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Hobby Lobby Escale EPO Pilatus PC-21 ARF Review

Hobby Lobby's Pilatus PC-21 includes a scale five bladed scimitar style prop, retracts and can be flown on either a 3S or 4S lipo. The color red is always faster, right?

Splash

 

Wing span: 36 in
Length: 44.25 in
Weight: 43 oz
Battery: 3S or 4S 1750mAh lipo
Motor: 760Kv
ESC: 50A
Distributed by: Hobby Lobby
MSRP: $199.99

The REAL Pilatus PC-21 Trainer




The Pilatus PC-21 is a single-turboprop, low wing swept monoplane advanced trainer with a stepped tandem cockpit manufactured by Pilatus Aircraft of Switzerland. It is the evolutionary successor to the Pilatus PC-7 and PC-9 aircraft, both of which are turboprop trainer aircraft. Pilatus manufactured four prototype PC-21's, numbering them HB-HZA, HB-HZB, HB-HZC and HB-HZD (the Hobby Lobby Escale Pilatus PC-21 is thus adorned with the markings of the #1 prototype). The PC-21 utilizes a tandem-seating arrangement, with the student taking the front seat and the instructor the rear one. Both glass cockpits feature three large color LCD displays, head-up displays (HUD), and Hands on Throttle and Stick (HOTAS) controls. The Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-68B Turboprop engine, rated at 1,600 SHP, is capable of propelling the PC-21 to a cruise speed of 370 knots and helps it achieve a maximum rate of climb of over 4,000 feet per minute. Poke around the web a little and look at photos of the full size PC-21 and you may agree that Hobby Lobby has done a good job of capturing it's scale lines in their 36" wingspan model. By the way, the wingspan of a full size PC-21 works out to 359", making this model a 1/10 scale replica. Now that looking at the real PC-21 has the adrenalin flowing, let's dig into the box that the Escale PC-21 comes in!



Box Contents



Though normally the big brown truck of RC goodness leaves boxes that are of proper geometric proportions, I was a bit dismayed and irritated to find that the Escale PC-21 box arrived severely distorted and crumpled. With a wee bit of anxiety, I opened the box to inspect the contents. Fortunately, no real damage was noted, other than the very tip of one side of the horizontal stabilizer/elevator assembly being chipped off. A little CA and this damage was mitigated. One immediately noticeable variance over the usual state of arrival of a foam kit such as this was that some of the plastic bags into which each individual part were packed were soundly sticking to the painted foam EPO parts contained within. Normally I remove the plastic bags with haste and a certain amount of reckless abandon but a little extra patience seemed the order of the day on this PC-21 kit. I was a little surprised to find that I was able to safely remove all of the plastic without any real lifting of the obviously still tacky paint, though the paint did have some minor textural distortion in places as a result of the plastic sticking to it. A closer inspection revealed that most of the still tacky areas were where the decals had been factory applied. Another minor detail that left me asking "why" was the large, white, rectangular warning sticker applied to the bottom of the cowl. While I for one believe in being safe in our hobby, plastering warning stickers directly to an airframe is sure to raise the ire of most modelers. Given the less than cured condition of the paint, I was worried that any efforts to remove the warning sticker would also pull the paint beneath it off. I thus decided it best to just endure this obtrusive label and leave it in place.

In The Box:

  • Fuselage (rudder, elevator, nose steering and nose retract servos pre-installed)
  • Wing assembly (retract and aileron servos pre-installed)
  • Horizontal stabilizer and elevator assembly
  • Vertical stabilizer and rudder assembly
  • Ventral fin
  • Mechanical retractable tricycle gear (pre-installed)
  • Detailed cockpit/hatch with two pilot figures
  • Scale antenna and exhaust headers
  • Five bladed scimitar prop assembly
  • Custom servo Y cable for retracts
  • Brushless power system pre-installed (50 amp ESC)
  • 16 page color, photo-illustrated assembly manual







As the artwork on the box indicates, this model comes in an advanced state of being just about ready to fly. The kit includes some cool scale details, including a functional five bladed scimitar style prop, dual plastic exhaust headers and a plastic under belly antennae. A few minor assembly steps are all that need to be completed, along with the installing of a receiver and battery.



