UltraFly PC9 Review

Pat Mattes explores a great flying, well mannered aerobat that goes together easy and flies like a charm!

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Introduction


Wingspan:32"
Wing Area:194 sq. in.
Weight:19 oz spec (20 actual)
Length:31"
Wing Loading:14.8 oz/sq. ft.
Servos:Futaba 3103
Transmitter:Futaba T4-NBL
Receiver:Futaba R114H
Battery:8-cell 600AE
LiPoly Battery:3-cell Tanic Pack
Motor:Falcon 400 geared 3:1
Brushless Motor:UltraFly A/30/24
ESC:Great Planes ElectriFly C-30
Manufacturer:UltraFly Model Corporation
Available From:Tower Hobbies

The PC-9 is one of many immediately recognizable aircraft manufactured by Pilatus Aircraft. It has wide-ranging utility, ranging from military to training to aerobatic applications. The PC-9 is a beautiful aircraft, and boasts state-of-the-art technologies and an ability to perform 3.5G negative and 7.0G positive aerobatic maneuvers.

Available in a much smaller version, and just as versatile and aerobatic as its larger cousin, is the PC-9 from UltraFly Model Corporation. This rendition is a lot more affordable than the big one, but still manages to put an ear-to-ear grin on your face!

This review of the PC-9 is the third article in a series on UltraFly Model Corporation and their recently announced line of foam ARF models. The most recently published article on E Zone was the Hawk Review, a scale model of the Navy T-45 Goshawk. Also available is the Interview with Charlie Hua, UltraFly’s chairman, here on The E Zone. This review is intended to point out assembly highlights and suggested improvements, not a point-by-point instruction manual.

Kit Contents

The PC-9 kit included injection-molded polystyrene foam major components, all required hardware, foam glue, decals, and a specifically engineered motor/gearbox combination. It also included two sheets of full color decals, a supplemental decal sheet, and an instruction manual. (Please note the airframe specifications chart in the manual is incorrect, but the box-art spec chart is fine.)

Additional Equipment provided for this Review

The following items were provided for both the Hawk review and this PC-9. Thanks to R/C Toys Inc. for the Tanic Packs, and to Futaba USA/Great Planes for their support!

Assembly

Foam Part Preparation

All parts were molded very precisely. The mold-vent bumps on the foam were minimal, and were small enough to nearly be ignored. Still, I lightly sanded them to make sure the decals would go on without any of the bumps showing through.

Fuselage

Prior to joining the fuselage halves, the exit holes for the elevator and rudder control rods were cleared. The fuselage halves were then joined using the provided foam glue, and temporarily held with a light-tack masking tape.

Wing

While doing the Hawk review, I used the provided decals to cover the aileron torque rod and fiberglass reinforcement channels. While assembling the PC-9, I noticed the channels would be on the top side of the wing in a very visible location. I deviated from the instructions at this point, and filled in the channels with pre-mixed micro-balloon filler. I only used enough to fill the gap, it was not necessary to completely fill the channel.

Stabilizer and Fin

The elevator was carefully cut away from the stabilizer, and the leading edge prepared. As with the ailerons, very little bevel work was required due to the design.

The PC-9 also incorporated many self-aligning features into its design, much as the Hawk did. These were very beneficial in the assembly process.

Canopy

The vacuum-formed plastic canopy was trimmed to the mark line and trial-fitted to the foam base.

The front mounting plate and the magnetic latch hardware were then attached. (The canopy was not permanently installed at this point.)

Gearbox and Cowl

The hole locations were marked while everything was aligned, and a small drill used to make pilot holes. All motor and cowl components were removed, and larger holes drilled in the cowl to allow the screws to pass through cleanly. The motor mounting beam was then epoxied in place.

Decals/Painting

When I did the Hawk review I had some difficulty with the decals. There was a production problem whereby the color layer could separate from the adhesive layer, rendering the decal useless. UltraFly Models was looking into this problem, as mentioned in the Hawk review. The PC-9 was from the same vintage of kits and while applying the decals I had similar problems. Since there was little painting that was required to maintain the “stock” scheme, I opted to use Testors’ brand model spray paint for the main portions, and use the smaller decals to supplement.

