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.
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.
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.
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