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Great Planes Falcon EP ARF Review

The Falcon EP ARF is rich with Carl Goldberg ideals for a great flyer. The Falcon EP follows the bloodline of many other successful CG planes and joins the high quality line-up of Great Planes.

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Introduction


Wingspan:37" / 940mm
Wing Area:286 sq. in. / 18.4 sq. dm.
Weight:8,5 - 10 oz. / 240 – 285g
Length:30" / 760mm
Wing Loading:4.3 – 5.0 oz/sq. ft. / 13 – 15 g/dm sq.
Servos:Futaba S3114
Transmitter:Futaba 9 Cap Super with R617FS 7-Channel 2.4 GHz Module
Receiver:Futaba R6004FF 4-channel 2.4 GHz
Battery:Electrifly 2S 7.4V 300 mAh LiPo
Motor:Rimfire 250 – 1750 kV
ESC:Electrifly Silver Series 8 amp
Manufacturer:Carl Goldberg Classics
Available From:Tower Hobbies (LXAGUP)
MSRP:$69.99

Back in October of 2007 I reviewed the Carl Goldberg Falcon .56 MK II. I began that review with the statement, “It has been a while since I reviewed a trainer.” But now I can say I have reviewed several trainers and enjoy their docile and predictable flight qualities, and among some of the better high-wing flyers, I have to add the Falcon EP.

While in name the two planes are the same, they do differ in size. The larger glow powered version is about 20 inches wider in wingspan, weights about 4 pounds more and has a wing area of about twice this electric version. As you might expect, the wing loading is also different with the electric version having a very low 4.3 – 5.0 oz./sq. ft. Of the things I look at in a trainer, the wing loading here tells me I will have a slow flying, easy to handle, trainer.

The Falcon was first introduced in 1962. Nearly 50 years later, and after countless pilots learned to fly using some form of the Falcon, we have an electric version meant to give new pilots a great platform for learning. Made of Pro-Formance foam the lightweight plane is strong and resilient to a new pilot’s thumbs. Couple a great design, with affordable components and for about $200 you have an awesome park-flyer or indoor flyer. In fact, the plane has two build schemas for either flying style.

Kit Contents

My Falcon EP arrived in great shape. The packaging is designed to isolate the components and minimize any shipping rash.

What is included?

  • Fully painted wing, tail and fuselage
  • Bent wire main gear and spring loaded nose gear
  • Linkages
  • Two versions of wing building
  • Support tape and wing mount rubber bands
  • Clear canopy and pilot

What is required?

  • Rimfire 250 motor – LXXJW4 $39.99
  • Three micro servos – Futaba S3114 – LXNCV6 - $14.99ea
  • Mini-receiver – Futaba R6004FF – LXWHX6 - $49.99
  • Short extension 75mm Futaba extension J Series- LXMHA4 - $6.49
  • 2S LiPo 300 mAh – LXTSR6 - $12.99
  • 8 amp brushless ESC – LXKSY2 - $32.99
  • 8x3 slo-flyer prop – LX1681 - $1.89
  • Foam safe CA – Thin and accelerator
  • Thread lock
  • Canopy glue

Walk-around and Fuselage Assembly

Let’s start by taking a look at some of the components. Pro-Formance foam is a high quality product seen in several new Great Planes products. Its durability is outstanding, but rigidity and low weight are where the material shines. It is also pre-painted.

Give yourself about two to three hours to make the build with an overnight wait for the canopy glue to dry. On day two, get your CG and control surface inputs set. Be prepared for some fun.

Tail

I removed the tail components and flexed the control surfaces back and forth to take the strain off the servos and give overall better movement of the surfaces. I glued the vertical stabilizer to the horizontal stabilizer and made sure both were square. Take your time, and clear the foam at the end of the fuselage so the tail can slide into place. You will pull very gently at the lower portion of the fuselage to let the tail slide into the keyed slot inside the fuselage.

