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Wednesday, April 7, 2021

3DHS Velox Revolution__Long Term Product Evaluation

We're two years in, which I didn't expect. Usually when I have a plane I can lean on at 110% every second, I tear up one or two. It's just part of the game when you take such high performance stuff and try to break it. So far I've treated this plane extremely poorly and it's like a hot chick you can't run off no matter how big of a butthole you are to her. She loves you even when you're a bad man! I had a girlfriend like that. It ended badly! Of course, I do treat my real bride far better.

There was one nasty moment that I dead stalled it in a death slide (which it does really well when you hit it right) and dropped it straight in on a wing tip. The impact pushed one side in a little, and cracked a few formers. I pushed it back into place, and with a few little braces and CA it's probably even stronger than when it came out of the box. There's one little boo boo on the side, but if I didn't tell you about it you'de never see it. Still, that sort of thing usually makes me crazy enough to replace a plane (blame OCD). but this one flies so exceptional there was never a thought of that. Oh, hell no. This plane is too good for that.

The V2s are incredibly tough planes. Just today a friend landed a 48" Extra V2 in a tree. The wind blew it out just as we were walking up to it, and it fell a good 20 feet straight onto the spinner. Ka-blammo! It cracked the motor box top piece inside the battery compartment and broke a hinge (next time use Radio South), but he just called and he's already got it fixed. Super light but built like an anvil.

The Great Rethink
Initially I did the Velox a disservice by titling our first article "3DHS Velox__Return Of The Wild Child." We did that because the original was so wild, but nothing could be further from the truth on the new one. It's not wild at all. Performance is off the chart, but not wild or even close. It's a very calm and composed plane that I think would make a great entry level 3D trainer provided you have a good background in conventional aerobatics, which you need anyway before you get to 3D.

Part of my original mischaracterization came from initially missing the set up. My radio only has two rates, so I skipped the "3D" rate and went with low and "insane." Insane is just that and not even necessary.  Overkill is not usually a bad thing, but for me it was on this plane. 

Now if you want something completely wild that will challenge you every second, that insane rate is, well, insane.

With the 3D rate the plane is so good I don't miss the insane, and two rates instead of three is one less thing for the pilot to get wrong. We had to shoot video instead of tinkering with the plane, but I knew there was a different airplane in the set up. That stability was such a strong suit on this plane I wanted to set it up to get it all. This was virtually the same lesson I learned with the Gamebird and I knew exactly what I wanted from this plane.

I knew instantly on the maiden this is the most stable plane I have flown since the Gamebird, which flies essentially like a big Velox. While all of the good things of the old Velox are still there, all the rough edges have disappeared on the new one. The new one is so refined that it may as well be a completely different plane, and it really is.

But we already had the answer in our hands and that's the manual. With only two rates I knew I had to have low for precision, and with the insane not what I was after, the 3D rate was the logical starting point, and eventually the end. I took the 3d rate and never looked back.

That, and it's always great to get a look at Ashley. 

And it's always a good time to make fun of Ken.

Which means we start from scratch and judge it by it's considerable merit instead of what it used to be. Oh, the old one was great, but you had better know what you were doing with one. Now the new Velox is one that you don't need to be really good to handle proficiently. I'de say a competent sport pilot can pick one up and fly it on low rates just like he would a regular old T28 or something, but the performance is nearly as good as the original just by flipping to high rates, and I believe from there it would be supremely awesome from basic 3D training, right up to anything you can throw at it.

Now it's so easy to push hard that you really need to check a little bit of your confidence because you will feel invincible. Sure it performs like a monster, but when you calm things down planes don't get any easier or more friendly to fly. 

We're kind of out of order here, but we don't have today's video cooked just yet. Here's the first flight on first day out with the 3D rate. You can see the plane was so much improved that my confidence in it was just short of magical. The conditions were really horrible with blasting wind gust and high wind the rest of the time, but the Velox is so stable it remained completely unfazed. 

