HorizonHobby/E-flite Commander Review - RC Groups
Shop our Airplanes Products Drone Products Sales

HorizonHobby/E-flite Commander Review

It looks awesome, it builds fast and it flies great! Let's take an in-depth look at what's in the box, the build and how the Commander from E-flite flies!

Splash

We Build, Fly and Discuss the Horizon/E-flite Commander

Overview

The Commander mPd 1.4m park flyer is a joint design effort between veteran aircraft designer David Payne and the founder of Aircraft Design Studio, Mirco Pecorari. David was our demo pilot back when Jason Cole and I worked for Hobby Lobby and Mirco designed the scheme on the full scale RCGroups competition plane. The RC world is a small place!

The Commander looks like a plane that already exists but this new design blends classic lines with modern influences. So it looks like a classic and flies great to boot. It also incorporates innovative features like a Hands-Free Servo Connection System that lets you plug in or remove the wings without having to fuss with servo leads. This Bind-N-Fly Basic version also gives you the extra stability of an AS3X receiver with optional SAFE Select flight envelope protection.

There are two Commander versions available - The Bind-n-Fly basic and the Plug-n-Play .

Specs

  • BNF $229.99 - PNP $199.99
  • Approximate Assembly Time: Less than 1 Hour
  • CG (Center of Gravity): 88mm +/-3mm back from leading edge of wing at the fuselage
  • Completion Level: Bind-N-Fly Basic
  • Control Throw (Flaps): 20mm (mid) 40mm (full)
  • Control Throw - High (Ailerons): 25mm
  • Control Throw - High (Elevator): 20mm
  • Control Throw - High (Rudder): 50mm
  • Control Throw - Low (Ailerons): 18mm
  • Control Throw - Low (Elevator): 15mm
  • Control Throw - Low (Rudder): 40mm
  • Flying Weight: 62-65oz (1760-1845g)
  • Landing Gear: Yes
  • Length: 45.0 in (1143mm)
  • Material: Z-Foam
  • Minimum Required Radio: 6+ Channel Transmitter Required
  • Minimum Speed Control: 45 Amp ESC (Included)
  • Motor Size: 15 Size BL 900Kv Outrunner Motor (Included)
  • Propeller Size: 12 x 8
  • Recommended Motor Battery: 3S 2200-3200mAh Li-Po (not Included)
  • Servos: 9 gram
  • Spinner Size: 59mm Diameter
  • Stabilizer Tube Length: 250mm
  • Stabilizer Tube OD: 6mm
  • Wing Area: 550.0 sq in (35.45 sq dm)
  • Wing Tube Length: 585mm
  • Wing Tube OD: 10mm
  • Wingspan: 55.0 in (1398mm)

Features

  • Awesome design by Mirco Pecorari and David Payne (mPd)
  • Spektrum AS3X receiver with optional SAFE Select technology
  • Wide flight envelope for everything from slow flight to aerobatics
  • Factory-installed flaps for shorter takeoffs and landings
  • Innovative Hands-Free Servo Connection System
  • Goes together fast - only 8 screws required for initial assembly
  • Powerful 15-size brushless motor with 45A ESC
  • Vibrant trim scheme by Aircraft Design Studio
  • Durable aluminum landing gear with wheel pants

Design

If you feel like you have seen this plane before there is a reason. David Payne and Mirco Pecorari drew from a wide variety full-scale and model aviation influences when designing the Commander mPd park flyer. The goal was to create a great looking "classic" bird that flew like something you would expect from Horizon. Throw in the little extras like a pilot figure as well as molded-in details like ribs on the wing and elevator, panel lines, fuel caps and you get a plane you love to look at and fly!

Read my full interview with Mirco here.

Flight Envelope

Watch our video to see how solid this plane flies. You can watch the take off and "feel" how it flies on rails. We also demonstrate that the Commander has plenty of power. The flaps work great and really slow the Commander down.

Experienced pilots will find that aggressive aerobatics like rolling circles and knife-edge flight feel crisp and precise and can be performed with power to spare. While at Horizon I was surprised to see the guys flying it so aggressively!

Brushless Power System and Functional Flaps

The powerful 15-size brushless motor is paired with a 45A ESC that can handle high-output 3S 2200-3200mAh LiPo batteries. All this available power, along with the functional flaps, gives the airplane impressive short-field takeoff and landing performance in addition to its other fantastic flying qualities.

