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Saturday, November 19, 2016

Championship Throwdown: The King Of Badass

Or, more correctly, have we just seen "badass" redefined? For years the Extreme Flight 48" MXS has been the undisputed king of badass in four foot class planes. This has become a little less clear with the arrival of the new Extreme Flight 52" Extra.

The Contender
With it's explosive 1068 watt Xpwr 3910 motor and use of Hitec's superb HS5087MH 8.0 volt servos, the 52" Extra presents a serious new challenge to the now six year old MXS in the hardcore 3DXA sweepstakes. The new Extra is big and light, overpowered with huge control surfaces and servos that simply refuse to stall or blow back. The Extra has the control authority and brute force power you need for extreme aerobatics, with maybe even some left over.

Top speed of the 52" Extra is deceptive because the 3910 is a comparatively quiet motor. Instead of screaming like the 2814 motor used in the MXS, the Extra's 3910 appears to run at a lower RMP, but that's just a guess. I say this because it just sounds like that. The motor is certainly not working very hard and that mutes the appearance of speed.  Funny how sound can affect something visual, but then again, that's why we like loud racecars. You only have to fly it by at full throttle really close one time and that notion is shattered. This plane covers ground as quickly as the MXS, even if it doesn't quite seem like it.

52 Extra EXP__Secret Testing 11-18-16 from Doc Austin on Vimeo.

The power of the 3910 makes the 52" Extra truly badass in punch out or any other vertical maneuver. Right now the 52" Extra stands alone in my fleet for time to altitude. The only plane I have ever seen rival the 52" Extra's rate of climb  was when I put a 3910 in my MXS.

As always, the Extra's precision manners are it's strong suit. Like any strong attribute though, there is a price to pay in the form of compromise. The Extra is so stable and locked in that you have to work a little harder get crazy stupid tumbles out of it. It's just not that kind of plane, and to me it's really too nice to treat that way anyway.

This 52" Extra is certainly a very worthy challenger, especially in view of the fact that Extras are generally not considered to be super badass airframes. In the end, the Extra's challenge to become the king of badass falls just a little bit short, but it is remarkable just how badass the Extra truly is when you consider that it's not really intended to be that kind of plane. It's smooth, stable and reassuring to fly, and while it is fast and capable, it's just not scary enough to take the crown from the undisputed champion.  This is good because the MXS is just badass enough that the average guy will want something a little less intense. The 52" Extra is not supposed to be as bad ass as the MXS.  The Extra EXP in all the sizes I have flown it in are solid and confidence inspiring, and that is how this plane is supposed to be.
The Extra has always been the plane the average guy can pick up and excel with instantly and the new 52" Extra probably does this better than any Extra I have ever flown.
Still, with all that insane power and control authority, this is the baddest Extra yet. While it's strong suits have shifted a little more toward wild than other Extra EXPs, it's still a reasonable balance and very much Extra-ish. It's just the baddest Extra yet, and as a big fan of Extras (if not even a little bit weird for them) I heartily recommend this plane. This recommendation is also based on the fact that these were the cleanest and easiest builds I have ever experienced, and especially for the newer guys, assembling the 52" will be a really sweet experience.

Still The Champion Of Bad Ass
The MXS remains as fearsome a beast as ever, though now I am flying it with Hitec HS5070MH servos on ailerons and rudder, and an HSD5087MH on the elevator. Running on 8.0 volts from a castle 10 Amp BEC, this combination also has enough speed and power that stalling and blowback are never an issue with this plane either. Good servos cost more money, but only because they are worth it.

Flying the MXS and Extra back-to-back on a beautiful day, I became pretty brave and started hammering the MXS lot harder. As you can see in the first video,  I dove a bit harder into the pull up for pop tops and changed the timing a little. As you can see, what used to  a gentle maneuver has turned quite violent, just by searching for that little bit extra.

What makes the MXS snap, tumble and spin so well is it's shorter tail moment. This is the distance between the wing and horizontal stabilizer. A longer moment (as seen on the Extra) generally aids in pitch stability, while a shorter moment (as seen on the MXS) gives the plane more pitch authority and the ability to wad itself up tighter in wild snaps and tumbles. Either way, you gain something and you give up something, and the big advances in the last few years of airframe development has centered around getting more and giving up less. Now the planes are more closely balanced in all aspects of performance, but everything else being equal, a shorter moment is going to give you a more agile plane.