This might just be one of my own top two or three videos, just because it was the beginning of a great romance between the Velox and me. I got away with some stuff I have never tried before and never came close to a mishap, even pushing past my own limits and in horrible conditions. That tells you right there how exceptional this plane is. Past the limit in bad conditions and she stayed right with me.

3DHS Velox__Doc Austin's Day Off from Doc Austin on Vimeo.

I'm going to keep writing, but a little later in this article we will have today's video where I fly it around like a normal person and show you the stupid crazy stability and ease of flight. The Velox' laid back nature when flying it easy is simply astonishing.

It is worth nothing that today everyone dropped what they were doing and lined up along the fence whenever the Velox went up. We were doing something a little different and I think they were all shocked that such a high performance aircraft would fly in such a gentle manner. Either way, everything else aside, the Velox draws a big crowd just because it's so cool and badass looking. I've taken it to an event and I got lots of positive comments about it. I've also let a few people fly it and they now have their own. The flying doesn't lie.

Set Up
No secrets here other than go with the manual. I have found that the "insane" super high rate is not necessary nor even desirable unless you just want to tumble the thing into orbit. It's too nice of a plane for that anyway, but going to the middle "3D" rate is more than good enough for anything you want to try with it. It's much smoother and easier to handle with the 3D rate. My TX only has two rates anyway, so I go with the low rate and 3D rate from the manual and it's absolutely perfect.

I do deviate a little by setting my low aileron rate to three rolls in five seconds at full speed. This is fast enough that the plane doesn't have time to drop much when you are waiting for it to come around, but slow enough any sport pilot can easily keep up with it. This would even make a superb dedicated sport plane for those who want a great flying, cool looking sport plane, and the option is always there to flip to high and start a new adventure.

The big difference is this is a short coupled plane, which generally means it's very responsive to pitch input. As such you only need about 45 degrees of elevator. I'm at 50, but would have to make a mechanical change to drop to 45. I'm so happy with the plane I'm leaving it alone, but shoot for 45 and 50 is still really solid. Like this it responds like most of the other Extreme Flight planes, but it does seem a bit more locked in on pitch, which I simply can't explain. This plane simply should not be this good, but after two years with it, I still never get enough.

To summarize, I run the low rate from the manual with the ailerons turned down 3 or 4%, and the 3D rate word for word from the manual, except, that is, the extra 5 degrees I am too lazy to take out of the elevator. As far as the aileron low rate, you want three rolls in five seconds at full speed. That's fast enough that the plane won't drop much as it's coming around, and slow enough that you can keep up with it...essentially just right. You can jam the ailerons over and with a tiny touch of down and up can crank off three rolls like they are on a string. It will make you look good.

Remember, the manual is always the best place to start, and unless you need something way different from the rest of us, you'll probably never change it.

You can see my set up photos and learn about the plane in general on  52" Velox Revolution__Return Of The Wild Child

Exemplary Harrier
Here's the real key to any good plane, and especially one used for training. Harrier skills are where it all begins, starting by mastering the elevator drop, and then with a little power moving it forward it becomes a harrier. Once you get to where you can nearly set it down in an elevator or harrier landing, from there you just pull the nose up and your hover will be nearly there.

Granted, not easy for the new guys, but the more you practice the easier it gets, and becomes so much fun you won't want to do anything else. It also helps to do routine harrier practice every time out, but I don't mind anything that makes me fly better, especially if it's fun to do anyway.

But this is the Velox' turf we are on here. I haven't flown anything that has such a strong, smooth, locked in harrier (except the Gamebird). Most people would tell you Edge has the advantage here, but the overall character and 99% of the Edge's harrier manners is still a jolly solid plane.

This is why I think it would make a good first 3D plane. It may not exactly be a true 3D trainer, but I fly it like that. In the old days I learned on a 3DHS Extra SHP. That was the most happy-go-lucky thing I have ever flown, and I regard the new Velox as my Hyper SHP. Still happy, still go lucky, but with blinding performance.

