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Great Planes Pluma 3D Indoor/Outdoor EP ARF 32.5"

The 3D foamy profile sensation has been around for a few years now. Think there is nothing new under the sun when it comes to this type of plane.? Great Planes is here to say that you have not seen it all just yet!

Splash

Introduction


Wingspan:32.5" (830mm)
Wing Area:518 sq in (33.4 sq dm)
Weight:8.4 to 10.5oz (240- 70g)
Length:38" (955mm)
Wing Loading:2.3 to 2.6oz/sq ft (7.2 - 8.1g/sq dm)
Servos:Futaba S3114M Micro High-Torque Servo w/Micro Plug
Transmitter:Futaba 10C 10-Channel with FASST 2.4GHz
Receiver:Futaba R616FFM 2.4GHz FASST Micro Parkflyer Rx 6CH
Indoor Power System
Battery:Great Planes ElectriFly LiPo 11.1V 300mAh 20C Power
Motor:Great Planes Rimfire 28-22-1380 Brushless Outrunner
ESC:Great Planes Silver Series 8A Brushless ESC
Outdoor Power System
Battery:Great Planes ElectriFly LiPo 11.1V 640mAh 20C Power
Motor:Great Planes Rimfire 28-26-1000 Brushless Outrunner
ESC:Great Planes Silver Series 12A Brushless ESC
Typical Flight Durations:5-7 minutes of lively aerobatics and 3D
Manufacturer:Great Planes Electrifly
Available From:Your Local Hobby Retailer or Tower hobbies
Price:$49.99

Another profile 3D biplane? Don't be too quick to write off this one as just another profile foamy or you will miss out on one superb plane. The Electrifly development and design teams have been very busy behind closed doors. They have come up with a refreshing new biplane that is equally at home indoors or out. And thanks to its fresh construction techniques, it leaps off the building table and into the air in no time flat. Once in the air, you will not want to bring it down!

Kit Contents

The foam used in the Pluma is a 3mm extruded polystyrene foam known as Pro-Formance foam and an ElectriFly exclusive. It comes with vibrant, pre-applied graphics which are lighter in weight than paint. The airframe components are tabbed and interlock to one another during assembly, making for a quick build and ensuring correct alignment. I really liked that all of the control surfaces, save the rudder, come pre-attached and hinged with 3M's Blenderm tape. The fuselage comes prebuilt, with the firewall and center cabane strut already installed.

In The Box:

  • Prebuilt fuselage
  • Top and bottom wings, with pre-hinged ailerons
  • Two inter plane wing struts
  • Horizontal stabilizer, with pre-hinged elevator
  • Vertical stabilizer and rudder
  • Landing gear doubler plate
  • 100mm of 3M Blenderm for rudder
  • Hook and loop fastener for attaching ESC, battery and receiver
  • Two pre-assembled landing gear assemblies
  • A whole PILE of control horns, clevises, link horns and push rod supports
  • Two speed brakes
  • Two control centering and alignment tools
  • Assembly manual
  • One sheet of decals




Required for Completion:

  • Four channel radio system with micro receiver
  • Four micro servos
  • Complete power system (motor, speed controller and lipoly battery)
  • APC 10x4.7 Slow Flyer (Outdoor) or GWS 8x4 thin prop
  • Foam safe CA and accelerator
  • Thread locking compound
  • Hobby knife, small drill bits and other typical tools used in assembly

Included for Review:

  • Futaba 10C 10-Channel with FASST 2.4GHz
  • Futaba R616FFM 2.4GHz FASST Micro Parkflyer Rx 6CH
  • Three Futaba S3114M Micro High-Torque Servos w/Micro Plug
  • Great Planes Rimfire 28-26-1000 Brushless Outrunner
  • Great Planes Silver Series 12A Brushless ESC
  • Great Planes ElectriFly LiPo 11.1V 640mAh 20C Power
  • Great Planes Rimfire 28-22-1380 Brushless Outrunner
  • Great Planes Silver Series 8A Brushless ESC
  • Great Planes ElectriFly LiPo 11.1V 300mAh 20C Power




Assembly

Those of you who have assembled a plane using the manuals written by Great Planes know that they are among the best in the industry. The Pluma manual is the usual comprehensive and well illustrated black and white booklet. Have a peek at it HERE, and see if you don't agree!

