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E-flite Extra 260 ARF Review

Vic and Quinn take a look at the fast-building, extremely light E-flite Extra 260 ARF from Horizon Hobby and like what they see!

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Introduction

See if you can pass this test: do you know, and can you correctly pronounce, the actual name of the aerobatic plane known universally as the Extra? Yes? Then YOU might be an airplane geek! Walter Extra's incredibly successful aerobatic plane (in its various flavors) is, technically, the Extra Flugzeugbau Extra (Flugzeugbau means "aircraft construction" in German, and if you're wondering how to pronounce it - well, wonder away; you won't learn it here). Inspired by the Stephens Akro, and built in the early 1980s, the Extra is as popular with professional aerobatic pilots as it is with RC modelers. It dominated full-scale aerobatics for a time, before being joined at the top by the Zivko Edge 540, the Sukhoi SU-26, and the CAP 232. You can get an RC version in profile, foamy, park flyer - all the way up to 150cc 40% scale. In fact this is our third Extra, and our second review of an Extra. (We promise, this one has a happier ending!) There is a reason for this airframe's popularity: it's a good-looking and exceptionally aerobatic airplane, one that (it seems) every modeler will own if he stays in the hobby long enough.


Wingspan:43"
Wing Area:375 sq. in.
Weight:29 oz.
Length:40"
Wing Loading:11 oz/sq. ft.
Servos:4 E-flite S75 Sub-micro
Transmitter:Spektrum DX7
Receiver:Spektrum AR6100
Battery:Thunder Power 2100 mAh 3-cell 15C
Motor:E-flite Park 480
ESC:E-flite 40 amp
Available From:Horizon Hobby
Cost: $109.99 (airframe only)

Kit Contents

Kit contains:

  • Airframe, fully built from balsa and light ply and covered in UltracoteŽ
  • Hardware kit
  • Aluminum landing gear
  • Steerable tail wheel
  • Pre-painted fiberglass cowl and wheelpants
  • Canopy with magnetic latches
  • Plastic spinner (1 3/4")

Kit requires:

  • Motor
  • Battery
  • ESC
  • 4 sub-micro servos
  • 4 servo extensions
  • 6-channel radio transmitter and receiver

When you buy a new airplane you think you have an idea of how it's going to go together and fly. This is "the ideal," and it has everything to do with slick marketing machines pumping unrealistic expectations to giddy buyers. Then you buy the plane, and reality stomps all over your expectations. Reviews, ideally, are here to deflate the hype and bring you back down to earth figuratively, before the plane does it literally.

Then occasionally, along comes a plane like the E-flite Extra 260, and we reviewers have a problem: the plane goes together just as expected. It flies just as expected. No rough edges, virtually no surprises. So what are we to write about if not the irritations, glitches, and problems?? It's a little boring to write about how this part fit just right, and that part is exceptionally well-designed. Should we discuss the color scheme? The psychological imperatives that drive us to place ourselves vicariously into the cockpits of these silly, exhilarating machines? The early works of Proust?

We'll see if we can come up with enough about the actual airplane to critique, and leave Proust for - well, let's just plain leave Proust. We'll come up with something.

As we have come to expect with E-flite, the Extra came exceptionally well packaged and protected. This has become so routine with the E-flite ARFs that we've built that it almost isn't worth mentioning - nor is the colorful, virtually wrinkle-free covering job we were greeted with as we unbagged each part. The construction is light and strong - more than once someone in our club has picked up the plane and asked us what it weighs with the battery in it and has trouble believing us when we tell them that the battery IS in it. E-flite has the ARF construction thing down.

Assembly

This kit goes together in about 4 or 5 hours, so you might conclude that assembly is straightforward and almost problem-free. It is.

Wing

Ailerons are not installed. We put them in with the typical CA hinges, taking care to make the gap between the wing and aileron as narrow as possible. That's pretty much it for the wing, or would have been if the wing hadn't been slightly warped, but we weren't to discover that until the maiden.