I used standard “red” and “gloss black” colors to replace the decal scheme. I painted the canopy base with black, and while the paint was still tacky allowed the canopy to bond to the canopy base. I used the existing decal to help create a mask for the fuselage portion ahead of the canopy, and then painted it black as well. While painting the red portions of the vertical fin and wing tips, I was careful to mask all unpainted parts. Even with these precautions, the static nature of the styrofoam attracted some over-spray.

The smaller decals were more easily handled and did not exhibit the color separation during handling as the other decals did. I cut out and installed the remaining decals and installed them on the plane.

Final Preparations

I charged the 8-cell 600AE battery pack, and measured the current flow. The gearbox ratio was 3:1, and with the provided APC 8x8 prop, the Falcon 400 motor pulled 10 amps with the plane held static. This was a final check to ensure there wouldn’t be any motor or controller failures in the air.

Pre-Flight Preparation

A transmitter range check was performed, and the balance point verified. The PC-9 balanced perfectly with the battery and RC equipment position shown in previous photographs.

As always, pictures of the completed plane were taken PRIOR to the first flight....

First Flights

I put a few clicks of up-trim in the elevator for launch. I armed the speed controller, engaged the motor at full throttle and ran with it a few steps. I threw the PC-9 forward, and it started climbing straight and level. It turned out I really didn’t need the up-trim, as I quickly needed to put it back to neutral. The PC-9 continued to climb out well. I leveled off and flew around to determine it’s flying characteristics.

There were no surprises. The PC-9 flew straight and level, and had solid control and stability. Within just a few laps, I began trying rolls, loops, and inverted flight. Rolls were scale in rate, and decently axial. Loops were very easy and the Falcon 400 pulled through them without slowing down. Inverted flight was just as solid as normal flight. There is not enough control throw at the recommended settings to do an outside loop, but still plenty of authority to pull up after flying across the field upside down. Flight time was about 4-5 minutes, followed by a landing that was simply beautiful, with the PC-9 slowing down nicely and settling in on its belly.

I did not have a 10-cell pack in the required configuration, so I jumped right into the Lithium Polymers. The 1550mah Tanic Packs provided by R/C Toys Inc. had 12C capability and a unique feature allowing individual cell charging to ensure voltage matching, or series charging of the entire pack. I hooked up the 2-cell pack and measured about 8 amps of current draw. The PC-9 still balanced with the light weight LiPo pushed all the way to the front of the battery bay, but was 3 oz lighter. Even though there was less power being consumed, the overall performance of the PC-9 was the same at the lighter weight as was the 8-cell Nicad. All the same maneuvers were performed as with the first flight, as well as some practice at stall turns. I had more time in the air with the LiPo pack, and was able to try a few more things than previously. I had to force the PC-9 to a stall, and when it did it was a pretty minor one. I spent a fair amount of time at low speed as well, and the plane remained easily under control throughout the speed range. I did find that it liked a small amount of rudder input with the ailerons for a coordinated turn, but the mix rate would only be around 5% or so. The sky grew dark long before I was ready for it to, and reluctantly I decided it best to land. Flight time had been about 15 minutes since I was flying a mix of full and partial throttle settings. As with the first flight, the landing was an absolute breeze.

