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Written by Jay Smith
The full-scale classic gets a worthy foam tribute
Product Review
As seen in the January 2019 issue of
Model Aviation.


Exclusive Review

horizon hobby e flite cherokee
If you appreciate general aviation aircraft, the Cherokee looks good on the ground and in the air. It comes out of the box with a nice level of detailing and a lighting system, garnering much attention in the office and at the field.

THE PA-28 CHEROKEE was produced in Vero Beach, Florida, in the early 1960s. Piper Aircraft built more than 32,000 of the popular light aircraft that was successfully used for flight training and personal use.

The E-flite Cherokee 1.3m BNF Basic with AS3X and SAFE Select is a foam-constructed tribute to the general aviation classic that features realistic scale details, including functional navigation lights, flaps, and a full-flying stabilator.

At A Glance

Specifications

Type: Semiscale foam electric

Wingspan: 51.5 inches

Wing area: 472 square inches

Length: 41 inches

Components needed to complete: Spektrum DSMX/DSM2 transmitter; 2,200 to 3,200 3S or 4S LiPo; LiPo charger

Flying weight: 54.5 ounces

Price: $229.99

Test-Model Details

Power system: E-flite 10 BL brushless outrunner motor (included); 12 × 8 propeller (included); E-flite 50-amp ESC (included); 3S and 4S 3,200 mAh E-flite LiPo battery

Radio: Spektrum AR636 receiver (included); six 9-gram servos (included)

Flying weight: 54.5 ounces

Flight duration: 6 to 10 minutes depending on battery used

Pluses

  • Scale details include panel lines, rivets, corrugated control surfaces, and pilot figure.
  • Two-piece, plug-in wing panels with convenient hands-free servo connection system.
  • Full-flying horizontal stabilator.
  • Excellent flying model that presents well in the air.

Minus

  • Left wingtip was separating where the navigation light is located.

Assembly

Before the Cherokee was assembled, I looked over the well-detailed aircraft and found that the left wingtip was separating where the navigation light is located. It appears that not enough glue was used to keep that seam together. A small amount of Foam-Tac glue fixed the issue.

The entire assembly process takes only two pages in the manual. The first step is to attach the wing halves; however, I opted to first mount the main gear using the included 2 × 16 mm screws. I found it easier to handle the wing halves separately.

Two-piece plug-in wing panels slide onto a wing tube and the model employs a convenient hands-free servo connection system. I appreciate not having to plug in the ailerons, flaps, and lights when attaching the wing. Two screws on the bottom of each wing half keep it in place.

The manual covers mounting the nose gear, but it was already attached on my model. Next is attaching the horizontal stabilizer. The stabilizer is attached with two screws and they are hidden by a cover that is held in place with three additional screws.

The Cherokee comes out of the box without the propeller and spinner attached. From a safety standpoint, I applaud Horizon Hobby for this because the propeller should not be attached until the aircraft has been bound to the transmitter and everything has been confirmed to work properly.

To further illustrate what can happen, I will share a quick story. A friend in Florida was setting up the radio on an aircraft that had the propeller attached. He had the aircraft on the dining room table and was standing behind the model confirming that all of the control surfaces were moving in the correct direction. He inadvertently reversed the throttle channel and the aircraft took an unexpected flight from the dining room and crashed into his entertainment center. To add insult to injury, his dog, frightened by this unplanned indoor flight, had an accident of his own.

When it comes to setting up the Spektrum radio with a new Horizon Hobby aircraft, I always visit the Spektrum website to download the radio setup file and import it into my transmitter. Unfortunately, at the time of this review, a setup file was not available for the Cherokee.

Exponential settings were not provided, so I went with 30% on high rates and 20% on low rates.

The manual includes a Computerized Transmitter Setup page that provides the basic radio setup parameters. For the dual-rate setting, the manual lists high at 100% and low at 70%. The Quick Start Information section of the manual provides the surface travel in millimeters, and I found that my travel set at 100% and 70% respectively, provided more than the recommended travel on the ailerons, elevator, and rudder. I decreased the throw to match what was provided in the Quick Start section.

www.horizonhobby.com

the cherokee has few parts
The Cherokee has few parts, making assembly quick. The plug-in wing panels feature a convenient hands-free servo and light connection system.

the full flying stabilizer uses an internal pushrod
The full-flying stabilizer uses an internal pushrod. The two screws used to attach the stabilizer are hidden under the tail cover, adding to the model’s scalelike appeal.