Fuselage

The motor and landing gear bolt on bing-bang-boom, with blind nuts accurately pre-installed. The only problem we ran into with the fuselage build was the fit of the cowl and canopy. The cowl goes where it goes - the holes in the cowl and fuse are pre-drilled, so you haven't much chance to finagle it. Ours didn't quite fit over the rearmost former, so we had to "relieve" the former (as woodworkers say) a tiny bit with a sander. Then once it is installed, the canopy frame hits the rear of the cowl and won't fully seat, which means it won't snap into place . (The canopy frame is held with two rare-earth magnets, one on each side.) A few minutes with a Dremel tool removing about 1/16" of the very rear-top of the cowl allowed the canopy to seat completely and latch securely. In fact, it holds so strongly we have learned to rock it from side to side to unfasten first one magnet, then the other, or risk cracking a stringer in the canopy frame. Finally, we glued the canopy to the frame, using Formula 560 canopy glue as recommended (a recommendation we strongly agree with).

Tail

We pre-fitted the horizontal stab, squared it, and marked the covering to be cut out. Critical: make sure you put the elevator in place BEFORE gluing the horizontal stab in place. If you glue it in, then discover you forgot the elevator, you've got some serious fixin' to do. Once everything was properly glued in, we hinged the elevator, then glued in the vertical stab, and finally hinged the rudder (once we'd installed the tailwheel into the rudder). Precut bays in the tail make mounting the servos a breeze. We threaded a surplus pushrod through the frame and out each servo bay, taped the servo wires on and pulled them through to the radio compartment.

Radio Installation

A small piece of Velcro holds the Spektrum AR6100 in place nicely, and as mentioned, the servos all fit without fuss into the bays that were provided. We didn't even have to cut out and reseal the covering, as on many ARFs - the covering over the bays is precut. All that's left is to run the control rods. For this, E-flite provided great push-through control horns. Generally our least-favorite part of an airplane build is screwing in control horns. In fact we've considered taking up free-flight just to avoid this odious procedure. But the Extra's control horns are the type that slide through PRECUT slots in the control surfaces (PRECUT, we say!) and are held in place with a bit of CA and a locking plastic backing piece. Heaven!

Completion

The battery has to sit so far forward in the fuselage that it's actually inside the cowl, so you have to reach inside the cowl from underneath to fasten the forward-most of the two Velcro strips that hold the battery in place. This is less than convenient, but it is necessary to achieve the correct center of gravity (3 to 3 1/8 inches back from the leading edge - pretty much right on the spar.)

The plane also includes a pleasant little white spinner, which the observant reader will notice is not in any of our photos. This wouldn't fit. The instructions mention a 1/2" plastic washer that is supposed to go on between the prop and the rear half of the spinner (in the order: prop adapter, prop, washer, rear half of spinner, prop nut, front half of spinner.) This little washer was missing; we'd have called customer support for a new one, but with the prop and the rear half of the spinner in place, we had only a few threads to hold the prop nut on. Without the washer, the prop nut squishes the rear half of the spinner and the front half won't mate. We reluctantly left the spinner off. On the plus side, with a little ribbon it makes a very funny little hat to dress up our cat.

Wheel pants complete the scale look of the plane. They hold on with a screw through the landing gear leg. They've stayed with us for quite a few flights now, although we fly solely off a runway (if you fly off of grass you might not have as much luck as we've had).

Flying

Basics

The maiden flight revealed a problem right away: it took 4 or 5 clicks of aileron trim for it to fly straight. Too many. Upon landing we noticed each aileron was 1/8" deflected, a sign of a warped wing. When we got the plane home, we were faced with a dilemma: how do you accurately determine if the wings of a semi-symmetrical airfoiled airplane are straight without an incidence meter, which we were lacking? The answer was to throw some scrap wood on the table saw and make a homemade "relative incidence" meter (see photos). It will be as accurate as your woodworking, and ours revealed a slight warp to both wings that we removed by counter-twisting the wings and ironing out the resulting wrinkles.