I squared up the tail with the wings. I had to put on the wings to make sure everything was square. The instructions provide that you can use a small piece of weight (1/4 to 1/2 ounce) to make any corrections. I did not have to add any weight or make any adjustments and was ready to glue. I stabilized the joint with pins. Use thin foam safe CA so the bond penetrates, but does not create a filet of glue.

I went ahead put on the main wheels so the Falcon EP could stand proud.

I got the servos ready to install. Be sure to plug the servos in to center them and install the servo arms. Servo arms may differ from the instructions, but you want one servo with two screw-lock connectors in the outer and next possible hole and one with just one screw-lock in the middle hole. Notice that you may need to have an open hole between the two screw-locks. When complete, I selected the correct servo mount and set the servos in place.

Finish up the fuselage by installing the Rimfire 250 motor. These are great little motors with plenty of power for both hand and ground launching. Be sure to thread the wires through the correct opening by first sticking the ESC leads up and out the front of the firewall. It is not a bad idea to check the rotation of the motor before attaching the motor to the firewall.

Radio Installation

Per the instructions, I installed the receiver with the 75mm extension to channel 1 for the ailerons. Ultimately, the receiver will be placed under the platform so you see it from the bottom of the plane. This clears the area of servo wires for the aileron linkages.

Wing

The wing is one-piece, but requires you to determine your flying style. I do not like to fly indoors. I have never found the right space with enough width, length and height close to home. So I completed the setup for flying outdoors. Honestly, the Falcon can be flown fine indoors even though set up for outdoors flying. You may experience more weight and therefore less ability to fly slowly (not sure it could fly any slower), but otherwise it should be generally similar in flight character. If you plan on doing aerobatics indoors and have the room, I would suggest going ahead and installing the outdoor components. The reverse is not true, as the indoor setup does not have the wing strength necessary for aggressive maneuvers indoors or outdoors.

The differences between the two are a wing doubler over the top of the wing and fiber-reinforced tape on the bottom of the wing for outdoor flight. It's not much, but it is important since aggressive maneuvers may flex the wing too much. The indoor setup does require the placement of protectors on the fore and aft portions of the wing to protect it from the rubber bands. The wing doubler provides the protection on the outdoor version.

For the servo arm, a wide servo arm extension is provided that gives the smaller S3114 servo more movement and ultimately the Falcon more maneuverability. I marked the wing too for CG per the instructions below, and gave those ailerons a good flexing.

The top of the wing is likely the most difficult assembly of the Falcon. I had to center the pilot correctly per the instructions (54mm back of the leading edge) and then apply the canopy over the pilot. It's not too bad, but don’t get glue everywhere, and give the canopy overnight to set up. Good canopy glue will dry clear.

Completion

I used the marks I placed under the wing to set the CG. There are three settings: 3.0” (76mm) as an aft setting to slow the Falcon, 2 and 5/8 (67mm) as a recommended CG and 2 and 1/4 as a forward CG for improved smoothness and stability. If you have a CG device you can also use this. The instructions recommend a narrow strip of tape over the lines so you can feel them with your fingertips if you do not have a CG device. I set it up using the middle CG location, and this worked perfectly with the 300 mAh 7.4v LiPo pack up front.

I connected the linkages to the control surfaces and checked the control throws. I am providing here exactly what is in the manual for quick reference:

Elevator High Rate = 3/4” up and 5/8” down

  • Elevator Low Rate = 1/2” up and 3/8” down
  • Rudder High Rate = 1.5” left and 1.5” right
  • Rudder Low Rate = 1” left and 1” right
  • Ailerons High rate = 1/2” up and 3/8” down
  • Ailerons Low Rate = 3/8” up and 1/4" down

Flying

The Falcon EP’s heritage serves it well. Flight is outstanding, and the Falcon EP should be as equally adept indoors as I flew it outdoors. The maneuvering ability is tight enough that it can turn in tight buildings, but outdoors it can fly a few more large aerobatic moves. Slow flight is outstanding, and controllability at those slow speeds is what makes this Falcon EP such a great flyer. I have flown several Pro-Formance aircraft and all fly very well; the lightweight material gives strength but low wing loading, a perfect combination.