The third flight was powered by the 3-cell Tanic Pack. Without checking to see what the stock 8x8 prop would pull, I changed to an APC 8x3.8 and the current draw was around 10 amps. The extra voltage of the 3-cell pack improved the climb power, but the overall result wasn’t as much as I expected. After that flight, I put the original 8x8 prop back on and measured the current. With the 3-cell Tanic, the current draw was 14 amps, a little high, but a lot lower than I had expected. Knowing that the draw would lessen somewhat in flight, I went ahead with the launch. The result was impressive! The PC-9 moved right on out, and had strong vertical power. Although only a few extra amps of current, the performance increase was far greater than the 30% improvement the raw numbers indicated. And even at the higher flat-line speed and dive speeds, the PC-9 continued to track like an arrow. The loops were made a lot larger with the additional power, and the rolls a lot faster with the increased airspeed. This was an awesome configuration! As an 8-cell plane the performance was nice, and was suitable for an everyday airplane. With a 10-cell pack (which I didn’t have in the required configuration), I’m sure the performance would be getting closer to the 3-cell LiPo pack. With the 3-cell LiPo, the lower weight was a real benefit and the result was a real sportster to fly. I did have the canopy pop loose, and found it necessary to add some clear tape at the back to ensure it stayed on during maneuvers. Flight time was back to around 6-7 minutes due to the higher consumption rate, and the fact I had a hard time backing off the throttle.

UltraFly Brushless Motor Upgrade

Knowing how much the UltraFly brushless motors improved the power on the Hawk, I was almost hesitant putting that much more power up front. “Almost” hesitant, that is…

UltraFly had provided two of their brushless motors for use for these reviews, the A/30/24 and A/30/29 (2400 and 2900 KV, respectively). These motors are "outrunner" type brushless motors, but have an outer case that allows them to be mounted like conventional motors. Detailed specs of these motors are available on the UltraFly Model Corporation website.

The use of these motors required a brushless speed controller, so I grabbed one of my existing ones and wired it in place.

The A/30/24 and A/30/29 both weigh approximately 1 ounce less than the stock Falcon 400. The PC-9 was very close to needing a small amount of nose weight with the Falcon 400 and the 3-cell Lithium, and there was no room to relocate equipment. This lighter brushless motor pushed having that nose weight to a requirement. After installation of the motor, and the 1-ounce nose weight, I made sure the balance point was correct.

With the A/30/24 installed on the gearbox, and the original 8x8 prop on, the current draw with the 3-cell Tanic Pack was 11.8 amps. This was less current than with the Falcon 400 (14 amps), but the static prop pull felt equal to if not greater than the Falcon. I launched the PC-9 with this setup and the in-flight performance confirmed my original thoughts. The efficiency of the brushless motor was more than enough to overcome the lower current draw. With the same performance, or better, of the Falcon 400, the flight time was around 10 minutes.

The final trial was the installation of the A/30/29. This was an quick changeover due to easy pinion change. With the 8x8 prop and the 3-cell Tanic, the current draw hovered around 16.5 amps. I launched at just half throttle, and it climbed extremely well. There was no problem doing loops and rolls at this setting. I then threw the throttle forward to full and pointed it skyward. The PC-9 went vertical and had no problem maintaining that direction. The power was simply phenomenal. I reduced throttle for the descent back to earth, leveled off and hit the throttle again. The energy going to the prop with this setup caused the PC-9 to “jump”, literally. Acceleration was practically instantaneous, and the plane sped up and zoomed down the runway. I gently pulled back on the elevator at the end of the field and did an incredibly high half-loop. The speed and power of this setup gave me too many temptations – I had to be careful to not get going too fast on a downhill run. Inverted flight was no problem, and with the additional power I accomplished an outside loop. After countless vertical climbs and high speed runs down the field, I tried one more maneuver. With the stock rudder deflection settings I performed knife edge flight with the PC-9 the entire length of the field and more. This demonstrated the raw power (despite the light weight) this setup had. I landed at this point to check the battery. It was not much more than just warm, same as with the motor. Although the high current draw would result in a flying time of around 4-5 minutes at full throttle, the fact I was using throttle management still allowed for a flight time in excess of 7 minutes.

Flight Video/Photo Gallery

Downloads

Conclusions:

As with the Hawk, the PC-9 assembly was easy. The design is well thought out, and the use of self-alignment features kept everything aligned nicely while the glue cured. Radio installation took literally “minutes” overall, and I can only imagine how fast this plane would go together without taking the time to document notes and take pictures for a review. The decals still exhibited the color layer separation problem as was discovered during the Hawk review, but for the PC-9 review I actually welcomed the opportunity to put down some paint. (During the final editing of this review, I received confirmation from UltraFly that the decal problem was resolved. Some kits with original decals remain "in the queue", but U.S. distribution with the new decals should only be a month or two out).

