Both Dave and I have been flying so many weird little hand-launch planes -- combat wings and IFOs and skunk planes and 3D planes and such -- off grass, that the basics of taxiing and landing are something we haven't really had the chance to practice in many years.
But if you want a more normal aerobat, something that can fly stably in windy conditions, you need something more like a normal plane. Something with landing gear. But how do you practice take-offs and landings without cracking up your big heavy expensive plane?
Used to be, there wasn't any alternative. Now there is. E-flite has a set of "UMX" planes, which stands for "ultra micro": super light, seemingly fragile, the sort of thing you'd think you couldn't fly if there was even a breath of wind. But the new "AS3X" technology includes a gyroscope and a bunch of smarts that stabilizes the plane, and makes a little 4.3 oz, 28" wingspan plane fly like a much bigger plane, even in moderately gusty wind.
It has big balloon tires that work well on a baseball diamond as well as a street or parking lot, though it's not really up to grass. It comes basically ready to fly. Plug in a battery, bind it to your transmitter, head over to your local baseball diamond and you're ready for a session of touch-and-goes. It's not super aerobatic, but it flies great and would probably even work as a first trainer.
And since it's so light, it doesn't end up being as fragile as it first appears. We've had several light crashes on grass and so far it's needed fewer repairs than our big planes that we supposedly know how to fly already.
Great fun. After the Timber we've brought a UMX Waco biplane online
(its pilot even has a little trailing scarf!), which is a little more
sensitive but still a pussycat. The ultimate goal, the real cutie, is
the UMX Pitts S1S. It's supposed to fly much like the bigger Pitts I
have hanging on the wall waiting for its day to fly.