HobbyZone’s Stratocam is a fairly new RC airplane that released just this past year. Its design is an evolution of the popular but discontinued Firebird Stratus, a plane with a huge wingspan and easy flight dynamics. The Stratocam isn’t a stunt flier – without ailerons it can’t perform barrel rolls, and its flared wingtips are designed to reinforce stability, not allow for loops – but what it does, it does surprisingly well.
The aircraft is exceedingly easy to fly, an RC plane that seems tailor made for beginners. Its stability and slow, graceful turns offer an almost Zen-like satisfaction. Meanwhile, its built-in SAFE flight assistance lets you slowly ratchet up the difficulty level as you get more comfortable with the controls.
Perhaps best of all for new pilots, the Stratocam takes very little damage from crashes. The plane’s hull is shaped from polyolefin, a softer type of foam that’s somewhat squishy and impact-resistant. Its rotors are placed on the wings such that, should you crash, they are held off the ground by the wings and nose cone. Most beneficial, however, is the design of the wing assembly, which snaps in place on the plane’s hull and can just as easily snap back out. This quick-release system purposefully shears the wings from the body during a crash, absorbing most of the force of impact without causing any permanent damage to the overall structure. It’s an ingenious design, and it earns the Stratocam the best durability score among our reviews of remote control airplanes.
The titular feature of the Stratocam is its top-mounted 720p camera. The camera records video to an 8GB microSD card, which comes included in the RC airplane’s kit. You turn it on and off by squeezing a trigger on the transmitter, but there’s no way to tell whether it’s recording. Should you forget the camera’s current state or if you’re ever unsure whether the plane received your signal to start or stop recording, you have to land it and check. It makes the camera very fun to use but rather impractical if you’re relying on it to capture usable footage for a project.
The HobbyZone Stratocam is forgiving to beginners yet remains a pleasure to fly for all skill ranges. You can’t expect any acrobatic wonders from the plane, and its camera is more a gimmick than a useful filming tool, but it’s still an impressive flier with an unmistakable silhouette in the sky.