Before I start building a kit, I always try to remember to visit the manufacturers website to check for any bulletins or addendum. In the case of the Pluma, there was one bulletin in connection with the lengths of the aileron link rod assemblies.

While taking inventory of the parts just prior to starting my build, I noticed that I had several extra control horns. It was almost as if the person who packed my kit KNEW I would end up needing a few!

Push rods

The Pluma stays light by utilizing a lot of carbon for push rods, bracing and the aileron connections. Though you may be used to being able to make adjustments to the push rods at any time after the build is complete, the Pluma push rods are a little different: You are required to make them up yourself as a part of the build, and once you have made them, they are fixed and nonadjustable. Great Planes includes some control surface alignment tools which help ensure that you get the dimensions of the push rods and the control surface neutrals perfectly square. BE CAREFUL when inserting the z-bends though the horns or links for the first time. Work them through slowly. If you try to force them through too fast, you may break the horn or link. I had spares in my kit, fortunately.

The manual suggests building the push rods on the bench and then installing them. Even after the heat tubing has been shrunk, you can still slide the z-bend around enough to make some final adjustments. Doing this after they are installed on the plane will guarantee perfect alignment. I would strongly discourage trying to shrink the tubing while the push rods are mounted on the plane. Foam and heat do not get along, and you will scorch the Pluma. Also, take care to use the CA sparingly. Do NOT let it run through the tubing and find its way to where the z-bend goes through the horn.

Wing

The bottom wing gets glued to the fuselage. The top wing sits on the two inter plane struts and the center cabane strut. Both wings have their ailerons already attached with 3M Blenderm tape. Extra attention to keeping everything perfectly square when attaching the two wings to the fuselage will make for a better flying airplane.

The top and bottom ailerons get joined with aileron link rods. The included pair of control surface centering and alignment tools will serve as the third hand you’d wish you had if Great Planes had not included them in the box. They will hold both of the ailerons in the neutral position while you install the aileron link rods. When inserting the z-bends through the control horns for the first time, caution is in order: Carefully and slowly work them through the hole. Forcing them through with haste will break the horns. I was glad my kit came with a few spares.

Fuselage

The fuselage comes out of the box completely assembled. If you elect to go with the more powerful outdoor power system, it is a good idea to drip some CA on the back of the lite ply firewall where it connects to the foam of the fuselage.

Both of the recommended Rimfire Outrunners bolt right up to the pre-marked holes on the firewall. Since the screws are short and the firewall thin, it is advisable to heed the direction to harden the mounting holes with CA.




Tail

Did you keep the control surface alignment tools handy? You'll need them again to properly install the tail surfaces and push rods. I was pleased to see my horizontal stabilizer slide into the slot at the rear of the fuselage and sit perfectly square. After making all of the mandatory verifications that is was level, square and true to the fuselage, a little foam safe CA locked it into place.

The rudder gets attached after the horizontal stabilizer is mounted. The included piece of Blenderm unites it with the vertical stabilizer. Do not forget to thread the three push rod standoffs onto both the rudder and elevator push rods before finalizing their assembly. The manual gives very specific locations into which slots must be cut on the fuselage. The standoffs are glued into these slots and support the two long push rods nicely.




Radio Installation

The Futaba 3114 servos provided for this review came with the lightweight micro connectors instead of the standard size connectors. These servos fit perfectly into the servo recesses on the fuselage and wing. I always prefer hot glue for mounting the servos. The receiver slips into the large hole to the front and bottom of the fuselage. Great Planes includes enough hook and loop fastener material to attach the receiver, lipoly battery and speed controller in this compartment. The hook and loop makes it easy to swap out one power system for another. There is enough room in this compartment to shift these components around, which assists in finding the correct center of gravity.

The assembly manual recommends using the large X shaped servo horns that come with the 3114s. The aileron servo benefits from a special, larger horn that comes in the Pluma kit and mounts to a regular Futaba servo horn. This setup facilitates some pretty extreme throws on the ailerons and at the same time adds in some mechanical aileron differential. This shows some definite forethought on the part of the design team. They apparently determined the Pluma flies better with such differential, and creating it mechanically saves each end user from having to experiment with radio settings to get it right... provided their transmitter even has such a feature!

The Futaba R616FFM 2.4Ghz receiver has a very small footprint due in part to its use of the micro JST style of connector on all channels except for throttle. The throttle channel uses a conventional style and size of servo connector.