Required for Completion:

  • Minimum five channel radio system (six if using optional flaps)
  • 1600-2100mAh 3S or 4S lipoly battery
  • Two 9G servos, servo extensions and short push rods (optional flaps)

Provided for Review:

  • Thunder Power G4 45C 3S and 4S 1750mAh lipoly battery packs

Assembly

Items Completed at the Factory

- Seven servos installed - Rudder and elevator push rod assemblies installed - All control surfaces hinged, with all control horns installed - Mechanical retractable tricycle gear installed - Nose gear doors installed - Brushless electric power system (motor, speed controller) installed - Pilots glued in place inside the canopy assembly - Decals already applied - Wheel assemblies mounted to struts - Aileron push rods installed

Online Escale Pilatus PC-21 Assembly Manual [Click HERE]

Hobby Lobby includes a 16 page color, photo-illustrated assembly manual in the box. The same manual is available as a PDF on the Hobby Lobby website, located under the "Support" tab on the PC-21's product page. The manual properly covers all of the necessary details required to complete the relatively short build of this kit. Though no battery or charger is supplied with this kit, the first page or two of the assembly manual provides a succinct primer on how one would go about charging the flight battery. It would appear that the original intent of the product designer or manufacturer was to assemble the empennage and ventral fin using factory applied strips of double-sided tape. Hobby Lobby offers up alternate assembly instructions in a red font, suggesting that the builder may wish to use epoxy in place of this tape. Though I have used tape to secure horizontal stabilizers on other manufacturers kits, I was uncomfortable with the thought of securing the entire tail with it. Additionally, given the way the foam horizontal stabilizer indexes and slides onto the rear of the fuselage, I could foresee possible difficulty in getting it properly positioned before coming into contact with the tape strips? As offered up by the alternate assembly instructions, I instead went with five minute epoxy.




Assembling the Five Bladed Prop

One of the coolest features of this kit is the scale looking five bladed prop. For this reason alone, I fast forwarded to this part of the build. I was excited to see the prop assembled and mounted to the nose of the Pilatus. The assembly manual provides a nice blow up drawing showing how all of the various pieces go together. When sandwiching the five prop blades between the two chrome plastic hub halves, it is important to work slowly so as to NOT over torque the screws. Doing so will crack and/or stress the plastic hub and all but guarantee an in-flight prop failure. The five prop blades each come with their leading edges and tips dressed up, and small prop manufacturer insignia decals applied. It is worth a few minutes of build time to check the balance of the assembled prop. Before mounting the pointed red spinner to the clear plastic spinner support, look closely for the pre-drilled pilot holes in both pieces. They are almost microscopic and can easily be missed. Using them will assist you in getting the red spinner mounted so as to run as true as possible.




Once completed and installed, this scimitar style five bladed prop really sets off the nose of the PC-21! One minor dislike in connection with it however is the gap between the rear of the red spinner cone and the front of the fuselage. I would personally like to see a much narrower gap than the one that exists. The excess space between the red spinner and red fuselage really interrupts the flowing lines of this sleek jet trainer airframe



Adding the Optional Flaps



The Escale PC-21 does not come out of the box with flaps, nor are the few pieces and parts required to add them included in the box. Hobby Lobby lists the required parts to add flaps on the PC-21 product description page. Hobby Lobby's way is the cleanest wvay of adding flaps. For the price of a couple of servos, servo mounts , a servo Y connector and a pair of short push rods, Hobby Lobby can have you in business. Many modelers will however have a couple of 9 gram servos lying around, as well as some short push rods and control horns. I used a pair of HXT900 servos, a very affordable and dependable micro servo. Before hot gluing them in place in the factory provided cutouts, it is best to connect them to your receiver and get them functioning 100% properly. It is easy to reposition the servo control horns on the servo output splines when they are lying on the table. After gluing them in place, it is a little more difficult to get a screwdriver properly oriented in order to remove the servo horn retaining screws. I used a Spektrum AR7000 DSM2 seven channel receiver in my PC-21, mainly so as to be able to plug each flap servo into it's own channel. I created a custom mix program in my JR9503 transmitter to get them dialed in.


