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Old Jul 14, 2009, 03:25 PM
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Joined Feb 2009
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Firebird Commander 2 Gets Some Air - How I got to the Firebird Phantom pt 2

So the Decathlon crashed and burned. I was willing to admit defeat on the intermediate planes, and obviously needed something more beginner level. I also wanted something that a local flyer could recommend.

A week later the local flying club held a swap meet - the timing was perfect. I stopped in, and amongst the tables of people selling planes was a person who had a supply of Firebird Commander 2's and Firebird Phantoms. After some discussion about my previous wreck and need for a plane that could fly in some wind, I purchased a Firebird Commander 2 (RC Groups review here).

That afternoon I headed to the local park, the same one I destroyed the Decathlon in, and gave the FC2 a go. I walked into the middle of a soccer field which was surrounded by baseball diamonds (plenty of room, no?) and chucked the FC2 into the air.

The first throw was wayyy too light a throw, the plane got about twenty feet before it hit grass and spun over. The second throw was more of a "heave ho", and this time it stayed airborne. And headed straight for the backside of a huge electric baseball scoreboard. I gave the FC2 orders to swerve away well in advance, but the plane didn't seem to be listening very well, and sure enough SMACK, it ran right into the back of that board, the battery pack shot out the front of the plane, and the tail swung up to hit the board as well. I ran over to the wreckage and found the v-tail foam had snapped into pieces, and the battery pack was a good twenty yards away from the plane. All this from a slow wreck where the plane was barely 15ft off the ground.

Later that afternoon I ran to a Local Hobby Store and picked up a replacement tail for about 10 bucks, installed it, and visited a different park that had tons of open field. It was extra windy at this point, but I was intent on a successful flight. I forgot the part about really throwing the FC2 in order for it to stay airborne, so the first throw netted me no air time. The second chuck got me airborne, and this round got me about 2 minutes of air time before I called it quits and landed her. In fact, the plane didn't really land so much as she was forced to the ground by the wind, but it was an uneventful on-her-wheels landing.

I've since flown the FC2 with success a couple of times. Some things I've noticed about it:
  1. It requires roughly 150 yards of space for take-off alone on a hand launch. I'm not kidding on this amount, I flew it in an area that was four football fields arranged in a square pattern, and it took 1.7 fields for it to get 20 feet off the ground.
  2. Turning is dead slow if you keep the control fishwire in the stock placement in the control horns - move them to the inner holes and turning will be sharper.
  3. Turning causes an immediate loss of altitude, so don't turn when you're within 10 foot of the ground. You've gotta plan your landing well in advance.
  4. Don't fly the plane until you've cycled the battery a couple of times. Charge the battery to full, turn on the transmitter (tx), put the battery in the plane, and push the throttle trim all the way forward till so the motor runs. Let it run till it runs out about forty minutes later. Repeat this at least once.
  5. A 3 hour charge time for the battery is ridiculous. Seriously poor. There's no good way to charge and run out to the park. Chances are it'll rain by the time you're ready to fly. After getting hosed on weather a number of times I went and bought a fast charger and an extra battery. Figure this into cost.
  6. Using throttle to manage altitude causes accidents at high speed. If the plane is 30ft high, hits a brief head wind after which it stalls, you then try to correct by hitting throttle. The FC2 then quickly plummets to earth, gaining speed but not changing the pitch of the plane enough to avoid an accident at 40mph. Smash, cracked main wing guaranteed.
  7. Windy days are bad part 1 - the plane gains altitude quick when flying into the wind, but if you don't have enough airspeed when you turn around, you'll lose altitude even quicker and have an accident. Wind into the back of the plane causes an immediate stall.
  8. Windy days are bad part 2 - throttle manages altitude, so what if the plane continues to ascend after you've stopped applying throttle? You learn to enact a death spiral - turn one direction and keep it that way until it gets low. But by then the plane is likely nowhere near where you are.
  9. I haven't noticed the Anti Crash Technology doing anything positive.
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