|PARKZONE EXTRA 300|
|Wing Area:||286.75 sq. in.|
|Wing Loading:||17.25 oz/sq. ft.|
|Servos:||Four Parkzone digital, metal-gear servos|
|Transmitter:||Spektrum DX7 Special Edition|
|Receiver:||Spektrum AR500 full-range receiver (included with BNF version)|
|Battery:||Parkzone 3S 2200mAh 25C LiPo (included with BNF version)|
|Motor:||Parkzone 15-size, 950kV brushless motor|
|Charger:||Parkzone 2S-3S DC balancing charger (included with BNF version)|
|ESC:||E-Flite 30-amp brushless speed controller|
|Available From:||Horizon Hobby|
|Price:||$184 for the plug-and-play version or $249 for the bind-and-fly version.|
In the world of aerobatic aircraft, there's a plane that's all too common, and that's the Extra. Hailing all the way from Germany, it is the low- or mid-wing invention of aerobatic pilot Walter Extra. You can get a full-size Extra in any engine flavor you want, from 200 to 230 to 260 to 300 and even 330 horsepower and when it comes to its R/C counterpart, the possibilities get multiplied. Big-time.
I've had a few Extras in my time (R/C, not the real deal), and my first one was a small Depron 260 one from E-Flite, now long discontinued. I always appreciated how nimble it was, yet how surprisingly gentle it was even at low speeds. A good backyard flier it was until, just like with most Depron planes flown outdoors, it was time to award it some early retirement in appreciation of the good times and hard landings.
Now, from sister company Parkzone comes an Extra 300 of bigger proportions (a respectable 40-inch wingspan) and made of the much-tested-by-yours-truly Z-Foam material (smash, retrieve, relaunch or at least that's how I approach it). It comes in either a bind-and-fly package or a less-expensive plug-and-play version. I'm going with the former, so follow along as I put this orange staple of the air races and quintessential R/C aerobat to the test.
As previously mentioned, you can bring home the Extra 300 in two varieties. The first one, which Horizon Hobby sent me, is the bind-and-fly, or BNF for short. It only requires a DSM2-compatible transmitter, and it includes everything from charger to battery to receiver. The other version, a bit more economical, is the plug-and-play (PNP for short), and it requires a battery and charger, along with the receiver of your choice.
When it comes to the DSM2 transmitter of choice, I used my trusty Spektrum DX7 Special Edition, but you can use the popular DX6i (which I reviewed here) or the newer JR9503 (read Jon Barnes' review of it here) or even the top-dollar JR12X for all you care (which Jay Smith reviewed here as well). You cannot, however, use the original Spektrum DX6 radio (it's a DSM radio, not the required DSM2). And, while not a must, I would recommend using a radio that allows for dual rates and exponential this is, after all, an aerobatic plane, and it will need careful handling in the air.
Inside of my BNF kit, here's what I found:
I think calling this an "assembly" would be a gross overstatement. After all, this is the kind of plane that you can go to the hobby shop for, drive to the local park and put together in the back of the pick-up truck. All that's required is a Phillips-head screwdriver and 15 minutes of your precious life. Let's build, shall we?
SERVICE NOTE: Horizon Hobby has released a small addendum to the instructions, since some people had reported the mail wheels vibrating and possibly coming loose because the wheel nut was getting unscrewed. The solution is simple: Remove the nut, add some thread-locker and reattach it. Simple enough. I didn't wait for my wheel to possibly fall off, so I went ahead and took care of this small issue without much fanfare. Now, back to your regularly scheduled programming.
First, the landing gear slides into the fuselage, and then the wheel pants get secured to the fuselage with a couple of screws. That concludes this part of the show, and then it's off to the wing, where the wing tube slides into place. Once that's done, insert each wing, route the servo wire to the respective destination, attach the wires to the Y-harness (it doesn't matter which one goes to each end) and finally secure the wing to the fuselage with the included screws.
The last part involves sliding the horizontal stabilizer into the fuselage, making sure the control horn is on the right. After securing in place with some tape, attach the pushrod to the control horn. Then, match all the servo leads to the proper pins in the receiver, put the propeller and spinner on the business end of the Extra... and admire your 15-minute creation, for you are finished, my friend.
The recommended/included battery fits snugly into its designated space, so there's little wiggle room for adjustment. That said, it balances just fine at the recommended 2.75 inches from the leading edge at the wing root and as you progress, you may be able to move it around. Horizon recommends the battery to be all the way forward, but I found the sweet spot with the 2200mAh pack secured in the middle of the hatch, or balancing roughly three inches from the leading edge.