The Futaba micro servos were top notch, and a great selection for this plane. The Futaba receiver and Electri-Fly speed controller worked flawlessly, as well. The Tanic Packs provided for long duration and light weight. Their ability to handle high currents made them very versatile anywhere from 8 amp to 20 amp current draws.

Flying the PC-9 was a real joy. It was straight and true, and wouldn’t have required any trim adjustments for the first flight. As mentioned earlier, I added elevator trim for the initial launch and removed it during flight. When I landed I discovered all control surfaces were centered perfectly with their mating parts. The PC-9 has plenty of power in its stock configuration, and really kicks with the addition of just the Lithium Polymer battery. With the A/30/24 brushless and the 3-cell Tanic, the performance was simply awesome. It was nice having that amount of power at my fingertips. The PC-9 is a well mannered, solid tracking airplane that flies as well in a nice leisurely fashion as it does in an all-out performance run.

Thread Tools
Nov 09, 2004, 12:40 AM
Boffin
rpage53's Avatar

Glider Version?


Great review again Pat. I want to build one in the RCAF Harvard II colours.
Any idea if they sell it without the motor? Especially as they also sell a brushless motor option, the can motor is redundant.

Thanks,
Rick.
Nov 09, 2004, 09:21 AM
RC Player
No glider version for a short term! Maybe next Spring!
Nov 10, 2004, 11:30 AM
Boffin
rpage53's Avatar
I don't think I can wait but that's OK. Its still a good price.

Thanks,
Rick.
Nov 11, 2004, 05:55 PM
know it all
Good review Pat, I would like to see a review of the trainer model they offer.. even has flaps and two wings!

Herm
Nov 12, 2004, 12:37 PM
Imposing TeddyBear
Papakeith's Avatar
Nicely done review. would you suggest this model as a pilots first low wing plane?
I've got Ultrafly's Cessna right now, and couldn't be more pleased with the performance I've gotten out of it. Your review has me seriously thinking about purchasing one of their brushless motors though.

Herm-
Not a review per se, but this thread has lots of information on the Ultrafly cessna.
https://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=265603
Jan 20, 2005, 06:14 PM
Suspended Account
I built this plane recently and have been flying it. Its my first low-wing plane
and has worked out real well. It doesnt seem to have any bad habits at all.
The amazing thing is how slow it can fly. I can fly it in a small park making
tight circles.
Jan 20, 2005, 07:58 PM
RC Player
Hi Keith,

As Microflite said, it can be slow down!
To make this model fit for a slow flight low wing trainer, please adjust 2 things.
1. Change the propeller to 9x6sf use only 9.6V
2. Reduce the Aileron and Elevator thraw by 30%. If Radio has exp function set it to 50%.
After these it will be a good first low wing model. All the original setting is for extreme manuever and fun!

Charlie
May 19, 2005, 09:34 PM
Registered User

Ultrafly Model PC-9 w/Speed 400 Park Flyer ARF 32"


Built y fiest plane with ailerons all trows,cg set great.had maiden flight then it happened i puled back to get some alititude and the she went straight down controls were set backwards.. so glued the wingwhere the screw is attached fixed motor mount the tried again..but this time really had no control and it seemed to be very nose heavy!!
again i have never flown a plane with ailerons before..i have to re-check CG again but also motor does not seem to have enough power as well i think..
any suggestion i am all ears.
May 30, 2005, 06:53 AM
Speckled Trout Chaser
l454s's Avatar

Pc9


This is a first electric plane for a long time RC flyer. I am putting a package together and need some advise. I ordered this PC9, a Kokam 3 cell 1500ma pack, and a JES020 20amp brushed controller.