After completing the programming, I used my trusty hot glue gun to lock them into place. The HXT900's fit with a little room to spare. I had a couple of short push rods and control horns in my parts box and used them to make up the flaps control linkages. A couple of small cuts need to be made in the flaps hinge line, both top and bottom, to free the flaps up. The inboard edge of both flaps also needs to be freed from the fuselage and this can be done with a sharp hobby blade. I used a red Sharpie to fill in the spotty red paint job in the hinge lines, as well as coloring in the exposed white foam created when freeing the flaps from the fuselage. The flaps servo leads can be routed into the fuselage using the same path as the pre-routed aileron servo leads. The channels into which the aileron servo leads are embedded are deep enough to accommodate additional leads. The factory secured the aileron servo leads in place by covering them with strips of clear tape. Rather than trying to pull these strips up and risking lifting the red paint, I determined it best to cut a slit in the tape in order to push the flaps servo leads down into the channels. Thin strips of tape can then be reapplied over the original tape to keep all of the servo leads safely in the channels.

Fuselage and Wing



There is very little assembly required to ready the fuselage. It comes out of the box with the 760Kv brushless outrunner and 50 amp speed controller already installed in the nose. The retractable nose gear, complete with gear doors, is also factory installed and configured. The nose gear doors are mounted to the fuselage with spring loaded hinges. A small black string is stretched across the opening and connected to the two doors. The nose gear contacts this string and pulls the doors shut as it retracts, with the tension of the spring hinges supplying the force necessary to open them when the gear deploys. The nose steering servo sits next to the nose gear retract servo. The rudder and elevator servos, along with their push rods, are pre-installed to the rear of the battery/receiver compartment. The semi-flexible push rods are of a slightly different composition than what is normally encountered. The outer tubes appear to be made of aluminum instead of the more conventional plastic type composition that is usually encountered. The wing attaches to the fuselage with three long machine screws. The three holes in the wing aligned with the three receiving holes in the fuselage nicely.

Attaching the Tail

As mentioned a bit earlier on in this review, the original design intent for attaching the tail to the fuselage was to use strips of double-sided, adhesive backed tape. I was uncomfortable with the thought of getting the pieces properly aligned and in place before the tape began to grab them and hold them, so I instead went with the more traditional epoxy type adhesive to assemble them. The horizontal and vertical stabilizers both come with their control surfaces pre-hinged and attached. The control horns are also already glued in place. Before mixing a batch of epoxy, I thought it best to remove as much red paint as possible from the mating surfaces of the fuselage and tail pieces. Removing the strips of double-sided tape served as an excellent start to making this happen, as a lot of the red paint beneath them stuck to the tape as I removed it.



As an aid to making sure the horizontal stabilizer is properly aligned, it is best to attach the wing to the fuselage. I then glued the horizontal stabilizer in place. After this batch of epoxy hardened, I mixed another batch and attached the vertical stabilizer. I like the way these pieces fit tightly into the channels molded into the rear of the fuselage. The alignment is almost perfect and without any real effort, they assemble square and true. The push rods for rudder and elevator are installed at the factory. After the tail is assembled and complete, they can be connected to the elevator halves and rudder. The outer tube of these push rods is a piece if thin wall aluminum. Mine were not anchored in place at either end and would move as I deflected the rudder and elevators. I used a little dab or two of hot glue to lock then down, applying it in the grooves where these push rods exit the rear of the fuselage.




The one piece that I was comfortable attaching using the provided double-sided tape was the small ventral fin that goes on the bottom rear of the fuselage.