Exponential settings were not provided, so I went with 30% on high rates and 20% on low rates. Using an E-flite 3S 3,200 mAh LiPo battery, I was able to get within 2 mm of the recommended center of gravity while still having the battery secured by both hook-and-loop straps. I added a 1-inch square piece of Velcro on the battery tray and battery to ensure that it stayed in place while flying.

The receiver that is included with the BNF Basic Cherokee supports Safe Select, which provides bank and pitch limitations, as well as automatic self-leveling. These features can provide an extra level of confidence, knowing that at the flip of a switch, Safe Select can be activated and assist if needed.

Flying

At the field, I did a quick taxi test and found that the Cherokee was turning to the left. I made a slight mechanical adjustment to ensure that the nose wheel was straight, but I found that it still had a tendency to go to the left. I corrected this using slight right rudder input during takeoff.

The recommended low rates provide a scalelike flight experience with slow rolls and nice loops.

Using half flaps and advancing the throttle at a moderate speed provides a pleasing scalelike takeoff. My model was slightly nose-heavy and required some up-elevator trim and a single click of right trim for the ailerons. Soon it was happily flying the pattern at approximately half throttle.

Thanks in part to AS3X, the Cherokee is stable while flying, and the combination of the red and white color scheme and the landing and navigation lights really stands out in the air.

The recommended low rates provide a scalelike flight experience with slow rolls and nice loops. The high rates allow for snappier aerobatics and will benefit pilots who are looking to fly the Cherokee in a manner beyond what the full-scale aircraft would be capable of.

the author completed a taxi test before
The author completed a taxi test before takeoff and found that the model had a tendency to pull slightly to the left. This was easily corrected with rudder input on takeoff.

the battery and radio gear are cleverly
The battery and radio gear are cleverly accessed by removing the hatch. The release lever is disguised as an antenna. Once inside, the radio gear and battery are easily accessed.

the main gear is attached with two screws
The main gear is attached with two screws. The author found it easier to bolt them on before installing the wing halves.

the nose gear comes preinstalled
The nose gear comes preinstalled with a shock-absorbing nose strut. The large wheels offer operation from a variety of surfaces, even with the wheel pants, which add to the model’s overall appearance.

After flying the RC version of the Cherokee, it is not hard to understand why its full-scale counterpart was widely used for flight training.

Using the 3S power system, the model has good vertical performance. The Cherokee can also be flown with a 4S battery, which provides a significant amount of power. It is nice that Horizon Hobby has provided an aircraft that offers flexibility right out of the box, but I honestly enjoy flying the airplane on a 3S 3,200 mAh battery and flying it much like the full-scale airplane would fly, but with a handful of aerobatic maneuvers thrown in to keep it fun.

Stall testing showed the benefits of a well-designed model using the AS3X system. The Cherokee has a good glide and has no tendency to drop a wing as it continues to lose speed.

When it is time to land, you will find that using the flaps with the recommended delay keeps the aircraft from ballooning. The Cherokee slows nicely and remains extremely controllable thanks to the full-flying stabilizer. I like to keep slight back pressure on the elevator while slowly lowering the throttle until just before the wheels touch, at which point I completely cut the throttle. I predominately use half flaps both on takeoff and landing.

Conclusion

The E-flite Cherokee 1.3m BNF Basic is an enjoyable aircraft that assembles quickly, comes apart easily for transport and storage, and provides excellent flight characteristics that RC pilots of varied skill levels will appreciate.

As someone who gravitates to military aircraft, the E-flite Cherokee is a welcome addition as a general aviation classic. After flying the RC version, it is not hard to understand why its full-scale counterpart was widely used for flight training.

Manufacturer/Distributor

Horizon Hobby

(800) 338-4639

Sources:

Spektrum

(800) 338-4639

www.spektrumrc.com

Beacon Adhesives Foam-Tac


www.beaconadhesives.com/product/foam-tac

1 comments

I received this model yesterday and am looking forward to many flights. As a full time CFI and Commercial Pilot, I work indirectly for Piper as a member of the Piper Authorized Training Provider. I thought it most appropriate to expand my collection of flying model aircraft with this Piper. The positive reviews are encouraging and will be sure to add mine after the maiden flight this weekend. While I get more enjoyment out of my Balsa model flyers the foam scale is impossible not to enjoy as welll.
Thank you AMA for the great article and for including a positive reinforcement to exercise safety when settling up all flying models.

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