When it comes to the travel rates, I went by the book on it, and it goes as follows:
|Recommended control throws|
|High rates||Low rates|
|Ailerons||30mm (1.18 in)||12mm (0.47 in)|
|Elevator||37mm (1.46 in)||10mm (0.39 in)|
|Rudder||55mm (2.17 in)||35mm (1.38 in)|
|Expo settings||55% on high rate for ailerons, 70% on high rate for elevator, 45% on high rate for rudder||40% on low rate for ailerons, elevator and rudder|
|I did end up adding a bit more elevator throws to my Extra, and I also set all the high rates to 60% expo and 30% for low rates, but that's all personal preference.|
All along, I had been charging the battery, which took a while to charge with the supplied DC charger. It appears one of the three cells was not as balanced as its two counterparts, so it took a while for it to get back to speed. After that, subsequent charges were more in tune with what a 1C-charge-rate would take not more than an hour.
All looks good, and the wind is nowhere to be found outside... so hop on the car, for we're field-bound and down.
Before getting airborne, it was time for a quick reality check under the hood: Just how much power was being produced out of this power system? So, I hooked up my meter, and lo and behold, the numbers were staggering: a whopping 32 amps and and even-more-whopping 370 watts. That adds to about 175 watts per pound oh my. This will be an exciting ride, let there be no doubt about that.
You don't need much room to get airborne with this Extra 300: A mere 20 yards, if not less, should have you in the air without a problem. And, despite the inclusion of wheel pants, I was surprised to see that the plane does taxi well on both short grass and gravel (I sometimes like the roads less traveled when it comes to take-offs, what can I say?).
This Parkzone creation includes a steerable tailwheel, and it's a nice addition. On pavement, it taxies quite well, and you'll soon realize that low rates will go a long way when it comes to cruising around a runway.
A much-discussed topic, which prompted a second service bulletin for this plane, is the fact that, when looking at the wings' airfoil, it appears as if they are, indeed, mounted upside down. I did not notice it at first, but after a fellow author pointed it to me, I took a peek, and there it was: an slightly inverted airfoil of sorts. Yes, I'm not the most observant person in the face of the universe, thank you very much.
According to Horizon Hobby, the reason for it is "a result of paint shrinkage or installation of the blade spar in the lower surface of the wing during manufacturing." The company, however, says that this should have no adverse effect on flight characteristics. In essence, the wings are molded right, but a manufacturing issue has made some of them look like slightly distorted.
Did I notice any difference in flight? I personally didn't, but, then again, I'll be the first to admit I'm no world aerobatic champion at the sticks. But, frankly, I sensed no odd tendencies in flight no tip-stalling at speeds where they should not be tip-stalling, no instabilities, nothing too unexpected. In fact, inverted flight was extremely stable.
Is it an issue, though? Of course it is. If for no other reason than for aesthetics, I hope it gets resolved. But, for the time being, I'm going to keep flying the Extra 300 this way until, well, the wings fall off.
Of course, if you're like me and are constantly in a hurry, a quick hand-toss might be the way to go. It's doable without much fanfare, and with so much horsepower under the cowling, all it takes is a simple toss at half-throttle while holding the Extra behind the canopy at a slight upward angle. Off it will go, departing from the owner's hands, sky-bound.
For a plane that boasts a wing loading of 17.25 oz./lb., getting back to solid ground was amazingly and shockingly simple. I thought it would be more of a brick when it came time to kill the throttle and land, but I found myself overshooting the runway more often than not. It glides and glides, and then it glides some more. It is far floatier than one would expect, and as long as low rates are set on the radio and a bit of power is kept, one should not have any problems other than overshooting the runway, of course. And, again, even with the wheel pants on, I had little trouble keeping it upright after the wheels hit the ground. It rolled just fine without coming to an abrupt stop and/or going belly-up.
One thing is for certain: The Parkzone Extra 300 is not advertised as a 3D kind of aircraft, and a 3D kind of aircraft it is not. Let there be no doubt: It is a sport-aerobatics plane if I ever saw one. And that's not a bad thing in and of itself it is the nature of this beast. It requires power (which it does not lack whatsoever) to stay in the air, and once it's going, it covers ground like it was meant to do. This is no low-and-slow kind of aircraft this is fast-paced aerobatics of the tried-and-true variety.
That said, it does not lack stability. It tracks well, and while it required a bit of left aileron and rudder trim, along with a small dose of up-elevator trim to get it all dialed in, it did not require much finessing other than that. It is a precise aircraft, offering crisp rolls and any other aerobatic maneuver you throw its way with rapid response.
