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ElectriFly Gee Bee R-1 Ep Rx-R Review

If you are an intermediate or better pilot, do not let the handling reputation of the full size Gee Bee scare you away from this very fun-to-fly plane!

Splash

Introduction


Wingspan:38.5 in
Wing Area:241 sq in
Weight:1.75-2.0 lb
Length:27 in
Wing Loading:16.7-19.1 oz.ftA2
Servos:4 micro servos
Transmitter:Futaba 7C used (only 4 ch required)
Receiver:Futaba R617FS
Battery:Electrifly 3S 11.1V 2200mAh 25C
Motor:Brushless 35mm 1450Kv motor
ESC:GP Silver Series 35A brushless esc w/ BEC
Charger:Electrifly PolyCharge 4 LiPo charger
Manufacturer:ElectriFly by Great Planes
Available From:ElectriFly Dealers and Fine Hobby Stores Everywhere
Price:$159.99

President Franklin Roosevelt once said, "We have nothing to fear but fear itself!" He could have been talking about me and the Electrifly Gee Bee R-1 Racer. I didn't think I was especially concerned about the reputation that the original Gee Bee R-1 Racer had for being a hard plane to handle, especially on takeoff and landing. Nor was I consciously concerned that I had seen some scratch built RC Gee Bees that were a handful near the ground twenty plus years ago.

But it turned out I was. It manifested itself right after a beautiful and smooth first takeoff which should have helped relax me. Instead I climbed to three mistake altitude and stayed up there like a beginner afraid of the ground. The plane was handling perfectly and did some nice rolls and a large loop yet I remained as tight as a drum for the first few minutes of the flight. After I was sure she was in good trim and handling nicely I started to unwind and flew her back near us and then turned the plane over to my friend as I took some still shots of the maiden flight. When I took back the transmitter I was perhaps too relaxed as I lost track of time while flying her around the sky. By then I knew there was no reason to fear the Electrifly Gee Bee R-1 Racer, and once I convinced myself that I had nothing to fear the plane became a joy to fly. I did make a stupid mistake that I will cover below but my Electrifly Gee Bee is flying great with multiple flights on her and grabs attention at the flying field even when she is just sitting on the table.

I can report that this plane is a beauty and only a few steps were necessary to get her ready for her first flight. So let me cover the minimal assembly and get us back to the flying field.


Kit Contents

The Kit Contains

  • Fuselage w/motor, ESC and 2 9G micro servos installed, (Includes rudder)
  • Wing with 2 9G micro aileron servos installed
  • Horizontal stabilizer with elevators
  • Cowl
  • Wheel pants
  • Landing gear set
  • Propeller
  • Spinner hub
  • Hatch
  • 2 Wing bolts
  • Flying wire, retainers and spreader bars
  • Battery strap
  • Instructions










Other Items Supplied

  • Great Planes ElectriFly 11.1V 2200mAh 25C Lipo battery pack
  • Futaba R617FS
  • Spare propeller APC 10 x 7 Thin electric
  • Great Planes PolyCharge 4 LiPo charger
  • Great Planes Equinox LiPo Cell Balancer








I supplied

  • Futaba 7C 7 channel 2.4GHz Transmitter

Assembly

Wing

The wing came fully assembled. The servos were already installed and connected to the ailerons and wired together so that there was only one Futaba type plug for the receiver to control both aileron servos. The landing gear was added to the wing by simply plugging the gear into slots on the bottom of the wing and then further secured in place with two magnets per wheel assembly that matched up with magnets in the wing. The wheel pants are in two pieces and held together by magnets. For the installation I removed the wheel pant from the outside of the wheel assembly and that way I knew which was right and which was left. I got a snap in place sound and feel with each wheel assembly when it was fully inserted into the wing.

Fuselage

The rudder came attached to the fuselage and connected to the servo. The wing was attached to the fuselage with one supplied bolt and a couple of pins in the front of the wing that slid into holes molded for them in the fuselage in the front of the wing saddle. The bolt is secured through the center of the fuselage into the wing so it is not visible anywhere on the outside of the plane.

