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Horizon Hobby E-flite Leader 480 Review

Join Gary Grose and see how sport plane meets pattern aerobatic plane in the E-flite Leader 480.

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Introduction

E-flite Leader 480

Wingspan:43 in
Length:42.4 in
Wing Area:414 sq in
Weight:2.44 lb
Servos:E-flite DS76 (x4)
Receiver:Spektrum AR6115
Battery:E-flite 3S 11.1V 2200mAh 30C Lipo
Motor:E-flite Park 480 brushless outrunner
ESC:E-flite 40-Amp Pro Brushless ESC
Propeller:APC 12x6E
Transmitter:Spektrum DX7
Manufacturer:E-flite
Available From:
Horizon Hobby
Price:$109.99

So you have mastered the foamie park flyers and the ultra micro fleet? How about trying out a balsa and plywood built plane? Don't worry, not only is this a true sport flyer with a large flight speed range, it also has excellent pattern aerobatic characteristics. That's right, E-flite has released the Leader 480 that is sure to fill your appetite for a fun-flying plane while still crossing over the line from ordinary into extraordinary.

At first look of the Leader 480 you will see traits of a pattern plane like the long fuselage, mid-mounted wing, and symmetrical airfoil. After looking a little closer you will find that this thing doesn't look like just any other pattern plane. The attention to detail make this a great looking scale aircraft. Check out the painted fiberglass cowling and clear canopy! Unique colors make the the trim scheme look stunning on this airframe.

Read on and see what puts the Leader 480 at the top of your list and makes it an excellent choice for your hangar!

Kit Contents

Airframe (prebuilt and covered fuselage, wings, and tail surfaces)

  • Landing gear/wheels
  • Fiberglass cowling
  • Canopy hatch
  • Hardware
  • Instruction manual

The Leader comes packaged in a very attractive and colorful box. Upon opening the box you will notice the time and attention given to the packing process of each part of the plane. All pieces are packed securely in place.

The illustrated manual does a very good job of guiding you through the assembly process. The pictures and descriptions are very clear and easy to follow. Go check it out for yourself...a PDF copy of the manual is online.

E-flite has recommended the following power setup for the Leader:

For this review, E-flite provided the Recommended Power Setup, which includes the following equipment:

<font size=-2><a href=http://www.e-fliterc.com/Products/Default.aspx?ProdID=EFLM1505 target=E-flite Park 480 " src="http://static.rcgroups.net/forums/attachments/1/8/0/7/1/t4262892-228-thumb-DSC03188.jpg?d=1315353131" />
E-flite Park 480
Type:Brushless Outrunner
RPM/Volt (kv):1020
Motor Weight:3.1oz (87g)
Overall Diameter:35mm (1.4 in)
Overall Length:33mm (1.30 in)
Shaft Diameter:4mm (.16 in)
Number of Cells:23S LiPo
Continuous Current:22A
Max Burst Current:28A (15 sec)
Max Power:275 watts

<font size=-2><a href=http://www.e-fliterc.com/Products/Default.aspx?ProdID=EFLA1040L target=E-flite 40-Amp Pro " src="http://static.rcgroups.net/forums/attachments/1/8/0/7/1/t4262894-215-thumb-DSC03193.jpg?d=1315353238" />
E-flite 40-Amp Pro
Type:Programmable Brushless Speed Controller
Number of Cells:3-6S LiPo
Max Continuous Current:40A
BEC:Switch-mode / 2.5A
Max Servos:7 analog or 6 digital standard-size
Weight:1.7 oz (48g)
Dimensions:31 x 66 x 12mm (1.2 x 2.6 x 0.47 in)

<font size=-2><a href=http://www.e-fliterc.com/Products/Default.aspx?ProdID=EFLB22003S30 target=E-flite 2200mAh 3S 11.1V 30C LiPo " src="http://static.rcgroups.net/forums/attachments/1/8/0/7/1/t4262893-246-thumb-DSC03190.jpg?d=1315353184" />
E-flite 2200mAh 3S 11.1V 30C LiPo
Type:Lithium Polymer
Number of cells:3
Capacity:2200mAh
Voltage:11.1V
Max Continuous Current:30C / 66A
Weight:6.1oz (343g)
Dimensions (WxLxH):1.33 x 4.10 x 0.95 in

To control the Leader 480 you will need at least a 4-channel radio system. For this review, I used a Spektrum AR6115 DSMX 6-channel park flyer receiver with a Spektrum DX7 transmitter providing the control link. The solid and robust E-flite DS76 digital sub-micro servos were used on all the control surfaces. A total of four servos are required to complete the Leader.

