Hobbico has revised their Flyzone Cessna 182 RTF by dropping the 72MHz radio system that used to come in the box and replacing it with a 2.4GHz radio system. The radio that now ships with the Skylane is the Tactic TTX600 six channel 2.4GHz transmitter, which is paired with the Tactic TR264 six channel 2.4 GHz receiver. The Tactic is not just a stripped down, basement level radio system but a 2.4GHz spread spectrum radio system that includes a surprising number of nice features. These include dual rates, channel reverse switches (mechanical and programmable), digital trims, fail safe mode, V tail mixing, wireless trainer/buddy box capability, and the ability to use NiCD or NiMH batteries and charge them using the included charge port. The Skylane is manufactured using Flyzone's proprietary AeroCell foam and features corrugated control surfaces, a pre-applied Cessna graphics scheme, a 7 LED lighting system, working flaps, a pre-installed brushless power system and a 3S balancing charger that can be connected to either an AC or DC power source. There is a lot to look at in the box! Let's get started!
I was surprised at the size of the long narrow box. I expected it to be quite a bit larger. Flyzone packs almost every component into it's own bubble bag. The kit comes out of the box in an advanced state of pre-assembly. The power system and servos are all pre-installed. Assembly is almost tool-less. Most of the Skylane goes together using uniquely engineered fasteners that require nothing other than your hands to assemble. The exceptions are the wing struts, main landing gear, propeller and spinner, which will require a Phillips screwdriver and adjustable wrench. The assembly manual has a list of additional items that are required to complete assembly of this model. Though it says that a set of dry AA cells must be purchased to power the radio transmitter, my kit included a four pack of AA cells in the box. This small detail means that everything you need to fly this model IS included in the box! You will only need to supply a few basic tools to assist with the assembly.
The 16 page black and white assembly manual that came in the box with my Cessna was labeled "RXR" (receiver ready) on it's title page, though I had received the "RTF" version of this kit. The manual still references the original 72MHz radio system that originally shipped with the model. The changes that replacing it with the Tactic 2.4GHz bring to the table are covered in the included two page addendum.
All versions of the assembly manual and the addendum are also available in electronic format on the Flyzone web site. Both the manual and the web site are a good place to find information and part numbers for obtaining any necessary spare or replacement parts, should you find yourself in need. The links along the right hand column on Flyzone's main page for this model provide an abundance of useful information, including the factory video, additional photographs and even some Flyzone Cessna 182 Windows wallpaper in several different resolutions if you just cannot stop ogling your new model! Links are also provided to several reviews of the original 72 MHz version of this airplane.
EZone's own Mike Llewellyn reviewed the 72MHz version of this kit back in February of 2009, if you would care for a read. Additional information on the Tactic 2.4GHz radio system may be gleaned from the review written by Dr. Dave in June, 2011.
The one piece wing comes fully assembled. The flap and aileron servos are pre-mounted to a plastic support tower. The ailerons and flaps feature a corrugated surface molded into the foam to more closely simulate the real Cessna 182. All of the control linkages are already in place, as are the hinges and control horns. Four LEDs are mounted on the wing, in addition to the white landing LEDs located on the leading edge of the wing. A pair of red lights are mounted on the top of the wing, with the standard red and green navigational lights mounted out at the wingtips. All of the lighting on the wing terminates in a single three pin male connector that is plugged into a pigtail attached to the lighting module, which is located in the fuselage near the receiver. The aileron control horns and cable connections are almost invisible. The hinges on the flaps are somewhat of an offset style of hinge and allow the flaps to pivot cleanly downward.
Mounting the wing to the fuselage involves routing the three electrical connections down through the wing saddle opening atop the fuselage and into the bottom of the fuselage. The manual suggests measuring and marking for the recommended range of CG before attaching the wing to the fuselage. All of the servo leads are clearly identified via small labels, so the chances of making any wrong electrical connections are minimized if not eliminated.
Flyzone engineered a unique means of securely fastening the wing to the fuselage. Two large, white plastic locking pins, with wing nut style lobes, pass through the wing and into the fuselage. Circular foam disks serve as washers of a sort. Several spares are included in the box. Once the plastic locking pins have been aligned and fully seated in the receivers located in the fuselage, a ninety degree locks them (and the wing) into place.