One small caution: When trying to fish the servo leads forward to the radio compartment, DO NOT hold the plane up over your head to allow the overhead lights to illuminate the inside of the fuselage when the ceiling fan is turning! You'll notice in the photos that my rudder looks as if a great white shark took a little nibble out of the trailing edge. Yikes!

Completion

The landing gear comes out of the box assembled. The small plastic wheels are already mounted to an axle and wheel pant, which extends out into a long carbon rod. These pass through the lower wing, and then into and through the fuselage. This serves to spread the load of the landings across several pieces of the airframe. Even so, the manual advises against landing on all but the smoothest surfaces.

You may be wondering what you are supposed to do with all of the carbon rods you still have lying there in a pile? The Pluma airframe utilizes quite a few carbon struts and braces which really stiffen the airframe up nicely. When installing and gluing them however, make sure you use a perfectly flat building surface. A little extra attention here will go a long way towards ending up with a very straight and true plane.




She went together fast, didn't she? Don't rush out the door just yet however. It is wise to spend a few moments setting up the control throws and verifying a correct center of gravity. If you wait until you are out at the flying field and ready to maiden the plane, adrenaline may cloud your faculties a bit.

Control Throws
Control Surface Low RateHigh Rate 3D Rate
Elevator 1" (25mm) 17° 1-3/8" (35mm) 26° 2-1/8" (55mm) 46°
Rudder 1-9/16" (40mm) 19° 2-3/4" (70mm) 36° 3-7/8" (100mm) 56°
Ailerons 1-9/16" (40mm) 27° 2-3/8" (60mm) 43° 2-7/8" (75mm) 58°

Center of Gravity:
Indoor Flying 2-5/8" (67mm) from the leading edge of upper wing
Outdoor Flying 2-1/2" (63mm) from the leading edge of upper wing
Total CG range is from 1-3/4" (44mm) forward to 3-5/16" (85mm) aft.
Do NOT fly if outside this range!

With the outdoor power system installed, my All-Up-Weight came in at 10.4 ounces.

Flying

Basics

I was sent two different power systems for this review: One is designed to keep the Pluma as light as possible for flying indoors, the other is a slightly heavier outdoor setup. I first flew the Pluma on the more powerful outdoor setup, and on calmer days, this combination makes for great fun! I have even had the Pluma out on days where the winds were 5-10 MPH, and it is still entirely manageable in my opinion. (There was one instance where I flew it just a little too long and was unable to make it back to the runway when the power sagged due to the battery hitting its low voltage cutoff threshold.) A half a pound worth of plane will get pushed downwind and it will not take too much wind to do it, but the outdoor power system has plenty of oomph to overcome it and also climb straight up vertically and then some.



I installed the indoor power system with the hopes of flying indoors at a recently discovered nearby indoor flying venue. But I first took it down to the local park and gave it a whirl. I immediately noticed a change in its flight characteristics. The loss of weight achieved by going with a smaller motor, speed controller and lipoly battery is readily apparent. The Pluma will still go vertical but it takes almost full throttle to do it. And any wind at all will have its way with the Pluma, requiring you to manage the throttle even more aggressively. I was eagerly looking forward to flying it indoors to see how the indoor power system performed in its intended environment. To my dismay, the regular crowd of attendees were visibly perturbed when the Pluma rolled out onto the gymnasium floor. They shook their heads in an obvious sign of disapproval, telling me they thought the Pluma was too large for the gym and that it would disrupt the flight of their free flight models with the prop wash from it's massive 8 inch prop! Not being one to rock the boat, I decided this visiting newbie should not upset the old timers if at all possible.

I am still on the search for another venue to have some indoor fun with the Pluma. I was a little let down that I could not file a report on how it behaves in the "perfect air" that an indoor venue provides.

Taking Off and Landing

As the first flight reports of the Pluma started rolling in, I noticed several folks complaining about perceived weaknesses in the Pluma's landing gear. But it appears that it was not designed to handle a rough runway surface; And no wonder: it was designed as a super lightweight aerobatic and 3D plane. Adding a lot of extra weight and mass in the way of more robust landing gear would probably somewhat sacrifice the excellent flight performance.