<font size=-2><a href=http://www.horizonhobby.com/Products/Default.aspx?ProdID=SPMAR6115 target=Spektrum AR6115 " src="http://static.rcgroups.net/forums/attachments/1/8/0/7/1/t4262895-23-thumb-DSC03195.jpg?d=1315353283" />
Spektrum AR6115
Type:2.4GHz DSMX Receiver
Number of channels:6
Weight:0.12oz (3.35g)
Size (WxLxH):0.74 x 0.98 x 0.46in

<font size=-2><a href=http://www.e-fliterc.com/Products/Default.aspx?ProdID=EFLRDS76 target=E-flite DS76 " src="http://static.rcgroups.net/forums/attachments/1/8/0/7/1/t4262896-193-thumb-DSC03201.jpg?d=1315353343" />
E-flite DS76
Type:Digital Sub-Micro Servo
Operating Speed (4.8V/6.0V):0.11 sec/60 / 0.09 sec/60
Torque (4.8V/6.0V):24.2 oz-in, 28 oz-in
Weight:0.27oz (7.6g)
Dimensions (WxLxH):0.45 x 0.90 x 0.96in
Gear Type:Nylon

Additional items required to complete:

  • One 3-inch servo extension(EFLREX3L)
  • Three 6-inch servo extension(EFLREX6L)
  • APC 12x6e propeller
  • Basic model-building tools and adhesives
  • Optional spinner(EFLSP175)
  • Optional pilot figure(EFLA156)

Assembly

Wing

The wings come pre-covered and ready for aileron hinges and servo installation. Be sure to follow the instructions when installing the hinges. Remember, thin CA glue and no accelerator on this step. The wing panels are connected by an aluminum spar and secured inside the fuselage with screws.

Fuselage

The inside of the fuselage is accessed by the removable canopy hatch. The hatch is for accessing the battery, receiver, and tail servos. It is secured by magnets. There are optional components that can step up the scale personality of your Leader 480. The pilot figure adds a nice finishing touch to an already beautiful airplane. And for an even more customized look, feel free to grab some modeling or craft paint and make that dude look like yourself!

Tail

The tail surfaces are held on with thin CA glue. Remember to remove the covering where the glue will be applied to ensure a good bond. Install CA hinges in the same fashion as with the wings.

The manual suggest 3-5 hours to assemble the Leader. I logged my time on this one and over the course of three evenings got mine built in exactly 5 hours total. Although many other ARFs have pre-hinged surfaces, it is no big feat with a little time.

Flying

So now its time to get the Leader 480 where it belongs. After seeing this beauty on the workbench, I couldn't wait to see it in the air. Now.... it's time for the maiden flight!

Taking Off and Landing

The Leader does great on a nicely mowed grass strip. The steerable nose wheel works well on the grass or pavement. With the recommended 12x6 prop you will notice it cutting a little grass if your grass isn't well manicured. With the Park 480 motor takeoffs are a snap with anywhere from half to full throttle. It has a great climb rate and will ascend like a rocket.

Landings are very stable and have no bad tendencies. Floating it in and allowing it to slow down will allow the plane to land gently. I noticed that leaving about 20% throttle in as you are about to touch down will help to cushion the landing. When landing on grass I usually cut throttle as soon as I touch down to reduce the lawnmower effect.

Aerobatics

The Leader is an excellent choice for a unique aerobatic plane. It is quite capable of most aerobatic maneuvers. With the Park 480 motor, climbing into long loops or high altitude spins is as easy as giving it full throttle and watching it climb to the clouds. Inverted flight is quite easy and doesn't require much down elevator at all. The roll stability is nice while inverted. Aileron roll rate is pretty fast with full rates. Knife edge flight is possible but I had a hard time sustaining altitude. Snap rolls look really nice with the Leader. Both inside and outside snap rolls are quick and tight. Tumbles are awesome to do as well with the Leader.

Photo/Video Gallery

With the combination of the stunning looks and excellent flight characteristics, the Leader proves to be a very fun airplane to fly. See for yourself with these action shots and the flight video.

Downloads

Conclusion

Is This For a Beginner?

I would have to say that the Leader isn't a good model for a beginner. It is intended for the intermediate pilot who is proficient with 4-channels. It has excellent slow flight characteristics. Keeping it on low rates will make it more docile but it will move on pretty quickly with throttle so stay ahead of it. Besides, this is a sport plane, so it is designed to move fast and perform aerobatics.

Summary

A WORD OF THANKS

Thanks to my brother and fellow author, Andy, for his help with the awesome photo, video and flying skills.

I'd also like to thank Horizon Hobby for providing the Leader 480 for this review.

Thank you all so much!

