Quest - Flat Cat {Kit} (3006) [1994-]

Contributed by Mitch Marchi

Construction Rating: starstarstarstarstar_border
Flight Rating: starstarstarstarstar
Overall Rating: starstarstarstarstar
Diameter: 0.98 inches
Manufacturer: Quest
Skill Level: 3
Style: Glider
Quest Flat Cat

Brief:
Low power rocket booster with streamer recovery and glider flight recovery.

Construction:
Rocket booster is basically an 18mm minimum diameter rocket with a balsa "hook" assembly on it instead of fins. Glider is comprised completely of balsa. Wings and stabilizer are 1/8", fuselage is 1/4" x 1/2".

The instructions were good, except that there were a few places where the pictures really didn't match what you needed to do--I was glad that there was a detailed picture of the "hook" on the product packaging. I would say that Quest labeling this a skill model 3 kit is accurate. Most kits go up in skill level because of intricate paint jobs, however, this kit required real modeling skills.

The balsa in the kit was not consistent. One wing was nice, tight, strong grained balsa and the other one was made of weak, stringy balsa. The fuselage was a nice piece of wood. I had to really trace the parts with my X-Acto knife to get them out of the balsa stock since they were not punched all the way through.

The instructions on trimming the glider were good, but when it came to trimming the booster/glider assembly, it took me a while to figure it out.

I built mine as a true "flat cat," only dressing the leading and trailing edges of the wings and stabilizer. I did also massage out the fuselage per the instructions. The glider flew perfectly with no trimming.

Finishing:
Finishing was nothing special. I gave mine a quick sanding with 220 grit sandpaper and shot it with 2 coats of Krylon spray paint. I figured that this would help seal the balsa and increase visibility. I did not put the stickers on mine.

Construction Rating: 4 out of 5

Flight:
After reading the other comments about this glider on EMRR, I decided to fly mine on an A8-3 for the first flight. The field I use is kind of small, so I wasn't going for any altitude. I also added some clay weight to induce a spiral in hopes of getting the glider back.

The rocket went about 200 feet and separation from the glider was perfect. The booster came down under streamer and landed about 15 feet from the pad. I must have added too much weight, because the glider didn't spiral, it corkscrewed down. It hit nose first in the snow and kinda rolled. No significant damage! The nose was a little flattened out though so I sanded it round again in the field.

Quest Flat Cat Second flight, I took a little bit of the clay weight off. Lift and separation were identical, the booster dropping 30 feet from the pad. The glider did several nice spirals and stuck its nose into the ground softly about 100 feet from the pad. I did not have a watch, but I would guess the glide to be around 10 seconds or so.

I didn't have an opportunity to fly it a third time. I was out of A8-3s and with the wind picking up, I didn't want more altitude.

Recovery:
Recovery of the booster is fine with the streamer. Recovery of the glider is a Catch-22. If you want it back, you will have short glide times! It is all in the trimming, and the bigger the field the better. I would really like to play with this on a big field!

Flight Rating: 5 out of 5

Summary:
This was a great kit and really delivers on its promises! This was the first boost glider that I have built, and it has left me with a new respect for them. I can see the science behind it and how you could detail yourself to death with a glider if you were trying to go for maximum glide time. Recovery is the killer on this though.

I actually had a lot of fun building this kit, especially learning how trimming it affects the glide recovery. Honestly, I probably won't ever launch this again, but will hand toss it a bunch! It is a great glider!

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5

Flights

Comments:

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B.M. (August 1, 2000)
The Flat Cat was my first glider kit in 20 years. I found it easy to assemble, but I had reservations about the quality of the wood. The glider wings were some of the heaviest C-grain balsa I have ever seen. (I have a background in model airplanes, and have flown hand launched gliders.) I figured that maybe they used the heavier wood to stand up to the stresses of launching... I was wrong. My glider flies like a brick. I put a light finish on it, but it is just too heavy. Because it is so heavy, it was difficult to trim. Also the high weight translates into high flight speeds, and it breaks somewhere after every flight because it is hits the ground so fast. I'm planning to scratch build another glider, using contest grade balsa. The quality of balsa in kits can vary widely, from light A grain to heavy C-grain. I think the design is good. After reading other's comments, I must have gotten a kit with not-so-great balsa. I found the adhesive on the stickers to be weak-- they wouldn't stay down.
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R.J. (September 1, 2000)
I agree that the stickers adhered poorly. I decided to spray the top of the wings with spray adhesive (masking off the rest of the cat) then putting aluminum foil on top of the adhesive, trimming off the excess afterwards. Looks great.
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B.M. (October 1, 2000)
Update to my comments from 8/00: I made a new set of wings from lighter wood. My glider now flies great. My original needed some tail weight to balance the model. When I put the new wing on, I moved it back about an inch, which allowed me to lose the tail weight. The glider flies so much better! I flew it on an A8-3 and it flew nicely. I then tried a B6-2, and it flew so well I lost the glider. I will definitely be building another one! BTW, I did not bother with the mylar to protect the top of the wing. In my first 2 flights, I saw no sign of exhaust residue.
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(December 1, 2000)
I agree with the comments above. I too replaced the heavy balsa wings with thinner stock and gave them a good airfoil. I have launched my Flatcat 9 times now and it worked great on every flight except on an A engine. B6-2s are the best to use. The C engines work, but you'll risk never seeing it again unless you trim the glider for a nice, slow curve. Overall a very nice kit and a real crowd pleaser!P.D.M.
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HWH (November 9, 2008)
Good review very accurate. I built and flew this kit. It flies GREAT, just don't fly it on a windy day. A helpful hint: definitely put a little turn on your glider by adding a pinch of clay to one wing tip. Also a touch of Day-Glo orange paint or marker on wing tips and/or tail helps in recovery in tall grass. The suggestion to trace the glider wings and tail patterns before assembly (to make spares) is a good one! All in all, this is a great flier. We have "fly offs" between this and our Deltie B.

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