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Saturday, September 8, 2012

MXS Flight Test __ 64 Inches Of Awesome

 Having had Extras, Edges and Yaks in a multitude of sizes, one constant I have noticed it that as you go bigger the planes become smoother to fly, more precise, and they feel more solid and sure footed. Having until now  flown an MXS EXP only in a 48" span, I could only guess this would hold true of the 60" MXS, but this time it was surprising just how much more smooth, precise, solid and sure footed it is.
Right now my MXS has a lucky 13 flights on it. Four of those were the first day out when my eyes were giving me a lot of trouble, so it is hard to count those. The rest were yesterday and with each pack I would run through the plane my confidence would swell. I thought I knew what to expect from the MXS, but it has already far surpassed that.
This is by far the best flying plane I have ever owned. I will have to fly it back to back with the 60" Extra to get a clearer picture, but I think for my style of flying the big MXS rocks.
The difference Is in The Tips.
Again, this is another case where a review gets a little weird.  The MXS comes with beautifully made racing wingtips. They are really works of art, and they do make a substantial difference in how the airplane files. As such, this report will center on flying the plane with the tips installed, and the next report will be on flying the MXS without them.
The beautifully made racing wing tips offered their share of surprises. A fiberglas version of these come with the 48" MXS, but I didn't find those to affect the flight characteristics all that much. As such, I did not expect the bigger ones to do much either, but I could not have been more wrong.  On the 60" MXS, removing the tips turned it into a completely different airplane.
OK, color me surprised. I figured they were cute little cosmetic pieces, but they are really very functional. The wingtips dampen the roll rate, slow down snap rolls, tumbles, pop tops, and the plane is more reluctant to go into a knife edge (KE) spin. In this configuration, the 60" MXS was actually tamer than I was expecting it to be. It is more like a big, easy, floaty 3D trainer.
You can see in our first two videos how incredibly locked in the plane is, and how docile and predicatable it is.  For the first few flights this was a good thing because I really didn't need to wreck it. Being so stable allowed me to push it really hard without the fear it was going to get away from me, but the price is the MXS signature wildness has also been dampened a bit, though even like this, it is still a damm nice airplane and still very capable.
I did make one flight using the SFGs and no wing tips, and like this the 60" MXS was much more like it's smaller sibling.  The roll rate probably increased about 40%.... it was startling, though not uncomfortable. It was just a surprise that it made that much difference.  I could get a full two to two and a half turns on a pop top, snaps were more violent and crisp, and KE spins were much easier,  requiring less attention to entry and form. It just goes in real easy without a lot of fuss, and locks right in effortlessly, whereas with the wingtips in place it requires a lot more finesse.
OK, I don't want this to sound like it is a bad thing, because quite the opposite, it's not. The wingtips actually serve a very useful purpose, and that is taming the MXS down to the point that almost any intermediate sport pilot would find it easy to handle.  If you want a tamer MXS, put the tips on. If you want to go ballistic and fly a wild MXS, take them off.
Removing the tips makes the MXS into a much more aggressive performer, and I think that is eventually the way I will prefer to fly it. For now, though, I had already flown it with the tips so much that I figured this would be the best way to shoot the video, and next time out I can get used to it without the tips for a few flights and shoot some more. I think the differences will be very interesting. 



In general the big MXS is much like the small one, but in this configuration is is so smooth and forgiving that you could almost use it as a 3D trainer. It is surprisingly easy like this, even with the big throws I am running. The one thing that kept happening over and over was my being surprised at how gentle the plane is to fly.
But it's still pretty agile. As you can see in the videos, pitch authority is nearly as strong as on the little one. The one thing I would have liked more of on the 60" Extra EXP was pitch authority, and on the MXS it seems just about right to me. It will stand up real nice in a wall, and pop to nearly dead flat in a parachute. As you can see in the video, it also does a real nice elevator manuever, but you can also see it moving forward a bit too, so I am still probably a bit nose heavy.
Dialing It In
Once I can move the CG back maybe another 1/8" to 1/4", I think the agility will really come in and those elevator maneuvers will fall straight down. I'm still getting it dialed in, but I am also moving slowly and cautiously because this is a brand new design that I have no previous experience with.
So far the plane has responded exactly like I was expecting with every adjustment. That's the mark of a good design.... it responds predictably to sound engineering and set up work. It's the crappy designs that bite you when you go the wrong way on set up. A good plane will give you signs where you are going wrong, but won't freak and and spin into the ground if you miss the set up a little.
With this being such a comparatively large and expensive plane, plus the fact I love it so much, I am trying not to get too confident with it too quickly. The problem is that the plane is so good that this is becoming impossible and I am starting to think that with the 60" MXS I am invincible.


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