Model Aero Polaris Seaplane

The Polaris Seaplane is a versatile and fun flying boat from the folks at Model Aero. The design was originally penned by Laddie Mikulasko for balsa construction and glow power, later adapted for Depron foam construction and electric power by Steve Shumate, who is best known for his pusher prop-jet designs.

Static image of the Polaris in the grass

This kit is not difficult to assemble, but it is a bit more involved and has a higher parts count than something like the GWS kits. Most of the kit consists of neatly cut Depron sheet parts, along with a small amount of light plywood. The parts fit together logically and precisely; in some cases, such as the nose and the wing tip floats, final carving and sanding to shape is required. I found the instructions to be adequate, but occasionally less than completely clear. Everything worked out fine for me, but an inexperienced builder might need a little more help. I used mostly Gorilla Glue throughout the build, with a little epoxy in critical areas as recommended in the instructions. I powered my Polaris with the 2212-6, 2200kV brushless motor and 40 amp speed controller offered by Model Aero, an APC 6×4 prop, and either a 2200 or 2600 mAh lipo battery. I also installed Model Aero’s cool little heat sink on the motor controller, which allows for adequate cooling of the ESC even though it is sealed up in the (nominally) water tight fuselage. This power package gives plenty of thrust for easy water or sliding grass take-offs, strong but not unlimited vertical performance, and good speed. In fact, I was so pleased with how well the fairly high kV motor worked in this airplane that I used a nearly identical motor in my second Formosa.

Polaris Battery Hatch

Close-up viiew of the Polaris' ESC Heat Sink

This heat sink is glued to the ESC and extends through the top of the fuselage to allow for adequate cooling while protecting the ESC from water contact. The battery hatch is plenty big enough for the 2200 or 2600 mAh Lipos I normally use.

The Polaris flies fast and is fairly reasonably aerobatic. However, its defining characteristic for me is its handling in the landing pattern and its ability to do sliding touch-and-go landings on almost any surface. I mostly fly from a somewhat rough grass field that, even when freshly mowed, is not very friendly to wheels less than 3 or 4 inches in diameter. The Polaris is completely unfazed by this field, and I can even taxi out for take-off and back in after landing, all without any wheels at all!

In addition, the big delta shaped wing, though completely flat without any camber, handles wonderfully at low airspeed. I can almost drop it in like a parachute with any headwind at all, with just a quick burst of power at the last second to arrest the sink rate and kiss it onto the ground. A favorite trick is the “Loop-to-land”. I arrive low over the field cruising at about 3/4 throttle, pull up into a loop, then as it comes over the top I chop the power and (if all goes well) settle onto the runway as it rounds out the bottom. I haven’t felt tempted to try this maneuver with any of my other planes, but with the Polaris’ forgiving low speed handling its really pretty easy.

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