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Saturday, September 19, 2020

Extreme Flight 60 Edge V2__Flight Review

We've been looking forward to this plane for a long time. The Edge has always been almost everyone's first love, and the a plane to learn 3D with, but there's a lot more than just that.

The Edge is also extremely capable of balls out 3D, as well as high speed precision. While the Edge is good at everything, it's strongest attributes are more tailored toward 3D, but it still has an excellent overall balance. It's pretty much a plane everyone has to have.  You can start 3D with the Edge and hone your craft, but you won't grow out of it like you did with your basic trainer. Even the most advanced pilots still love the Edge.

The 60" V1 is still near the top of the food chain in the 60" class, but like it's sister in the lineup, the Extra EXP V1, the newest construction techniques and materials opened a lot of room for improvement. The big V2 reboot machine just keeps on rolling and giving us better planes. New construction techniques and materials now give us a stronger, lighter, stiffer airframe that stays tighter, last longer, and flies better. You can read more about the Edge's new construction in 60" Edge V2__Unfair Advantage Optimized.

This article will deviate from our formula a little in that we will talk about the V2's improved flying first. Since it's still an Edge, and still has the same character, we will reprint similar information from the V1 initial tests. The V2 is still the same plane, only optimized to fly better.

V2 Improves The Flight
Here's where we found the big Lebowski. We have seen how the V2 treatment has transformed planes like the 48" and 60" Extra EXP, so it was no surprise that the Edge benefited from this just as much. Here we're going to break down how the V2 package improves every area of performance. You will notice the one recurring theme is how the stronger V2 mixed composite materials make for a better flying plane.

No surprise here because the basic airframe stays pretty close to the same. The Edge has always been notorious for it's faultless harrier manners, and here the V2 is a little better. Some of this comes from the lighter weight, but we're also dealing with a stiffer airframe that maintains it's alignment better. With time wood will flex, and this will make the airplane less precise. While this is mega essential for flying precision maneuvers, it's also essential in 3D.  Stiffness keeps the plane aligned, staying straight and tracking like it's on a rail.

Harrier performance is slightly improved, but honestly, there wasn't much more to find here as the V1 was pretty close to perfect. Still, the Edge does cleaner harrier than any of the other 60s, though the Gamebird offers a good challenge in that area to the V2.

Mostly it's like the old one in that it's got superb stability with no wing rock. I did not expect a monumental improvement, but we did get some. It's hard to improve on what we used to think was perfect, but here it is.  The rigid construction on this plane keeps the plane aligned, and high speed tracking goes off the scale. The new Edge will do high speed precision on a level with the Extra, which is widely considered to be the king here.

Extreme Flight Edge EXP V2 First Flights 2 from Doc Austin on Vimeo. 

With all the composite reinforcement in critical high stress areas, there is no flexing under any condition. Any time a plane flexes, it can come out of perfect alignment, which screws up your tracking. This has been minimized a little more with each new V2. You might not think precision are high stress maneuvers, but most of the time it's at high speed with a ton of air going over the plane. That in itself is a lot of stress and a stiff plane especially comes into play here.

Point and slow rolls are much more crisp because the plane just grooves through all of it. While the Edge's one shortcoming was that it was a little behind the others in this area, that's all but been erased. Still, you're never going to challenge the Extra for being graceful doing what it does best, but it's so close now that the trade off for a little better 3D is justified.

Big sky stuff in general is so much easier because you are never fighting the plane and it's never fighting you. I like to complement the Extra for it's point and shoot nature, but the Edge is almost right there with it.

Snaps, spins, etc.
Here the super stiff airframe make the plane very lively, but in a very controlled way.Again, the stiff construction keeps the airplane straight, especially under the kind of stress we are putting them through now days. Like this you can control the entries and exit of your snaps and spins better. You can pin point your exit better, which looks better than thrashing around and waiting to see which way it comes out. Hard to consider tumbles a precision maneuver, but with the new planes it's becoming that.

The straight LE (leading edge) of the wing doesn't allow snaps to be as precise as a triple taper wing, but the Edge is still so good here it's just a matter of adapting and timing things a little differently. Like with my other Edges, after flying other planes, I can dial myself back into this airplane in about a half a pack. It's not a big thing. It's just what the pilot is for.

Spins are great. You can either spin it with right/right/down (or left/left/down) and the plane will point nearly straight down spinning merrily around. The best part is it looks scary, but as soon as you let off the stick the plane will absolutely stop, and then you just apply power and fly it out. People are afraid to try this, but once they do it a couple of times it just becomes natural.

You can also stall the plane and use up full up elevator and full rudder to flatten the spin out. You can whip it around even faster with a little power and opposite aileron, and if you let off the elevator it will flatten out even more. You can speed the spin up or down by switching the elevator from full up to full down, but be careful that you don't have so much fun with this that you forget the ground is coming up.

Conventional snaps are very good, and with proper timing very precise. It's not quite as precise as the Extra, but it's close enough most guys won't notice.

As far as tumbles. the Edge is better than all but the MXS. If you play it right you can toss the nose over the tail, which is a signature move of the Slick.  Even with my V1, I could get a back flip out of it but the V2 is just that little bit more lively.