I will assemble kit and test fly here, but then will be sending it to my son at Ft. Bragg. He is a good flyer with many years of flying.

I have read about the limited life of the original brushed motor, should I get a BL motor and BL controller now and send it along for replacement or just wait?

I saw where the brushed motor is available for $9.50, would it be better to get a couple extra brushed motors instead? Not really concerned about extra speed, just reliability. Thanks...Lenny in New Orleans.
Jun 09, 2005, 10:00 PM
RC Player
Get a brushless! As long as the motor is not heart in a crash then it is fine and durable.

Charlie
Feb 02, 2006, 07:28 AM
Registered User
Quote:
Originally Posted by charlie2020
Hi Keith,

As Microflite said, it can be slow down!
To make this model fit for a slow flight low wing trainer, please adjust 2 things.
1. Change the propeller to 9x6sf use only 9.6V
2. Reduce the Aileron and Elevator thraw by 30%. If Radio has exp function set it to 50%.
After these it will be a good first low wing model. All the original setting is for extreme manuever and fun!

Charlie
Any tips on tecnique for hand launching? Never done it before and don't want to get into the "ah Crap!" mode with the transmitter in one hand, half a PC9 in the other and the other half dancing all over the ground at WOT. I know it's probably best to have someone launch while the pilot stands by on the controls....But, I'll have a hard time getting help..with my schedule, and then I get impatient.
Feb 02, 2006, 10:25 AM
Speed Freak
Spid's Avatar
Hi preich,

I maidened mine last weekend and hand launching it when without a hitch. Most of the planes I fly are hand launch/belly land. I'm running stock motor/prop with a 11.1v 2100Mah lipo. Grabbed it around the fuse at the trailing edge of the wing (like I normally do with all of my low wing planes), gave it 3/4 throttle and a nice level overhand throw. I didn't have to throw it hard as the plane had alot of pull, just a nice level toss and it tracked straight and true. Great plane! Flies where you point it and the stock motor/prop with a 3 cell lipo has plenty of power (imho).

Happy flying!
Feb 02, 2006, 06:12 PM
Registered User
Quote:
Originally Posted by Spid
Hi preich,

I maidened mine last weekend and hand launching it when without a hitch. Most of the planes I fly are hand launch/belly land. I'm running stock motor/prop with a 11.1v 2100Mah lipo. Grabbed it around the fuse at the trailing edge of the wing (like I normally do with all of my low wing planes), gave it 3/4 throttle and a nice level overhand throw. I didn't have to throw it hard as the plane had alot of pull, just a nice level toss and it tracked straight and true. Great plane! Flies where you point it and the stock motor/prop with a 3 cell lipo has plenty of power (imho).

Happy flying!
That was with the stock 8X8 prop, stock 400 motor and a 3 cell LiPo? I was going to start with a 9X6SF and a 2 cell LiPo. I was going to reduce aileron and elevator by 30% and use -50% expo. That's what everyone seems to be suggesting. What do you think?

Did you notice any tendencies to torque roll? How was the trim? I'm affraid that this thing is going to take a hard left or right roll into the ground before I can get control of it.
Feb 02, 2006, 09:34 PM
Speed Freak
Spid's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by preich
That was with the stock 8X8 prop, stock 400 motor and a 3 cell LiPo? I was going to start with a 9X6SF and a 2 cell LiPo. I was going to reduce aileron and elevator by 30% and use -50% expo. That's what everyone seems to be suggesting. What do you think?

Did you notice any tendencies to torque roll? How was the trim? I'm affraid that this thing is going to take a hard left or right roll into the ground before I can get control of it.
Yup, stock motor/prop and a 3 cell lipo with a CC pixie 20 esc. I don't have any reduction programed in but am using 20% expo. Plane flies great for me. Yes, at full throttle on launch it torque rolled pretty hard and quick, backing down to 3/4 throttle on subsequent launches eliminated the majority of that in my case. A few clicks of right trim with a nice toss on launch and she heads out nice and gets on step. Settles in really nice for landings too!


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