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Written by Terry Dunn
We put the popular sport model to the test with glow and electric power .
Read an abridged version with a bonus video.
Full event review featured in the February 2014 issue




Specifications

Model type: Glow/electric Sport ARF
Wingspan: 52 inches
Wing area: 449 square inches; 3.1 square feet
Length: 45 inches
Radio system: Futaba 7C 2.4 GHz transmitter; Futaba R617FS receiver; four Futaba S3004 standard ball-bearing servos; additional Futaba S3004 servo for glow operation
Components needed to complete: Power system; radio gear; basic assembly tools
Minimal flying area: Club field
Price: $139.99


Test-model Details

Glow version
Power system: O.S. 55AX two-stroke glow engine; APC 12 x 7 propeller; 15% airplane fuel from O’Donnell Racing Fuel
Flying weight: 87.8 ounces; 5.5 pounds (dry)
Wing loading: 28.2 ounces per square foot
Wing cube loading: 15.9 cu. in.

Electric version
Power system: Great Planes RimFire .46 brushless motor; APC 12 x 8E propeller; Great Planes 60-amp ESC, FlightPower 4S 3,350 mAh 30C LiPo battery
Flying weight: 90.7 ounces; 5.7 pounds
Wing loading: 29.1 ounces per square foot
Wing cube loading: 16.5 cu. in.


Pluses

• Easy to assemble.
• Stress-free, four-channel aerobatics.
• Good performance with nitro or electric power.


Minuses

• The shroud covering the electric motor installation doesn’t blend with the spinner.
• Stock clevises and control horns do not mate precisely.


Abridged Article Review

The Great Planes Escapade models have been the company’s flagship sport airplanes for several years. These aircraft have earned a faithful fan base. The Escapade MX is a new model in the series that features a more aggressive profile and a bold color scheme. Similar to other Escapade variants, the MX is designed to accept either glow or electric power.

Although the MX is similar in size to the Escapade 40, it is significantly different. The MX has a two-piece, mid-mounted wing with no dihedral. Its canopy is actually a large, magnetically retained hatch that provides access to the radio equipment, wing bolts, and fuel tank or battery.

There isn’t much I can say about the assembly process. I used the recommended components and everything fit together exactly as the manual states. I did not have to address any fit or alignment issues with the airframe parts. Even the bolt-on tail feathers mounted perfectly square without any shimming.

Flying with Glow Power

I do not do much glow flying these days, so I did not relish the thought of breaking in a new engine and dialing the needles to make it idle and accelerate well. I should not have worried. I used 15% airplane blend from O’Donnell Racing Fuel and precisely followed O.S.’s break-in steps. After burning one tank, I had a reliable low idle and plenty of power for the maiden flight. The 55AX started easily every time and performance improved as I leaned out the engine on subsequent flights.

As do most tail-draggers, the Escapade MX requires slight rudder correction during takeoff. This is especially true on paved runways. The MX’s steerable tailwheel and big rudder have plenty of authority, so it’s really nothing to worry about.

With the 12 x 7 APC propeller, the O.S.-powered Escapade had a good mix of speed and thrust. It’s fun to do a low, full-throttle pass and pull up into a tall Hammerhead at the end of the runway. You can then throttle back and loaf around at a leisurely pace. With my normal mix of aerobatics and cruising, I routinely achieved 10-12 minutes of flight per tank.

The ailerons are effective. I’ve found that I prefer them on low rates most of the time. I like rudder and elevator throws on high rates. I even increased the elevator throws roughly 3/16 inch beyond the listed high rates for extra authority.

With a good head of steam and full rudder deflection, the Escapade MX will hold a steady knife-edge orientation on either side. There is merely a hint of coupling toward the canopy that doesn’t need to be corrected.

From looking at the numbers, the Escapade seems to have a relatively high wing loading for a sport aircraft. Don’t let that scare you. It needs some speed to keep flying, but the stall is mild with no tendency to snap. Idle power and full up-elevator result in a mushy, yet fully controlled descent. Adding rudder input will initiate a nice spin.

If the wing loading presents any problems during landing, it is not likely to be from slowing down too much. I sometimes have trouble slowing down enough! The MX has plenty of momentum so it can quickly eat up runway if you come in too hot, but it will rapidly dump energy with a small amount of sideslip. Deploying the ailerons downward as flaps (remember I set it up with 50% travel) also effectively slows the Escapade.




Flying with Electric Power

After several outings using glow power, I swapped the Escapade MX to electric power. The entire conversion process only took about two hours. As before, I used the recommended components and everything dropped into place.

Great Planes includes a painted, plastic shroud that covers the motor. I was disappointed by the result. It fits fine, but the squared edges jutting out just behind the rounded spinner looked like an afterthought. Although it’s not a deal breaker, this area is inconsistent with the level of aesthetic refinement I see in the rest of the model.

The bottom side of the electric motor mount is predrilled to match the mounting lugs on the Great Planes 60-amp ESC. A knockout panel in the firewall provides a path for the ESC wires and cooling air to reach the inner fuselage. I needed a 6-inch servo extension for the ESC leads to reach the receiver. Although the manual doesn’t mention it, I removed a panel of covering on the bottom of the fuselage near the tail for cooling air to escape.

I bench tested the RimFire .46 motor and FlightPower 4S 3,350 mAh battery and it showed roughly 500 watts when using the suggested APC 11 x 7E propeller (I’m at a 3,500-foot elevation). Although that amount of power would fly the nearly 6-pound Escapade, it would not be very sporty. I switched to a 12 x 8E propeller and saw more than 700 watts—perfect!

Because the Great Planes 60-amp ESC does not include a circuit to power the radio gear, I used the same LiFe receiver battery in the electrified MX. I relocated the battery forward to fine-tune the CG. With both batteries in place, the CG is 27/8 inches behind the wing’s LE, which works well for my taste.

With electric power, the MX is slightly slower than with the glow setup I used, but it concedes nothing in climbing ability. I can pull vertical after a normal takeoff and instantly scamper up to cruising altitude. Control response and aerobatic ability remain unchanged from the glow version. It’s merely a matter of personal preference.

The RimFire .46 system with the 12 x 8 propeller is well matched to the Escapade MX. I routinely get 6- to 8-minute flights with plenty of aerobatics. For those who can’t get enough power, there is some headroom in these components to try larger propellers for more. Alternatively, the RimFire .55 motor with a five-cell LiPo is a bolt-on power boost if you don’t mind the resulting weight increase. 



Conclusion

Although the Great Planes Escapade MX looks slightly meaner than others in the series, it doesn’t deviate from the Escapade series’ Sunday-flier sensibilities. It is easy to assemble, looks good, and flies well with electric or glow power. What else can you ask of a four-channel sport airplane?

The only difference is that the Escapade MX does all of those things with a bulldog-like stance and catchy color scheme that yells, “Hey, check me out!” And you should.

Read the complete review in the February 2014 edition of Model Aviation.


Bonus Video

2 comments

I got the .40 version of this plane, the older one, and I cannot wait to fly it! I will start putting it together soon.

love this plane have one with saito 56 glow power, like it so much have a second one and will put .46 electric power in it Thanks AmA and greatplanes

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