The fuselage is 80% assembled right out of the box. The other 20% involves mounting the main landing gear and attaching the prop and spinner to the motor shaft. The fuselage features a large, removable access hatch. The receiver and flight battery can be accessed through this hatch. The nose gear is already mounted and comes with a suspension strut. Flyzone applies a detailed instrument panel graphic to the inside of the cockpit. It is clearly visible through the top of the fuselage before the wing is attached but the smoked windows somewhat obscure this cool feature.
A foam filler block is friction fit into the main gear groove, located on the underside of the Skylane. This filler block is removed to expose the mounting surface for the main landing gear. Once the gear is attached using two small screws, the foam filler block is replaced. It is held in place with double-sided tape.
The tail of the Flyzone Cessna assembles in a modular fashion that requires no adhesive. This means the tail can be removed and the entire model repacked into the original box, should that ever be a desire. Several hard plastic pieces are embedded into the foam horizontal and vertical stabilizers. These pieces serve to properly align the tail pieces as they are assembled to the fuselage. As the tail is slid into position on the rear of the fuselage, the elevator and rudder push rods need to be attached to the respective control horns and then threaded into the push rod sleeves that lead forward to the elevator and rudder servos, factory mounted in the center area of the fuselage.
The wire lead that is connected to the red LED on the tip of the vertical stabilizer must also be threaded into position at the same time. A clear tube is installed in the fuselage, to serve as a pathway of sorts for this LED lead to get routed forward to the receiver and lighting controller. The servo horns are equipped with EZ connectors. I used a small dab of thread locking compound on the set screws to ensure that they would remain tight in flight. The entire tail assembly is held in place via a plastic clothespin type clip. I applied a piece of clear tape over the clip after it was in place, on the off chance that it could pop off in flight.
Tactic 2.4GHz Radio System
The original version of this Flyzone Skylane included an entry level 72MHz transmitter and receiver. Flyzone has upgraded the transmitter and receiver to a more state of the art 2.4GHz spread spectrum system. This brings added peace of mind to those who would purchase this model, knowing that they now do not have to worry about other nearby pilots accidentally powering up another transmitter on the same frequency and possibly inducing a crash. The Tactic TTX600 transmitter, though not programmable in the same way that most modern transmitters are, still offers a nice feature set for beginning pilots. All channels are reversible, channels one through four being done with a simple flip of a mechanical switch, and channels five and six reversed via the left hand stick being manipulated on a power up condition. The gimbal lengths are adjustable. A wireless trainer mode is supplied. The transmitter can be bound to several different tactic receivers, meaning that a pilot could pick up a spare receiver or two and use one transmitter to fly several different planes.
The TTX600 is designed to use four AA dry cells but there is an upgrade path in place to allow the use of either NiMH or NiCD rechargeable batteries. Once these batteries are installed, they can be charged though a charge port located on the side of the transmitter. Tactic provides information to indicate what charger must be purchased to charge through the side port. The TTX600 can also be configured for use on a V tail equipped model. The dual rates switch selects between 60% and 100% throws. These are not adjustable. No provision is made for limiting the end points of any channel. Though I do not think that this is a general cause for worry, the Cessna assembly manual does suggest limiting the movement of the flaps to 3/8" down. The rotary knob that is used to deploy the flaps drives them past this 3/8" measurement by a fair amount, if rotated from end to end. It would appear that the only real way to limit the flaps to 3/8" worth of throw is to refrain from rotating the flaps knob fully. This could be a little difficult to control though when one is flying the model and has one's attention focused on the skies overhead.
Final assembly includes mounting the included prop and chrome plated spinner and attaching the win struts. Both steps take but a few minutes and both steps use the same exact small black screws. An extra prop included in the box would be a nice touch and surely couldn't add too much cost to the kit? The wing struts have pre-bent ends. They fasten to the underside of the wing and the sides of the fuselage. Removing the wing for transport will require removing at least one set of the wing strut fasteners.
