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Written by Jon Barnes
A durable aerobatic biplane to grow with
Abridged product review
Photos by the author
Read the full product review in the April 2016 issue of
Model Aviation.


Specifications

Model type: Electric 3-D aerobatic biplane
Skill level: Intermediate
Wingspan: 37.6 inches
Wing area: 519 square inches
Length: 42.6 inches
Weight: 40 ounces
Power system: .10-size brushless electric
Receiver: Spektrum AR636A six-channel DSMX with AS3X
Needed to complete: Six-plus channel Spektrum DSM2/DSMX transmitter; 2,200 mAh 3S 25C 11.1-volt LiPo flight battery; charger
Construction: Z-Foam
Price: $249.99


Test-model Details

Motor used: E-flite .10 1,300 Kv brushless outrunner (installed)
Speed controller: E-flite 40-amp brushless with BEC (installed)
Battery: 3S 11.1-volt 25C 2,200 mAh LiPo
Propeller: E-flite 12 x 4
Radio system: Spektrum DX9 Stealth DSMX transmitter; Spektrum AR636A DSMX receiver (installed); four E-flite 13-gram digital servos (installed)
Ready to-fly weight: 40 ounces
Flight duration: Five minutes


Pluses

• No tools required for assembly/disassembly.
• Brightly colored blue and orange paint scheme.
• AS3X stabilization makes it feel like a larger airplane in flight.
• Preprogrammed Spektrum AR636A receiver simplifies transmitter programming.
• Panic mode provides a bailout for pilots experimenting with new maneuvers.
• Ball-link-style connections used on all control surfaces.
• Cleverly engineered fasteners and retention pins for tool-less assembly.


Abridged Product review

World-class pilot and designer, Mike McConville, is the creative talent behind this new E-flite biplane. Although this Ultimate’s overall dimensions, all-up weight, and use of a 10-size brushless power system might initially cause a pilot to conclude that it is almost identical to the previously released Ultimate 20-300 ARF, a closer look reveals that E-flite and Mike have built a number of exciting and advanced features into this version!

First and foremost on the list of improvements is E-flite’s use of Z-Foam. I have owned and flown more than a few Z-Foam composition models and I love the finish and durability of E-flite’s unique and proprietary chemistry of foam. Another noteworthy improvement that the Ultimate² enjoys is its use of an AS3X-equipped Spektrum receiver. The BNF version came with a Spektrum AR636A six-channel DSMX receiver preinstalled. AS3X technology works behind the scenes to provide an incredible level of in-flight stability.

The AR636A receiver also comes equipped with E-flite’s “Panic” feature. Should a pilot lose control orientation, or at any time find himself or herself hopelessly lost in the midst of an aerobatic maneuver, a simple push of the bind button on the transmitter will activate the Panic Mode and restore the model to level flight.

With plenty of cool technology stuffed under the hood, the Ultimate² biplane arrives dressed in a bright blue and orange custom graphics scheme from noted aircraft artist, Mirco Pecorari.




One of the kit’s nicely engineered features is the manner in which the wings and struts are attached to the airframe. No tools are required!


Flying

Having ailerons that are roughly a third of the total wing chord, an elevator that is the same size as the horizontal stabilizer, and a rudder that dwarfs the dimensions of the vertical stabilizer, it is apparent that this model is designed to excel at high-performance aerobatics and extreme 3-D.

The addition of AS3X stabilization and Panic Mode allows less-advanced pilots to easily enjoy flying it. To properly address this model from both perspectives, I will first offer some sport pilot impressions.

As a nod to the Ultimate²’s thoroughbred pedigree, I slammed the throttle wide open and sent the biplane straight up into the blue with a hard pump of up-elevator. The Ultimate² eagerly broke ground and rocketed skyward—requiring a mere 50 to 60 feet of runway to do so. With the biplane in an aggressive upline, I applied full right aileron and was surprised at the rapidity of the roll rate generated by the small amount of aileron deflection programmed into Precision Mode.

With the Ultimate² now high overhead, I chopped the throttle, pulled the nose over, and fed in full up-elevator. With a subtle rocking of the wings, the biplane adopted a nose-high attitude and began to fall. I found it easy to modulate the throttle and hold the Ultimate² in high-alpha attitude while steering around the field with the rudder.

As is typically the case with AS3X-equipped models, the Ultimate² flies like a much larger airplane. Landings are consistently easy—whether performed conventionally or in a high-alpha, tail-touch-the-ground-first manner.

Although this model is within the abilities of less-experienced pilots, E-flite’s “ultimate” target audience must be the advanced aerobatics and extreme 3-D-capable crowd.




The ball-link-equipped aileron pushrods are short and direct, providing slop-free pushrod connections.





The vortex generators on both wings enhance the Horizon Hobby E-flite Ultimate² BNF Basic’s post-stall performance.


My friend, Josh Bernstein, has only been flying for a few years, but he has already gained entry into that esteemed club. His intense focus and drive have developed his piloting proficiency to an amazing level in a relatively short time. After burning through a couple of battery packs, I handed my DX9 transmitter and the Ultimate² to Josh and let him have at it!

Josh offered the following comments:

Flying the Ultimate² in precision mode was such a pleasure that I was most of the way through a second battery before remembering that the airplane is also 3-D capable. Shifting gears, I explored the Ultimate²’s 3-D chops by tasking it with both higher-energy tumbling maneuvers (blenders, knife-edge spins, pop-tops, snaps, and crankshafts), and low-and-slow post-stall flight (such as hovers, harriers, waterfalls, and rolling harriers).

For the most part, the lower-gain 3-D mode worked fine for tumbling, but when I attempted a pop-top (a move that requires some finesse and exact timing), I sensed something was holding the airplane back.

I have tailored my radio programming to fit my preferences when it comes to rates, exponential, and flight modes. AS3X stabilization systems ask a pilot to forgo some control, and often, the increase in stability is a worthwhile tradeoff.

If a pilot wants to improve his or her aerobatic and 3-D skills while having an excellent sport airplane capable of drawing precise and stable lines in the sky, then mating the Ultimate² to the AR636A receiver is an excellent choice. Much like a trained driver who, upon getting into a new Ferrari immediately turns off the traction control, a pilot looking for a pure 3-D experience might interpret the AS3X’s assistance as slightly intrusive.




Even on gray winter days in California, the bright orange and blue color scheme is extremely visible.


Conclusion

This new rendition of the Ultimate biplane from E-flite is fresh and exciting. I liked the tool-less assembly, easy-access battery hatch, and the Z-Foam composition airframe. Although balsa-and-plywood airframes are recognized for being lightweight and strong, many pilots now favor the amazing durability of foam-composition models.

With the bailout capabilities offered by the embedded Panic Mode, aspiring aerobatic and 3-D pilots interested in trying new routines, or some of the more extreme 3-D maneuvers, will find that the Ultimate² reduces the risks and anxiety inherent to venturing outside of one’s comfort zone.

Less-experienced pilots will appreciate the confidence-inspiring AS3X technology in this Ultimate2 aerobat. This aircraft will allow newer pilots to take their aerobatic/3-D skills and proficiency to the next level!
—Jon Barnes
barnesjonr@yahoo.com


Bonus video:


Manufacturer/Distributor:

Horizon Hobby
(800) 338-4639
www.e-fliterc.com


Sources:

Spektrum
(800) 338-4639
www.spektrumrc.com




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