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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

EXTREME FLIGHT Edge 540T EXP__The 3s Report

This report is going to be a little different from previous ones in that I have already owned the plane, wrecked it due to bad luck (stupid flying), and am waiting for another one to be delivered! I flew my first Extreme Flight Edge 540T EXP on 3s power and it was smooth, easy but agile, precise, and awesome. It was incredibly nice all the way around and it encouraged me to try the rest of the EXP line up.

This report will be about flying the Edge on 3s, and when I get my new one built, we will come back and report on 4s flying and how we set the aircraft up, complete with set up photos.

Hard on the heels of Extreme Flight's ground breaking 48" Extra 300 EXP comes the Edge 540T EXP. The EXP series is full of design and build innovation. Much of this is covered in our Extreme Flight Extra 300 EXP_Clean Sheet  report.

Since the flying is the most important part of any report, let's just dive right in. Sections on set up and equipment will follow in our next Edge 540T EXP report.


What I have always loved most about the Edge 540 is how comfortably it allows you to fly extreme Kamikaze 3D with total confidence. This was enough for me, but now the Edge 540T EXP blows the envelope wide open by doing very nice precision work as well. This is where my previous Edges fell a little short, but remember we are now dealing with an EXP series plane.

The EXP series fly differently. They are very, very stable airplanes with long tail moments, huge stabilizers, and tall fuselages with a wide, flat bottom. Add to that the huge, stability inducing side force generators (SFG) and you've got a plane that flies very smoothly and locked in. The EXPs go and stay exactly where you put them. Then, when you do want them to turn, roll, yaw or snap hard, the EXPs have huge control surfaces with lots of movement to give you great control authority. Not only does the stability keep you out of trouble, but you can push the airplane extremely hard and it will never lose it's composure. At first, I had to force myself to fly these airplanes that hard, because the stability had me refusing to believe they could also be so agile, but they are.

The Edge does conventional aerobatics with ridiculous ease. It will roll, loop, snap, spin, and do basic maneuvers with as much ease as nearly any sport plane, but the real surprise comes with KE, point rolls, and other precision maneuvers. The entire EXP series really shines here, and much of this has to be due to Extreme Flight's excellent pedigree in IMAC and precision competition.

You end up with a plane that is smooth and stable enough for precision pattern and IMAC work, yet still agile enough to do every 3D move in the book. All the EXP series airframes are so smooth that I generally leave my rates on high and even do my precision maneuvers this way.

The outstanding feature of the Edge 540T design is the straight leading edge (LE) of it's wing. This goes a long way to eliminating wing tip stall, and in dampening wing rock in harrier and elevator maneuvers. The straight LE also helps keep the wings level in high rotation maneuvers such as walls and parachutes. This has always made the Edge design a 3D favorite, though the EXP goes to another level. Of all the planes I have flown, the Edge is the most solid in harrier, and in elevators.

The Edge and the rest of the EXP series track like arrows, but are as agile as anything I have ever flown. They are the best of both worlds.

All the EXP series planes harrier exceptionally well. The Edge is just the best one of them for this. Using a conventional set up of 50 degrees of elevator travel, they are all pretty similar, though the Edge 540T has zero wing rock at all times no matter how sloppy you get with it. All of them are absolutely excellent, but the Edge 540T has the.....uhhhh, edge here.

First, as noted before, the straight LE of the wing makes for an exceptionally stable platform that doesn't tip stall and won't rock. The pilot can still induce a bit of rock if his form is sloppy enough, but the big side force generators (SFG) kill that almost instantly. The stability in harrier with the Edge 540T is almost obscene. The plane is a joy to just drag around with the nose way up in the air, and she will turn very hard like this on the rudder. This just makes it so much easier that doing extreme 3D with the Edge 540T EXP is almost like cheating.

Pitch Maneuvers
Also, in super hard pitch rotations such as in walls and parachutes, you know the Edge wings will go where you point them. You can do high intensity, low level parachutes at ridiculously low altitudes, simply because after one of two of them, you have that kind of confidence in the airplane. You can go lower and lower knowing she will pop to flat with her wings level every time. At some point, though, that's low enough, though I have actually popped a parachute and rode it into a perfect 3 point landing with this plane.

It's the same thing with wall maneuvers. You know you can hammer the stick back and the plane will rotate with the wings level until you let go. Again, the straight LE keeps the wings where you want them, so the Edge won't fall off to one side or roll where you don't want it to go. The last thing you want is to drop a wing towards the pits when you pull the nose to straight vertical and dead stall the plane right on the deck, which is why you don't want to try that unless you have a plane that gives you the kind of confidence the Edge does.