In the air, it will require a bit of power to maintain stability, however. I found that anything half throttle and above provides enough airspeed without the Extra 300 wanting to stall out. On the other hand, one will soon notice that, at lower speeds, there is a slight tendency for tip-stalls and the like just as expected from a plane with such a wing loading. So, the moral of the story? Keep it moving, and don't slow down.
The installed power system and electronics perform just fine. The servos are nice and responsive, and the fact that they're digital and feature metal gears is a nice plus, indeed. I did not have any issues with the E-Flite speed controller (even if, at full throttle, the power system lightly exceeded the 30-amp rating for the ESC), and the battery offers plenty of power all along the duration of the flight without dropping noticeably. The 15-size, 950kV motor does its job well, too.
One thing that struck me as a bit odd, however, was the prop selection a seldom-heard-of 10.5x9 propeller (apparently tailor-made for this plane). It works well, don't get me wrong but it has an awful lot of pitch, and you could tell that at times it did provide a bit of torque (especially in post-stall maneuvers). A prop is something that's easy to change, and some may in fact be happy with this option. For the purposes of this review, I did not astray from the recommended gear, but another option might be in store for those who may be looking for slightly different flight characteristics or can't find this prop in store.
Another thing that's easily remedied, yet worthy of mentioning, is the fact that the color scheme, while mightily attractive, can lead to disorientation at times. The bottom and top of the aircraft are the same color, so at times it can get confusing. Should that be the case, remedy is but a roll of tape or can of paint spray away.
Flight times will vary depending on your style, but I found that I could be in the air for a good seven to eight minutes without worrying about the battery hitting the low-voltage cutoff. That offered more than enough time for some good aerobatic routes. And, speaking of which...
This is not your putt-around-lazily-in-the-dusk kind of airplane (for that kind of stuff, Horizon Hobby has its own inventory, and I have reviewed one them which happens to be a favorite of mine). So, forget about the lazy figure-eights. It's time to tear up the sky, one prop revolution at a time and here's the report:
Parkzone planes tend to be relatively easy to fly ("Just Fly!" is its motto, after all), but in the case of the Extra 300, a bit of previous experience is required. It is an aerobatic aircraft of the highest order, and it will continue its intended path with zero self-correcting tendencies. That, combined with crazy amounts of power, is a lethal combination for novices. It is relatively gentle, sure, and it glides more than I would expect it, too but it still has an insane roll rate and will not straighten itself out on its own.
I was fortunate enough (for lack of a better excuse), to put this Extra through a durability-test at the Monasterio Electric Aerospace Institute and Crash Test Facility© (motto: "Electrons Rule, Yet Gravity Always Laughs Last"©). Not just once, but twice (Extra review, extra crash, right?), all in the name of science!
The first time, I went for a little spin and started recovering about 150 feet later than I should have. I planted it in style, in the likes of great YouTube videos. The only difference? There was no foam confetti, no need for a plastic bag, no fanfare. I broke the spinner, the prop and the cowl, and the landing gear was in minor need of some Gorilla Glue at the base. But, other than that, it was intact as we know it. No strange chunks of foam, no missing tape, no real walk of shame. Success (of sorts)!
The second time, I lost orientation in the middle of an outside knife-edge turn and it slowly drifted its was to the thorniest patch I could have landed it in. After a treacherous trek to the scene of the crime, I found the plane stuck amid thorns and bushes, unscathed other than minor scratches and a fingernail-sized piece of foam coming apart from the rudder. Success (of sorts) again!
So, in summation, this is no beginner plane, but it could make a good third or fourth aircraft and a first aerobatic machine thanks to its resiliency factor.
What can I say? I'm a sucker for aerobatic aircraft. Just about every kind, from the Edge to the Yak and anything in between, has made its way through the Monasterio Hangar. Now, I'm glad this Extra 300 has made its way, too. It's nimble, it's sports aerobatics at its best, it's all-too-powerful and, for the most part, it bounces like rubber.
The Parkzone Extra 300 is a good value for what you get. It comes with everything but your favorite transmitter, and it can be assembled in mere minutes (a new dad such as yours truly finds this kind of time-saving extremely appealing). In the air, it performs quite well, doing any kind of sport maneuver you throw at it, and it looks quite pleasing as it cuts its way through the air.
I would like to thank the following for making this review possible: Horizon Hobby for providing the bind-and-fly version of this aircraft; and my good friend and fellow author Andy Grose for the stellar photography and video included in this review.
|Sep 09, 2010, 10:22 PM|
*clap clap clap* Fantastic Job! Great review. Want one but really would prefer something that can handle a hover. Gonna have to stick with the Slick!
|Sep 09, 2010, 11:47 PM|
Great Review Napo. I have to agree with you that this one is a keeper.