Adding the Scale Fuselage Details

The Escale Pilatus PC-21 comes with several small but scale components that help make the model look like the real PC-21 when it is in the air. The big Pratt & Whitney PT6A-68B Turboprop engine features a pair of large exhaust headers and the Escale model includes a pair of plastic ones to mimic the full size ones. They attach via a round plastic disc that is first inserted into the circular recesses molded into the airframe. Once these discs are in place, the exhaust headers snap into place. Though mine fit pretty tightly, they did have a tiny bit of play. I thought about locking them into place permanently with a drop or two of CA but ultimately decided to trust that the designer had properly created a dependable method of attachment. The two pieces are not identical or interchangeable. The assembly manual does a good job of pointing out that there is a subtle upsweep to one header, while the other one curves downward. Another cool little scale feature that is cloned in this 1/10 scale model is the antenna that the full scale model has protruding from it's underbelly, aft of the wing. The one included in the box slips into a slot in the fuselage foam and is held in place with a few drops of CA.



Completion

Completion involves getting a receiver installed and making sure that the control throws are properly set and the center of gravity correctly positioned. Due to the fact that I opted to add the flaps, I decided to use a Spektrum AR7000 DSM2 seven channel receiver. This allows me to plug each flap servo into it's own channel and set up a mix to control them both. The added benefits of this method are that you also have the ability to independently program each flap servos sub-trim and end points.



As I located the receiver in place, I was a bit bothered by the snarled mass of servo wires in the fuselage. While many builders may not feel the same, I usually get more enjoyment out of my ARF builds if I tidy up the interior a bit. The easiest way to address the abundance of servo wires, in my opinion, is to just hide them from view if at all possible. The supplied method of mounting the lipoly battery is to attach it to the small, square piece of hook and loop material that is factory mounted to the rear of the battery/radio compartment. I decided to kill two birds with one stone and quick fabricated a battery mount/receiver mounting plate out of light ply. I added a hook and loop battery strap to this tray by cutting small holes in it and feeding a narrow hook and loop fastener strap through them. I painted this tray a close matching shade of red and epoxied it in place atop the existing foam battery mount using five minute epoxy. The end result is that I now had a radio/battery compartment with a neat look that I could be proud of AND I also created a much more secure means of securing the lipoly battery in place.

The All-Up-Weight of my Escale Pilatus PC-21 ARF came in at 45 ounces (3S)

The All-Up-Weight of my Escale Pilatus PC-21 ARF came in at 46.5 ounces (4S)

Hobby Lobby specifies that the included power system can handle either a 3S or 4S lipoly battery. I decided it wise to walk before I run and went with the Thunder Power G4 45C 3s 1750Mah pack first. I found it necessary to position it all the way to the rear of the battery compartment, tight up against the rudder and elevator servo tray. Even with this battery pack positioned as far back as possible, the PC-21 is a little on the nose heavy side. Per my measurements, the CG was at about 55mm aft of the leading edge of the wing. I decided to go ahead and fly the maiden with this CG. The assembly manual advises that the best way to remove the magnetically retained canopy/hatch is to first pull one side of it straight out away from the fuselage and then lift it up and off. The magnets are appropriately strong and fully capable of securely holding the canopy in place.

Though the total assembly process is short and sweet, the paint finish was a bit marred and scarred by the time I had my PC-21 completed. I used a red Sharpie marker to do a quick and effortless touch up job! The red ink almost matches the PC-21 red paint job perfectly.

Low Rates High Rates
Elevator
7mm
11mm
Ailerons
7mm
10mm
Rudder
17mm
17mm

Hobby Lobby provides recommended control throws in the PC-21 assembly manual. They also provide a recommended CG location. The small inset photo in the bottom right corner intimates that you will probably need to add a little ballast to the tail to get the CG correct. I held off doing so, as the CG on my finished model was only a couple of millimeters forward of the recommended position. I do not have any qualms about flying a maiden flight with a mode that is a little on the nose heavy side. I would later end up adding a little ballast to the rear of my PC-21, in the form of a couple of flat washers, when I transitioned into using the Thunder Power 4S lipos.




