I was probably looking forward to this plane too much, which made the wait even more painful. Add to that a nasty bout of the flu, and I didn't get to fly mine until two weeks after I got it. Like all really good things, though, this plane was definitely worth the wait.
As chronicled in 52" Extra EXP__Synergistic Integration, this is probably the nicest plane I have ever built. So many little things that take up building time were already done. Servo holes were cut and pre-drilled, and all the holes in the covering for wing tube, wing retention tabs, anti rotation pins, holes for SFG bolts, and on and on were all precut. You could almost build this plane without using a hobby knife! The only time I used a drill was for the cowling.
The level of prefabrication is so extreme that these two Extras were probably the easiest builds I have ever done. I was able to concentrate on the important things like getting the tail on straight and hinging perfect.
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After building a few EXPs, you know the method. Once had my hands on the plane, it was so familiar that I completely forgot to consult the manual and just started building it. Everything was instinctual. All four pushrods were the same length, and the servo holes were pre-cut and pre-drilled, so it would be hard to get wrong even if you tried.
Once I saw the red, I ordered a blue right away. Since the weather was so bad and I was still not feeling my best, flying was out of the question, so I took three full days building the blue as slowly as I could. I enjoy building anyway, but working with such a premium kit and as much time as I needed was a real luxury. I probably enjoyed this build more than any plane I have ever owned.
"Instinctual" also applies to the Extra's flying. My overriding thought is that it's just an Extra. This is not a dismissive observation, in fact, that is the most glowing praise I can put on a plane. It looks like and Extra, and it flies like an Extra, which are the two things I most absolutely adore about Extras.
So far I haven't been able to fly one of these planes in anything less than 20mph winds, but both planes handled it extremely well. Both times I had a dead 90 degree crosswind, so the conditions were very close to un-flyable. Still, years of flying EXPs gave me the confidence to just go do it.
Everything I have said about previous Extra EXPs applies to this one, though it does have a bit of it's own character. While the Extra's precision manners remain unchanged, it's 3D ability has been improved. This one seems to be easier to 3D than either the 48 "or 60" and I attribute some of this to the planes lightness and excess power. The plane just feels lighter, even lighter and more powerful than the 60" EXP. Some of this could be lift from the high wind, though it still felt very light even going downwind.
Extra 52 EXP__Synergistic Integration from Doc Austin on Vimeo.
While I did not measure it, the elevator looks like it is a larger percentage of the tail on the 48" Extra. The pitch authority on the 48" is still very, very good, and only extreme nut cases would want more. Still, it's fun to have, and the 52", even running only about 65 degrees, has more pitch authority than the others. It's almost like a 48" MXS, which considering the long, stability inducing tail moment, is quite impressive.
Precision maneuvers are smooth and easy. The plane tracks like an Extra, so no surprise there either. With that 90 degree crosswind trying to push the plane out, you might think slow rolls would be difficult, but the plane tracks so well it was not a big problem. Still, my slow rolls on a calm day are better, but considering the conditions the 52" was extremely solid.
You might notice I pull a couple of stall turns in the video. Stalled and turning in a crosswind is a bad combination, but the extra tracked through those really, really well. You can see the plane come to a dead stop, hover almost, and with full rudder and a slight application of throttle, the big prop blows so much air over the rudder the plane simply pivots on the center of the wing tube an heads straight down and coming back opposite the way you went it. Generally 3D planes have so much post stall control authority that they do good stall turns, but the Extra also continues to track well, even in bad conditions. This plane stall turns about as well as a 0.60 Currare pattern plane, which is saying something.
This ability to pivot on the rudder so well shows up even stronger in harrier turns. You just pick the nose up, hammer the rudder with a little opposite aileron and give it some juice. The plane just spins around.
Notably absent from both of my Extras is a spoileron mix. I wanted to fly the plane and learn it's character before I reported using a mix other people might not want to put in. So far, I don't see a need for a spoileron mix because the plane's manners are quite impeccable. Generally I use a spoileron mix to counter sloppy pilot inducing wing rock, but this Extra harriers so well I didn't miss having the mix. The other place a spoileron mix is useful is making the plane drop absolutely dead straight down in an elevator maneuver. As you can see in the first video, the 52" doesn't need any help there either.
To sum up the flying, the 52" is everything I love about the 48" Extra, with improved 3D ability and power to weight ratio. Essentially everything on the plane s bigger and produces more lift, without sacrificing much added weight. Like this it's going to fly lighter and 3D better, and with the bad ass 3910 torqueing the prop over with authority, the whole package is peaked out all the way around.
Being so comfortable so instantly with a brand new size of plane is a really good sign. I've been flying the 48" Extra EXP for just about six years now, and I know the plane inside and out. I'm very, very early in my relationship with the 52" Extra, and I am sure there is still a long way to go before I learn to get the most out it. The fact that I am so at home with both of my 52" Extras after only five flights grand total only speaks to how well sorted and developed the entire package is.
This plane is a good illustration of what goes into developing a complete product. The plane and power system are perfectly balanced and built around servos that are slightly overkill. This gives the plane room to remain relevant when power system and battery technology gives us even more performance. I believe if you invest in equipment for the 52" class planes, you will be able to get five or six years out of it before the next big thing comes along and we have another quantum leap in performance. This is probably as much performance as we can get out of a four foot plane with the technology we have available today. Performance alone makes the 52" worth having, but along with using Xessories, the quality of the kit makes the build and entire experience another level of satisfaction
In short, another ground breaking and landmark achievement for Extreme Flight.
I ran out Xcessories arms so I reverted to the trusty Hitec PN55709 arms on the ailerons and rudder.
This is the small PN55709 arm with the ball link attached to the outer hole and the end points in my transmitter pegged. This is a little more aileron response than I am used to, and you can see that in the few times I over rolled or over snapped the plane. It also shows up in how well the plane still rolls even when it's at nearly zero airspeed. I may dial it back a little or just keep flying it like this and adapt to it. The extra authority is really useful at low speed.
The elevator servo arm is a standard Hitec metal arm that comes with the HS7245MH servo. They are nice arms that fit snugly, but are otherwise useless for 3DXA since they are so short. However, they are perfect for use with the G10 arm. The metal arm is just a little too long and interferes with the ball link, so I ground off the outer hole.
I had to open the hole in the big hole in the G10 arm a little with an Xacto, then drilled the G10 were you see the bolt. The metal arm is drilled and tapped for 2mm there, so I just spun the bolt into the arm, through the G10 arm, put a nut on the back side and some medium CA on the exposed threads. I ran some thin CA between the two arms and let it wick in, and after that set up I finally I ran a beat of medium CA around the outside. It's never coming apart.
This is reduced throw compare to my red 52" Extra, but it still pops as hard in parachutes, walls just as hard and doesn't seem to give up any pitch authority. I'm probably going to leave it that way.
I'm also going to leave the rudder alone because the it barely hits the elevators with the end points pegged. I backed them off just a little and it's perfect.
I'm still running my Thunder Power Magna 70C packs in my 48s and 55C Lightning packs in my other planes. They have lasted so long that until now I didn't have any of Thunder Power's current lineup of batteries.
Since I needed new packs anyway, this was a good time to try the new 70C Rampage packs. I chose the 4s 3300 packs, and in the picture below you can see where the pack ended up at the end of the day. We were flying in 20mph gusts, and being a little nose heavy in those conditions helps the plane penetrate the wind better and stops the plane from ballooning up. I am sure as I get more time on the plane and in better conditions I will be moving it back.
I've only got about three runs on each pack and the give me great punch and run cool. I've got a couple of more packs coming, so it's going to be a big winter for my 52" Extras.
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