Super-Size Bipes!

Super-Size Bipes!

This pair of impressive biplanes put on quite a show at the North Weald Airfield in Essex last weekend! The 55% Stearman is powered by a Valach 800cc 7-cylinder radial, and the 85% Pitts is powered by a Hirth gas engine turning a 69-inch, 3-blade prop. This must-watch video is an incredible show (although our nerves could have done without the section where someone hand-props the giant Stearman!). Thanks to the father and son team of Pete and Dean Coxon for taking this great video.



Updated: March 31, 2016 — 11:40 AM


  1. Certainly anyone can spend all the money they want on their hobby, even if to the major of folks it’s a matter of more money then sense. More danger on the ground and if something goes wrong in the air. But why does M.A.N. seem to think these size models (if you can call 85% a model) warrant so much attention?

  2. Love that big radial, Wish I could afford one, $10,000 each!

    1. Right. You can’t land big tail-draggers properly w/o the liberal use of rudder. I saw very little on these attempted “landings”.

  3. Loyd Patterson love the sounds of the radial engines.Both planes were fun to watch

  4. That was a very impressive vido that never seen before, thanks Jim Oliver

  5. Beautiful.

  6. What’s going to happen to our hobby when one of these days a spectator gets killed. These are just getting too damn big and no good will come from it.

    1. Please Mike and Bob, are these gents just having too much fun for you? You must think a 10 lb jet doing 150 mph can’t fly into a crowd and do much more damage than one these.

      1. Bil, it’s fun until something goes wrong multiplied by the size of the vehicle. If you read the other comments, you will see that you are in the minority of opinions. It’s a matter of speed vs. size as to the overall damage. I would not want to see either.

        1. I garantee you the Stearman is being flown in safety using appropiate expertise.
          One can never 100% exclude mishaps, but one should live live a little, instead of pickering on those having fun.
          As being stated by others, it’s not the size that is cause of potential harm. Ever seen 3D helicopters? I’d rather have Ludo fly the stearman 1m overhead as standing next to an RC heli.

    2. Some have been killed and not with a big one. The small ones can do just as much as the big ones

      1. I once saw a 25 size flying wing combat plane get out of control during a show and hit a Lincoln car door – the engine put a hole in the door. It was a good thing it hit metal and not the window as there was a child in the car at the time. If it could punch a hole in sheet metal, I’d hat to see what it would do to skin.

  7. I especially like the guy walking backwards away from the Pitts next door that falls over the bag on the ground. The aircraft much too close together to be safe. I agree with Mr. Hickman.

  8. Poor landing left me uneasy as to pilot skills on a plane this size. When we start approaching full size aircraft with the 40, to 60% size models we are leaving the whole concept of modeling and entering into a genre of full size aircraft. This leaves behind the concepts of modeling, I don’t like it. The size precludes more and more risk with no oversight to safety and validation in building. It approaches EAA without accountability that it provides that I industry and hobby. The AMA in USA must have something to say about the size and safety of aircraft this size. These are not models in my view, but near full size remote controlled aircraft flying outside full aircraft safety operation. Sorry, but this is fascinating, but not viably safe.

  9. I also agree with Mr.Hickman and Mr. Barth, Safety First. Too big & too close together for that many people to be around. Any engine controls should be in the cockpit where you are safely behind that big prop. Any bigger and you might as well be in the cockpit flying it.

  10. How did the Stearman wing tip make out during the wing over landing?

  11. These are truly beautiful planes (they’re hardly “model’s” when you get to this size). But as a pilot of real planes myself and RC plane “Models” of < 1/5th% scale, I have always scratched my head when seeing these super giant scale airplanes (and that's what they are) in print or in person, why go to all this effort and great expense and not build it to 75% or just under full scale, put in "Active" controls and apply for an Experimental license from the FAA and get in and fly the thing!!?? I know having talked to Super Giant scale builder and they are spending very near the equivalent of the money and time (even more on the time) of building an "Experimental" class plane! I've built three in 35 years for myself. There are EXP kits to build 3/4 and 7/8 scale FW-190's, mini-P51's and you name it! With a REAL "short scale" plane, you can fly it from any airport, BUT with these behemoth super-giant RC planes, good luck finding an RC club facility where you're allowed to fly something this big safely!! I know our RC club even in the boonies of South OC, CA, you couldn't!

  12. Pshaw I say! I cringe a little when I watch mechs hand prop stubborn full scale engines. Those Europeans sure build ’em big.

  13. I am not a fan of these super sized RC model airplanes. At what point does it just become a mini version of a full size aircraft? Do you remember the 1/2 scale Mustangs and Corsairs that were kit planes to actually fly in? Now this guy has an 85% Pitts? Flying such a massive aircraft via a hobby radio control system is sheer madness. Military grade RC, maybe. Hobby RC, not a brilliant idea.

    I think these should be banned from all model shows and should be regulated as to not be allowed to be built and flown in public, period. One of these days, the carnage is going to be immense when the radio link goes bad in one of these giant “model” airplanes.