Flying

When reviewing a product, I try to abstain from reading too much about it the discussion threads on RCGroups. My main motive in doing this is that I want to make sure that the experiences and opinions I express are solely mine, formulated with my contact with the actual review model that was sent to me. One danger in reading too much discussion about a product is that it could cause one to become less than objective? I must confess, however, that I subscribed to one Escale PC-21discussion thread before I received the review model and decided to stay current on it even after I commenced my build and review. The main reason for doing so was that there were two or three users dominating this particular thread, and all of them were reporting that their PC-21s had catastrophically crashed on takeoff by uncontrollably flipping over on their backs immediately after rotation and lift off. Thus, with knees a-shaking, I thought it best to follow along lest I glean a plane saving point or two from the decidely negative experiences of these several users.

Maiden Flight and Minor Fixes

One of the cool features of this model, in my opinion, is that the stock motor and ESC are marketed as being fully capable of running on either a 3S or 4S power system. Whenever I am given the choice of two power systems, I usually start with the tamer set-up and then graduate into the more aggressive offering after I have a few flights under my belt. It just seems the sensible and smart thing to do. My maiden flight thus utilized a Thunder Power Pro Power G4 45C 3S 1750mAh lipo. With the battery positioned all the way to the rear of the battery compartment, tight against the elevator and rudder servo tray, the PC-21 was about 5mm worth of nose heavy. With the negative experiences of others raising my anxiety level a bit, I turned the PC-21 onto the active and rolled into the throttle slowly. I had already decided I would limit the throttle position for takeoff to around 50% and let the Pilatus accelerate amply before initiating the rotation. I was even ready to hold it on the ground with a little down elevator should it demonstrate a premature willingness to lift off. My takeoff rollout was fairly lengthy and the PC-21 was moving at a good clip, with no real sign of it being ready to fly. I carefully feathered in a little up elevator and the PC-21 immediately complied by smoothly lifting it's nose and initiating a shallow angled climb into the air. I was both surprised and relieved to find the Pilatus was very well-behaved on a 3S takeoff. With a flip of the retract switch, the mechanicals tucked up and into the fuselage. I usually limit my maiden to three or four minutes, concentrating on getting it all trimmed out and getting a couple dozen photos snapped. I made a few wide-open-throttle passes and then executed a long landing approach. The Pilatus slowed nicely and came down the glideslope as pretty as could be. I slowly pulled the throttle back as I neared the ground and flared the jet trainer with small elevator application. As the PC-21 wheels met the pavement, the aircraft rolled along for a second or two and then suddenly skidded hard to the right. Unsure just what had happened, my eye watched as one of the main gear tires rolled lazily down the runway. After retrieving the aircraft, I discovered that the nose gear and escaped main both had "locked up" on their hubs. Both the hub/wheel retainer and wheel itself are made of plastic and the plastic had apparently heated up due to the high RPMS, reducing the evidently small clearance between the two pieces to the point where the wheels could not rotate.



My immediate remedy to this minor problem was to lightly sand the outer diameter of the three wheel hubs/retainers to create a little more clearance between them and the wheel hubs. I also applied a drop or two of light oil to the rotating surface, to encourage rotation. Subsequent flights would see the little hubs continue to cause me a bit of grief, though not in the same fashion. The hubs go on to the axles quite snugly. It would appear that the tight friction fit would be adequate to hold them in place, as removing them was downright difficult? However, I still found them more than willing to escape in the middle of a normal landing sequence. In fact, I even lost one of the mains hubs on landing, forcing me to improvise by coming up with a homemade hub of sorts. The entire design is noteworthy in that it keeps the entire wheel assembly very compact and low profile. It is at the same time problematic in that it is difficult to use conventional wheels and/or wheel collars due to the short axle length.

Taking Off and Landing



There are a multitude of ways to get our models from the ground into the sky. Modern electric power systems provide an abundance of energy to get the model moving down the runway with haste. Though take off styles are as individual as pilot themselves, properly managing the power system during the take off roll is a skill well learned. The PC-21 pulls hard, probably thanks in part to the five bladed scimitar prop. Add in the extra RPMs provided by the additional cell of a 4S lipo and you have a lot of power on tap. I have yet to roll into the throttle hard when taking the PC-21 off. Instead, I ease it forward slowly and give the PC-21 time to build speed. I am never in a hurry to grab the elevator stick either. I allow the PC-21 a little time to achieve a safe rotation speed and then slowly feather in a little elevator to get the PC-21 to release and rotate. Whether using a 3S or 4S lipo, I do not find it necessary to go to full throttle during my take off roll. The rewards offered up are some very nice, scale looking takeoffs. That is not to say that you cannot just crank the throttle all the way to the stop and hang on. I have not performed that style of takeoff with this airframe however.