In the past I have not flown the MXS quite this hard because, first, you can make a mistake and drive it into the ground, and second, the EXPs are just too nice to abuse that way. Still, we were here to determine the world championship for badass 48" class airframes, so there was no tomorrow and we didn't want to leave anything in the ring.

I also changed up my snap timing, and you will see in the second video, I was also putting as much force as I could find into it. This involved deep full throttle downlines to build speed and momentum, and forgoing the usual nose up attitude entering a tumble that acts as a safety buffer. Basically, I just threw caution to the wind and came out swinging, and the MXS responded. There are two tumbles in the second video that cross the border of sanity and go straight into stupidity. After the flight there was nothing for anyone to say except to just laugh it off. That was the only appropriate response!

A big thanks to Hitec for making the lineup of MH mini and micro servos. For really extreme aerobatics, the time tested HS65MG was starting to become highly stressed. Remember, the HS65MG was designed at the time we were flying the 45" Extra 300E on 3s 15C packs, and no one could envision the power system, battery and airframe performance leap we would see in the next ten years.

The new lineup of upcoming 52" airframes will probably use the new HS5087MH servos, so for the MXS and other 48" EXPs to keep the pace of performance, Hitec's MH servos are going to be essential in these planes. The only drawback to using these servos is that you need a 7.4-8.0 volt power source for the servos, but my contacts deep in the Extreme Flight empire are telling me an 8.0 volt Airboss ESC is a distinct future possibility. For now I am running that standard Airboss 45 ESC with a Castle 10 Amp BEC, and that works just fine, even if I hate the extra complication.

The Nail
While the MXS retains the badass crown, the 52" Extra could just as easily be said to have retained the smooth, stable and reassuring crown. They are simply two different, though similar types of planes. Chris and Ben have worked tirelessly to eliminate any flying performance compromises, and while they have come pretty close, different airplanes are always going to have an advantage in one area or another over each other. Now the differences are much more subtle, l but more importantly all of these planes are becoming easier to fly and easier to look good with.
The MXS remains the king of badass, because it was meant to be. The Extra remains the best performance balanced airframe on the market, because it was meant to be. The bare knuckle cage fight we just put these two planes through only serves to illustrate how balanced the yin and yang of the Extreme Flight world really is

Friday, November 18, 2016

48" Extra EXP: You can't have enough Extras

I've been flying the fabulous new 52" Extra EXP so much that my beloved 48" Extra hasn't been getting much love. I corrected that yesterday by running six packs through it on a beautiful day. This is still the same 48" Extra that, for me, redefined what an airplane should be. While the 52" Extra is the next step forward, the 48" is still good enough that I want to continue flying mine, and maybe add a red to the stable. You can't have enough Extras.

Extra EXP__Unspecified Huckola 001 from Doc Austin on Vimeo.

There's not going to be much text here. Just catching up on a bunch of sport video we shot this week. The weather is simply superb, so we have been taking advantage of it every day.

 The 60" Yak just doesn't get flown often enough and it's always a joyful experience to fly that plane. We got a couple of reasonable videos out of it, but I was really just flying or fun and not playing to the camera.

Something newish for my 60" Yak is the "Oz Mod" cowling insert. It's 3D printed, and mine is painted with Testors Model Master Metalizer Magnesium paint. It seems like a nice contrast and bright enough to show off the detail. You can get the Oz Mod here.

Click On All Pictures To  Enlarge


Yak EXP__Return Of The Big Dog II from Doc Austin on Vimeo.


Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Extreme Flight 52" Extra EXP Is The Truth: UPDATE

First, a hearty thank you to our readers in Russia, the Netherlands, Sweden, Austria, Spain and Italy! Thank you so much for your support, and please tell your friends about my blog.

This is a video update of the adventures of my 52" Extra EXPs. I'm having so much fun flying these planes that I'm going to save myself a lot of work by updating this blog article daily instead of writing new articles every day.  I'm saving up my writing savvy for the upcoming 48" Demonstrator.

