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Monday, March 23, 2020

Extreme Flight Gamebird EXP__No Quarter

Flying the new Extreme Flight Gamebird EXP made for an odd flight report. All the 3DHS and Extreme Flight planes do everything well. They all just have their own strong points and excel in different areas. For Example the Extra does the cleanest precision, the Edge harriers best and the Slick and Velox are the best snapping and tumbling planes. Each gives up a little something to the others, though admittedly those differences are becoming smaller with each new release.

Where this comes off the rails is the Gamebird. This plane does everything exceptionally well, but it doesn't give up anything to the others in any area. The Extra is still a little more graceful, but the Gamebird is as smooth and precise. I think the Gamebird harriers every bit as good as the Edge, and tumbles very much like a Velox. Essentially the Gamebird gives other planes no quarter.


Let's break down the areas of performance one by one:

The Gamebird does so many things so beautifully it was difficult to know where to start talking about it, but the stability and ease of flight are what impressed me the most. It a lot of ways this plane has the happy go lucky, carefree nature of the original Extra SHP and SR. It's just one damm happy plane that you can trust on the edge and on the deck. This part of her behavior is simply remarkable.

This is where the Gamebird sets itself apart from the others. It simply never loses it's composure no matter how hard you push it and stays planted where you put it. Even the wind doesn't affect it that much and I know that because we fly in 10-15mph wind every day, and sometimes 20-25mph.

The maiden was much like I experienced with my 60" was so good I thought something had to be wrong. Anything that good is usually a trap and a nasty surprise ready to pounce, but as I gained confidence and pushed the plane harder and harder, I found this was no joke. The stability in the Gamebird is very much for real, to the point it's very close to being a 3D trainer.

By the end of the first day I decided to fly it just like I fly my 52" Velox because it was even a little more stable and agile, and acts kind of like a larger version. The only reason it took a few flights to have total confidence in the plane was because, again, too good to be real, but it is.

Bottom line: As Surefooted as a mountain goat.


Another surprise as I started to push the plane was how lively it is. She is nice and composed, tame almost, but when you bend the sticks she becomes very, very much like the Velox and turns herself inside out. The tumbling is the best I've seen in newer planes, and rivals even the old Velox, which was a wild tumbly beast.

No doubt about it, this is a big plane. The fuselage is fat with lots of side area, the canopy is monstrous and the fin and rudder are tall and out of the downwash (part of where the stability comes from). It almost looks like a 65" or something, and big planes are usually not as lively and responsive as this plane is.

While she harriers like a plane with a gyro cranked off the scale, you can still whip her around in a harrier turn with rudder, a little opposite aileron and a sharp blast of throttle. You can almost spin her around on the inside wingtip, but right now I am being careful and the best I could manage was within half a wingspan.

I'm going to make a subjective judgement here, but it seems control authority doesn't bleed off as much when you slow her down. Sure, at the stall point you're using a lot of stick, but even here the plane us surefooted and responsive enough to get out of most mistakes. I dead stalled her right in the middle of a death slide and still got the wings level in time to turn a potential crash into an ugly touch and go. I think I would have destroyed any other plane, but the agility saved me. You can see that on video in the previous article.

You may have noticed I like to fly in close and keep the flight in tight at show center. There comes a point you just can't turn the plane any harder, especially at slow speed, but so far no worries with this plane. As long as you've got some power on her and enough combined lift to keep her in the air, the plane is secure and I would say it's never going to bite you.

Bottom line: Probably more agility than you can use, but smooth and secure the entire time.

Snaps and Tumbles
Yet another area where the Gamebird excels. Compared to the others (Except the Velox), she is short coupled, meaning the distance between the wing and stab is shorter. This is part of where the plane gets it's advanced agility, but that usually results in a loss of pitch stability, Not so here, and again, very much like the Velox.

Once again, the Gamebird demonstrates Velox agility by only needing medium speed to snap and tumble. I use this ability to do these moves in close and low. I can blast out of a hover and within 50 feet have enough speed to snap or pop top this plane. Another nice benefit is all of this is less stress on the plane while getting the same results. Terminal velocity tumbles are not that much more violent, and most people can control the exit better when the plane is going slower anyway.

