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Written by Jay Smith
A beginner-friendly and inexpensive DLG
Product Review
As seen in the June 2019 issue of Model Aviation.


At a Glance

Specifications

Type: DLG

Skill level: Beginner to intermediate

Wingspan: 35.4 inches

Wing area: 155 square inches

Length: 25.8 inches

Weight: 4.2 ounces

Radio system: Two or more channels

Needed to complete: Transmitter and receiver

Price: $129 kit; $289 PNF

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Pluses

  • Available as a kit or completely assembled.
  • PNF version includes everything except a transmitter and receiver.
  • Yellow color scheme is easy to see in the air.
  • Its small size makes it easy to fly nearly anywhere.

sailfish is easy to fly
The two-channel (rudder and elevator) Sailfish is easy to fly and its yellow color stands out well in the air.

Throughout the past couple of years, I have been flying Discus Launch Gliders (DLGs) for fun. I have found it quite enjoyable to see how high I can launch them and how long I can keep them aloft. Because the aircraft are not equipped with motors, it all comes down to a good launch, and hunting and finding thermals.

While looking for my next DLG, the Sailfish from ICARE/ICARUS caught my eye. Its relatively small size would allow it to be easily transported and flown in smaller spaces. The company has been in business for more than 25 years, and I talk with Etienne Dorig about sailplanes every year at the Toledo Show: R/C Model Expo.

The Sailfish is available in two options: as a kit or a PNF (includes everything but a transmitter and receiver). The kit version is noted to have a fuselage with milled slots to receive tail feathers for worry-free assembly, and a precise wing jig that provides fast and easy wing assembly without needing pins. The kit’s average build time is approximately 7 to 10 hours, depending on a builder’s skill level.

To assist in building the kit version, the company provides five step-by-step videos on YouTube detailing the assembly.

The PNF version of the aircraft comes fully built and includes two preinstalled Hitec HS-40 servos, installed pushrods, a 1S 300 mAh LiPo battery, USB charger, and an adapter.

I like that interested pilots are given the option to build it themselves or have one expertly built for them. This makes the aircraft approachable for a broader range of pilots.

Assembly

The Sailfish arrived well packaged and wrapped in bubble wrap. Inside of the aircraft, I found four nylon screws to attach the wing. Only two are required, but an additional set is nice to have. A 1S 300 mAh LiPo battery, charger, and adapter were also inside. The included USB charger has a red LED when charging the battery and it turns to blue when the battery is fully charged. The adapter allows the battery to be plugged into a receiver.

there is only enough room inside
01. There is only enough room inside of the fuselage for a small receiver and the included 1S 300 mAh LiPo battery. A small piece of foam was used to ensure that the receiver and battery won’t shift in flight.

the sailfishs wing is reinforced
02. The Sailfish’s wing is reinforced with carbon fiber, making it very strong. The wing is attached using two nylon screws.

the latest version of the sailfish
03. The latest version of the Sailfish now has the wing’s LE sheeted and there is carbon-fiber reinforcement where the wing mounts to the fuselage.

the tail of the sailfish is reinforced
04. The tail of the Sailfish is reinforced with carbon fiber to ensure that it stays warp free. It held up to several landings.

the author holds the sailfish
05. The author holds the Sailfish after many successful launches, providing an idea of the model’s size. "… the Sailfish is easy to see thanks to its yellow wing and tail. It is also easy to fly and capable of staying aloft for a while if you are able to find some lift."

"… the Sailfish is easy to see thanks to its yellow wing and tail. It is also easy to fly and capable of staying aloft for a while if you are able to find some lift."

After a quick inspection of the model, I was happy that I selected the PNF version. The covering on the wing looked excellent, and the tail feathers were nicely attached. A small revision was made to the model after I received mine. The wing’s leading edge (LE) now comes sheeted for additional strength. I haven’t had any issues with mine, but it is worth mentioning.

When selecting a receiver to use with the aircraft, ICARE/ICARUS recommends using one in the 5-gram range. I chose an older 4-gram Spektrum AR6110E receiver that I had available. Space is limited inside of the fuselage. Between the receiver, battery, and servos, there is not much extra space. I pushed everything as far forward as possible and was able to hit the recommended center of gravity.

I used a small piece of foam between the front of the servo tray and the back of the receiver to ensure that neither the battery nor the receiver could slide back during launches or flight. This worked better than using Velcro because there is little room inside of the fuselage to get a good grip on the receiver or battery.

Flying

I set up my Spektrum DX9 radio to have the rudder on the aileron channel so that I could fly the model only using the right stick, which would allow for quicker input of both rudder and elevator after launch.

It is a good idea to launch the model with a simple, level, overhand toss to ensure that it is flying straight and level before moving to the discus launch. A good launch is important when flying a DLG.

As the name implies, with a discus launch you spin around once to pick up momentum and then launch the aircraft directly into the wind. You want to release the model with a level or slightly upward throw. If you have never launched one before, several YouTube videos are available that can walk you through the launch process.

the author is making the first discus launch
The author is making the first discus launch with the Sailfish. The PNF version comes with pegs on both wingtips so that it can be launched right- or left-handed.

The initial flights were made in 8 to 10 mph wind. After a couple of launches, I found that I wanted a little bit of exponential to smooth out my flights. I also felt that I needed more rudder throw to be able to effectively turn into the wind. Although the Sailfish would turn into the wind, its response was slower than I wanted.

I added 30% exponential on both the rudder and elevator and increased the endpoint adjustment on the radio to 125%. After these changes and a minor adjustment to my aileron (rudder) trim, the Sailfish flew nicely.

Most of my flights for the photos were from a small hill roughly 10 feet above the surrounding ground. Level ground works just as well. Launching the Sailfish is easy using the peg found at the edge of the wing. The PNF version comes with pegs attached on both wingtips so that it can be launched with either your right or left hand.

Without much effort, I consistently launched the Sailfish to between 60 to 75 feet. This is only an estimate because my receiver doesn’t have telemetry. Having telemetry would be beneficial to further improve on launch altitude and technique.

After it’s in the air, the Sailfish is easy to see thanks to its yellow wing and tail. It is also easy to fly and capable of staying aloft for a while if you are able to find some lift.

When it is time to land, many DLG pilots opt to either catch the model by the nose or by the peg on the wingtip, which then allows for another quick launch. I didn’t attempt that until I had a few flights and landings under my belt. I am happy to report that the vertical stabilizer and rudder held up fine after several grass landings and one pavement landing.

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Manufacturer/Distributor

ICARE/ICARUS

(450) 449-9094

www.icare-icarus.com

Conclusion

The ICARE/ICARUS Sailfish captures the enjoyment of flying DLG and does so in a small, well-constructed package that is accessible to all and friendly to smaller flying spaces. Whether you want to build it or basically just fly it, you have either option.

The PNF version is hand-built by the Sailfish’s designer and uses quality Hitec servos, making it worth the additional cost if you don’t feel strongly about constructing your own.

Flying a DLG is a simple way to enjoy Soaring (as long as you can launch it). As your launch altitudes and flight times increase, so will the smile on your face!

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