However, it took me a while to get my Extra to that point. My first flights were OK, but I had a lot of trouble with my landings. The plane seemed to want to snap out of the air on landings. I tried the upside down wing arrangement and it helped a little, but orientation was even worse with the checker pattern on top. Finally I saw the correction on the CG location. I had been flying with the CG at the 3-1/4" location. I moved my battery all the way forward and got my CG to 2-3/4" and I've been a happy camper ever since. I may try moving it back a little sometime in the future, but not too soon.
Have you tried flat spins yet? Mine does a wonderful flat spin! I recovers as soon as you neutralize the controls.
I like the Extra so much that I now recommend it as the next step after the T28 Trojan. It is a great aerobatic trainer and will teach you orientation and recovery skills that you will need before you start flying 3D.
|Sep 10, 2010, 05:56 AM|
Napo, nice and fair review I would say. Glad you mentioned most of the things people have discussed here at RCG about this plane.
I am sure Horizon have sent you the best available wings from their lot. You hope the issue gets resolved, I hoped that too but I do not trust them anymore like I did. I still have this plane which I do not fly. Some people asked me to sell it to them ($100-120) but I do not want to do to them what Horizon did to its loyal customers.
All the best and keep up the good work.
|Sep 10, 2010, 08:26 AM|
I own a Slick, too, and it's a completely different plane. I love my Slick for 3D and low-and-slow flying and this is the opposite. It's certainly a sports-aerobatic plane, and it will fly fast. It's no better or worse it's just what it is.
But one thing's for sure. The Extra bounces a whole lot better than the Slick.
Funny about the landings, though I, far from a landing master, seem to have very little trouble with them. But I'm terrible at landing with other planes that people just have no issues with. Go figure.
That said... I didn't get a hand-picked set of wings. My kit was shipped from the warehouse, just as if you had ordered it. No preferential treatment here. Trust me on that one. Otherwise my wings would have been perfect, and the LiPo cells within 0.01V of each other.
|Sep 10, 2010, 10:03 AM|
Napo, I trust you and respect the work that you do. All the best. :-)
In this pic, the wing is much better (rather fully symmetrical) than the one I have, could be that some are slightly better than others. Mine looks worse compared to this one.
|Sep 10, 2010, 10:19 AM|
Yeah, from what I've been told, it's hit-and-miss. Some get better sets, some get worse ones. I guess I got something in the middle.
|Sep 10, 2010, 11:32 AM|
First of all, great review, Napo. I really enjoyed flying that plane.
On the wing issue, from what I saw of Napo's plane, the left wing was more mis-shaped than the right one. But as has been stated over and over (and even by Mr. McConville himself), the flying characteristics of this plane are not affected by a slightly out-of-shape wing. It seems that CG and control throws are the things to watch on this bird.
Nice plane...and I still want one for myself!
|Sep 10, 2010, 11:55 AM|
United States, NJ, Brooklawn
Joined Jul 2008
A nice review. Seems scale in a lot of ways, what with needing lots of speed.
That said, I'm pretty sure full scale Extra 300's come with their wings made the right way though
All in all it seems like this plane won't be one of the greats from HH, like the trojan or super cub.
|Sep 10, 2010, 03:21 PM|
Nice review. I wish I flew good enough to try all of the maneuvers Napo did.
Mine 300 didn't bounce as good as his, because it came down from lot higher and going WOT.
I was able to glue together the fuselage which was in 3 pieces. (replacement fuselage was not available yet in the stores) I even tried flipping the wings and it flew the same.
I take it with me every time I go flying (wings right side up), but I fly it only when is calm.
I love the aggressive look and snappy handling. I made up a 30mm spacer from piece of foam which I use for battery stop against firewall. I also added some black on the bottom of the elevator and wings for a better contrast between top and bottom.
This plane takes some to get used to. It requires my full concentration. After a session with it, I feel like I am flying a lot smoother with my T28 Trojan, F4F Wildcat, SU26 xp or even Cessna 182 Select.
In short, I am glad I bought it.
|Sep 11, 2010, 12:02 AM|
As usual, very nice review and Andy super fotos. I really enjoyed the detail description of the plane but most of all how it flies. This let me know what to expect when I purchase this plane.
|Sep 11, 2010, 06:52 AM|
Still a fun plane. I really like the way it flies knife-edge. Inverted is fun too!
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