Mark Howard's Aspen Leaf
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Home > Articles & Tips Index > Product Reviews > Aspen Leaf

[Courtesy of Bob Pederson bpedersn "at", March 1999]

I just completed Mark Howard's (mark.howard "at" Aspen Leaf and wanted to tell the list how impressed I was the kit and the plane's performance. This is an unsolicited testimonial; I have no benificial association with Mark except that I hope he won't beat me too badly at next weeks contest.

The Aspen Leaf is a very light (7oz) built-up HLG with v-tail and pod / CF boom fuselage. Construction is very simple and kit instructions are very complete. Mark uses some new (to me) construction techniques including reinforcing the ribs with CF that significantly increase wing torsional strength while keeping the weight down. If you build this kit, try out his control horn technique using CF mat. It works great! The laser cutting of the balsa and plywood parts were perfect. Parts just fell out of the sheets and fit perfectly. Wood selection was good including the selection of 1/32" sheet for inboard and outboard wing panels. Follow the directions here because Mark has provided two different densities for the two locations. Mark provides everything you need except tools and glue. He even supplies the covering (Model Research Labs heat shrink film). This stuff is so light that it can be a little tedious to work with but the end result is worth it. I used Mica Film on the bottom of the wing to give the wing some color. I used the clear MRL covering on the top. In the air, visibility is excellant.

I was most impressed with the flying characteristics. You can speed it up to search for lift or slow it down to work thermals or land with out tip stalls. Stalls on bad launches are straight ahead with only 6 - 10 feet lost. It will piroette on a wing tip to work small lift. The V-tail kicks up visibly when lift is encountered and with the light wing mass, wing rock on passing to the side of thermals helps to locate lift. The light weight also limits crash damage (I know! see post to this list concerning SL220 servos). You want to build this plane to FLY, not Crash. Don't be tempted to add reinforcement or extra glue. Mark has thought out this design very well and it is very tough if kept light. More weight = more momentum = more damage.

Cost of the kit is around $75.00. Check out some of Mark's pictures of the plane at

Consider me a satisfied customer!

Bob Pederson Soaring in Berthoud, Co.

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