Our next trip revealed that the plane handled quite well in aerobatics, but we weren't satisfied with the throws for all out 3d flying. We decided to take it home and increase the throws to the factory-recommended 3D throws. (We were previously flying with the "sport" throws). What a difference this made! The previously docile sport plane turned into a 3D machine!

Taking Off and Landing

Takeoffs, with the steerable tailwheel, are a breeze; it's hardly worth mentioning, since it's on the ground for such a short time with this power setup. As for landings, it floats in. As long as you're comfortable landing any sport plane this one shouldn't give you any trouble. We made a habit of bringing it in for pretty 3-point landings rather than wheel landings; this is a little easier because this requires you to slow it down more and you're less likely to balloon, or hit too hard and bounce.

Aerobatics/Special Flight Performance

This plane has two personalities: as we mentioned earlier, it can be a spirited aerobat, or crank up the throws for a more wild 3D plane. On high throws its roll rate is about 540 degrees/second. Rudder authority is excellent, and KE coupling minimal. We noticed considerable wing rock in harriers. This normally shows a problem with the CG but we experimented with various CG placements and never quite got rid of it, particularly in transitions. It snaps incredibly well, both inside and outside. Crisp response and no over-rotation makes it a joy to snap. With our power setup, it has unlimited vertical performance and plenty of power to hover and pull out. We tried our best to get it to high-speed stall at the bottom of tight loops, and it wouldn't. Stalls were straight and gentle, and with the light 11 oz. wing-loading, we had plenty of power to pull out before we got into trouble.

Flight Video

Downloads

Is This For a Beginner?

Not really. This plane is too fast, too responsive, and with its super-light construction probably wouldn't stand up to very many rough landings. (Luckily we haven't put this prediction to the test. Yet.)

Pluses:

  • Light construction
  • Very fast build
  • Great looks
  • Versatile performer
  • Flies fantastic
  • Steerable tailwheel

Minuses:

  • Warped wing
  • Spinner never worked
  • Battery difficult to fasten into fuselage
Last edited by Angela H; Dec 17, 2007 at 07:42 PM..

Discussion

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Old Dec 24, 2007, 07:14 PM
JUNK RADIO
Flazo's Avatar
USA, NY, Queens
Joined Dec 2006
3,136 Posts
Sorry to hear about the warp wing... E-flite you have given you a better kit...
Anyway, my 260 without any problems.... Though the spinner never worked
any ideas as to which spinner to use...

my set up
480 motor
HS 55 on wings
HS 45 on rudder and elevator.
AirBoss 45 ESC

I love this plane flys the !@#$$%%
APC 12 Slow flyer
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Old Dec 25, 2007, 06:07 AM
Registered User
Stansted UK
Joined May 2007
132 Posts
Spinner

Hi Flazo,

I use the electrifly transparent black spinner. You could paint the inside any colour of your choice. Here is a link so that you can view the spinner.....
http://www.sussex-model-centre.co.uk...d.asp?id=22426. I have noticed that other people are using this spinner on this model too, check out the posts on this forum.

http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/attac...mentid=1387313

Yours aye.

Charles Forsyth
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Old Dec 25, 2007, 02:42 PM
JUNK RADIO
Flazo's Avatar
USA, NY, Queens
Joined Dec 2006
3,136 Posts
Oh Great Chuckf thanks....

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Old Dec 25, 2007, 10:51 PM
They Call him Dead!
YellowJacketsRC's Avatar
United States, SC, Pawleys Island
Joined Jul 2003
6,925 Posts
Nice review! Seems fair and honest. Any luck get5ting wing rock out with aileron tape? Also, I fly with exactly the same set up except my servos are a little heavier, I use no whell pnats, and I did get my spinner on. Thing is, I have my bettery all the way back until it touches the main spar tube for 3d flight?!?! Seems like very differing results for the cg balance?
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Old Dec 25, 2007, 11:29 PM
Ohh Snapp!
CatchmyCorsair's Avatar
Joined Sep 2005
1,822 Posts
I run HS 65's and on a 5-6oz 2100 lipo my pack touches the wing spar to get the CG at 3 -1/8".