Control throw recommendations are provided in the manual. The Tactic TTX600 has a switch to select between high rates and low rates. Low rates are a fixed 60%, high rates are fixed at 100%. Many transmitters have programmable throws, end points and dual rates. The only possible way to make these settings on the Cessna would be mechanically, by tinkering around with the holes that the control rods are inserted into on the servo horns and control surface horns. After using the included charger to top the 3S 1800mAh lipo off, I inserted it into the model to check the CG. I was glad to see that the CG was within a millimeter or two of the recommended point.
Before heading out to the field, make sure you top off the lipo. I also like to perform a preliminary radio range check and verify the center of gravity. It is not uncommon for these very important steps to get overlooked in the excitement and anxiety that comes before a maiden flight. The Tactic transmitter does not have a true range check feature as do many full featured 2.4GHz radio system. My range check amounted to placing the model in a foam cradle in my driveway, asking my wife to stand near it with her hand on the rear of the fuselage and then give me visual feedback as I walked away from the model. The same range check should be repeated at the field before you fly the airplane. The preliminary range check, performed when you have no real intent or ability to fly the model, is a good way to verify that there are no obvious problems with the radio system. If any problems are noted, they can hopefully be remedied before you are out at the flying field.
Taking Off and Landing
Though this model does come with flaps, I find that best practice is to leave them fully retracted for initial flights and trimming. Once a model is trimmed out and I have performed several landings and take offs without them, I will start to explore how they affect the airframe by deploying them at altitude. This is the safest approach in my opinion. My initial flights took place at a venue that has a running track, with a surface composed of very fine aggregate. The gear on the Cessna is of a small enough diameter that the airplane would bog down in the spots where the gravel was a little on the thick side. I was able to modulate the throttle enough to push through most of the time but occasionally I would have to airlift it to a smoother spot. I do not think it would be possible to fly this model from the typical grass field that most clubs possess. The manual does provide instructions for hand launching the model if a suitable runway is not available for use. I prefer low rates for my take off rolls. The high rate setting can lead to over controlling the steering while accelerating to rotation speed. The brushless power system that comes in the Cessna provides just the right amount of power in my opinion. The Cessna moves out nicely and is ready for liftoff in no time at all. I prefer a deliberately extended scale-like take off roll. The Flyzone Cessna looks really cool performing it!
Adding flaps into the take offs does indeed shorten the space required to get the 182 airborne. The Cessna will fairly leap into the air when the flaps are deployed. In fact, I found myself actually feeding in a bit of down elevator on the take off roll, in order to hold the nose down and keep the Cessna from rotating into too steep of an angle of attack on departure. Though Flyzone recommends limiting the flap deployment to 9.5mm down, the rotary knob on the Tactic transmitter will drive them beyond that point when rotated to the full clockwise position. After several trips around the pattern with the knob at 50%, I went ahead and dialed it to 100%.
The appearance of the Cessna coming down the glide slope with the flaps in the full down position and the landing lights visible in the leading edge of the wing is just fantastic! Add in a little headwind and the model will slow to a crawl. I found that if you let it get a little too slow, it will stall with a clean, straight-ahead drop of the nose. I botched a few of my landings in this manner but the landing gear did a fine job of absorbing the energy and no damage ensued. Landings without flaps are at a higher rate of speed of course but they are still easily managed. I had a bunch of fun just shooting touch and goes, going around and around the pattern much the same as real pilots would do with their full size 182s. This model can serve as an excellent platform to help a pilot really get his landings perfected. The landings are the hardest part of the entire equation after all!
The suspension strut on the nose gear is a nice feature and it actually does a nice job of soaking up the energy of harder landings. Whether you use flaps or not, this model is well behaved on final. Keep a little power on all the way to touch down and keep holding the model off the ground by feathering in small inputs of elevator. As the Cessna loses forward velocity, it's nose will slowly come up. Put it all together and you will be rewarded with landings where the main gear touch down first, followed by the nose gear. No need to go full stop though ... just ease back into the power and go back up for just one more trip around the pattern!