Takeoffs and landings are not difficult at all. A deft touch on the controls will assuredly prevent any damage to the landing gear but set her down hard or try to roll out on a bumpy surface and you will probably jar the gear loose or break a wheel pant. Although my first outdoor landing snapped a wheel pant, paying closer attention to throttle and flare on subsequent landings prevented any repeats. Minimize the length of the roll out on both take off and landing and the actual impact of the touch down and you will minimize, if not eliminate, the need to keep the CA handy. I decided it best to hand launch the Pluma when flying it outdoors, unless a very smooth runway is available.

The hand launches are a piece of cake! Hook a pair of fingers under the leading edge of the top wing, aim the nose up at about a 45 degree angle, power up and let her go!

Aerobatics/Special Flight Performance

Though my thumbs have yet to tap into into the golden powers possessed by the thumbs of the Nintendo generation, I can fly aerobatics and 3D. And the Pluma is a thoroughbred! Tracking is excellent and the extreme throw rates enable some wild, tumbling aerobatics. The outdoor power system pulls hard, and the Pluma is capable of handling a light breeze when so equipped. Pulling the nose into the vertical results in a solid, locked-in hover. And there is still ample power remaining to pull out of the hover. Knife edge requires but a whisper of rudder. When attached, the air brakes slow the Pluma noticeably on the down lines. Knife edge loops are possible and great fun too! The large rudder is capable of absolutely sick throws!








Is This For a Beginner?

Assuredly NO! Though the Pluma is by no means difficult to fly, it will definitely stay in whatever tumbling orientation you put it in. If you fly into it, you had better be able to fly it back out of it. Its construction, though stiff and sturdy thanks to the abundance of carbon bracing, is at the same time relatively delicate. Set it down hard, and you will be reaching for the glue bottle. A little finesse on the throttle and elevator is required when landing, and beginners have often not progressed to the point where they can confidently and repeatedly reconnect with the terra firma with no more impact than, say, a ball cap hitting the ground.

Flight Video/Photo Gallery




















Downloads

Conclusion

No sir, the Pluma is clearly NOT just another profile bipe. If you think you have flown or seen them all, you are dead to wrong and owe it to yourself to give the Pluma a flight or two. Indoors or outdoors, it will gladly accept and fly on several different power systems. Switching out to the lighter power system involves 5 minutes with a Phillips screwdriver and it is easy to hit the correct CG with either power system thanks to the large under belly gear compartment. The Pluma is a great tool to practice and improve your aerobatics and 3D maneuvers and skills.

The abundance of carbon in the kit keeps the Pluma light and yet strong. The large control surfaces can be set up for massive amounts of throw, which enable extreme aerobatics and 3D flight. Just use a little extra care when carrying it around, as bumping it into a doorway or wall will subject it to stresses not encountered in normal flight.

Pluses:

  • Very quick building kit
  • Lightweight airframe is very rigid , thanks to an abundance of carbon bracing
  • Quick change power systems for either indoor or outdoor flying
  • Possible aerobatics and 3D moves are only limited by your thumbs' imagination
  • Vibrant color scheme "pops" in flight
  • Excellent value and price

Minuses:

  • Easy to damage while carrying or loading into the car unless you move in slowly.

Last edited by Angela H; Nov 20, 2008 at 02:51 PM..

Discussion

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Old Nov 23, 2008, 08:32 AM
the guy
Joined Mar 2007
192 Posts
great review, but do you think you could post a smaller size video for the dial-up users here?


Edd
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Old Nov 23, 2008, 10:49 AM
KK6MQJ
Bajora's Avatar
Joined Sep 2004
13,704 Posts
I'll have one up in Vimeo in a bit!
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Old Nov 23, 2008, 12:27 PM
War Eagle!
Spackles94's Avatar
Birmingham, Alabama
Joined Feb 2007
7,876 Posts
Jon,

Wonderful review! I really enjoyed reading it, and the video and photos are great!

It looks like a fun plane, indeed.

Couple of thoughts:

— Looking at the photos, it looks like you didn't always have the speed brakes installed. Did you notice much of a difference flying with or without them?

— Sorry you didn't get to fly indoors, but to a certain extent I agree with the indoor folks. Nine ounces is borderline for indoor flight, at least in my opinion.

Again, nicely done!
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Old Nov 23, 2008, 01:12 PM
KK6MQJ
Bajora's Avatar
Joined Sep 2004
13,704 Posts
Hopefully this is small enough!?