Tail

The elevators came already connected to the two horizontal stabilizers. They connect together with one square carbon fiber piece sliding inside a slightly larger piece. This allows a single control horn on one side of the elevator to move both sides of the elevator. The horizontal stabilizers have a ridge on the bottom that slides into a slot on the bottom of the space in the fuselage for the stabilizer. The two halves slide in from their respective sides and are held in place inside the fuselage with four magnets per side securing each half. The tight foam fit and the groove and slot ridge make sure the horizontal stabilizer halves lined up in the proper position. The control horn is connected to the elevator servo via a pre-positioned control rod and connector. The stabilizer can be easily disconnected and removed if required for shipping or storage. A very clever and solid way of aligning and installing the horizontal stabilizer. I was impressed by the design, the simplicity and ease of the installment.

Radio Installation

Double sided tape is supplied in the kit for securing the receiver inside the fuselage as shown in the instructions. I used a Futaba 7 channel receiver and secured it where shown in the instruction manual on the main wooden piece in the fuselage that also holds the elevator and rudder servo and the battery pack. The Futaba connectors from the servo and Silver Series ESC plugged directly into the receiver.

At this time I cut one side of the supplied hook and loop material into three pieces and made a small batch of epoxy. Although the pieces of hook and loop material had an adhesive backing; I glued the three pieces to the center wooden section locations using epoxy. Experience in the past has shown me it is best to epoxy this material in place and not rely on the adhesive backing on the wood. I also installed the supplied hook and loop strap into the board to wrap around the battery pack and secure it in place. I simply stuck the matching piece of hook and loop material onto the pack of the battery. Here experience has taught me the adhesive backing will stick to the battery pack wrap. The battery is secured with hook and loop on the board and with the hook and loop strap around it. I wouldn't use just one of these methods. I strongly recommend using both methods to secure the battery in place.

Completion

The above assembly was completed in about an hour. The final decorative step involved installing the stretchy silver thread that looks like support wires. The thread is secured inside the wheel pant with medium thick CA and I used a little baking soda with thin CA to lock them in tight. The line is threaded through the wing and into the fuselage. In the fuselage the line is cut with a few extra inches and then secured with a little a little wooden holder. The line is pulled into the holder until it appears tight on the outside. As time goes by this will probably need to be adjusted tighter. The thread can be removed from the fuselage if you need to take the wing off as it is not glued inside the fuselage. Tension by looping the wire through the wood holder keeps it in place. Then starting again at the wheel pant a second line is secured with CA and the process repeated for the back line. In the process and per the instructions some guides are installed on the "wire" as shown in pictures below as part of the scale process. With one side done the process is repeated on the other side of the fuselage. Finally, to complete the scale appearance of the Gee Bee R1 a thread is installed from the inside portion of a wheel pant, through the fuselage and into the other wheel pant. Here there is just one "wire" and it is glued to the inside of both inner wheel pants.






I balanced the plane on the recommended C/G of 1 1/4 inches behind the wings leading edge simply by installing the battery pack all the way forward inside the fuselage. That had the plane balanced at the recommended C/G. The instructions say it is possible that some weight might need to be added to the nose in some cases. Using the recommended battery I didn't need to add any weight. If I had I could have added weight to the front of the firewall which can be easily reached behind the red cowl which was held in place with magnets.

Charging the Flight Battery

Electrifly supplied me with a PolyCharge 4 charger and one Equinox LiPo battery balancer. The charger is designed to operate from a 12 volt power source and at the field can operate off of a 12 volt car battery. At home I have two converters that convert the AC current into 12V Direct current. With the smaller converter I can charge up to three packs at a time with the PolyCharge 4 charger. With the larger power converter I can charge four at a time. This charger is designed to charge one through four cell LiPo battery packs from 300mAhs up to 3,000mAh (maximum setting). The charger automatically detects the number of cells and I set the dial for the appropriate number of mAhs to match my battery pack. I charge my parkflyer battery packs at 1C. With the ability to charge up to four packs at a time I can easily get ready for the next day's flying. While I stay with my charger at all times it is working it is designed to shut itself off after three hours of operation.