Very fun plane and I still get wing rock upright. (I think I sealed the aileron hinges too)

Anyone using the Eflite 480 outrunner, when you mount the motor to that black cross motor mount, USE LOCTITE!!! I had all 4 screws back out almost completely and luckily I noticed vibration/noise before the motor fell off.
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Old Dec 26, 2007, 10:39 AM
Registered User
dubd's Avatar
United States, CA, Morgan Hill
Joined Aug 2007
247 Posts
My spinner worked just fine. I used the prop washer and bolt that came with my motor and then just plugged the cone to the base. I've had over 50 flights on my 260 without the cone coming off.
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Old Dec 26, 2007, 01:45 PM
Registered User
Joined May 2004
547 Posts
Anytime I see a review by the Walton clan, I gotta read it. Even if it's a plane I'll never buy. The wisea## remarks by themselves are worth the time spent reading the review ! How's the cat liking his hat?
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Old Dec 27, 2007, 12:51 AM
Vic and Quinn Walton
rc2xs's Avatar
Santa Barbara CA
Joined Jan 2006
590 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sit-N-Fly
Anytime I see a review by the Walton clan, I gotta read it. Even if it's a plane I'll never buy. The wisea## remarks by themselves are worth the time spent reading the review ! How's the cat liking his hat?
Thanks for the compliment! Allie Cat is delighted with her new E-flite spinnerhat, the nonchalant expression on her face notwithstanding. She's a cat of very understated emotions. We suspect she may in fact be English.
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Last edited by rc2xs; Dec 27, 2007 at 01:04 AM.
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Old Dec 27, 2007, 02:57 PM
Giant Scale Nut!!
flynz4me's Avatar
Keizer, OR
Joined Feb 2004
625 Posts
I run my battery back on the pull pull table in the rear of the plane just to get mine to balance. Love the KE with this plane, otherwise, eh not so impressed.
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Old Dec 28, 2007, 12:40 AM
iWeasel
jludwick's Avatar
Santa Barbara, CA
Joined Feb 2005
1,096 Posts
Nice review. Short and sweet, with just enough humor to keep me coming back for more... Where's the ribbon on the cat's hat?
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Old Dec 28, 2007, 08:21 AM
Dr. Dave
USA
Joined Nov 2005
1,316 Posts
Guys great job. I liked that you experimented with CG something readers either know or learn is an absolute for 3D but also influences your landing control if too far back. Great observation on the wings. Not sure they were warped or attachment points were off. I have experienced a lack of symmetry because the wings just don't attach square.

Nice plane. Anyone know where to get spinners that are flat on the backside. Spinners provided are different than those we buy and when broken the cowling fits too close with a recessed back.
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Old Dec 28, 2007, 09:24 AM
Vic and Quinn Walton
rc2xs's Avatar
Santa Barbara CA
Joined Jan 2006
590 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by jludwick
... Where's the ribbon on the cat's hat?
She thought it was gauche. Cats - what're ya gonna do?

As for CG, moving it back definitely helped with 3D and the wing rocking problem. As 78Dave points out, landing gets a little trickier - it's going to want to stall so bring it in w/ throttle on, or go high-alpha and plop it down.
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Old Jan 08, 2008, 12:51 AM
Registered User
Gerry B's Avatar
Surrey, BC, Canada
Joined Feb 2007
457 Posts
Mine had a warped wing also...not too tough to fix.

This is how I dealt with the difficult access to the battery straps.
http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showp...postcount=1358
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Old Jan 08, 2008, 01:14 AM
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earlybird2's Avatar
Laguna Hills CA
Joined May 2006
251 Posts
Great review Thanks.

Ben
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