Cox: Classic Fly By Wire Model Aircraft
By James Grahame
"Fly by Wire" usually describes an aircraft with electronic control systems. But Cox has been producing another kind of "fly by wire" model aircraft for decades. As a kid, I somehow scrounged together enough money to buy a little Cox control line P-51 Mustang. It was powered by a tiny .049 glow plug engine that was excruciatingly difficult to start. In fact, the only way I could get it to run was by giving up completely. Once running, it sounded like a hamster-sized chainsaw (and was about as safe). The trick was to get it into the air without climbing ridiculously fast (which could result in a panicked dive and a punishing crash) where it would zip around in circles until it ran out of fuel.
These days, Cox Hobbies markets the Hyper Viper:
Designed by a world-class control line stunt pilot, the Hyper Viper™ can fly more than three quarters of the maneuvers listed in the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) control line precision aerobatics manual. Powered by the powerful COX® Sure Start™ .049 model engine, the Hyper Viper™ can fly consecutive loops, reverse wingovers, figure eights even fly inverted with ease. Flying can be done from any smooth takeoff surface such as a playground, schoolyard or parking lot. Ready to fly in minutes requiring only a Phillips screwdriver for assembly (screwdriver not included). Forty-five feet of flight line and a control handle are included with each plane, as well as all the accessories needed to start the engine (2 'D' size Alkaline batteries required - sold separately). Comes complete with a stunt manual and 90 day limited warranty.
I know its well beyond my (non-existent) control line flying skills, but this cool little flying machine is only $39.99. Just remember not to fly too close to spectators, pets or trees or you'll have more of an adventure than you bargained for.