When first activated by the press of the button at the charging station I either got a warning sound if something was wrong or it turned green. If green it was checking things out and then it would turn to flashing green. It flashed once for each cell be charged. A three cell pack got three flashes, pause, three flashes. When fully charged it went to three red flashes. I only got the warning sound when I hadn't set the balancer for flow through charging balance. This is done by clicking on the button on the balancer twice after it has been connected to the active charger but before pressing on the button for the charging station. With my small converter it could not supply enough juice to charge four batteries at a time. When it fell short of the needed power the alarms would sound and keep going until I restarted the process by pressing the start buttons. I learned to limit that converter to two or three batteries to keep the charging process going smoothly when I was using my small converter. At the field using the car battery I could recharge four packs at a time without a problem.

It is important to keep the cells in the battery packs balanced so that they are evenly charged, discharged and working together properly and SAFELY. The Equinox battery balancer can be used between the battery and the charger to make sure all cells in the pack are properly charged to the same level. However, I only have one balancer and I can charge up to four batteries at a time. While I could buy three more Equinox balancers I don't have to do that. I have ordered one additional Equinox balancer. The packs will stay in balance if I use the balancer with them on every other charge. Additionally, I can use the balancer after the packs are charged and it will balance the cells by lowering the higher cells to match the lowest one and it can be put on the charger to top off the battery if desired. I don't top off my battery packs as I have been told that will last longer if I just go for a 90-95% charge. I have found the PolyCharge 4 to do a very nice job with all my parkflyer batteries and I had some octopus charging connectors with banana plugs that work very nicely with it. So far I have charged some one cell packs for helicopters and two and three cell packs for planes and helicopters. I have not used the charger yet with a four cell battery pack. Four cells is the maximum number that can be in a pack for this charger. That is why I consider it a Parkflyer charger.

WARNING: Be sure to keep your LiPo battery packs balanced. Read the information that comes with the battery packs, the charger and the balancer.

Flying

No matter how much I looked at my Gee Bee Racer on the ground it still surprised me just how barrel like the fuselage was in the air and how stubby the wings looked sticking out of that barrel on the first flight. That said, she was a good and responsive flier in the air.

Basics

This is a four channel plane with throttle, ailerons, rudder and elevator. At high rates the plane can be a bit twitchy if the pilot does not have a smooth thumb. Make sure that the controls are in neutral position mechanically with proper servo setup. This leaves complete transmitter adjustment available electronically for setting the limit of the throws in both directions. I recommend setting the throws for both low and high rates as recommended in the instructions and then using expo to help keep it smooth if your transmitter has the capability for both. My first flight was with high rates and I had a couple of twitchy moments but even then the plane was completely controllable. It is simply easier to control for landing especially with low rates available and I am a smoother pilot using approximately 15% exponential. The throw measurements given below are at the widest points on the elevator and rudder. I recommend setting the throws before the first flight.

Control: Low Rate High Rate Elevator: 3/16" 3/8" Rudder: 1/2" 3/4" Aileron: 1/2" 3/4"

Taking Off and Landing

When taxiing it is wise to keep the elevator in the climb position to help keep the tail down. Do not try and turn while making a fast taxi or a wingtip is likely to drag as you tip in the direction of the turn. If there is wind the tip can occur at a lower speed. That said: I had no trouble when I taxied slowly while turning and gave consideration to any cross wind. Taxi intelligently and she has no problems in calm conditions or even a medium breeze.