With all the EXP series planes, the tail will whip hard around the wing tube in a waterfall maneuver. The Edge though, takes a little less rudder correction and tracks through it straighter. The waterfall just seems to be easier with this plane.

KE Spin
Knife edge spins with the Edge 540T EXP are criminally easy. You simply put in full left rudder, full down elevator, full throttle and 1/8 left aileron. The Edge 540T EXP just falls into a beautiful KE spin with the tail just snapping over and over and the Torque 2814 screaming it's guts out. You can manipulate the throttle from there, but it seems at about half power you get an absolutely tortured growl out of the prop that makes it sound like the whole airplane is coming apart!

The best part is, provided your CG is close, that you can enter the KE spin from just about any attitude or speed and the plane doesn't care. Like this you can turn a conventional spin into a KE one, or enter from a stall turn, outside loop or ever from upright level flight. With some entries it will wallow about a bit first, but it always goes in if you just leave the sticks there.

I like to enter from the top of an outside loop because it flows right in. It looks like an outside loop, only you surprise onlookers by dropping it right in as she comes over the top. Since the transition is so seamless and there is no waiting, I can enter a KE spin at a pretty low level, get a couple of rotations and fly away right on the deck. The Edge comes out of the KE spin just as soon as you release the sticks, so you can get low pretty confidently.

I like to go to full power right before I know I am coming out. This gives me a lot of airflow over the controls, because remember, the wing is absolutely dead stalled and has no forward momentum at this point. When I want the plane to stop rotating, I release the controls and still hold just a smidge of down elevator....... and she will fly out inverted. You are holding down elevator anyway, and to me it looks smoother to fly her out on her back. The trick is to release the controls when she is pointed the direction you want her to fly out in, but that is just a timing thing you have to work on, and I still mess it up more often than I would like.

Knife Edge Flight
The EXP series features huge SFGs which add lift and stability in KE. Actually, I think they add stability all the way around, and I like to use them on all my planes.

Since I started flying the EXP series my KE game has evolved. I almost never used to fly any KE, simply because I wasn't any good at it. Lots of planes squirm around, act unstable and all in KE, not to mention they don't fly in a straight line like this. With the added stability of EXP sized SFGs, and the EXP's tall fuselage sides, these airframes ae much more stable, and have much more lift when flying on their side. When you add to that the EXPs are very nearly KE coupling free, you can see how much confidence you can get out of a plane that flies KE in stable, straight line.

Edge 540T EXP VRS The Extra 300 And MXS EXP
I fly each of these planes to their strengths. While the three of them are very similar in the way they fly, each has areas where it is stronger than the others. If I feel like working on being smooth and precise, the Extra is the best plane for that. If I want to fly wild, unrestrained, off-the-hook 3D, the Edge is the best choice for that day.

The Edge does give up a little to the Extra's double tapered wing in rolling precision, but most of us aren't good enough for that to be a big issue. The high alpha stability you gain with the Edge's straight LE, especially in harrier and hard rotation moves, is a fair exchange.

While the Extra might seem to be a little more stable than the Edge, I think this is an illusion created by the Edge's greater agility and the Extra's more refined precision manners. The Extra is definitely easier to fly, though for hardcore 3D, it also isn't quite as capable as the Edge.

The Extra is a little better when you mix precision with your 3D, but the Edge is better for hardcore 3D. However, you can still flip to low rates and the Edge 540T does excellent, smooth and precise IMAC work. She is great all the way around, though tailored a bit more for hardcore 3D than the Extra.

As compared to the MXS, that one seems to be right in the middle of the other two. The MXS is sort of it's own dog, and flies a bit differently. I think the MXS is probably a bit of the best of both the Extra and Edge, and it is very nicely balanced to do 3D and precision with equal ease and grace.

Flying The Edge On 3s
My original Edge flew on nothing but 3s and I loved it that way. It was nice and floaty, and super easy to fly. I sort of like moderate power systems anyway because it is so much easier and less stressful to fly them that way. It is also easier to be precise when you aren't spending the whole time hanging on to it!

The previous two videos of my original Edge were flown on on 3s packs. You can see how smooth and easy she is like this. Not quite as graceful as the Extra, but still damm smooth for a plane that does monster 3D so well.


Of the current three EXP series airframes, I had not intended to do the Edge 540T report last. It just sort of worked out that way. I had an Edge from the original first shipment, and it was my favorite plane at the time, but we sort of ran into some bad luck (stupid flying) right as Extreme Flight sold out of Edges and I couldn't get another one right away. So, we sort of had to back burner the report.