Landing the PC-21 is fun and easy. Add in a little flaps application and it all happens at an even slower pace. My best landings have been when I follow the same basic rules that apply to all of our models. Fly a very controlled and deliberate approach, much the same as full scale models do, and landings are beautiful. I like to come across the field at half throttle and drop the gear, making sure I see three down and locked. I have my gear operation slowed in my transmitter, so that they look somewhat real as they slowly retract and deploy. Once the gear are confirmed down, I head out and away from the runway and establish a downwind leg that is out far enough to facilitate nice gradual turns. As I turn base, I am modulating the throttle as necessary to keep the PC-21 on the proper glideslope. My turn to final is made far enough out that I can ensure that I am properly lined up on the runway centerline, without need for any drastic or sudden last minute corrections. I keep the prop RPMs up all the way in, until I am over the threshold, at which point I will start pulling the throttle back. The PC-21 is very well behaved on final and flies very lightly on the wing. It will come in across the numbers amazingly slow. I have yet to see it exhibit any real signs of dropping a wing or behaving badly.



Aerobatics/Special Flight Performance

Eagle Tree eLogger In-Flight Data ~ Thunder Power Pro Power 45C 3S 1750mAh

As mentioned, the PC-21 can be flown on either a 3S or 4S lipoly battery. The included power system happily accommodates either, with nothing at all needing reconfigured to switch back and forth between the two at will. There is the matter of CG, which will change a little with a battery flip flop. The differential between the 3S and 4S lipos that I am using is but 1.5 ounces however. I did add a small amount of weight to the ventral fin of my PC-21, in the form of a few flat washers epoxied into slits that I cut into the foam. My PC-21 was more than happy to fly on either lipo pack once I had it all dialed in and trimmed. Though the model does fly capably on a 3S pack, sticking a 4S lipo under the hood really brings the PC-21 to life. The extra power afforded by a 4S lipo makes this model fly like the real jet trainer that it is modeled after! The five bladed prop creates a very pleasing snarl as you rip the PC-21 by at full throttle on the deck. The longer tail moment of this airframe is somewhat reminiscent of a pattern ship design in my opinion. It manifests itself in that the PC-21 flies very smoothly and stably, tracking through the skies very nicely. I enjoyed flying sustained knife edge with the PC-21, as well as some inverted flight and basic aerobatics. I set my countdown timer to a conservative four minutes when flying on either 3S or 4S. Though I could probably manage longer flights, the smaller capacity of the 1750mAh lipos coupled with how hard it is to abstain from full throttle passes on the deck usually mean that it is time to bring her in for landing when the alarm sounds.

Eagle Tree eLogger In-Flight Data ~ Thunder Power Pro Power 45C 4S 1750mAh

In-Flight Media Gallery

The Hobby Lobby Escale Pilatus PC-21 looks fantastic in the air! Every time I would sit down to work on this review and start looking over the in flight photos that my flying buddies Terry and Don had snapped for me, I wanted to fly it NOW! If that is not a measure of how exciting a model can be, I do not know what is!