All takeoffs should be made into the wind. The wheels are fairly close together but I have had no problems taking off into the wind. A side wind might cause some tipping as the plane accelerates to take off speed so make sure your runway is lined up for into the wind takeoffs. If you have cross winds be ready on your rudder and make the takeoff quickly. The plane has plenty of power and I have taken off in calm conditions on just half throttle. I have had no problems with my takeoffs. As with takeoffs landings should always be made into the wind if possible. They should be made with power on but reducing throttle and flair out just before touch down. At touch down apply up elevator to get the tail wheel firmly on the ground as soon as possible when landing. My key landing thought is to remember to do a slight flair when touching down. You can get away with a level landing but may not get away with a landing with a diving attitude when touching down.

Unfortunately, I had a pilot error that resulted in a bad landing. I was having too much fun flying the plane and handing off the transmitter to a friend so that I could take still pictures and I lost track of time. I took back the transmitter and performed some fast rolls and a large loop. I was going to make one last low pass over the runway and was at the far end when I suddenly lost power as the BEC (Battery Elimination Circuitry) worked properly and shut down the motor due to low voltage. I shoved the throttle up to full power but with no response. Next second I was touching down on the runway while in a slight dive. My unplanned landing was with the wind and I nosed over on touch down. This put the landing pants magnets to the test and they released off of the landing gear as they were designed to do. Both the left and right leading edges of the wing touched pavement on the nose over. Nothing broke but my plane's cowl, wheel pants and the wing's leading edges near both tips got a little road rash for my stupidity and poor time management. I was caught by surprise close to the ground with no time to react. I won't be out flying my battery again (at least not any time soon). I hadn't made this mistake in years and the last time was at the slope when I knew I was pushing it with the glider's receiver battery. It certainly showed me how important the flair at touchdown is for properly landing this plane. This accident was pilot error and was the only bad landing I have made with the Electrifly Gee Bee R-1. However, I have had friends fly my plane and they have confirmed that you should not land with the nose down! The plane should be level at a minimum and better still is with a slight flair up at touchdown.

Cosmetic Repairs

I found that some light Spackle will cover any dings that are made in the landing pants and after sanding a little cosmetic paint touch-up makes everything look like new. Or land level or with a slight flair and cosmetic touch-ups won't be necessary.

Aerobatics/Special Flight Performance

This Gee Bee can climb on half throttle. She has a very wide speed range, just don't try and fly so slowly that she is mushy in the sky. I intentionally stalled her at altitude while flying forward and she fell forward in a straight stall and it was easy to recover from the stall. The same was true from a stall while making a wide turn. A stall from a tight turn used a lot of sky before I could recover so avoid stalling in a sharp turn, especially near the ground. As with any plane keep your speed up in turns near the ground. As stated above when I was not smooth on the sticks, especially aileron she showed it with her short wings. That is to be expected. However, she was not hard to control when keeping her speed up and staying smooth on the sticks. She makes nice axial rolls with power up and she can make loops from small tight ones to as large as you please with a fresh battery. I find her more enjoyable to fly closer to me than I fly some of my larger planes but I still cover a lot of sky with her. A half loop into a split S followed by a dive to the deck and then full throttle down the runway and perform a couple of fast ovals really shows off this plane. Despite her appearance with the big barrel fuselage and short appearing wings if you think sport plane handling you will probably best understand how she handles.

My best advice is to be confident and intelligent when flying her. She is not a hard plane to fly but being a Gee Bee I had to remind myself to relax and have fun. Just fly intelligently! If there is any acrobatic stunt I want to try I just do it with recovery room the first time I try it. She looks great making pylon type turns and victory rolls over the field in a slight climb. Work up to the sharpest turns with speed unless you are already a confident expert. I have not tried to fly her 3D I didn't even think about that until writing this portion of the review.

Is This For a Beginner?

No! The Gee Bee goes where aimed and is very responsive. New pilots most frequently try and over control a plane and that would likely cause problems very quickly with this plane. I recommend this plane for intermediate pilots and above. The most important ability is to able to fly the plane smoothly to the ground with power on but reducing power. If all your landings are "carrier landings" where you slam your plane onto the runway you might well experience a nose over with your method. If you can land smoothly with a slight flair at the end then you should have lots of fun with the Gee Bee.