This was probably just as well. I would have been content to buy another Edge, and probably wouldn't have discovered what killa planes the Extra 300 EXP and MXS EXP are. I've been flying and loving those, but you can believe it that I was chomping at the bit to get started when UPS dropped off my two new Edge 540 EXPs earlier this week.

Flying With Extreme Elevator Travel
One feature exclusive in this size to the EXP series is the insane available elevator throw. I get about 88 degrees on mine, which, believe me, is enough. Where this comes in handy is for violent pitch rotations, and added elevator authority all the way around. This is simply an insane amount of control surface movement, and you don't need it unless you are going for absolutely extreme, outer limits 3D performance. For most sport 3D pilots, elevator movement of 50 degrees is more than enough.

In walls, parachutes, and extremely hard turns, the Edge remains composed because of it's straight LE. While running a more conventional 50 degrees of elevator movement, the Edge is slightly better in this respect than the other EXP series planes, but when you use the available 90 degrees of travel the Edge truly sets itself apart.

We are going to cheat a little here because I lost most of the photos of my original Edge in a hard drive crash. This is a photo of the elevator travel on my MXS, but the Edge gets every bit as much movement.....

90 degrees of elevator deflection is simply a ridiculous amount of throw. It gives you the kind of pitch authority to absolutely whip the tail over the nose in waterfalls, and nearly throw the tail under the airplane in wall maneuvers.

Parachutes are just plain disturbing because the airplane will rotate to completely horizontal with a satisfying pop, and the whole airframe jolts to a stop and becomes own parachute, floating down gently. You can do high intensity, high speed parachutes at ridiculously low altitudes, simply because after doing one of two of them, you have that kind of confidence in the airplane. You can go lower and lower knowing she will pop to flat with her wings level every time. At some point, though, that's low enough, though I have actually popped a parachute and rode it into a perfect 3 point landing with this plane.
While this kind of control throw will give you insane pitch authority for walls, parachutes and other hard pitch rotation moves, you do have to be more careful in a harrier with all that travel.

Extreme Elevator Travel ... The Downside
On any plane this additional movement will make things a bit trickier. On some it would make the airplane evil or even impossible to fly, but the EXP series are so stable you can get away with it. The only downside I have found is that harrier becomes just a little trickier.

In harrier you are on the ragged edge (so to speak) of a complete stall, flying off the partial lift from the airframe and thrust from the propeller. While the plane is flying around in a mush, with a full 90 degrees of elevator travel you can still rotate the plane hard enough to dump all of the remaining lift pretty quickly. What fools you when you get to critically slow speed is that the rudder and ailerons are nearly ineffective, but you still have enough elevator to pitch the nose past that critical angle of attack and stall the plane completely. It helps to lead with the throttle a little, and after you get the hang of it, you can almost anticipate when you need to apply a blip.

With the Extra and MXS, you have to be smooth at critically slow speeds, or all that throw can bring on the stall so quickly that it can surprise you. Also, in elevator maneuvers, if you use too much elevator movement the plane will yaw off a bit, and then you end up chasing it back and forth with the rudder.

Conversely, the Edge 540T, with the straight leading edge wing, has a stall that is straight, progressive and predictable, so it mushes it's way into it so straight and smoothly that you almost can't make it surprise you. For this reason, I think it is the best EXP airframe for hardcore unlimited 3D antics. You can go ridiculously deep into a stall and the airplane will never do anything evil. No mater how hard you push the Edge, it remains composed and sure footed.

While the Extra and MXS are much easier to harrier on a mid rate of 50 degrees elevator or so, the Edge 540T simply doesn't care nearly as much. I never take mine off high rates and the full 90 degrees of elevator movement. Even with this extreme elevator movement and flying at an extreme angle of attack, there is absolutely no wing rock. The Edge is completely solid all the way around. This doesn't mean you can't stall it or anything, but you won't have to fight it so hard in a harrier because the wings are going to stay level.

The extreme elevator movement does make all the EXPs a little twitchier in a harrier, but it is something you adapt to pretty quickly and learn to fly around. Something else you can do is use a triple rate.....low rate for precision, high rate for 3D (with 50 degrees of elevator) and insane rate (90 degrees elevator) for, uhhhh.....insane 3D.

However, I go back and forth from alpha to high speed and back again so rapidly and so often that I don't have time to be flipping switches, if I even remember, that is. As a result, I have just learned to leave my rates set on kill and live with it. It's not that bad with an EXP because they are so smooth, stable and predictable, even on the highest rate I can put into them. I do all my precision and 3D on one rate, simply because the plane is good enough to let me do it that way.

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