Flying the PC-21 on a 3S Lipo








Flying the PC-21 on a 4S Lipo

Conclusion

In conclusion, this model is certainly a marked departure from the abundance of war birds and the like that are usually offered up. I for one was very excited to see the PC-21 offered up in a compact sized foamy model, complete with an ultra-cool scale five bladed prop and mechanical retracts. The retracts have functioned flawlessly throughout all of my flights. That is no small accomplishment, as I for one am accustomed to having to endlessly tweak mechanical retracts to keep them functioning properly. I will say though that the little plastic wheel hubs/retainers have caused a bit of stress with the way they like to fly off on landing. It is difficult to come up with an alternate solution due to the limited length of the axle, which is all a part of the low profile design of the main landing gear of this PC-21 model. Kudos to Hobby Lobby for making this model fly on either a 3S or 4S lipo. This option permits folks to start off slowly, flying a more moderately powered model until they get accustomed to it's flight performance, and then graduating into a higher powered model when ready. I will say that once you fly the PC-21 on 4S, you will probably not want to go back to 3S. It really hauls the mail on 4S and sounds and looks great in the air. Though I am not a scale aficionado (yet), take a peek at the photo above that has the real PC-21 alongside the model PC-21. I think this model does an amazing job at capturing the appearance and essence of the exciting full size Pilatus PC-21 jet trainer!

Likes:

  • Super cool Pilatus PC-21 Jet Trainer in a smaller foamy model
  • Can be flown on either 3S or 4S lipos
  • Five blade prop included!
  • Dependable mechanical retracts that work nicely
  • Optional flaps, for the cost of a two 9G servos and a couple of servo extensions
  • Smooth, stable flight performance

Dislikes:

  • Paint finish a little on the rough side and still tacky in places
  • Plastic wheel hubs/retainers are problematic
  • Large, white warning sticker applied to bottom of bright red cowl

Unfortunately, due to problems with the paint still being tacky and flaking off a bit too easily, Hobby Lobby found it necessary to remove the Pilatus PC-21 from being available for purchase. They have since been working through the problem with the factory and have a bunch of spare parts inbound. They intend to go through the balance of the kits one by one and will list the PC-21 as being available again very soon I am told. I think that it is commendable that Hobby Lobby stepped in and made this decision after they received complaints from some who had purchased the model. Though the paint on my review model was a little tacky out of the box, it has since dried. I have touched up the small spots where the paint came off using my red Sharpie. Honestly, in the air, I cannot even tell that it has some minor blemishes. Were this model to exist only as a static model on my desk, I would perhaps be a little more concerned about the finish. However, as the media in this review shows, it looks absolutely fantastic in the air!

Last edited by Angela H; Aug 10, 2011 at 07:38 AM..

Discussion

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Old Aug 08, 2011, 04:03 PM
KK6MQJ
Bajora's Avatar
Joined Sep 2004
13,802 Posts
This space reserved for updates and additional media of the Hobby Lobby Escale Pilatus PC-21

8/25/11 ~ UPDATE from Hobby Lobby: Jason Cole posted up over on the Hobby Lobby forums that he is going through the PC-21 kits and making them right with the spare parts that they received. Photos and video HERE

8/29/11 ~ UPDATE from Jason ... he has some PC21 kits listed and available on the Hobby Lobby web site now
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Last edited by Bajora; Aug 30, 2011 at 01:53 AM.
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Old Aug 08, 2011, 07:38 PM
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MRGTX's Avatar
United States, CT
Joined Aug 2005
1,970 Posts
Great write-up, Jon. Beautiful plane!

That paint problem has been very consistent. Hopefully, they'll get the message.
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Old Aug 08, 2011, 07:39 PM
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Michael Heer's Avatar
Stockton, Ca. USA
Joined Apr 2001
9,607 Posts
Actually Jon, I think Quick Silver is the fastest. Enjoyed your review very much. Nice plane and review of it. Mike H
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Old Aug 08, 2011, 08:56 PM
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United States, TX, Kingsland
Joined Sep 2005
5,161 Posts
What a great looking model of one of my favorite planes. In my opinion, the PC21 is right up there in pure sex appeal with the B-58 Hustler and the SR-71 Blackbird. Hobby Lobby has done a great job on this foamy with retracts, 5-bladed prop, and optional flaps. I can't wait till HL gets them back in stock and ready for purchase.

McD
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Old Aug 08, 2011, 09:05 PM
Park Stormer
United States, NJ, Brooklawn
Joined Jul 2008
825 Posts
It's certainly a looker, but I'd like to see a kit version (sans electronics) offered myself, and bring that price down to $100, although I'll admit 200 isn't bad for what looks like a PNP to me.