Flight Video/Photo Gallery









Downloads

Downloads

Downloads

To make a good landing finding the runway is really important! However, to be fair to Charles the runway is usually about twice the width that it was that day. Despite the tremendous crash landing the only damage was a wheel pant popped off and went right back in place thanks to the magnets. Additionally, a decorative guide wire came loose on one side and that was fixed in five minutes. The opening picture in the introduction was taken after the crash shown above. There was no real damage. "Kids don't try this at home."

Conclusion

FDR had it right: I had nothing to fear but fear itself. I started out this review with some hidden apprehension about the plane that surprised me on the first flight. It was probably because of the reputation of some of the Gee Bees (full size and RC) from the past. After I got past this initial apprehension and had some stick time with her I learned she was easy for me to fly, nicely responsive and a lot of fun to fly so long as I flew intelligently and didn't try any stunts flying too slowly or too close too the ground. She also reminded me of the importance of using a timer or I wouldn't have had to make a down wind landing when she lost power and nosed over on me at the end of the runway.

Three of my friends and of course myself have flown my Electrifly Gee Bee during the course of this review and all of us have loved her. She handles well, flies on less than half throttle and has nice speed runs. She safely flies for over ten minutes on a charge and is a nice size for transporting and for viewing in the air. I enjoyed the design and quick assembly of the horizontal stabilizer and how the wing attaches to the fuselage with one bolt that is not visible as it secures the wing from the inside. The wheel pants and the magnets securing them together were well-tested and worked as designed. The very easy access to the battery compartment with the magnet closure is also great. Of course all of that would be quickly forgotten if she wasn't a Great Plane to fly. Fly smart, fly confident, have fun and land on the runway level or with a slight flair. FYI: She does land nicely when given a chance.

Pluses

  • Sharp looking plane
  • Easy final assembly
  • I love the horizontal stabilizer design
  • Has plenty of power
  • Very responsive handling
  • Flown properly she handles perfectly on takeoffs and well on landings
  • Draws lots of attention at the field or on the workbench

Minuses

  • Best if set up with dual rates and/or exponential
  • Can nose over on a bad landing
  • Too responsive for a novice pilot
Last edited by Angela H; May 02, 2012 at 06:15 AM..

Discussion

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Old May 02, 2012, 11:18 AM
Registered User
United States, OR, Sherwood
Joined Jan 2009
288 Posts
Speedster?

As this was a speed contest type of plane, I am wondering what speed it flys with your setup. Can it be flown with the faster (pylon) type speedsters?
Tx....JJ460
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Old May 02, 2012, 11:19 AM
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E-Challenged's Avatar
United States, CA, Garden Grove
Joined Oct 2000
11,733 Posts
Looks like a well-mannered flyer with no severe tip stall prone-ness and durable wheel pant/landing gear design. I would land any model like this with some throttle on the mains without flair, let it slow and give up elevator to get tail wheel on the ground and hold it there until model rolls to a stop. Nudges of right rudder are needed to keep takeoff run more or less straight. Looks like a good transition from a PZ Stinson Reliant.
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Old May 02, 2012, 02:17 PM
Registered User
S/E Michigan
Joined Jun 2010
1,624 Posts
I have one of these on my sim, and I've never been able to land the thing well.
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Old May 02, 2012, 11:15 PM
Build'm,Fly'm,Crash'm
redlite's Avatar
Sacramento CA
Joined Oct 2009
629 Posts
Great review...we have had similar experience with ours...still can't keep the nose from going over on landing, but the plane can take it and more. Very well built and I like the way the LG comes apart on rough landing, expelling some of the energy without tearing up any equipment. The model has barely any marks after all the abuse...kinda like a T-28 in durability...

ThunderTiger Mr. M., gas powered (.10) Sureflite Pete and the Gee Bee make the line up...

