Is This What They Mean by "Super-Size Me"?
by Bruce Tharpe
all started with a call from a Canadian customer who
seemed to like the looks of my Flyin' King,
wanted something bigger. He ended his call by saying,
in effect, "I'd like a Flyin' King, and super-size me".
result was the Super Flyin' King, a 60% enlargement of
the highly-successful and popular BTE Flyin' King. The
60% figure was a relatively arbitrary round number to
get the design into the wingspan range he had in mind.
me to cut the parts for him and we agreed on a price
for his one-of-a-kind-kit. But as you probably know,
as easy to cut two kits as it is to cut one, and I soon
convinced myself that I needed one of these things for
myself. I also did a bit of feeling around to see if
there were any other builders interested in a Super Flyin'
With a few orders from some very loyal and patient
customers, and the SFK prototype starting to take shape,
clear that it would indeed become BTE's next kit.
was also fairly obvious that this kit would take a different
approach compared to the existing BTE kits. I knew that
1) it wouldn't sell in nearly the quantities of the other
kits, and 2) the modelers who tackle it would be experienced
builders - probably even more experienced than me. How
did this affect the kit? In the end, not much. You still
get a well-engineered design that's attractive (well, it
grows on you) and flies great. You still get top-quality
wood that's carefully inspected and sorted. You still
get thoughtful packaging. And you still get those beautifully
machine-cut parts that BTE kits are famous for.
first I thought a few skimpy instructions would be adequate,
but once I started writing, it turned into about thirty
pages with color photos! Even with all that guidance, there
are plenty of things that are left up to the builder's
preferences. For example, the kit includes a plywood
firewall, but the builder is left to decide whether he
wants an upright or inverted engine, cowl or no cowl, fuel
tank placement, and that sort of thing.
At first, this kit was supplied with CAD-drawn wing plans, but the fuselage
plans were just enlargements of the regular Flyin' King. That was okay for most
builders, but I finally bit the bullet in 2007 and drew the fuselage plans in
CAD. Now the fuselage plans are not only more simple and less confusing, they
are far more accurate.
wing is designed to come apart in three pieces. The center
panel is 57" long
and contains the flaps. The two outer wing panels with
the ailerons are 38" long.
The wings are joined using Sig aluminum wing joiners on
the front and rear spars. The wingtips provided in the
kit are cut from sheet balsa, but the big STOL wingtips
used on the prototype are available as an option. I had
to have them on my prototype because that's the way I always
envisioned the airplane way back before the small Flyin'
King was designed.
funny how your perspective changes when you work on a
giant model like this. At first, everything
big and overwhelming. When you first roll out the plans,
it kind of takes your breath away! But after a month
or two of working on the model, it all starts to seem
normal. I actually got used to handling the big parts
and massive assemblies. Before long, all my other models
seemed kind of dinky. Weird.
Speaking of big parts, wait until you see the main landing
gear. In the past, I'll admit to perhaps erring on the
light side. With the SFK, I may have gone overboard in
the other direction. Who knows, you may want to carry a
load and need the extra beef. The SFK is strictly a taildragger;
it is not offered with a nosewheel.
nothing tricky about flying the SFK. If this is your
first big bird, you'll
be amazed at the smoothness
and realistic manner that an aircraft of this size commands.
I suppose you could compare it to a J-3 Cub, but the
SFK is much more comfortable with aerobatics, probably
of its semi-symmetrical airfoil and lower aspect ratio.
Rolls are amazingly axial, loops are a piece of cake,
and inverted flight is no problem at all. It's even been
to do a fairly decent tailslide.
won't need a super-sized field to fly the SFK. With a
3W-75i engine in the nose,
the prototype uses about fifty
feet of runway to get airborn. With the flaps half down,
it's more like twenty feet! Landing approaches are solid
and precise. With a 10-knot headwind, you may wind up
with no rollout at all.
when you do set it down that first time, that's when
the feeling will hit you. Sure, it was
a big project, a
lot of gluing, sanding, covering, and detailing. But
the incredible sense of satisfaction makes every hour
it. It's a feeling you won't get with an ARF or a simple
.40-size kit. I wish every modeler could experience this
feeling of accomplishment. It's super.
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