Electrifly Pluma RC Biplane (2 min 15 sec)
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Old Nov 23, 2008, 07:36 PM
Aerobatic Fanatic
HugoCraft's Avatar
United States, KY, Louisville
Joined Sep 2007
2,886 Posts
I just bought this plane at my LHS and putting it together waiting on the indoor setup to come in the mail. I just need to find a better indoor site. But so far I like it and I never had a flat foamie or anything inside minus my vapor and mCx. But the funny thing is I also have and enjoy my eflite edge540 BP which is in the last picture!!! Similar tastes in planes?
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Old Nov 23, 2008, 08:14 PM
↓↘→ + (punch)
theKM's Avatar
central PA.
Joined Sep 2004
20,189 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by BARNESJONR
Hopefully this is small enough!?
yup! ...them moon shots are very nice indeed.


Can't believe that the indoor guys made a fuss, sounds like you need an indoor group that's more about RC... I don't agree with Napo at all, 9oz doesn't mean much at all. It's still about the wing loading and isn't bad at all with such a floaty plane, just the prudes around need to allow it.
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Old Nov 23, 2008, 10:33 PM
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echoplanar's Avatar
Lafayette, CA
Joined Aug 2002
2,767 Posts
I liked that landing at the end .

-Jon
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Old Nov 24, 2008, 05:42 AM
Dr. Dave
USA
Joined Nov 2005
1,316 Posts
As always Jon, great job. Thanks for posting the Vimeo. Seems like these planes give a new meaning to landing roll out.
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Old Nov 24, 2008, 07:39 AM
War Eagle!
Spackles94's Avatar
Birmingham, Alabama
Joined Feb 2007
7,876 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by theKM
yup! ...them moon shots are very nice indeed.


Can't believe that the indoor guys made a fuss, sounds like you need an indoor group that's more about RC... I don't agree with Napo at all, 9oz doesn't mean much at all. It's still about the wing loading and isn't bad at all with such a floaty plane, just the prudes around need to allow it.
Well, yeah, I think you're right to a certain extent, and I was mostly wrong. I actually meant to go on and edit my comment. With such a wing loading, it should be a nice, floaty plane.

The thing is, I saw on the Vapor review where he flies indoors, and it does look like a bunch of old-timers — nothing wrong with them, but I can imagine why they don't want "that new fancy stuff" to fly there.

Plus (correct me if I'm wrong, Jon), but it did look like it wasn't all that big — maybe a basketball court — though it did have some high ceilings...

The bottom line is... Nice plane!

And yes, very cool landing!
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Old Nov 24, 2008, 07:42 AM
KK6MQJ
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Joined Sep 2004
13,704 Posts
Yeah, I was a LITTLE nervous about trying to fly it there, as it is not a HUGE indoor venue? BUT, I REALLY wanted to get some indoor video and stills. I only intended to take her up for one flight or two maybe.

I am still on the search for a larger/better indoor venue and will add media here if/when I find one and get some indoor stick time on this fun bipe!
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Old Nov 24, 2008, 08:03 AM
War Eagle!
Spackles94's Avatar
Birmingham, Alabama
Joined Feb 2007
7,876 Posts
No worries, Jon — I've flown in small indoor venues (probably a bit smaller than yours), and the walls really close in on you quickly. It's better to find a better place...

... and save that spot for Vapor-flying goodness.
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Last edited by Spackles94; Nov 26, 2008 at 07:32 AM. Reason: Typo
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Old Nov 26, 2008, 01:07 AM
No Guts, No Glory
flyin C's Avatar
Simi Valley, CA
Joined Feb 2007
2,024 Posts
thanks for the great review!
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Old Nov 26, 2008, 10:42 AM
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danrc's Avatar
Rockford Illinois
Joined Jan 2008
2,327 Posts
Great review. I would recommend sticking to slightly larger indoor venues for the Pluma, even if you put on the air brakes. I flew it in an area just larger than a single basketball court and I felt like I was doing more collision avoidance and re-gluing than I would have liked. A larger soccer field-type indoor arena would be ideal.
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Old Dec 06, 2008, 10:49 AM
williamk1956
Joined Jun 2007
104 Posts
My Pluma has been a blast to fly. I really welcome the larger foam planes in this price range. I hope we see more in this size/ price range from Great Planes. How about a well designed monoplane?
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