The Leader is definitely a competitor with the other sport planes at the flying field. Rest assured that it is not only capable of doing aerobatic patterns, but it will also excede in flight stability. With the capable Park 480 motor your Leader will be well-powered for any flight style. You can count on having more flying time and less assembling since E-flite did a lot of the building for you. The flight capabilities are sure to please the casual sport flyer as well as the gutsy aerobatic pilot.

Pluses:

  • Super fast assembly
  • Beautifully unique trim scheme
  • Smooth and stable flight characteristics

Minuses:

  • Pilot figure should be included with the kit.

Last edited by Angela H; Oct 06, 2011 at 05:29 PM..

Discussion

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Old Oct 06, 2011, 03:38 PM
Time for me to Fly...
Mr. Wiz's Avatar
United States, MI, Fenton
Joined Jan 2000
8,639 Posts
Great! I think they should follow it up with a .32 size and a .60 size.
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Old Oct 06, 2011, 08:01 PM
just go FLY !!
brn-grose's Avatar
Jasper, TN
Joined May 2004
1,182 Posts
..the Leader 480 looks as rock solid inverted as right side up ! another great review, good job Lil Bro!!

awesome job on pics too !!!
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Old Oct 06, 2011, 08:21 PM
Servos can't have all the fun!
Moonbeam Six's Avatar
Athens, Alabama
Joined Jun 2005
1,120 Posts
Nice review. Great pics. Can't wait to see you put it through its paces.

MB6
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Old Oct 06, 2011, 10:13 PM
Registered User
Joined May 2011
420 Posts
I've loved mine since the first day I got it. Great all around plane.
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Old Oct 07, 2011, 10:38 AM
Intermediate Multi
Trisquire's Avatar
Columbus, OH
Joined Mar 2005
3,307 Posts
Looks like a mini Classic Pattern ship.
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Old Oct 07, 2011, 10:50 AM
We shall serve the Lord
kingsflyer's Avatar
United States, TX, Kingsland
Joined Sep 2005
5,136 Posts
Gary, I've got a club member that is getting a little bored with his T-28 and is looking for something as a next step with more aerobatic capabilities. The Leader 480 looks like it might be just about right. What do you think?
McD
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Old Oct 07, 2011, 11:44 AM
Honey, I got more planes!
ghee-grose's Avatar
USA, AL, Athens
Joined Jun 2003
4,274 Posts
Having flown the T-28 before, I would say the Leader actually handles better....more precise.....and has better slow flight characteristics. I would say the Leader would be his next step.
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Old Oct 09, 2011, 12:26 AM
Prop buster extrordinaire
MrBreeze's Avatar
United States, KY, Louisville
Joined Apr 2011
105 Posts
I've seen this one at the shop.
I'm not an electrics guy, but I like this one alot. Looks like it flys great, and I
like the classsic pattern looks. The Leader 480 may find a home in my hanger
soon.
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Old Oct 09, 2011, 12:42 AM
When's the next fly-in?
dee-grose's Avatar
Tanner, Alabama
Joined Oct 2003
6,445 Posts
Nice to see E-flite's take on this retro-looking pattern plane and make it electric-powered. I thought the Park 480 motor pulled this thing along just fine. Some folks may want more power, but it doesn't need it. This plane is super stable and fun to fly. I really enjoyed the stick-time I got on it while we were shooting the pics and video for this review.

Mike, I'd agree with Gary. If your buddy can handle the T-28 pretty good, he'll do just fine with the Leader 480. This thing takes off and lands so easy.

Good job on the review, bro!

Andy
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Old Oct 09, 2011, 06:50 PM
Fighting Gravity
bonnie9496's Avatar
Australia, WA, Perth
Joined Jan 2011
551 Posts
Great review and some nice low inverted passes on the video. Looks like a smooth flying classic pattern plane.........hopefully destined for my hangar!
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Old Oct 09, 2011, 07:01 PM
When's the next fly-in?
dee-grose's Avatar
Tanner, Alabama
Joined Oct 2003
6,445 Posts
Lower!
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Old Oct 11, 2011, 10:30 AM
Honey, I got more planes!
ghee-grose's Avatar
USA, AL, Athens
Joined Jun 2003
4,274 Posts
Thanks for all the comments guys! And thanks to my brother for the help on it. Yeah....Lower.....I hear ya Andy!
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Old Oct 11, 2011, 11:27 AM
When's the next fly-in?
dee-grose's Avatar
Tanner, Alabama
Joined Oct 2003
6,445 Posts
Those inverted passes rocked! That thing is on rails!
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Old Oct 12, 2011, 10:42 AM
Registered Broncos Fan!
n00b-E's Avatar
United States, CO, Aurora
Joined Sep 2007
687 Posts
Somehow this one reminds me of some of Sig's designs. Nice review.
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