by Randy Wrisley

Pete 'n Poke front 3/4 view

Aircraft Type Sport
Mfg. By Great Planes Model Mfg.Co., P.O. Box 9021 Urbana, Illinois 61826-9021. Web site:
Mfg. Sug. Retail Price $119.99
Available From Retail Outlets
Wingspan 59.5 Inches
Wing Chord 13.6 Inches
Total Wing Area 809 Sq. In.
Fuselage Length 47 Inches
Stabilizer Span 23-1/4 Inches
Total Stab Area 180 Sq. In.
Mfg. Rec. Engine/Motor .32-.46 2-Stroke, .40-.52 4-Stroke
Rec. Fuel Tank/Battery 10 Oz.
Rec. No. of Channels 4
Rec. Control Functions Rud., Elev., Throt., Ail.

Basic Materials Used In Construction
Fuselage Balsa, Plywood
Wing Balsa, Plywood
Tail Surfaces Balsa
Building Instructions on Plan Sheets No
Instruction Manual Yes (43 pages)
Const. Photos/Drawings Yes

Radio Used Airtronics VG 400, 5 Servos
Engine/Motor O.S. LA .40
Tank Size/Battery Used 10 Oz. Great Planes
Weight, Ready to Fly 95.5 Oz. (5 Lbs.,15.5 Oz.)
Wing Loading 16.9 Oz./Sq. Ft.

WE LIKED THE: Quality hardware, instruction manual, the way it flies.
WE DIDN'T LIKE THE: Poor die-cutting, heavy wood, overly complex construction.

Pete 'n Poke rear 3/4 view

The Great Planes Pete-N-Poke is a .40 size 4-channel nostalgia style sport model featuring modern assembly. The "Poke" is in essence a parasol version of the popular "Slow Poke." Opening the 5" x 8" x 38" long box revealed careful packaging. The die-cut ply parts were packed on the bottom, followed by the balsa sheets. Strip stock was bundled on the side and the heavier metal parts were nestled inside the two rolled plan sheets. The hardware is bagged to keep it together until needed. A 43-page photo illustrated construction manual is included and really helps the builder over the rough spots. After a review of the plans and manual we began construction. Great Planes CA adhesives and epoxy were used exclusively on the project and performed quite well.

Pete 'n Poke parts layout


Tail Surfaces:

Construction begins with the tail surfaces. The rounded corners are laminated from die-cut sheet balsa. Some sanding was required on the mating surfaces to ensure a good fit. The rest of the structures are cut from strip stock. Pay close attention as you build the vertical fin; the plan has quite a bit of detail in this area and we found the structure a bit hard to see. A Great Planes Slot Machine made quick work of the hinge slots and after some sanding we were ready to tackle the wing.


The wing assembly begins with the center section. There were 31 pieces of wood used in the construction! Using a Windsor Propeller Company block plane is almost a necessity here as none of the wood is pre-shaped. The leading and trailing edges, and four large filler blocks all need to be shaped prior to sheeting. Take care when you select your sheeting material, some is hard and should only be used on the bottom surface as it doesn't bend easily. The builder will also need a drill press to fabricate a simple jig to ensure the wing hold-down bolt holes are drilled properly.

The left and right wing panels were up next. The large wingtips are assembled from two pieces of wood. Our die-cut parts were not straight, requiring careful block sanding to achieve a good fit. The barndoor ailerons are built into the wing after the panels are complete. Again, none of the trailing edges are tapered and lots of planing is required. Each aileron gets a servo. Plan your installation of the Y-harness prior to sheeting the top of the wing. Once the servos were installed we fitted the pushrods and finish-sanded the wing. We adjusted the servo throws then went on to the fuselage.

Pete 'n Poke builtup w/o covering


The fuselage sides and top are from die-cut lite ply. Again, block sanding was required to maintain alignment. The fuselage is built upside down on top of the workbench. In spite of the mismatch of the die-cuts, the fuselage built straight and true. Two hatches are required on the bottom, one for the fuel tank, the other for radio access. We planked the bottom and turned our attention to the top. Most of the formers and other parts required in this area are made from two die-cut pieces, requiring pre-assembly of the structures prior to installation. With the vertical fin installed and squared we added the nine aft balsa stringers. Each must be carefully beveled to fit the tail post neatly.