UPDATE: November 14, 2016
We had a rough spell with the weather, but now it's calmed down real nice. I had a chance to try a Xoar 15/6 propeller on my red 52" Extra and the difference in 3D ability and control was evident right away. I gave up a little top end speed, but the bigger prop blows more air over the controls when the plane is stalled. This provides more control surface response, so you can really drag this plane around very slowly. It 3Ds much better with the 15" prop.

UPDATE: November 9, 2016
A great day for America, and a great day to be flying such great American products.


November 8, 2016:  The truth is out there and it's the 52" Extra EXP
People have a lot of differing opinions on 3D Xtreme Aerobatics (3DXA)  flying, and especially 3DXA planes, which designs and which manufacturers are best. The truth, though is always in the flying, and the Extra EXP in all it's sizes is the truth.

All Pictures Click To Enlarge

I have to plead guilty to being an Extra man, but only because of the way they look and they way they fly. Everything an Extra does, that's the way an airplane should do it. The Extra EXP is the gold standard. Rather reprint what I have written over and over about the virtues of Extras, I have consolidated my observations about these planes on Wierd For Extras__Passion Meets Pragmatism

The 52" Extra is much the same as the 48" and 60" Extra EXPs, though I think the 52" flies even lighter than the 60, which is hard to believe. Traditionally Extras give up a little bit of 3D ability in exchange for better precision manners, but the 52" doesn't give up anything to any other plane that I can see. The 52" seems to fly so light that it does 3D as well as any of my other EXPs.

We finally got a decent day to fly the Extra! My first flight was by far the best of the day, but I was just warming up and we didn't shoot video. However, in the calm air everything clicked superbly, and now I realize I've never flown this plane in even marginally acceptable conditions. It's so good in bad conditions I wasn't really even aware how bad the winds have been was until I got to fly it in calm air!

I had not taken time to get the CG, low rate, or trim perfect because it's been just too gusty,  but today I added one click of up and it's perfect. CG remains where I started, which is on the front of the wing tube. That's where I like both my 48" and 60" Extra EXPs, and my Extra SHP too, so it seemed like a good place to start and ended up being a good place to settle in. With better conditions I will be able to dial it in better, but it's really close now.

I ended up missing my low aileron a bit and had too much, but it was only off 4% off. For a brand new design I had never flown, that a pretty good guess!

Flying Thunder Power's badass 4s 3300 Rampage 70C pack, here is where my battery ended up......

Running a Xoar 14/7 propeller, I've got my timer set for 4.5 minutes, and like this I am coming down with an average of 15.25 volts, which still leaves a decent margin in the pack. I can either add 30 seconds to the timer or go up to either a 14/8 or 15.7 prop, but for now I've got plenty of power and no reason to make it any harder on the power system and battery.  I have a 15/6 I am planning to try, and it will be interesting to see how much that Extra inch of prop helps with 3D. The Extra is already pretty righteous in post stall.
From the beginning the 3910 has delivered monster amounts of power while running smooth and cool. I've actually had more power and speed than I needed, so propping down allows me to still have big power but takes considerable stress of the whole power system.
I need one more flight off camera to piddle with my KE mixes because I missed by a percentage point or so, but that was a pretty good guess. It was just hard to tell in bad conditions.

Unfortunately the winds rolled back in for the flights we got on  video, but it was nowhere near as bad as previous days. It was actually quite acceptable, though we still had 10 mph wind to 15mph gusts. Still, the plane surprised me with how good it is in precision point and slow rolls when you aren't flying in a 20 mph crosswind! I've also recently rediscovered the Double Immelman maneuver, which this plane tracks through superbly. You need to have perfect loop tracking to make that maneuver look good, and once again the Extra's  smooth precision manners carry the day. There is one Double Immelman on each video I believe. It's a very impressive move when you hit it right.

Novemeber 7, 2016:
Still horrible conditions. It's still a little warm, but the big issue is high wind gusts. It's border line go-home kind of weather, but since I've got one of my camera guys on hand, we're shooting. The Extra flies really well even in the high gusts, but I have to leave myself a big margin. I like this plane too much to tear it up when it's too rough to be out there anyway.

These have been previously published on RCG and Facebook.