Radio Controlled flight is it fun like pounding around a track with a modified 1/10 scale 4wd buggy? The answer is yes, and it is definitely more relaxing until you need to land.
Now previously I reviewed the Eflite UMX Corsair, and mentioned that I was going to get a trainer RC airplane so that I could learn more about RC flight (and be able to fly in windy conditions). To that end I have picked up the Eflite Apprentice S 15e BNF (Bind and Fly). Why go with the Bind and Fly over the Ready to Fly (RTF)? Because when I set my mind to something I have tendency to go full bore into whatever it may be. To that end I purchased a separate Transmitter then would be included with the RTF because I plan to expand into this hobby.
Now to start with I am aware that there are a lot of reviews out there for this plane already, but I want to add my thoughts/experiences with it as a beginner.
To begin with here are some of the specs straight from the box/manual.
Motor: 15 size brushless
Speed Controller: 30Amp
Recommended Battery: 11.1V 3S 3200mAh LiPo
Servos: 4 (installed)
Transmitter: For RTF only it includes a Spektrum DX5e (not what I used)
What I used:
Batteries: Recommended 3200mAh LiPo’s
Transmitter: Spektrum DX9
At this point I would normally include a picture of the box but I did not think to photograph it before I threw it out….. But whatever. On with my thoughts.
When I purchased the plane I did not know when I would get a chance to fly it, but that did not stop me from assembling the plane and confirming that everything worked. Assembly is fairly simple and requires the landing gear, tail, and wing be put together./installed The landing gear was the most involved as it required that the prop and engine cowling be removed to access where the landing gear attached . For the tail, the vertical stabilizer slots into holes in the horizontal stabilizer and then everything is screwed in place and the pushrods attached. For the main wing Eflite includes double sided tape to join the two halves together, but I personally did not think that would be sufficient, so instead following the manual I applied some 5minute epoxy to the wing spar to join it together. All told assembly took roughly 15-30minutes and was rather easy if the instructions are followed.
With assembly complete and the transmitter bound, I briefly checked that everything was working, and found that I had to reverse the aileron servos, which deviated from the manual. After that I had to wait a few weeks before I would be able to fly as I am not a member of any local clubs yet.
With that said I packed up my car and headed up to Northern Michigan [Alpena/Hubbard Lake] (up north in the mitten for those not from Michigan) for vacation in mid September. Why do this instead of join a club which is more conveniently located you ask. Because it’s getting closer to winter and I am less likely to fly during the cold months. Plus as a beginner I feel that flying at a club, while probably good, can be a little nerve wracking as other planes may be in the air.
So for my first flight of these planes I ventured over to my uncle’s place with my dad, who also fly’s RC planes, to get some learning done. Now as we can’t really predict the weather for a given day, as the forecast always changes, the only hope was that it was be calm and clear Unfortunately it was neither calm nor clear the day we went flying. So my maiden took place under gray skies and roughly 5-10mph winds.
With that said I installed the first battery, confirmed the flight surfaces, attempted a range test (and failed as I did not do it right) and took to the sky. Take off was a non issue, as I used the bocce ball court as an improvised runway and as the plane was behind trees I did not have to fight the wind until I was over the farm fields. The plane flew like it was on rails, even in winds of 10mph. Now I will say at this point that the plane has 3-axis stabilization as well as 3 flight modes that alter its performance for training purposes. With the winds as they were, the 3-axis stabilization system kept that plane in check and flying was drama free. Now during this first battery pack I mostly stayed in flight mode 1, aka beginner mode, where angle of attack was limited and the plane auto leveled. Flying basic patterns the flight was drama free and rather relaxing, and after roughly 6~7 minutes of flying I brought the plane in. Landing was interesting as I chose to bring it in over the grass rather then the bocce ball court. As I made my approach I killed the throttle and glided it hoping for a smooth landing, as I did not want to flip the plane and damage the prop. Once the plane touched down it came to a near instant stop and remained upright.
Having checked the battery after the first flight I found that I had used roughly 50-60% of the charge staying 1/2~2/3 throttle. So for the second flight I increased the timer on my transmitter to 8 minutes and once more took to the sky. This time I become more adventurous and flew in flight modes 2 and 3 (aka intermediate and expert modes) for the entire flight. Flight mode 2 still limits angles of attacks, but there is more leeway in what you can do to push the plane. In flight mode 3, all flight aides except 3-axis stabilization are removed so that acrobatics can be performed. During this flight I found that the plane was more then capable of inverted flight, inside/outside loops, and rolls. And at the end of the 8 minutes I brought the plane in and that was it for the day as I only had the 2 batteries charged.
Based on these two flights I would say that this plane is definitely a great trainer/beginner plane. The assembly is easy and straightforward and when bought as an RTF everything is included to get in the air. The planes flight characteristics are very relaxing/docile and when you switch to expert mode there is not much this plane will not do.
Overall I would say that if a parent/child were looking at trying out an RC flying I would definitely recommend this plane.
- Easy to assemble
- Clear instructions
- Foam construction is durable and easy to repair
- Replacement parts are easy to find
- EC3 connector on the battery
- Included landing gear is not suitable for rough field conditions
Stay tuned for additional reviews.