I received a notice today from Bruce Tharpe at BTE that he has completed the build of his Venture 60 kits & that they will be available for shipping by the end of January. I've already put in my order for one of them, which I am converting to electric power, & expect it will both build & fly great! Here is what he has sent out to Venture 60 interested folks:
"Venture 60 Enthusiast,
After nearly twenty years of cutting kits, I should know by now that everything takes longer than I think it will. So along with a little embarrassment at how long it has taken, I'm proud to announce that Venture 60 kits are finally available. Many of you have been waiting a very long time for this, so please accept my heartfelt gratitude for your patience.
If you would like to order with a credit card, just give me a call at 1-800-557-4470. If you are comfortable using PayPal, this email address is also the BTE PayPal account (or send me an email and request a PayPal invoice to make it super easy). Sorry, no quantity discounts, but if you want to order two or three kits, I can strap them together as a single shipment for no extra shipping charge in the US. For orders outside the US, please call or email for shipping prices.
Right off the bat - I have nothing to do with BTE, and I've never built one of the kits. But I've seen plenty of them over the years, and I know lots of people in the clubs I belong to that have them. I'm pretty familiar with the Tharpe kits... they've been around for a looooong time.
You want a well thought-out design, quality kit, with decent balsa and ply, name-brand included hardware, USA support - the you can't go wrong with a Tharpe kit.
You WILL succeed in a top-quality build if you follow the clear instructions in the kits - and you get to use your own quality glue, inspect every glue joint while you're building the kit - you get to pick the colour, and you will be in charge of the covering. YOU will have absolute quality control over the finished product, without having to worry about the quality of the material supplied in the kit.
I've built probably 20 planes from kits or plans over 40 years or so. Building and flying your own plane from any decent kit is a completely different experience from buying and flying an ARF. Really, no comparison. And building isn't for everyone. Then again, neither is flying... I know some people who ONLY build, and don't fly. And vice-versa.
A cheap kit will be apparent when you open the box. Poorly cut. The hardware will need replacing. The balsa may be hard/soft/wormy/whatever. Cheap flimsy plywood. You'll see...
A cheap ARF - actually, any ARF - is a mystery. No question, there are some very good ready-to-fly airframes available from many trusted sources these days. But even with a good one, you won't have any idea what's under that covering until you have do do repairs. You won't know how much care was taken with the glue joints, or if the plane was built with decent balsa, or what. That's a lot of trust for the money...
I saw a main spar fail in the wing of a .40-size UGLY STICK ARF on it's maiden flight at the field one day. When we picked up the pieces, the balsa in the main spar - arguably the most important structural member in any aircraft - was about the consistency of white styrofoam - rotten and punky. It appeared that the rest of the balsa joints in the plane had been done with what looked like hot glue or something like GOOP - no glue penetration into the wood at all. Whoever built that plane, saw that, and just didn't care, for whatever reason. But that plane sure was pretty when new...
If you buy that BTE kit, rest assured, you will get what you paid for. I'm a firm believer that everyone should build at least one kit, just to see how a model plane is put together.
Of course, foamies are a different story altogether...
I too agree you must pay for quality - but I can tell you the world has changed away from that world. Sadly...
I really do believe you get what you pay for - but the Horizon ARF is a really quality unit as well. I am watching Hobby-Lobby with the "new" telemaster kits as well and wish them luck but they are fantastically expensive at $249 for the Sr (60 size)!
I feel bad for the small kit guys - soon we won't have any choice and will be cutting our own or getting an ARF.
Oh ya, ARFs have changed the hobby. So did iron-on coverings. And cyano glue. I quite vividly remember it taking DAYS to build a wing. 2 hours of building, 2 days waiting for the Ambroid to dry! Never mind covering with tissue and nitrate dope...
ARFs are good for sales, and can help keep local hobby shops in business, and that can't be bad.
In my experience. ARFs aren't as good as they are made out to be for entry into the hobby. I see lots of people show up at our club field, eager to fly their brand new ARF. After joining the club and MAAC (in Canada), they get set up with an instructor - who often tells them that a scale Corsair makes a poor trainer...
Then there's the Park flyer, who attempts to teach him/herself to fly - at the park - with their new mini foamie. In wind. Around people. Sometimes they succeed. Sometimes... it gets re-kitted the same day. And with no experience at proper repair... Discouraged, they're out of the hobby, often for good.
Then again, if it's just about the money, one can very quickly replace a damaged plane with an ARF, and get back to the field and fly. That's not a bad thing.
The way I see it, a person who builds their own plane has some respect for the time and effort it took to figure out which kit to buy and then build it properly with proper materials. They are quite eager to learn to fly it properly, knowing what's under the covering, and what it might take to repair...
After building a plane. one will gain a bit of experience that is needed to evaluate a good ARF from a bad one. That's a good thing, too.
I've only been in the hobby for four years after I retired, but in that time, among other AC, I have built 2 Sig kits & assembled 2 Sig ARF's. The only problems I have had were with the ARF's where the fault was not with the quality of materials used by Sig but rather poor construction. And this was after my attempting to beef up accessible spots like firewalls, wing joiner areas & landing gear plates. But no such issues with the 2 kits I built.
On top of the reassurances that this gives, there was the more valuable joy I experienced in doing the work & transforming a box of sticks & sheets of wood to an actual flying machine. My initial focus in the hobby was simply learning to fly & to keep my ratio of take offs to landing equal, so I really didn't think about building my models. But I have found that it has been a most enjoyable aspect of the RC world.
So I guess there are just some things that you really can't only look at in terms of cost analysis alone in order to determine if they make sense or not. I looked at the Pulse 60 for example before making the decision to order my Venture 60 kit, and also read postings about potential construction issues with even the Pulse line of airplanes. While these were by no means a major factor, they were just one more reason for me to decided to spend a little more to get not only the opportunity to build a quality aircraft in terms of materials & design, but also to know that as long as I don't screw it up, it will no doubt last a very long time.
For anyone following this Venture 60 thread, the January 2013 issue of Flying Models magazine has a review of the V60 by Larry Kruse that is both laudatory & informative. Here is a link to some more information about this article: http://www.btemodels.com/flyingmodels.html
I have received my V60 kit from BTE & must say it is the most impressive one I have ever seen. Just starting to really get to work on it & it is a joy to build.