Aerobatics/Special Flight Performance
Though this Cessna 182 is more of a scale model than it is an aerobatic one, it does feature aileron/elevator/rudder controls. The installed brushless power system provides ample power for subjecting the Cessna to any and all aerobatics that you may wish to try, though some will require a little energy management to pull off successfully. While flying the model for the cameras, I had a go at a bunch of maneuvers. Loops, rolls, inverted flight, and even a little effort at knife edge flight that looked more like an extreme slip ... the 182 can do! I thought it notable that inverted flight requires very little down elevator to keep the nose from falling through. Using the flaps opens up an array of flight challenges that can keep a pilot engaged for a long time. The model has a very light feel in the air and I had quite a bit of fun throwing it around in the sky. I particularly enjoyed shooting realistic looking landing approaches and scale looking take offs. The Flyzone Cessna 182 does a great job of capturing the persona of the full size 182 and again, it simply looks awesome coming at you with the flaps down and the landing lights aglow.
Is This For a Beginner?
This model is marketed as being suitable for a beginning pilot. After flying quite a few batteries through mine, I think that I would agree with the marketing ... with a caveat or two attached. There are very few models available that will enable a rank beginner to teach himself to fly without any assistance from a more experienced pilot. Many years ago, I did learn to fly completely on my own. And I went through more than a few airframes before I stopped destroying them after only a few flights. I would not recommend that approach. Having said that, this model would serve as a good entry level model if you seek out the help of a qualified flight instructor. It may not have some of the attributes of a true "trainer" but it makes these sacrifices at the benefit of being a very nice looking scale model. A few lessons and flight sessions with an instructor should have most beginners flying this model on their own and getting it up and down with minimal damage. I would suggest leaving the flaps alone until you are very familiar with the flight performance of the model. While it is true using the flaps will lower the takeoff and landing airspeed, they will affect the airframe in ways that beginners are typically ill prepared to handle. The Flyzone Cessna is very well behaved at slower airspeeds. This is especially important for beginning pilots. And it makes for lengthy flight times on the 1800mAh lipo flight pack! Once a pilot can handily land and takeoff this Cessna over and over, use of the the flaps will add another entire dimension of flight performance. It is best to deploy and retract them slowly. This minimizes the pitch variations that are commensurate with flap usage. A beginning pilot should not tire of this model like one would of a true trainer, as it's four channel control, flaps and scale looking appearance offer an abundance of flight challenges and capabilities!
Flight Video/Photo Gallery
There is a lot to like about this version of the Flyzone Cessna 182 RTF. The move to replace the original 72MHz radio system with the Tactic TTX600 transmitter and receiver all but eliminates the chances of losing the model to RF interference or another modeler powering up on the same frequency. The Tactic is a good entry level 2.4GHz spread spectrum radio system that can theoretically be pressed into usage in other models as the pilots skill level progresses. However, this Cessna 182 offers up enough performance and flight options that the you may not be in a hurry to relegate it to a role on the bench. With this being the case, additional Tactic receivers could be purchased for installation into new models. The Tactic transmitter does not possess multiple model memories as more advanced transmitters typically do but it can be bound to more than one receiver. One would have to take into consideration though that the trim settings would change from model to model. The AeroCell foam nicely endures those less than perfect landings. It's somewhat "soft" composition is resilient and yielding when it needs to be. It will "give" on accidental impact with fixed objects before it fractures or cracks. While exploring this models full flight envelope, I subjected it to some pretty crusty landings but the suspension nose strut and AeroCell foam took it all in stride. The scale details really do their part to make this foamy model look convincingly real in the air. The "adhesive-less" assembly is notably unique and allows you to rekit the model back into it's original box at will. One minor improvement would be to make the appropriate LEDs strobe the same as in a real General Aviation aircraft. The red LED on the tip of the vertical stabilizer in my kit was DOA. I fancied a shot at replacing it but decided against it lest I destroy the fin trying to remove this factory embedded component.
Cool scale details, flaps, a spread spectrum 2.4GHz radio system, a lighting system and flight times of upwards of 6-9 minutes (depending on throttle settings) using the included 3S 1800mAh lipo all combine to make this Cessna a worthy introduction to the thrills of electric flight. The included balancing charger can be connected to either an AC or DC power source, though it will require a little time and patience to replenish the lipo flight pack. Pick up a spare battery or two and you are can probably keep the Cessna in the pattern non-stop!