The Edge has always been the knife edge spin king. You don't even need to get the entry right, though it looks better when you do. I like to use an outside snap and carry the momentum into the spin, but if you just hold the stick in the right place and add a little power, it will thrash around and eventually fall into it all on it's own. Where the Edge looks really good in this is that you can use an embarrassingly small amount of power and the thing will whip around even harder than at full throttle. Of course, the full throttle noise is half the fun, but the low throttle KE spin is a thing of beauty.

Mostly everything is just better because the plane is stiffer and stresses won't twist it out of alignment.  I can pretty much repeat this about every area of performance and it would apply.

Extreme Flight Edge EXP V2 First Flights from Doc Austin on Vimeo.

Of course the lighter weight helps. Mostly everything seems tighter and more precise. The plane just feels good. It's stable, and agile enough to let you stay ahead of the plane. I think it's going to help guys improve their 3D.

From here, we're going to reprint the flight report for the V1. The two Edge's basic nature is very much alike. They fly about the same except the V2 does everything a little better.

V1 Reprint
The more we try to stick to the format, the more we are forced to change! We have previously published so much information on the 60" Edge V1 that it would be impossible not to repeat a lot of it. Rather than plagiarize previous work, it's more honest to just copy/paste it and label it reprint. So.

The Edge's secret is the straight LE (leading edge) of it's wing. This goes a long way toward killing off wing rock, which we will get into a little later. In super hard pitch rotations the LE minimizes tip stall, which is a nasty condition of one wing tip stalling before the other. As you can imagine, with one wing flying and the other not, the plane is not often going to go where you are pointing it. With the Edge, you can slam it into a wall or a parachute or just turn it so hard that other planes would snap out, yet the Edge totally maintains it's composure.

Before I explain wing rock, let me say this is a phenomenon that does not even remotely affect the Edge. This invulnerability to wing rock is the Edge's biggest single strength and what makes is so easy to fly, especially in 3D alpha flight.

The hardest part of learning to harrier (first step of learning 3D) is dealing with wing rock. This is when one wing stalls and recovers, and then the other does the same thing until the wings rock back and forth, getting worse with each rock until the plane just sort of goes off wherever it wants to go. A really bad  plane will simply stall one wing completely, snap roll out and spin into the ground.  A little wing rock is harmless compared to that, but you still don't want any because it just looks sloppy, which is something few of us aspire to.

The Edge just refuses to wing rock at all. I have even flown mine without the SFGs (side force generators) and it was absolutely dead solid in harrier without any trace of harrier rock. Sometimes I will just harrier the Edge around for a whole flight because it is so much fun and so little stress, but the Edge always impresses everyone watching. People are impressed with smooth flying, and the Edge does smooth harrier so well that it is by far most of my friend's favorite all around plane. Even my students who have moved on to more challenging planes still keep an Edge around because they are so sweet. I've got three of them right now. 

The Edge's other trump card is it's ability to do easy, controlled and smooth elevator drop maneuver. I start my students with this first because it teaches them basic harrier skills. An elevator drop is simply stalling the airplane deeply and holding in elevator, allowing the plane to sink belly first in an almost straight down line. You have to play the elevator, rudder, ailerons (minimally) and throttle to steer the plane, keep it level and control the rate of descent, but doing all of these things from the safety of higher altitude teaches you a lot in a hurry. Once you get a good elevator going it is simply a matter of adding a little power so the plane moves forward, and then you have a harrier going! Most of my students transition from doing elevator drops into harrier flight just by my telling them to add a little power, and then they get it all figured out pretty quickly.

The Edge also does high violence maneuvers very well. It does beautiful pops tops and KE (knife edge) spins. In fact, all you do in a KE spin is lock the controls in the right position and watch the nose flop over the tail again and again. Entry is not even that critical. With the Edge, KE spins are almost automatic.

Snaps both inside and out are really crisp, though the straight LE does make hitting them perfectly a bit more difficult than flying a triple tapered wing. Of course, with a simple adjustment to your timing (flying style) you can still get razor precise snaps. It is just when you jump back and forth from one EXP to another that you might notice this. When I fly my Edges a lot the difference just seems to sort of disappear because I adapt to it.

You can also wind the Edge up really tight in a good tumble.

In the 48: size, the Edge gives up a little bit of precision to it's other EXP siblings, but again, you can make up for a lot of this simply by adjusting your technique. However, the 60" Edge is so smooth, solid and locked in that this margin is much, much smaller. The big Edge does really smooth slow rolls, point rolls and consecutive rolls. With a good pilot you would never know the Edge is not quite as precise as something like the Extra EXP, just because it is that damm good.

KE flight is also really excellent, though because of the straight LE you give up just a little yaw authority at high speed. This is not much of a problem at all because it's simply a flying adjustment. You just use more stick and the problem never was.

As you can see in the video, the Edge EXP does everything really, really well, and it's 3D manners are unparalleled for learning 3D or for flying all 3D all the time, while still having excellent precision manners. The Edge is a most excellent choice.