactic TTX650 2.4 GHz six-channel SLT transmitter, Tactic TR624 six-channel SLT receiver
Construction: Wood with iron on covering
Street price: $143.62-$153.84 (depending on location)


Motor: NTM 3530 1,100 Kv brushless outrunner
Speed controller: Turnigy 25-amp ESC with 5-amp BEC
Battery: Turnigy 3S 2,200 mAh LiPo
Radio system: Tactic TTX650 2.4 GHz six-channel SLT transmitter
Ready-to-fly weight: 31 ounces
Flight duration: 5-8 minutes


• The included brushless power system gives the Ryan a wide performance envelope.
• The overall quality, fit, and finish of the airframe and covering are good.
• The bulk of the assembly can be completed in 1-2 hours.
• A spare 10 x 6 propeller is included.


• The included rigging wires are lacking in quantity and quality.
• No pilot figures included.
• The elevator pushrod binds because the angle is too steep as it exits the fuselage.

Within the last two years, Durafly has released an impressive variety of exciting warbird models. With electric retracts, lighting systems, scale multibladed propellers, and flaps all standard features, these foam composition models pack plenty of value in the box. Roll back the calendar a decade or so, and one will find that most airplane kits were manufactured using balsa and light plywood.

Durafly has added a new product line that solely features wood composition kits called the Balsa Series.

The first model from Durafly to be graced with this new moniker is a 965mm wingspan Ryan 10e STA(M). It includes a preinstalled electric brushless power system and four factory-installed Hextronik HXT900 9-gram servos.

The Durafly Balsa Series Ryan is based on the 1930s-era Ryan monoplane, an aircraft that featured two open cockpits in tandem and a metal semimonocoque fuselage. The letters “STA” were an acronym for “Sport Trainer-Aerobatic,” with the “M” designating it as a military version. The STA-M variant of the Ryan featured wider cockpits, which allowed parachute-clad pilots easier access into and out of the airplane. A provision to mount a machine gun was also included the STA-M variant.

According to Durafly, the company’s rendition of the Ryan is specifically identifiable as the YPT-16. The YPT-16 variants were notable because they were the first monoplanes ever ordered by the U.S. Army Air Corps (USAAC). Eventually, more than 1,000 of these airplanes went into service in the USAAC, U.S. Air Force, and U.S. Navy.

Durafly provides recommended control throws in the user manual. The recommended CG is listed as 55mm rear of the wing’s LE. Although the recommended battery is a 3S 2,200 mAh pack, I prefer to keep my electric aircraft as light as possible and decided to try to use a 3S 1,800 mAh LiPo. I hit the recommended CG with no problem, although I had to position the battery all the way forward in the provided space. Some hook-and-loop material was all that was required to hold it in place.

My Ryan’s all-up weight came in at 29 ounces ready to fly. This is a few ounces lighter than the number in the Durafly specifications, which is expected given my choice to use a smaller battery pack. But lighter is always better when flying electric aircraft!

This Durafly Balsa Series kit features a low parts count, and assembly can be completed in an hour or two.

The Ryan’s scalelike silver-gray and amber-yellow color scheme is easy to see, even on overcast days.

Although I doubt that the original Menasco “four banger” could generate this much oomph in the full-scale Ryan, the NTM brushless outrunner is capable of pulling this model through the skies with a vengeance.

I had fun racing the Ryan around the skies and found that it is a capable aerobat. Inverted flight was easy, with only a touch of elevator required to keep the nose from falling through. The Ryan was happy to slice down the center of the field in knife-edge, with the power of the 1,100 Kv motor more than making up for the small rudder. I guess Durafly decided that if the company was going to call its model a “STA” version, it better have enough power to proudly wear that label!

Those with intermediate level piloting skills should enjoy the challenges offered by this model. Whether you prefer flying in a scalelike manner or enjoy ripping and tumbling across the skies at speed, the Durafly Ryan will not disappoint. The included power system possesses a broad performance envelope and can easily accommodate both flying styles.

This first release in the Durafly Balsa Series does not disappoint! The quality, fit, and finish are nice, and the in-flight performance is satisfying and versatile. Encore, encore, Durafly!

Read the entire review in the May 2014 issue of Model Aviation.

Flight Video





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