Next on the list were the wing struts. What looked like four simple struts actually required the builder to fabricate and fit 28 pieces of material! Three templates are necessary to ensure the struts are built properly. As each step requires correct alignment to ensure the finished product is straight, the builder should use extra care during this phase of construction. We finally took a break from the struts and mounted the engine.

An O.S. Max .40 LA engine was selected for our Poke. It is the engine shown on the plans and fits nicely. The stock muffler was used and a 10-ounce Great Planes fuel tank fit just like the plan said it would on the removable fuel tank receiver/battery mount. Three Airtronics 94102 standard servos slipped unaided into the servo mount. Once in place we ran the pushrods and connected the controls. Sheeting the top of the fuselage can be tricky. The shape is a double taper and you must start at the top, carefully feather trimming as you go to achieve a good fit. Hot water and selecting the softest sheets you have will help here. We made a cardboard template of the cockpit area to help us get the sheeting trimmed properly prior to installing it. Once the wood dried, we opened up the strut slots and glued in the four balsa filler blocks. After sanding, the job looked pretty good.

The landing gear installed easily. The wire proved to be an odd size, somewhere between 3/16" and 5/32". We had to drill the wheel holes oversize to fit the wire. The landing gear covers are made from leftover 3/32" balsa. Once covered or painted they are held in place with RTV silicone. The fuselage construction is complete when the bottom planking is fitted to the area under the engine. Don't forget to fuelproof carefully with epoxy or paint. Now we level the fuselage carefully on a large flat surface to join the wing struts. Once joined with 30-minute epoxy, the builder must use an incidence meter to ensure the stab sets at 0° and the wing sets at +1°. Improper incidence will greatly affect the way the finished model flies. Making up the wing strut cross braces and static struts completes construction.


After careful filling and sanding, our Poke was covered with 21st Century fabric. This fabric-based material flows over curved surfaces easily and looks just like a painted finish, because it is! 21st Century paint matches the fabric perfectly and was used for all the areas not covered.

Final Assembly:

The horizontal tail is epoxied into place, taking care to maintain proper alignment. Drill and tap the rear wing mounting hole. Square the wing to the fuselage then carefully drill and tap the two front wing mounting holes. Epoxy the cross strut cross braces in place and paint the strut assembly. Cut the windshields to shape and glue in place with RC-56 adhesive and trim tape. Affix all the control surfaces using thin CA. Our radio of choice was an Airtronics VG-400 with a standard battery pack. The radio is budget priced and performs flawlessly. Service, if ever needed, is prompt and reasonably priced. Overall, they are just a nice bunch of people to deal with!

Pete 'n Poke in flight


Our completed Pete-N-Poke tipped the scales at 96 ounces even. The wing loading was a comfortable 16 ounces per square foot. The model balanced right on the money with no added weight. We set the control throws up to the maximum shown (high rate) and ran off to go fly the model. The O.S. Max LA .40 ran well after a minimum of break-in time. The model handles quite well on the ground and tracks nicely due to the length of the fuselage. Once in the air, our Pete-N-Poke proved to be quite lively on the large control throws! The model will loop, roll, snap roll, and do hammerheads easily. Most of the non-aerobatic flying can be done at half throttle or less. The Poke shows no signs of snap rolling at low speeds and lands like it was on rails. Later flights with less control movement proved the Poke could be a docile trainer type model too. Overall we would rate the flight characteristics of this kit as excellent.

Pete 'n Poke in flight


The Great Planes Pete-N-Poke Sport .40 is a good looking, great flying, nostalgia style sport model. Achieving the lovely shape requires a substantial amount of carving and sanding. The builder must pay attention to wood selection, and the die-cutting is acceptable, but not the best we have ever seen. This kit is not one we would recommend to a first-time builder. We like the quality and quantity of hardware provided. Every bit of it was used, and worked great. The Poke really shines at the flying field. It's a real attention getter and flies quite well. If you're looking for something a little nostalgic, and don't mind spending the time to build it, the Great Planes Pete-N-Poke would be a great addition to your hangar.

Photos by Randy Wrisley. Reprinted with permission.
March, 2002 R/C Modeler Magazine
Editor: Dick Kidd