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The 48" EXP lineup has performed so brilliantly for so long and they are still deadly effective 3XDA weapons. In the rush to build and fly the latest and greatest offerings, it's easy to sort of take them for granted, but I believe that's a mistake. I wholeheartedly recommend them, especially if you already have one and some spare parts, batteries. and equipment.
There have been so many cool new 52" and 60" EXPs coming out that a lot of us have sort of set our faithful 48" EXPs aside and have flown the latest, greatest and coolest instead. This gave me the opportunity to build, fly and experiment with the new 60" Slick V2 (which, BTW, is an utterly terrific plane) and the 52" Slicks and Extras. Sadly, there was not enough time to fly my beloved 48s, but now I am getting back to them..
A lot of guys though, either have a bond with their 48s, or buying completely new equipment for another size plane is too expensive for them. A lot of people aren't making the move to 52" simply because they are so invested in 48s with spare servos and power systems sitting on the shelf. I faced that problem too, so I feel your pain. I asked myself what we could do to help the guys who are still trying to get the most out of their 48" EXPs and their investment in them. The answer is so obvious that it took me a couple of days to dawn on me: install an Electronic Stability System (ESS).
Inside my 48" MCX
Admittedly the 52 is always going to fly better because they have the latest aerodynamic advances and lighter construction, not to mention bigger planes generally fly better. However, with an ESS the 48" EXP can more than hold it's own with the newest planes. If you have 48s it makes sense to upgrade them and get even more enjoyment and life out of them.
And, while the difference between setting up a new 48" or a new 52" is not really that much more money, if you are scratching and clawing at nickels trying to put together a killer 3DXA plane, that money makes a less expensive 48" more practical. Many times that extra $100 has made one of my projects grind to a halt, so for the budget minded, a new 48" is probably a good choice.
If you are switching to 52s, your 48" suddenly got a little more expendable, didn't it? This makes it perfect for installing an ESS and learning how to get the most out of one of those systems. This is better than getting it wrong in the new plane, right? If you smash it, you weren't flying it anyways, so why not have some fun, install an ESS and learn enough that you know what you are doing when you do get a new 52" or 60"? It's also great having a plane you don't have to be so careful with, priceless, actually.
I was so sold on the 52s that I was going to sell off or crash the rest of my 48s and then switch wholesale to all 52" EXPs, but installing an ESS in my two remaining 48" MXS has so completely transformed them that I think I can get another five years out of them.
I'm not going into brands or set up here because I already did that in Slick 580 EXP__Flying With An Electronic Stability System. Where I am going with this article is to point out installing an ESS will make your 48" EXP fly so well that you will want to keep flying it. You might even want a new one, and I am planning to build a new 48" Extra with an ESS.
I have two really sweet MXS that are three and four years old respectively. The primary is the plane I first tested Hitec's excellent 7.4 - 8.0 volt HS5070MH and 5087MH servos in, and it's always been the king of badass. I later tested one of the first Xpwr 3910s in this plane, but it was so overpowered I was a little bit too afraid of it, and put my Torque 2814 back in it.
This plane is still in such good shape that people often ask me if it's a new plane, so I figured it is worth doing something special with. I had some graphics made up from 3M high performance vinyl, and that also completely transformed the plane that I plan to update my other MXS. I've always love this color scheme but I wanted it to have something worthy of it being such a nice plane. I really love how she looks now.
I was planning to keep my two 48" MXS anyway, at least if/until Extreme Flight brings us a 52" MXS. I've been quite enjoying them, and they are still really solid flying planes. Putting an ESS in my primary MXS so completely transformed it that I am rediscovering it all over again. The amount of improvement was so great it truly surprised me. I was ready for it to be better, but I was not expecting as much improvement as I got. I would say of all the planes I have tested with an ESS, the MXS is the one that has had the most startling improvement.
The MXS has always been an outer limits performance kind of plane. but it's short coupling and triple taper wing made it the most advanced flying plane in the lineup. The performance has always been there, but you had better know what you are doing, and previously this was not the best plane for the inexperienced. With an ESS, the performance is still there, but now the MXS is about as stable and easy as an Edge, which is the benchmark of easy in a 3DXA plane.
If you compare these to earlier MXS videos, you can see how effortless it is to toss the plane around with abandon, and in complete confidence too. To get supreme agility, you have to give up some stability, but with an ESS this compromise vanishes. Combining the stability of an ESS with the MXS wild character gives you the best of both of those attributes. The plane is now more stable than ever, but ESS is advanced enough to get out of the way when you want to do a violent maneuver. Basically it's still the same advanced flying, wild assed MXS, but now she has a softer side. It's no longer a plane strictly for advanced pilots. This plane is now stable enough that almost anyone with a little 3DXA experience can jump right in and look like a pro.
The biggest improvement is in harrier performance. The MXS could wing rock some if you were sloppy, but again, I now compare the 48" EXP to the Edge, which is the king of harrier. You can also see the MXS is still capable if some pretty violent stuff and has amazing agility. Even rolling the plane on the deck is now easier and much less scary because the plane remains stable, and it pretty much does everything you tell it to do, goes where it's pointed, and stays where you put it. Unless you are flying in small craft warning conditions, the wind hardly affects the plane at all. We edited the first video with no music just so you could hear how bad the wind was that day, and how I had enough confidence in it to fly it harder and lower with no regard for the conditions. Essentially you don't even know the ESS is there. The airplane just feels a lot better and you can push ridiculously harder.
In the end, if you have some 48s, this is probably the best thing you can do for them. A good ESS is the improvement that really makes these planes sing. I'm going to absolutely wear my remaining 48s and their equipment out, and maybe even put all my spare equipment together and build up a new 48" Extra.