    Just my $.02

  14. In response to Tbolt47. It’s obvious you have never built one of these beautiful birds. Once you have , YOU WILL understand

  15. awesome, beautiful aircraft, landing was not that bad ,

  16. It sounds to me that those who don’t think these big models are safe, then they should not be present at such events and leave it to the ones that do, could it be they are a little bit jealous?

    1. Now that is what I would say. The ones that build them are going to build them safe. I just wish that I could do some that big but 1/4 is about all that I have the money for.

  17. Awesome planes! Awesome flying! But, watching the guy try to get up after tripping on the bag was priceless.

  18. Absolutely Stunningly Beautiful !!! Thank you M.A.N. I’m so sorry that a few(3) viewers, have their “shorts too tight” to appreciate great craftsmanship, and use “safety” to justify their stupidity!!

    1. maybe you are the one with tight shorts, safety should be everyone’s first priority. As an AMA member you should know that.

      1. I agree with you David. We have the right to our own opinions. WL needs to rethink his.

  19. interesting that some full scale aviation bureaucracy hasn’t stepped in on aircraft this size and required a pilots license to operate them. I think these are too big to qualify as RC models. I think there should be a cutoff point somewhere, maybe 60%. The next thing is somebody building an 85% fighter that goes 300mph and flies it into a crowd after being unable to react to a problem. This is just my opinion, like it or not.

  20. Amazing planes.. I, like so many build my planes from kits or plans and I can not imagine how many hours it mast take to build something so big.. I have found for me that the 1/4 scale planes that I have take quite a bit more work, time and prep to get them to the field so I can not guess how much more work these planes are.. the detail looks great.. thanks for sharing.. T

  21. I’m an enthusiastic RC modeller and I get a kick out of seeing these big models as much as anybody but something needs to be done about how the preflight preparation and the flights themselves are conducted before someone gets seriously maimed or killed. We need to take a leaf out of the full size guys book and adopt some of their protocols, or at least the thinking behind them. That video raises too many safety concerns to list but I’ll mention a few; there shouldn’t be so many people around an aircraft of that size when it’s being started, it should be tethered in place and not held back by people that can fall over, or worse get themselves tangled in the prop. The aircraft should have some room around it. That guy falling over backwards over a bag should never be able to happen. The pilots of these big planes should have to go through a training program and pass a stringent flight test. Why not, these things are approaching full size now and you can’t go fly a Cessna 152 without a license? (And I believe the pilots should even have to pass a medical for the same reasons as the full size guys.) They are beautiful models with amazing craftmanship but let’s stop and think about how they can be operated to maximise safety.

  22. Impressive aircraft, not so impressive landings. Perhaps it’s hard to get sufficient stick time on these giants.

    I think there is a bit of one upmanship going on as well as percent-envy. I’m sure 40% was impressive in it’s day. Then 50%, then 60%, now 85%. Someone will then have to super-size an aircraft to 125% to get attention.

    Seems like a new class of rules is needed to keep these hybrid aircraft/models safe.

  23. Bigbird here,………………tbolt47………………REALLY!!!!!! And Mike Hickman……….WAH WAH!!!!!!!!! What would you do if you had the chance and the money at the same time?? Two words if you say you would’nt…………..BULL CORN! I know I would! NOW, where in the heck am I going to put this thing???? I’ve been modelling for fifty years, you think this isn’t something ‘we’ ‘old timers’ haven’t dreamed about? Now that the electric and mimi flight systems have been solved, what better than bigger if we can pull it off?! BIRD

  24. I never understood the need for such massive models. One of these days someone’s gonna get killed and more likely it will be a spectator.
    If one wants to fly a big plane than get in the cockpit and fly full size aircraft. Just wait and see what’s gonna happen to our hobby, I’m well informed that soon the FAA will be stepping in. That’s all I can say about that for the moment. Go get a private pilots license and fly full size, it’s much more enjoyable and safer. You can even build your own and certify it as “experimental” and fly that if you want.
    That’s my 2 cents, I always run to my car when I see a big model show up at my field. Sorry but I just don’t trust it one bit.

  25. Forgot to mention this in my previous post. See the 2 girls holding the right side wing as their running it up in the beginning of the video? Now do you think they would be still smiling if the guy that tripped over that bag on the ground bumped the 2 girls as he fell and pushed the girl into that prop? Wow really? No Saftey standards at that field. I don’t even know why this video was posted, just another stamp of approval for the FAA to push forward with their regulations. Real nice.

  26. Really nice planes but I guess I’ve missed something here.
    You’ve spent all this time, effort and money on an almost full size aircraft.
    Isn’t that like training to win the Boston Marathon, then on race day standing at the Finish Line as a spectator?

  27. Hi Debra! Would it surprise you that we used to hand-prop the full-size Stearmans? Radials are actually easier to hand prop than opposed four-cylinder A/C engines.

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