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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Workhorse Of The Year: 60" Extra EXP


While we got off to a slow start with the 60" Extra, she made up for it with a blistering summer. I tried to save the big Extra for special occasions, because I just love the thing too much. I intended to keep the wear and tear to a minimum because I wanted it to last forever. I am a bit weird for Extras, and with this one being so big and so beautiful, I didn't want to be beating it up every single day.

Of course, this had to change when I became fortunate enough to be included in the testing program for the new Torque 4016/500 Mk II motor, which meant lots of hardcore, wide open torture testing. At this point my best airplane had become expendable for the cause.

While I really did not want to wear this plane out, I think I was also reluctant to tear it up transporting it, taking it apart and reassembling it, etc. We all have a plane that we treasure, and this one is mine. Eventually I realized this was ridiculous, because I can build another one in seven or eight hours and enjoy the process anyway.

So, I just hammered the hell out of this plane all summer long. It routinely went out four to five times a week and put in six to eight flights every time. During the July break for eye surgery, I kind of lost track of how many flights we had done, but I gotta believe it was upwards of 200 or so,  maybe more....and that was just up until July. We still had All of August through October to hammer the crap out of the motor before it was approved for production.

In  the beginning this was not so hard on the motor because Florida spring is not too bad. The telling part was May through early September when temperatures would generally hover around 92-95 degrees with 90%-ish humidity. During August, stepping out my front door is like walking into a blast furnace, so you could hardly ask for a more torturous environment in which to test a new motor.

My job was to run the motor super hard and try to blow it up. This was a really good opportunity to flip to low rates and blast off some slow and point rolls, and do some big sky maneuvering. The Extra is the perfect plane for this sort of thing because it tracks like a pattern plane. I got my low rates dialed in just right for this and my precision maneuvers got much better as the program progressed.

The Extra will make you a better pilot anyway, and working on the precision aspect really tightens up your entire game. I flew pattern in the 80s, and you can't believe how much your precision game will fall apart if you don't stay on top of it. Having a good precision airframe also really helps with your 3D because it trains you to put the plane exactly where you want it to go, and to do it smoothly. Admittedly there's still a long way to go, but I think the Extra really helped me improve my flying all the way around this summer.

I took the big Extra out day after day and flew it harder and harder. This airplane was easy enough to get crazy comfortable with to begin with, but after flying it over and over I am so confident with this plane that I sometimes feel like I can set the transmitter down and will it to go where I want it to!

The 60" Extra was easily my hardest working plane in show business this summer. Generally I show a bit of reverence for the 60" class planes, but that had to go by the wayside to get the job done. I had to hammer it hard and often, and in the end, this plane turned out to make every bit as much sense as a 48" plane. There is the slight inconvenience of having to take it apart to get it into the car, but outside of that, the 60" Extra is dead solid reliable and doesn't really cost all that much more to put together.

Wear, Tear, And Restoration
Initially I intended this to be my special plane. I was going to be really nice to it and baby it and all, but it didn't work out that way, or even come close. It became an every day beater that I try to treat a little better than that.

I recently took it all apart, checked and cleaned everything, and put it back together for another year's worth of special abuse. Except for the scrapes I put on the SFGs doing slow rolls on take off, It looks like a brand new plane.
Oddly enough, the underside rear of the wheel pants are scraped up a bit too. In really hard tumbles and such, sometimes the wheel pants will swing down on the axles, and then they drag on the ground when you land! I just need to check the nuts that hold the axles on a little more often and keep them tight so the pants won't move around. It's just that I have gotten a little bit lazy with maintenance because the electrics require so little. It's too easy to just fly and forget about it.

Outside of that, this plane has never so much as seen a hard landing, simply because it is so easy to land. That, and I generally try to wheel land it because it does it so gracefully. She is still capable of sweet, smooth harrier landings as you can see in the videos, but it's still a lot easier on the airframe to slick it in on the mains. I like this plane so much that I never forget to take care of it and I never get careless and let it bounce off the ground.
You might notice the Extreme Flight decals on the wing. Those were left over from my 48" Laser EXP when I had B and E Graphix make up a special package for it. The blue was a near perfect match for the Ultrakote and it gave me a chance to try Rapic Tac decal application fluid for the first time. It's a little different and I like it.
The 60" Extra is a righteously wonderful airframe. I've hammered the crap out of it for a whole year and all it took to put if back into near new condition was a bit of Windex and a few touch ups with the trim iron.

Essentially, its just damm good airplane.

Check back soon for the build report on the red one.

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