Basics

The Falcon EP climbs very well. Throttle response is excellent, and the Rimfire 250 can get you out of trouble easily. The Futaba S3114 servos provide smooth control surface movement to enhance the flight of the Falcon. Keeping the Falcon EP light is important so use the proper electronics to stay under 10 ounces (285g). Flight times were excellent, and the little 300 mAh 7.4v LiPo, with even a minimum of throttle management, can keep you flying over eight minutes. With the suggested components, the CG was perfect.

Stalls required effort. I moved the rudder stop-to-stop with little indication of a tip stall. Because the Falcon EP has a wing loading of 4.3 – 5.0 oz/sq. ft. (13 – 15 g/dm sq.), stalls, even induced, are hard to see; there is little if any wing drop.

I flew in about 6MPH winds in the video and did notice some buffeting, but response stayed strong, and overall I thought the wind was a pretty small influence on such a lightweight plane. In spite of the concave under-cambered underside of the wing, I did not see it wanting to roll over as the wind pushed under the wing. The use of such strong build materials allows for a relatively small side profile reducing wind milling.

Taking Off and Landing

On the ground, the nose wheel and rudder can turn the Falcon on a dime and the tri-cycle gear stabilizes the Falcon so there is no wing tipping. Tracking on takeoff is straight and true with little if any prop torque. The takeoff roll can be a slow realistic ROG or you can firewall the throttle and get off the ground in a few feet. Landings are exceptional. I was making dead-stick landings with so much stability I believe I could have set the transmitter down and it would have landed by itself. The glide slope is remarkable.

Aerobatics/Special Flight Performance

Aerobatics require some preparation. Rolls need some airspeed with the nose up at roll entry. The high rate setting will take the Falcon over on its back slowly and through the roll. Loops are easy. Inverted flight was very easy to control. The wing design worked well even though it was inverted. There's not a great deal of power to pull out of inverted with an inside maneuver, but enough to get you right side up.

Is This For a Beginner?

Yes, this is all about a beginner trainer with some great flying qualities: slow flight which allows a new pilot the chance to keep up with control inputs, the size makes this park flyer at 37" (940mm) easy to see, it's durable, the repair of Pro-Formance foam is easy with foam safe glue, and since it's an ARF with a well-written instruction manual gets you into the air quickly with little chance for negative outcomes.

In summary, the Falcon EP has all the attributes of a trainer with the ability to achieve more as one becomes more flying proficient. It can teach a new pilot to take off and land, glide, turn with either the rudder or ailerons, and advance to aerobatics. The Falcon EP will easily become a favorite plane for all around flying.

Flight Video/Photo Gallery

Forgive the weather, but I shoveled the flying field just to get a chance to fly the Falcon EP. It was a well-spent effort, as I believe you will agree when you see the video. Both videos are the same.

Downloads

Provided as a WMV  36.35 MB
Provided as a MOV  15.55 MB

Conclusion

I was just as pleased with my experience on the Falcon EP as the earlier Falcon .56. This is a well-designed plane worthy of purchase and one with literally years of design work and flight. I was most pleased with the slow flight stability and handing, and I think anyone that flies one of the Falcon EPs will agree this is wonderful airplane.

The Good:

  • Pro-Formance materials
  • Design and instructions that lead to a positive outcome
  • Strong Tri-cycle gear
  • Perfect match of plane to components
  • Gaining a following on RCG as a quality flyer

The Not-So-Good

  • Nothing I can find
Last edited by Angela H; Jan 26, 2011 at 04:43 PM..

Discussion

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Old Jan 27, 2011, 08:03 AM
Flutter-Bys are fun
Conehead's Avatar
United States, MI, Honor
Joined Dec 2005
5,045 Posts
Nice review and images. I didn't know about this plane. Thanks a bunch.
Conehead
Orrin Eldred
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Old Jan 27, 2011, 09:05 AM
Right Rudder
PittSpecial's Avatar
USA, FL, Orlando
Joined Nov 2010
9,246 Posts
Very nice model
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Old Jan 27, 2011, 09:20 AM
Registered User
chip.greely's Avatar
Carlsbad, Ca
Joined Mar 2007
3,057 Posts
I was hoping that someone would review this plane.