I'd personally go with an opto ESC and external BEC to cover the large servo load out (9 all up!), and I don't really think that 50 amp they have listed on the spare parts section is really worth $60, given that the heat sink is covered in heat shrink

I'd also scrap the mechanical 'tracts and go with servoless (personal preference).

Finally, as awesome as the paint scheme is, she's just begging for sharks teeth, with a body like that

On another note, I LOVE the LOOK of the spinner, but that's as far as my love goes. I'd personally not feel comfortable spooling that on my plane, from the looks of that chromed plastic. I'd happily replace it with a machined hub, but it looks like disaster waiting to happen as is: A chip here, a crack there, and the hub throws a blade at spool-up, causing a dis-balance that rips the rest of the hub apart, sending blades all over the place, similar to the issue the Blade mCP had at launch (and the '21 is spinning a prop MUCH faster!).

I've had a prop-shaft develop a whirl on the test stand, and throw the prop before I could power down. imbedded it in a ceiling tile 10 feet above it Not something I'm looking to repeat. Side note, this is why we NEVER STAND IN PLANE WITH THE PROP AT TESTING.

It's a matter of if, not when. Think about the stress those blades get during both take-off and dives: on TO, they are flexed forward, and then on dives they flex back, then there's the gyro and P-factor forces applied during a flight.

FWIW, a few months ago, the AMA's magazine cover story was a DC-3 turbine model, with 5 blades. In the article, the author said they were custom made, and DID NOT RECOMMEND REPRODUCTION due to the danger of blade/hub failure. Take heed....
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Old Aug 08, 2011, 09:06 PM
KK6MQJ
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Thanks fellows. I will feel better when the Editor bounces the article back to me so I can fix a wee formatting problem in the first section. It is only visible when using IE, but Firefox is good.
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Old Aug 08, 2011, 10:58 PM
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Joined May 2011
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Since it came out I though it was an extremely sexy bird, but where I fly there is no runway, only tall grass so I worry for the retracts, and with the five bladed prop I don't think belly landing is an option. One of my favorite looking foamies though.
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Old Aug 09, 2011, 12:28 AM
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Canada's East Coast, "An Ocean Playground"
Joined Apr 2002
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Will this model handle the size of a Turnigy 4S 2650mah lipo..? About 5.5"x2"x1"

thanks,
bill
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Old Aug 09, 2011, 12:39 AM
KK6MQJ
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Though that lipo may very well fit Bill, my concern would be the amount of additional ballast that you may require in the rear to get the CG right? All in all, you will probably be OK but the increased wing loading will raise your approach and stall speeds a little.
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Old Aug 09, 2011, 06:49 AM
Dr. Dave
USA
Joined Nov 2005
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Outstanding review Jon.
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Old Aug 09, 2011, 12:15 PM
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Motor City USA
Joined Mar 2007
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I have one of the originals of this bird....overall my impression was NOT SO GOOD - the paint was bad in places, soft and stuck to plastic packing bag. My so called decals (with adhesive evrywhere) were applied by a new worked (in training)....the worst I have ever seen......the factory should be embarrassed and the QC inspector should be given a major NOOGIE. Yes the wheels retainers were another issue waiting to happen as mentioned, I changed the wheels outright and used collars......but it FLIES AWESOME (helps me forget the quality issues)!!!!

I am glad that HL is working it out.....it will be worth it when the plane gets the quality under control.

I will let things shake out a bit and then maybe get back in line for another. Very cool....and great review as usual.
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Old Aug 09, 2011, 12:55 PM
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Sunnyvale
Joined Feb 2009
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Great review! And a great flying plane. I launched one for a guys at Baylands and it just kinda flew out of my hands. And this was on 3s. Very smooth and realistic flier! It really needs 4s to come alive though! And it looks like it did in this vid!
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Old Aug 09, 2011, 03:51 PM
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Centreville, VA
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nice review, seems HL is out of stock of them, I really want one to match my larger ESM version
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Old Aug 09, 2011, 04:03 PM
KK6MQJ
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Joined Sep 2004
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As explained in the last paragraph....not out of stock. Should be back up and available for purchase in a week or so.
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