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Hobbico Avistar Rescue

A while back a friend gave me an old Hobbico Avistar that someone had given to him. He's a 3D guy and really didn't care for the Avistar; so for many years it languished in his garage. Last fall I was talking to him about getting back into the hobby and he mentioned I could have the Avistar. Somewhere in it's past it had some encounters with some stationary objects and had a little bit of crash rash. The horizontal stabilizer had a pretty good chunk knocked out of it and the port side wing had a couple of holes. Other than that, the plane was not in terrible shape. Finally today, I pulled it down from the shelf I had left it on and really assessed the damage. To my surprise, the balsa for the tail was actually still attached to the wadded up covering and was salvageable. It's been many years since I have messed with covering but I figured what can it hurt, so I borrowed a covering iron from the friend that gave me the plane, and gave the repairs a go.

Here is the tail prior to the fix:

And after:

Being a cheapskate, I used some covering that I got from my dad. I know it doesn't even come close to matching, but it will fly. This MonoKote was new in 1981 but still worked quite well.

Here's the top of the wing:

And here's the bottom:

I couldn't get the bottom of the wing to tighten up as I would have liked. I might cut this out and start from the beginning on the bottom.

The plane has an OS .40 on it that seems to be in pretty good shape. I have to admit, with all the fun I have been having with electric planes lately, I am really tempted to convert this one to electric as well. But then again, it's big enough that I really can't go fly it in the same places I fly my foam electric planes, so maybe it's better to just leave it a glow plane and have fun with it like it is. At some point, I'll probably strip all the covering and redo the whole plane, but for now I wanted to get it ready to go back in the air. I will probably build some caps for the horizontal stab from Balsa and cover those as well. The original plastic end caps are long gone. It will still be a while before it flies, but it's a step closer.

It's kind of like having a dog from the shelter... It's not perfect, but I was able to save it from an untimely demise. My friend told me his wife had been threatening to put it in the trash for some time before he gave it to me. I guess with his other half dozen or so planes, it was just too much for her. I am happy to have saved it from the rubbish bin!


Old age member
Great job! But where is the engine?
Old red monocote - visible ++++

A lot better than my trainer rescued from the bin.
Covered with - -- -- -- -- nothing?
The engine is a tad gummy. Whoever flew it last wiped off the plane but it doesn't appear that they cleaned off the engine. Any recommendations for cleaning the engine. I am sure it's just as, if not even more gummy, on the inside. It feels a bit sticky when turning the prop. The flash from the camera makes it look cleaner than it really is...

Sorry for the bad flash pictures...

I was also able to tighten up all the covering on the whole plane. I read somewhere that the Avistars had MonoKote, but I really think it might have Econokote on it (maybe only the new Avistars have Monokote). The covering on the plane did not react to the iron like the new covering. I had better results tightening up the rest of the covering, using a hair dryer. The hair dryer didn't really seem to phase the new Monokote.

Ak Flyer

Fly the wings off
That's a sweet find. Some of my favorite trucks had different color parts, seems like a plane would be just fine with some character showing. I'm curious to hear how the engine turns out after sitting for so long. I had a bit of a time clearing out the engine in my fourstar after I bought it second hand. Once I got some fuel running through it it worked pretty well until the carb needle broke causing a massive crash. I find that a heat gun works much better than my iron when freshening up my old planes.


