takes practice and can be challenging,
even for intermediate pilots. The
Sportsman S+ helps new pilots safely
land with its autonomous AutoLand
feature. By holding the HP/AL button for
three seconds, the model autonomously
navigates to the end of the runway
and gradually descends downwind.
No stick inputs are necessary during
the AutoLand, but a pilot can assist by
helping the Sportsman S+ avoid obstacles
or compensate for sudden wind changes.
During my AutoLand tests, the
Sportsman S+ would line up with the
runway almost perfectly. I even tried
to trick the aircraft by lining up going
with the wind instead of into it. As
soon as I held the HP/AL button to
activate AutoLand, the aircraft wisely
gained altitude, flew to the other end
of the runway, and made a descent into
In my early AutoLand tests, the
Sportsman S+ landed left of the runway
on the grass. During one landing, the
front wheel was slightly bent, requiring
me to straighten it. After recalibrating
the GPS, it performed much better in
AutoLand mode. Roughly a third of the
time, the aircraft hit the mark perfectly.
The remaining landings were smooth,
and were only off center by 3 to 10 feet.
Considering the small battery, flight
times are surprisingly good. Even with
GPS running, the Sportsman S+ had
approximately 10 minutes of flight time.
The Sportsman S+ definitely takes
SAFE to a new level. It even caught the
attention of Michael Smith, the National
Model Aviation Museum director, who
example of model aviation technology
This is a great beginner aircraft.
Clubs can confidently use it to
train new members or invite the
community to try flying. Although it
has many autonomous features, it is
not a replacement for a pilot instructor.
There are still too many variables and
knowledge that can only by obtained
from a skilled pilot.
When the Sportsman S+ hits the
Virtual Fence, it banks to turn away
from the no-fly zone.
SPT 2 Model Aviation SEP TEMBER 2015 www.ModelAviation.com