Assembly and Hands-Free Servo Connectors

Build is super intuitive. All you need is a screwdriver and some common sense. The wings are very easy to get on and off and the embedded servo leads make it even easier. (Shown in the video).

Setting this plane up on a transmitter is just as easy as the build. Here is a link to the online PDF on the build and the TX setup.

AS3X Receiver with Optional SAFE Select Technology

The model's AS3X (Artificial Stabilization - 3-axis) receiver works behind the scenes to smooth out the effects of wind and turbulence. The result is a sense of stability and precision that makes you feel like you're flying an expertly tuned aircraft. This is great for new pilots.

The real question is how does this work with experienced pilots? For a 3D aerobatic model, an AS3X system can make slow speed and knife-edge maneuvers feel much more stable and precise even when the pitch and roll rates are set extremely high. So while you don't really feel it getting in your way, it is there smoothing things out and making the wind less of a factor in your flying.

SAFE Select technology activated, you get:

  • Pitch and Bank Angle Limits - These keep the aircraft from rolling or pitching upside down. They also prevent excessive climb or dive angles during takeoff and landing.
  • Automatic Self-Leveling - Instantly returns the wings to level when the sticks are released.

Video and Photos

E-flite Commander Build and Flight Video - RCGroups.com (12 min 54 sec)

Final Thoughts

This plane builds fast and is very simple to get together. If you are looking for a building "challenge" this is not it. The scheme is not only great but it's already on the plane! If you follow the setup instructions for your transmitter you will be rewarded with a great flying plane that utilizes flaps without any hiccups. It flies like it's on rails (all on a 3s battery). You can be a total RC newbie and fly this plane or flick the switch and do some rollers (if you have that skill set).

Congrats to David and Mirco!

Big kudos to David and Mirco for doing everything so well on this plane - from the classic lines to the stable flight characteristics. The question really is...what's not to like?

Links

Head over to Horizon and learn more about the Commander.

RCGroups.com Review Policies

Our intent is to provide fair and unbiased reviews so that consumers can make informed decisions regarding new products. Some things you should know about our review process:

  • RCGroups.com review items are provided by hobby manufacturers and suppliers, some of whom may be RCGroups advertisers.
  • Review products are sent directly to independent reviewers, chosen by RCGroups.com.
  • RCGroups.com reviewers are not compensated by either RCGroups.com or the reviewed item's supplier. However, they are allowed to keep the review items at no charge.
  • Published reviews reflect the opinion of the author.
  • When a conflict arises between a review sponsor and a reviewer (which is rare), RCGroups attempts to work out a satisfactory solution for all parties. In some cases, this may mean that a finished review will go unpublished, or be subjected to editing for technical accuracy. RCGroups reserves the final say as to whether an article is fit for publication.

It is always our intent to provide a place for honest and open commentary, and to put the needs of our visitors first. If you feel that something we've published is inaccurate, please let us know using the contact form.

Thread Tools
Oct 16, 2017, 09:56 PM
We shall serve the Lord
kingsflyer's Avatar
Very nice review Jim T.

I gotta agree with you and Jason, Horizon hit it out of the park with the Commander. The AS3X stabilization makes this plane fly rock solid even in windy conditions. I got to fly a friend's Commander at SEFF in April and immediately fell in lust for it. I was warming up my CC and heading for Helen's to buy it when I won one in the SEFF Pilot's raffle! Thank You SEFF and Thank You Horizon!

McD
Latest blog entry: LEDs on my T-28
Oct 19, 2017, 09:21 AM
Registered User
Really like mine, does fly very nice, but, I've had to replace two of those cheap Spektrum A330 servos. They strip far too easy.