Old age member
If you can turn the engine without eccesive force - it is OK.
I cant tell the model/type from your picture.
If there are ball bearings - most likely the case because the motor looks "fairly new", it might be smart to upen up the rear cover and look that the bearing moves at the balls and are not stuck and vorking as a bushing.
Any "cleaner" as CRC 5-56 or similar in the "carb" will be fine most cases. If there is more "gum" you can always drown the motor in cleaning alcohol/spirit for a day. I am used to that all my engines feel somewhat "gummy" after some "winter rest" but it will be fine when i put in some normal glow fuel and pull it into the carb until its flooded.
It turns okay, it's just rotate very freely. After it approaches TDC it doesn't want to pop back freely. I think it's just sticky. It's an OS .40, probably early 90's. The side says it'a an FP. I believe, but don't know for sure, that makes it a bushed engine and not a roller bearing engine. It does seem to have good compression. Our local hobby shop just closed and won't be open again until August, so I will either have to order some fuel or get some in an adjacent town. The closest hobby shop is now 50 miles away.
The owners are taking their franchise to their home state.... They are closing this store to open the other. Another franchise is coming in, but they won't be up and running until August or so. It would have been seamless, but the new owners didn't want to buy the inventory. The old owners told me the new owners wouldn't pay them fair value for the stock so they are taking it to their new store. It is really a bummer to have it closing for the summer.

And yes, multi-color vehicles are my favorites too! I don't have a car with less than 200k miles on the clock and a couple of them are pretty shabby. There are other places I would rather spend my money then on some new trendy car, but that's just me.
Some news on the Avistar. It's been a great summer of flying, and after going to a fun fly the weekend prior to the 4th of July, I really caught the glow bug. The very next week, I went to the neighboring town, 50 miles away and bought some fuel for the Avistar. Last week I maidened the Avistar. It really is a nice flying plane. The first two flights were done on a nice early dead calm cool summer morning. My only complaint was the amount of runway needed to get off the ground. The first flights were with the smaller factory wheels and it took a lot of ground before I had enough speed to get in the air.

I also ended up having to patch the covering a bit, but not from a crash during flight. I was over talking with some of the other guys at the field when a gust of wind blew the plane off the field stand right onto my flight box. In the spirit of multicolored planes, I used some cub yellow for the new repairs.

I did a flight later that evening with a little larger tire, but by that time the wind had really kicked up, so it wasn't a good flight. I got it up and down just fine, but it was knocking the plane around pretty hard.

I think the long roll-outs are a combination of several things. First, the altitude at the field is 4900+ ft. Second, the trike gear adds a lot of drag in the grass. Lastly, I think this old FP 40 may have quite a few flights on it. At any rate, the initial flights made me wan to convert it to a tail dragger.

I took off the old wire gear, added a 1/4 inch piece of ply under the fuel tank, with two 1/4-20 inserts and attached some old aluminum gear I had in a box. I added a Sullivan .40-.60 size tail wheel bracket, which in hindsight is probably too big. I attached the gear with two 1/4-20 nylon bolts (a very good idea as we will discover later).

The new stance:

The gear attachment:

The tail wheel:

A couple other views:

I also converted it to 2.4 GHz. I did the first flights with an FM radio, but the radio batteries had seen better days. I was losing quite a bit of voltage on the Tx in flight. In fact, on the first two flights, I didn't fly more because the power meter on the Tx was getting into the red after only 20 minutes of flying. I had an extra AR400, so it made sense to install it and bind it to my Dx6i. I am using parallel 500 mAh 2 cell lipos for the Rx battery. I am using a switching voltage regulator to drop the voltage down to a constant six volts for the old Futaba servos. In the process of the coversion, tail dragger and radio, I shaved off 4 oz. Weight without fuel is now 4.25 lbs as opposed to the inital 4.5 lbs. Oddly enough the CG came out dead on! I was positive I was going to be tail heavy after taking off the heavy nose gear and wheel.

Here's the battery and radio mod. I also had to wire tie the servo leads and other wires, the mess of wires was driving my crazy!

I don't know if the Rx really needs to be in a bag, but that's what we always did when I was a kid, so it seemed like the right thing to do. It should help keep any glow fuel out of the Rx.