She also comes out of tumbles much more cleanly while maintaining authority, very, very much like the Velox. Generally you are pretty close to totally stalled coming out of a big tumble, but the Gamebird stops where you tell it to and maintains control authority. This pays off big because a mindless thrash into a tumble looks just like that, but with this plane, tumbles become a precision maneuver.

I'm still working on the timing, but I hit one blender just right and it even scared the Coyotes at the field. I hammered the power going in, let her rotate a few times and them crossed over the ailerons. Carrying all this momentum in sent her whipping into a KE spin so violent I lost orientation and had to bail. It was certainly spectacular.

Pop tops are just downright silly. I'm getting a full rotation better than my other planes, though the Velox is right there. The last rotation is pretty slow as the momentum winds off and you simply hold the rudder until you want it to stop, release and add power, and fly away. If you have a little altitude you can add power, reverse the ailerons and the plane will pop top and drop into a beautiful KE spin thus combining those two moves. Looks really slick and worth working on to get the timing just right. Not hard, just practice.

Here, again, I compare the plane to the Velox, which is a pretty high bar in my book. Snapping and tumbles are pretty wild, but completely controllable. You don't just throw it in and deal with however it comes out, Now you fly the plane through the tumble and place it where you want it.

Bottom Line: Impressive wild maneuvers made easy and controllable.

The Gamebird gives up nothing to any of the others here. In fact, it might even be better than the Edge, which has always been the harrier pinnacle. There is zero wing rock, even when you get sloppy, and I even tried. She's just remarkably (again) stable all the way around.

It's getting even better as I fly her more, but it's already effortless to drive her up and down the runway with the nose way up there. I found this out of the first flight because that's one of the things you want to know right away. I dropped her into an elevator and when she sunk to the deck I pulled the nose up and she tracked right down the centerline of the runway.

This harrier nature is very similar to the Velox and I was totally at ease with this behavior the first time I tried it, other than not believing it was real. I am almost ready to recommend this plane as a 3D trainer simply because of it's stability and especially it's harrier manners.
Bottom Line: 3D Trainer like alpha

Light Flying nature
Maybe almost as impressive as the plane's stability is her light flying floatyness. Again, this is a big plane and you expect those to fly heavier because big planes usually are. Here though, the Gamebird fools us again by being extremely ligtht on it's wing, and in 3D she will just hang there. This makes 3D a bunch easier and easier to control. I mean, this baby flies light and as I understand the plane a little better she's going to get even better.

Bottom Line: Goodyear Blimp Move Over.

Here was the big surprise. As much as the Gamebird has going for it in every respect, she just had to give something up, somewhere, somehow. But, no. The first slow roll I popped off was the best I've ever done, and on the return pass the 4 point roll was just as sharp. Consecutive rolls were crisp and very axial.

Big sky maneuvers are excellent too. The Gamebird is so light you don't scrub off any momentum on climbing moves or big, giant, round loops and Cuban Eights. With the extra authority, you can do your precision in tighter and closer and this makes the whole game look better

As responsive and light weight as this plane is, I was expecting the Gamebird to give up a little something in tracking, but again, no dice. This plane locks in every bit as solidly as the Extra and it's going to take a better pilot than me to tell which one is better here.

Perhaps the Extra is maybe a little more graceful, but that could be down to it's sleek lines. I love the way the Gamebird looks, but nothing is going to touch the Extras for being elegant. Still, this is the one area where the Gamebird might give a little something away to any of the the others, but it's really close and not enough difference to separate the two.

Bottom Line: Tracks like a laser beam

The Absolute Bottom Line...…. Sign here.
You have to look at the entire package here. In every area of performance, the Gamebird either excels or equals anything I've ever flown. She is light flying, extremely agile and as precise as they come. You can fly her extremely precisely, or thrash the hell out of her, or just putter around with utter confidence.

That and the intangible has to be mentioned as well. Even when I am hanging it out with this plane it's never even a second though I could get it wrong. On the deck, on the edge, and even slightly over my head, the Gamebird does what I tell it to do with smoothness and authority, and maybe most importantly, she instils a calm sense of confidence that I've got this. That, my friends, is what makes a fun tlying airplane.

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