Art Tech PC9
Arrived yesterday from Nitroplanes - same aircraft that HobbyKing sells, just a different paint scheme.
I purchased it content that if it was low quality, I didn't really care - just wanted this plane. (I found the Hobby Lobby PC21 to be a major disappointment in the quality stakes...). Happy to report that this PC9 is very nicely done! The Nitroplanes review even states that it's not that quick, but I think it will be great for some sedate touch and gos and lazy flying.
Will hopefully test flight tomorrow using SkyLipo 3 cell 1300mAh and stock powerplant.
(The beer was meant to give a sense of size - trying to use a reference with mass appeal...)
Flew it this morning. 2 clicks of up elevator and it flew straight and level. Extremely stable and forgiving (as you would expect), but could do with more power if you want to do hard aerobatics. It will happily do all the basic moves. I had the connectors set on the middle hole for all control surfaces, and 20% expo on the elevator and ailerons. It balanced perfectly with the 1300mAh battery installed.
It would be a perfect stepping stone for people who have flown a high wing trainer and are looking for a first low wing aeroplane.
Very relaxing to fly and easy to land!
I'll look at upgrading the motor in the future.
I'm surprised at the lack of discussion around this bird. She's a cutie, very nice finish and durable material - for the most part, but like the current small to medium sized models in Art-Tech's range ie. the Cub and Tiger-Moth, she is very nicely and accurately detailed but the fittings and fixings are far too weak for the type of flying they claim or promote (park flying, beginner to intermediate), in fact I've owned all 3 and found the fittings like gear and functional scale details like struts etc to be too weak for even experienced scale flying from even the most forgiving surfaces.
On the PC-9 which I took delivery of a week ago, the hinges on the sideways-hinging canopy broke, one during assembly and the second on it's first and only flight so far. The Gear attachment blocks (main gear) fixed to the wing undersides were both loose - came unglued and were found to have been glued with a ridioculous latex type glue. The gear legs themselves are very tall (too tall) and spindly and bent very easily. Solution: I epoxied the gear blocks into the wings and am looking into suitable micro servoless retracts. I beefed the legs up by fitting ear bud stems over the wire, this gives a more scale look too - on the Nosewheel I made up my own shorter leg and also fitted a stem over the wire.
The spinner/spinners are a joke, they are made well enough but are of the same EPO as the airframe and attach to the 3 blade prop by snug fit and optional double-sided tape! Nevermind the effect this has on a likely unbalanced prop these are extremely fragile and despite smooth landings on her first flight this part ended up with scratches and dents I could not repair. Solution: I am going to turn two spinners from light balsa block and fix it to the prop via the motor shaft.
The other issue I have is that in my opinion the horizontal and vertical stabs and control surfaces are far too weak, they are nicely proportioned and strike a good balance between scale appearance and controllability but Art-tech could have simply installed rods to ensure they hold up. Without reinforcing there is a serious danger of flutter on both the vertical and horizontal surfaces.
I've installed a carbon rod but am still concerned about the rudder and elevator ending up bent or warped over time and may cut the elevator at the mass balance horns and fix the horns to the stab, the rudder I think will be ok.
The final pre-flight mod I made was to secure the clevises with mini cable ties - never trusted these plastic horns and clevises although I've never had one fail in flight I have found the pegs to be flimsy and if not installed perfectly first time become immediately compromised.
Given those mods I only ended up around 50g heavier and had no issue blancing at the indicated CG point with the stock battery and after an extensive range check of the stock 2.4ghz radio, throws check (set the clevises at mid point on the horns on all 4) I lined her up on the asphalt of a nearby parking lot I use for maidens and opened up, I was quite surprised to find her quite sluggish, directionally and in terms of pitch - she required a lot of runway before the elevator came alive and although I had nosewheel steering because of the wobbly nosewheel leg she responded very slowly to steeering inputs and the rudder proved effective around the same time the elevator did.
She required more elevator input than I like to get unstuck and climbed quite clumsily at which point it became very evident to me that she was quite underpowered and exhibited signs of a high wing loading. Once safely up one or two clicks of up elevator was required to set her up nicely but I dared not come back on the power until a safer altitude had been reached.
When I did reduce power slightly for cruise she immediately responded with a noticeable nose down pitch and loss of altitude, up elevator helped but only when power was returned to 100% did she really start climbing. I realize that she may have been a bit nose heavy but it is clear she was slightly heavy and under powered.
In the turn she is quite stable, no tendencies to want to drop a wing or tip stall at even high angles of bank - surprisingly enough in the tight turns the elevator was very responsive and I pulled off one or two extremely tight turns and around 60 degrees of bank without much or any notable loss of altitude. The stall was straight forward, again no wing drop but she loses quite a lot of altiotude before a standard recovery has her straight and level again.
Manuevering was straight forward too but for the lack of elevator authority through the loops, especially as speed decayed - good management of her enrgy was necessary to get her over the top cleanly. Rolls are lethargic but straight forward requiring only minimal rudder to maintain tracking, she tracks well enough and is stable enough but definatly misses a bit more power.
Landing was fun, she comes in hot! I am considering a servo operated brake in the scale location undert the wing center, or a more complicated split flap but I am hoping that when I fit the more scale 8x5 four blade prop with bigger paddle like blades I can slow her down enough just by windmilling on the approach. She touches down nicely on her tricycle gear but again the spindly legs wobble a lot and keeping her in line takes some doing - even harder to do is bring her to a stop, but in 4 out of 5 landings she nosed-over on the inadequate nose gear assembly after a long run where at most fields she would run out of space. That said I was flying on very smooth and manicured asphalt - on short grass or paving she'll stop easy enough.
All in all I'm not unhappy, she's beautiful to look at (ok stare at ) and I love the cockpit detailing and great looking military pilots, I do wish the decals were better quality, mine were all cracked in the box but I do plan on stripping and repainting her in our local 'Silver Falcons' color scheme of royal blue with a stunning Eagle trim and flag on the tail. I also want to modify the fin to include the 'double root' of the PC-7 hybrid and later PC-9 which should improve yaw control and stability and strengthen the fin and rudder.
An entirely typical late Art-Tech model, in appearance, construction, electronics and perfomrance. Packaging was unfortunate and only careful re-packaging by my supplier got her to me undamaged. The Art-Teach radio and electronics have been reviewed to death, I have been flying their stuff since the early Cessna 182's and Pitts and Christen Eagles and have yet to have a major electronics or radio failure but you would be wise to install your own radio if you have it.
Treat her like a wife with spontaneous PMS syndrome and she'll give you hours of fun I must say a low and fast pass with the scale pilots and great color scheme is really satisfying. Photo's soon
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