It definitely takes less runway to get off the ground now. I know it's probably all in my head, but I swear it flies faster now as well. The first flight this morning went off without a hitch. Lots of inverted, cuban 8s, stall turns, aileron rolls, etc. Second flight, after a low inverted pass, I was coming back along the side of the runway, not very high off the ground and the engine just quit:eek: I really didn't have enough altitude to get back around and set up for a landing. I did manage to get around over the runway, but really didn't maintain enough airspeed. I was essentially coming in fully stalled (good thing the Avistar isn't a tip staller). I landed just hard enough to snap the gear right off. The nylon bolt heads popped off cleanly and besides a little dent in the horizontal stabilizer, it was unscathed. A couple new nylon bolts and I finished off the morning with a great 12 minute flight! I have to say, I really like the flight times of a glow plane. The whole time was almost completely WOT. I don't have any electrics that I can fly for 12 minutes at WOT. Also, my Rx batteries were still at 8.2 volts after 30 minutes of flying and not having been charge for a week.

All in all, I am really pleased with the Avistar, it's a great flier! It's moved high on my list of favorite planes. There really is no substitute for the sounds and smells of a glow plane. It really takes me back to my youth, trying to fly planes with my dad. It's a little messy to wipe up after flying, but that doesn't make it any less fun. I am once again hooked on glow planes!!


Dedicated foam bender
Making me want to pull my old trainer out and see how that motor is doing. I used after run oil but it's been hangared for over 6 years... :/

Ak Flyer

Fly the wings off
Glad to hear it. You just can't substitute for an internal combustion engine. There's a satisfaction there that electric will never have.
Putting the Avistar through its paces, at least as well as a mediocre pilot can. I've got some really dumb thumbs, so it's fortunate it's not already a pile of sticks and covering:eek:;) I can't believe how fun flying is now. I couldn't keep a plane in the air for more than a few minutes as a kid, so this is REALLY fun now! It's also fun to take my boys to the field and fly with them. My 9 year old is almost ready to solo and my 6 year old is finally starting to figure out that the sticks don't always have to go from corner to corner. What a fun hobby!!!

To start off, I HATE the wind!! Unfortunately, in SE Idaho it's almost a constant. Went to the field this morning to fly with my 9 yr old. He's got a Gamma Pro with the non-aileron wing. Needless to say, with 15 mph+ steady winds, the Gamma wasn't going in the air. The Avistar was a different story! I managed to get two tanks through the Avistar before the wind got too out of control. I think it was 20 mph+ by the time I landed after the second tank. It's nice to have a plane that can cut the wind a little and still be manageable in 15-20 mph wind. Landings were a challenge, but I made it home with the Avistar in one piece. Honestly, there wasn't even a hard landing. When the wind got up into the 20 mph range, I had to make a few approaches to really feel out how much speed I needed to get it on the ground in one piece. With a little speed, and basically flying the plane to the ground it was doable. There was a little buffeting, but it settled down a bit once I got within a foot or two of the ground. The trick was to carry enough speed to minimize the effect of the buffeting. It was the first time I have seen the Avistar almost stand still in he air. It must have been quite a bit above 20 up high. I almost had it going backwards at one point...:eek: This morning I flew with a wood Zinger 10x6 propeller, and it flies really well on that prop. Much better than the Master Air Screw plastic 10x6. I have decided that I really like wood propellers. I would say that the Top Flite wood 10x5 I had did as well or better than the 10x6 MAS. The old OS FP40 seems to really like the Zinger!! It almost makes me think I don't need a bigger engine... almost;)

I am already looking for my next glow plane. The Great Planes Supersportster Mk II 40 looks nice, but then so does the SIG Astro Hog. The GP is an ARF, while Hog would be a full blown kit. Just to get it in the air, the GP SS might win! I also REALLY like the look of the Hangar 9 Toledo Special, but it's a bit spendy for my blood. A SIG Rascal is also really cool.

It was nice to get back into the hobby with the electric planes, and the FT swappables are awesome, but there's no substitute for the sound of a glow plane ripping through the sky with a trail of exhaust behind it!!:D:D I love the smell of nitro in the morning, it smells like fun!!!
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Ak Flyer

Fly the wings off
Sig four star. I have a 60 and before my engine died and it fell to it's near death it flew beautifully. The arfs are really nice, come with nearly everything you could possibly need and the hardware is really good. They are very aerobatic and loads of fun.