Recently I had the chance to play with the Piloto, Revell’s swift new RC airplane. Billed as an indoor/outdoor flyer with a 100′ range and coming in two colors (each with a different frequency) the Piloto is modelmaker Revell’s entry in the lightweight and low-cost RC plane category.
The first time I flew the Piloto, it shot about 30 feet into the air, crossed the yard, cleared the garage, crossed the alley and collided with my neighbor’s back fence. Total flight time, maybe 10 seconds with a distance of over 120 feet. I’m sure it was beyond the range of the controller at the tail end of the flight. That sucker’s fast! The Piloto is amazingly light and quite powerful. However, therein lies a problem.
While Revell advertises the Piloto as being an indoor flyer, I can’t imagine what sort of cavernous living room you’d need. (Revell’s promo video showed off the plane in a gymnasium. Ya, sure, you betcha.) While part of the problem was that I was heavy on the throttle, you can hardly blame me — it’s human nature to want to crank the juice when you fly, especially the first time when you don’t really know what you’re doing.
Still, most people who have played with the Piloto say, and I agree wholeheartedly, that the ideal location for a Piloto flight is a wide swath of grassy parkland, like a baseball outfield. And here’s why: The Piloto can’t take a lick. I put three cracks in the foam fuselage the first five minutes I played with it. The whole plane weighs next to nothing with the electronic components consisting of only half a gram. But its wings and tail are paper thin foam, which is great — as long as they don’t hit anything. That, combined with its excellent zip, unfortunately makes it vulnerable to damage.
One advantage to the pliable fuselage is that tinkerers have begun altering the out-of-the-box state. For instance, bending the simulated ailerons so they work to give the Piloto more lift. Others play with the rudder and elevators to ameliorate the "death spin" where the plane turns too hard, loses lift, and spirals into the ground.
The consensus of forum posters is that the fragility of the Piloto doesn’t represent a deal-killer. You just have to be careful where you fly, and keep some foam friendly (e.g., CyanoAcrylate) glue and scotch tape on hand for repairs.