Joe
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Old May 03, 2012, 10:13 AM
Registered User
Canada
Joined Nov 2000
6,871 Posts
Pretty Model, No arguement there.
Does seem a bit overweight tho.. for what it is.
A 35mm motor and a 2200mah battery ? yet they fitted 3 gram servos in the wings.
Very strange juxtaposition of overweight and underweight parts.
Ohh well... at least they got the shape and colour 'right'.
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Old May 03, 2012, 12:18 PM
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Michael Heer's Avatar
Stockton, Ca. USA
Joined Apr 2001
9,369 Posts
Bare, per my review they have two 9-gram servos in the wings for the ailerons not 3-gram servos. Mike H
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Old May 04, 2012, 09:25 AM
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Joined May 2012
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FWIW

Flair: a natural talent, aptitude, or ability; bent; knack: a flair for rhyming.

When talking about an aircraft leveling off just before it touches down on a runway, the word is "flare".

<wink>
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Old May 04, 2012, 09:38 AM
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E-Challenged's Avatar
United States, CA, Garden Grove
Joined Oct 2000
11,733 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by Perrytp8 View Post
FWIW

Flair: a natural talent, aptitude, or ability; bent; knack: a flair for rhyming.

When talking about an aircraft leveling off just before it touches down on a runway, the word is "flare".

<wink>
You have a flair for proper use of the word "flare".
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Old May 04, 2012, 09:45 AM
Now Where Did That Plane Go?
Crash One's Avatar
Columbus, GA. Area
Joined Sep 2007
426 Posts
What is the estimated speed of this Gee Bee?
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Last edited by Crash One; May 04, 2012 at 09:54 AM. Reason: Spelling error
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Old May 04, 2012, 08:47 PM
North Central Positronics
badbill's Avatar
USA, GA, Centerville
Joined Dec 2002
3,314 Posts
The plane is about 50-60 mph top speed. After 20 or so flights, I'll tell you that without superhuman skills I can nail EVERY landing- as long as it is directly into the wind. Same thing with the HH Gee Bee UMX, even on a grass field. It don't like cross winds.

Bill Davenport
AMA 28141
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Old May 05, 2012, 12:03 PM
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Michael Heer's Avatar
Stockton, Ca. USA
Joined Apr 2001
9,369 Posts
Thanks Bill I was going to respond 55-60mph. I agree, if you give the plane a chance it lands great.

To PerryTP8, welcome to RC Groups! To my logic (dangerous) flair seemed more appropriate to me as artistic flair seemed closer to flying then a road flare but some fool decided before me that flare should be used for this purpose. Makes no sense but I yield to the historic spelling and I do thank you for your information. Mike Heer
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Old May 07, 2012, 06:23 PM
DELTAS RULE
corsair nut's Avatar
tehachapi, CA
Joined Jan 2006
21,553 Posts
ive always loved the geebee, saw a guy at the field with one of these and fell in love lol. so of course i had to have one! i took out the stock lead weights in the nose, and im balanced with a 4s 2350. its a older pack, so amps shouldnt be too crazy. i guy posted a review where hes been flying on the stock system with 4s with no issues. i might prop back to 10x6 just to be safe. ill report back after ive flown it

great review BTW
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Old May 11, 2012, 03:04 PM
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Michael Heer's Avatar
Stockton, Ca. USA
Joined Apr 2001
9,369 Posts
Thanks Corsair Nut! I look forward to your post back after you have flown it. Mike Heer
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Old May 12, 2012, 04:43 PM
DELTAS RULE
corsair nut's Avatar
tehachapi, CA
Joined Jan 2006
21,553 Posts
well, got 4 flights today! on 4s, and the nose weight removed, its the same weight as stock. it goes pretty damned good on 4s! takeoffs are a breeze, and man, it flies awesome! i love the knife edge too. our runway isnt that smooth, its kinda bumpy, and man, it was tough to get a good landing. it flipped over once, and i drug a couple wingtips lol. i enjoy the challenge though! its alot of fun to fly! i dolled mine up with a little engine paint, and i used alum tape on the prop to give it that polished look the real one had
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