I have high expectations for a product from Sig Manufacturing Company because of its long history of quality products. It was no different this time when my giant Sig box arrived with the new Kadet Senior Sport ARF. I shook the contents out of the coffin-size box and immediately began inspecting everything. The quality of the covering was excellent and the construction looked impeccable.
The Kadet Senior is one of those airplanes that everyone seems to recognize. It is a quintessential trainer with history going back more than 30 years and more than that with the smaller versions. I last built a Senior more than 20 years ago and it was popular for kitbashing among my club members. I flattened the wings to 2 inches dihedral, added ailerons, adapted it for a bolt-on wing, braced the tail, made it a tail-dragger, and powered it with a Saito 80 and later an Astro 40G on 21 Ni-Cd cells.
When I saw that the company had come out with a version incorporating all of the things I had done to that one, I had to have it! As an instructor pilot, I always believe that everyone should have a trainer. It’s good for practice and for regaining confidence after a crash.
I fly electric power almost exclusively now, and chose to power the Kadet Senior Sport with the recommended power system from Sig. The company offers several options—complete with manufacturer recommendations—and states its favorite of the bunch. How could I go wrong with that?
The kit is an exceptional ARF and continues the reputation of quality for which Sig is known. Its built-up balsa and plywood construction is covered with UltraCote.
You should begin by thoroughly reading the instruction manual and studying each photograph. Before beginning construction, go online and check for updates or addendums. There were none when I built mine.
This ARF is a straightforward assembly process intended for beginners. The instructions are thorough and include tips for shrinking any covering that may have wrinkled during transit. The tips are excellent for even experienced builders and explain why certain methods work better than others.
Construction begins with the wing. The diagrams show how to feed the servo wires through the wing and hinge the surfaces. All of the hinges are in place, but not glued. That means no slots to cut and everything aligns perfectly.
The diagrams show a tip for how to glue CA hinges that I did an instructional video about years ago. Control rods are threaded with quality metal clevises and the instructions on the best way to install them are clear. Having the holes predrilled for the aileron horns is a real plus!
When the main wing is complete, start on the fuselage. Installing wheel pants can be a trial for even the most experienced builder, but Sig has made it painless. Not only is it painless, it’s a lesson on how to do it for future models.
The tail surfaces are installed when the landing gear is in place. The covering has already been removed from all of the surfaces that need to be glued. This means a beginner doesn’t have to worry about accidentally cutting a surface while removing the covering before gluing.
The typical precautions are taken when truing up the surfaces for gluing, and each is explained with illustrations. Be sure to read ahead so you’re prepared to install the tail wheel before gluing on the rudder. The steps are laid out in logical order, but don’t miss it.
When the tail surfaces are complete and the servos are installed, motor installation begins. The motor mount is a work of genius. Carefully follow the instructions for measuring the distance between the firewall and thrust washer. If you do, you’ll end up with a perfectly aligned motor. Mine worked exactly as described and I couldn’t be happier with the way Sig designed it. It allows for any of the recommended motors to easily be installed.
The cowl is predrilled and illustrated steps describe how to install it. This technique can be applied to future projects, so pay careful attention. If you are doing the glow version, those installation steps are clearly laid out. It even includes a fuel tank and additional tank-support pieces.
The final steps are installing the windows, setting control throws, and checking the CG. Installing windows typically is a tedious step wrought with pitfalls and frustration, but not this time. Sig has made it a painless process and one that other manufacturers should copy.
The windows are precut and only require subtle trimming to perfectly fit the recessed holes. I glued the windows in place with clear craft glue and held them in place with a small amount of hot glue while the craft glue dried.
Control Throws and CG
I used the recommended throws and CG, which worked well. After successful test flights, I set up a three-position switch for each dual rate and made one that is extra sporty.
The recommended throws work well for beginners and I suggest that you keep them at that until you’re ready for more. There is no suggested dual-rate setting, but I set mine at 65% of full rate and used 25% exponential on all surfaces.
This is the moment of truth. There is nothing bad to say about how this airplane flies or the power system recommended by Sig. I have been flying it with the company’s “favorite” recommendation and easily get 10 to 15 minutes of flight time depending on how aggressively I fly.
Stalls are uneventful and it simply mushes along. I set the CG at the recommended location and it appears to be perfect. I’ve even tried it farther back to make the rolls slightly more axial and it remains controllable. It will do anything from basic flight maneuvers to aerobatics and shows no bad habits.
At full throttle, my setup pulls 37 amps and the average for most of my flights, according to the data logger, is approximately 15 amps. I use the recommended control throws, which are very comfortable. I fly it on high rates all the time, but the low rates with some exponential would make it nice for a beginner.
I also set up a third rate which gave me more throw than the high-rate setting to see how it would perform. That livened it up, but it is not necessary. I increased the rudder throw to allow for a semirespectable knife-edge.
Loops, rolls, inverted flight, stall turns, and Split S maneuvers, are all within the normal flight capabilities with the given power setup and settings. It performs inverted flight well. Just for fun, I set up flaperons and they slow the airplane to a crawl. They aren’t necessary, but this airplane is so much fun to fly and experiment with that I couldn’t resist.
“Throw all my other airplanes away. This is the only thing I need,” is the answer I gave my wife when she called to see how the test flight went. This reminded me so much of my old kitbashed Kadet Senior from years ago that I immediately felt at home. As soon as he finished flying mine, my flying buddy ordered one for himself.
How else can I say that this is a real winner? The traditional Kadet Senior is a great-flying airplane and this one is even better. If you’re an experienced pilot, it will provide tons of relaxation or excitement, depending on your setup. If you’re a beginner, it will carry you from learning through aerobatics.
Congratulations Sig! I’m retiring my 16-year-old LT-25 as my primary trainer and crowning a new winner.