It's just nothing but solid and reassuring. The reason I suggest you be a competent sport pilot is because it is still an very agile plane, and you tame that by using the expo numbers, again, straight from the manual, which is gold.  Maybe the Edge would be a little better, maybe not, but the Velox pegs the cool scale.

Some of this comes from running a big 15" prop because holding a little power on blows enough air over the plane to not only keep it up in the air, but also feeds the control surfaces and keeps you in control. Post stall manners are otherworldly, and that's how you are going to be able to describe your confidence after you have a few flights on one.

Smooth Precision
Precision really was the big surprise because for long, sleek lines you want a long plane. The Velox is short coupled, so conventional wisdom is that it would suffer in big sky stuff. It doesn't Not at all. I'de say if it gives up anything at all to a longer plane like the Extra, it's a percent or two and not worth worrying about. In the end, maybe there was a little, but you get used to the plane, adapt and fly it as precisely as you would an Extra. 

The Velox really does absolutely everything exceptional well and cleanly.

Here's today's junket of video. In the first we just putter around and relax with the plane. I would guess I had backed off to about 60% of balls out, but that allowed me to hit my marks better and just have some fun.

3D Hoby Shop Velox_Too Much Fun.mp4 from Doc Austin on Vimeo.

There's actually a lot to be said for backing off on the intensity to get a good, smooth flight. The plane is so stable I can still fly hard and not have much trouble, but backing off a little gives you a more composed presentation. If you're trying to showcase a plane's stability and precision this is a pretty good technique. When you start pushing really hard it's easy to get sloppy, either from adrenalin or just skirting your own personal limit. That's ok on an agility video because crazed flying is always fun to watch too.

Today was a good lesson on backing off and giving a more balanced flight. I'm not going to abandon the wild stuff, but I will be incorporating more sedate flying that the new guys won't be afraid to try, and that's who we want to help most anyway.

Here we go a little off script, and I fly the plane really hard, though with a bit more margin, and taking the time to set everything up better, and manage the flow. I just slowed it down a little to take my time and get it right. I blow a couple of exits, but the wind was really howling, and maybe I relaxed too much and got sloppy.  In general I think it is a different style and looks better in it's own way. It's a different look from all out gonzo, but if it makes the presentation look better and it's more fun, this is more the way I'm going to fly this plane.

3D Hoby Shop Velox_Too Much Fun 002.mp4 from Doc Austin on Vimeo.

The new Zonker
What else are you going to call a plane that looks like it's on fire when it goes by? I couldn't choose, so I got both. As of now, this plane has only five flights on it. The blue might be getting all the love, but the yellow s going to stay pristine and perfectly dialed in for when I need it.

 The video here is a little dark, but the sunset was cool and I found a beautiful soundtrack for it. It's darker than it looks. I was fighting to see the plane, but the yellow really helped here. 


3DHS Velox__3DHS Velox__Doc Austin's Day Off 4 from Doc Austin on Vimeo.

Let's be clear here about one thing. This is a 100% blood and guts old time rock and roll 3DHS fly low plane all the way. It may be a Velox, but it's character and soul has the deep running roots of the original Extra SHP, and especially the SR. Most of us grew up flying those planes, and in honesty, they made me into a pilot.

From here how do you summarize a plane that defies the conventional wisdom that you have to sacrifice something to get something? OK, maybe the Velox gives up a percent or two to the Extra in grace, and maybe the Edge is a percent easier and more stable, but it's so close any intermediate pilot can make up that difference after a flight or two. The Velox does everything sparklingly well, and it's performance bias, while a little different, rivals the Extra for being the best rounded plane in the lineup.

Finally a note of thanks to Ben Fisher for his patience and guidance from the early years. I didn't know jack about set up, but he brought me along and many, many of the things I instinctually applied on this project comes directly from what I learned from him. He designs a pretty mean plane too.

That, and the Boss rocks.

Finally, and this time for real, for cell users YouTube seems to work better for cell phones or slower connections, so we will give it a try. For this video, you will want to crank the sound.