Love the throwback look to the original
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Old Jan 27, 2011, 05:30 PM
Fly 'Em Til You Sell 'Em
rudyhal's Avatar
Joined Jan 2003
1,107 Posts
here is a video of mine
Great Planes Falcon Arf (2 min 59 sec)
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Old Jan 28, 2011, 05:50 AM
Dr. Dave
USA
Joined Nov 2005
1,316 Posts
Rudy, lots better than my video. I also did a GoPro head cam video but did not post it. Still need to work on this method as the view is zoomed out pretty far. Your brown background though would have worked well. My background was the white stuff.
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Old Jan 28, 2011, 07:02 AM
Fly 'Em Til You Sell 'Em
rudyhal's Avatar
Joined Jan 2003
1,107 Posts
I wished I had a better camera.It was just a spur of the moment idea to video this it was done with a camera phone
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Old Jan 28, 2011, 11:14 AM
Registered Broncos Fan!
n00b-E's Avatar
United States, CO, Aurora
Joined Sep 2007
683 Posts
Good review. Wish I could say I was as enamored with the electrified Jr. Falcon, but it just seems lacking.
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Old Jan 28, 2011, 03:15 PM
Warbird crazy!
new2rc's Avatar
United States, CA, San Mateo
Joined Sep 2004
3,736 Posts
That is the craziest slow flying.
Very cool plane. I will be recommending this one to newbs for sure.

Thanks for the review!

John
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Old Jan 28, 2011, 10:18 PM
BadPilot
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United States, IL, Custer Park
Joined Nov 2007
1,706 Posts
Dave,

You always, you complete your review thoroughly which could ALMOST be used as instructions. nice job! Good on you for giving your camera person's pic in the build. She deserves lots of credit for the great looking video. This looks like a fantastic plane for lazy fly days or as a second plane for new pilot.

TFS

John
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Old Jan 28, 2011, 10:20 PM
BadPilot
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United States, IL, Custer Park
Joined Nov 2007
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Rudy,

Nice video! Awesome inverted flying and it looks like you dragged the tail once......

TFS

John
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Old Jan 29, 2011, 09:06 AM
Fly 'Em Til You Sell 'Em
rudyhal's Avatar
Joined Jan 2003
1,107 Posts
This plane flies inverted fantastic.I just put a full navigational light system on it.I was not sure how the extra weight would change the flying abilities of the plane but it actually seems to fly better and just as slow just an amazing little plane
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Old Jan 29, 2011, 12:08 PM
BEC
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Auburn, Washington USA
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12,937 Posts
It's hard for me to wrap my mind around a Goldberg Falcon made out of foam....but it actually looks like it works very well.
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Old Jan 29, 2011, 12:55 PM
Registered Broncos Fan!
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United States, CO, Aurora
Joined Sep 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BEC View Post
It's hard for me to wrap my mind around a Goldberg Falcon made out of foam....but it actually looks like it works very well.
Yeah, I guess thats my problem too, I just fet the feeling that it needs balsa! Perhaps "lacking" wasn't the correct adjective as it seems to perform well..........it's just different, maybe it's the purist in me. At any rate, it looks decent enough, and since I was planning a scratch built Jr. Falcon for electric it might be just right for me. Off to the LHS to get a closer look.
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Old Jan 29, 2011, 10:12 PM
Tied to the whipping post
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Warm-Sunny-no-Wind, Az.
Joined Dec 2003
2,479 Posts
Nice writeup 78Dave!

I learned to fly on the Jr. Falcon way back with a single channel galloping ghost and a Cox Baby Bee .049. Took a winter to build and flew it all summer long. (back then one could only afford a plane at a time)

This rendition looks very FlyLite like which is fine. I have hundreds of flights on my FlyLite with 4 spare kits in the box. Its an excellent lazy day lawn chair flyer. It should be priced like one. I think its a bit salty at $70 but will pick one or 2 up when they go on sale. (hint)
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