Alan
Guelph ON
Canada
Oct 22, 2017, 12:25 AM
A man without religion
Ironman929's Avatar
Ya I bought one too! I don't have a lot of experience with power planes, this my 4th. It has out flown any I have had in the past, especially with the SAFE help in windy conditions. I tested the SAFE system by cutting the throttle, full flaps and let it fall. It doesn't tip, dive, or fall tail heavy. It just floats to the ground like a flat sheet of plywood. I've had about 6 or 7 flights with it, and never a hard landing. I use a 3200 3s lipo pushed all the way forward and it balances perfectly.
Last edited by Ironman929; Oct 22, 2017 at 12:32 AM.
Oct 29, 2017, 08:56 PM
cmd
cmd
Registered User
cmd's Avatar
Will it hover? Is there sufficient power to fly straight up?
Oct 30, 2017, 09:24 PM
Registered User
In my top 3 flyers. Still love my Pulse but the flaps really add a nice slow land dimension that I have never had before. Very fast and at high rates this thing can go crazy in a good way.
Oct 31, 2017, 12:54 AM
A man without religion
Ironman929's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by cmd
Will it hover? Is there sufficient power to fly straight up?
I fly mine with a 3200 3s and it will climb like no tomorrow.
Oct 31, 2017, 05:53 PM
Registered User
PilotsSummer's Avatar
How long do you get with a 3200 3s?
Oct 31, 2017, 11:31 PM
A man without religion
Ironman929's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by PilotsSummer
How long do you get with a 3200 3s?
I get about 15 min. That's some stunts and more flying circuits around the field.
Nov 03, 2017, 05:34 PM
Registered User

Reviews


Have you done any bad reviews on sponsors planes
There are a lot of problems with servos and some design flaws on some of the HH products but I haven't seen these in any reviews about these just from 1st hand experience and following the forums.
Nov 03, 2017, 07:34 PM
Registered User
I like to fly the Commander aggressively in -the-box aerobatic maneuvers and turnarounds...no 3D or high alpha stuff. The plane is outstanding and my favorite aerobat. However, the plastic gear A330's aren't up to the job. I stripped four servos doing in-flight aerobatics. I replaced all four primary servos with metal geared. (the wing servo replacements are a challenge!)
I reported the problem to both Motion and Horizon and they were quick to offer servo replacements but that would not solve my problem.
It is a shame a thoroughy engineered model offering like this stops short of including servos matching its performance capabilities.
Nov 04, 2017, 08:38 AM
Registered User
Quote:
Originally Posted by cmartin
I like to fly the Commander aggressively in -the-box aerobatic maneuvers and turnarounds...no 3D or high alpha stuff. The plane is outstanding and my favorite aerobat. However, the plastic gear A330's aren't up to the job. I stripped four servos doing in-flight aerobatics. I replaced all four primary servos with metal geared. (the wing servo replacements are a challenge!)
I reported the problem to both Motion and Horizon and they were quick to offer servo replacements but that would not solve my problem.
It is a shame a thoroughy engineered model offering like this stops short of including servos matching its performance capabilities.
What servos did you use for the replacement? Where did you find them? Did you reverse the servo or did you buy it reversed?
Thanks in advance.. Rut
Nov 04, 2017, 03:20 PM
AMA 986339 FCC KB5LAM/4
davidterrell80's Avatar
I had maiden flight today. Airframe and flying characteristics are great.

Taxiing out for the second flight, i dipped in a deer footprint and a prop tip grazed the ground. It's happened a hundred times but, this time, a blade broke.

Upon autopsy, I see a couple of things. The prop blade is very slim at the root and the material present is oriented normal to the plane of rotation... a sure recipe for a broken blade. It also turns out to have a non-standard (thick) hub thickness and adapter shaft diameter so stock APC, American Airscrew, and Dynam props in the prop box would not fit. The stock props are backordered on the website.

The stock adapter is a necessary item as it incorporates a big nose weight, about the size of one-fourth of a roll of US five-cent coins (nickles). I think the extra-thick prop hub was part of getting that weight far enough out front to balance the plane.

So I'll be seeing if a bushing and some washers will allow me to use another vendor's prop.
Last edited by davidterrell80; Nov 04, 2017 at 03:25 PM.


Thread Tools

Similar Threads
Category Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Review Horizon Hobby E-flite Timber 1.5m BNF - RCGroups Review kingsflyer Electric Plane Talk 49 Nov 09, 2017 12:06 PM
Review E-flite/Horizon Carbon-Z P2 Prometheus - RCGroups Review Nikolei Zinsli 3D Flying 14 Sep 20, 2017 09:23 AM
Review E-Flite Horizon Hobby Spitfire Mk XIV 1.2M BNF Basic - RCGroups Review Michael Heer Electric Warbirds 4 Dec 20, 2016 07:55 AM
Review E-flite Carbon-Z T-28 Giant Scale Warbird by Horizon - Review kingsflyer Sport Planes 23 Jul 26, 2016 02:30 PM
Review Horizon Hobby, E-flite's 1.2m F4U-4 Corsair BNF Review Michael Heer Electric Warbirds 6 Jun 22, 2016 09:37 AM