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Firebird Stratos RTF from HobbyZone

By Nick Bullock
Published: July 12, 2012

Product: HobbyZone’s Firebird Stratos RTR is touted as a beginner-level outdoor radio-controlled plane. As a newcomer to R/C planes, I have to say that this twin-motor, electric aircraft earned its billing. After minimal assembly and a few glances at the instruction manual, I had the Stratos up in the air in no time.

My flight wasn’t without a few bumps, but then again I didn’t exactly wait for HobbyZone’s recommended flight conditions!

The Stratos is made from impact-resistant Z-foam and features twin, counter-rotating propellers. It comes with a 3-channel 2.4GHz radio, removable landing gear and a 2S 7.4V 1300mAh LiPo battery.

Construction was quite simple. The plane’s fuselage wings and tail came as separate pieces that slid together and held strong with just a few screws and a couple pieces of the provided tape. The landing gear was easy to attach, the battery compartment was quite accessible and the wings — even once fit together — detached by simply loosening two screws, which will make transportation of the Stratos less of a chore. The plane has a 42-inch wingspan and measures 30 inches from nose to tail.

One drawback we initially discovered was the aircraft only comes with a 2-Cell DC Balancing LiPo Charger, meaning it must be charged in your car. This is beneficial for those looking to recharge the battery in the field, but it was something of a nuisance for our test flight.

One of the Stratos’ better features was the Electronic Virtual Instructor, which was displayed on the front and back of the box. The patent-pending technology helps keep the wings level, the turns smooth and the landings safe, making the Stratos a great R/C training plane.

HobbyZone recommended beginners forego the landing gear on their first flight and instead launch the plane by hand. Once the throttle is at 100%, I hardly needed to even throw the plane; it simply leaped from my hand.

This time of year there is scarcely a wind-free day in the suburbs of Milwaukee, where our offices are located. But with a deadline approaching we were forced to take the Stratos for a test flight and snap a few photos in 15–20 mph winds. This was a mistake. Despite its size, the plane weighs just 17 ounces. HobbyZone recommends flight conditions with wind speeds no greater than 5–7 mph. 

Even with the strong winds, however, the Stratos was a joy to fly, and its controls were easy to comprehend.

Your best bet is to focus on the Electronic Virtual Instructor, simple 3-channel radio and durable construction, all of which make the Stratos a great starting point for new pilots.

Mention how the wing assembly, with a little force, slides out from under the pin holding it in place, which prevents damage in the event of a crash. We saw this happen a couple times, and it didn’t take much work to get the wing back in place and the plane back in the air.

Be prepared to discuss the Electronic Virtual Instructor at length, as well. The box references the feature on both the front and the back, but not prominently, and customers can easily miss it.

Also, be sure to recommend a charger and several extra batteries for add-on sales and to keep the flying fun going.

Product: Firebird Stratos RTF
Maker: HobbyZone
Scale: N/A
Stock number: HBZ7700
MSRP: $179.99
Availability: Horizon Hobby

• Designed for beginners
• Simple construction
• Only comes with a DC car charger