Horizon Hobby E-flite UMX Aero Commander BNF Basic with AS3X - RCGroups Review - RC Groups

Horizon Hobby E-flite UMX Aero Commander BNF Basic with AS3X - RCGroups Review

E-flite's newest UMX is the Iconic Aero Commander. Check out this review to learn the secrets of getting in the air quickly. We'll also find out if a UMX model that looks this good could possibly fly as good as the full-scale.

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Introduction

E-flite Aero Commander
Wingspan:28.15 in
Length:20.15 in
Wing Area:119.0 sq in
Weight:5.1 to 5.6 oz.
Wing Loading:8.7 oz/sq ft
Radio:Minimum 4 Channel DSMX/DSM2
Battery:450-800 2S 7.4v Lipo
Motor:180BL 3000KV X2
Prop:120mm x 70mm 3-blade X2
Transmitter:Spektrum Dx18 G2
Available From:Horizon Hobby through your local hobby shop
Street Price:$149.99

The Aero Commander was conceived as an executive aircraft suitable for transporting CEO's in style or letting the CEO's fly themselves. By the late 1960's, the Aero Commander had earned a reputation as one of the sexiest planes in the world and the ultimate "Pilot's Airplane." That image was further enhanced by former fighter pilot Bob Hoover. Bob flew spectacular aerobatic routines around the world in a stock airframe Aero Commander. His routine included several maneuvers performed with one or both engines turned off. The finale of the routine involved shutting off BOTH engines at altitude, diving low and pulling up into a loop, completing the loop and performing an 8 or 16 point roll, performing a 180 degree turn, landing, and taxiing all the way up to the grandstands, deadstick. It's no wonder the Aero Commander was one of the most lusted after planes in the world and was considered the very best business-twin of the day.

Here's a video clip of Bob Hoover and the Aero Commander at the Cleveland National Air Show in 1986.

1986 Cleveland National Air Show Bob Hoover demonstration (5 min 53 sec)

E-flite's UMX Aero Commander

E-flite has recently released their UMX version of the Aero Commander. The graphics may not match Bob Hoover's Aero Commander, but let's see if the performance will.

First Impressions

My first impression was WOW, what a sweet looking plane! It was also a bit larger than I had expected. When I checked out the Aero Commander's specs, it was actually bigger than the UMX B-25. With twin 3000 kV brushless motors, the Aero Commander should perform even better than the B-25.

Time to get this baby out of the box.

Kit Contents

The Aero Commander arrived completely assembled and safely nestled in it's shipping/carry box.

Here's a list of what's in the box:

  • CF reinforced foam airframe
  • 2 180 size 3000kV brushless outrunner motors
  • 4 2.3 gram linear long-throw servos
  • AS3X stabilized receiver with dual ESCs
  • 60-page multi-language Instruction Manual

Required Parts

  • Minimum 4-channel full-range DSMX/DSM2 transmitter with dual rates
  • 450-800mAh 2S LiPo flight battery

Parts Supplied by Horizon for this Review

For this review, Horizon Hobby supplied an E-flite 800 mAh 2S 30C LiPo Battery.

Assembly

Well, technically there was NO assembly required for the Aero Commander, but there were a few transmitter settings needed before the first flight.

The 60-page multi-language Instruction Manual (15 pages in English) detailed the transmitter programming and set up process for the Aero Commander. The manual included airframe adjustment's as well as repair and troubleshooting suggestions.

There is NO SAFE Mode

The printed Instruction Manual included with the Aero Commander showed using the Gear Switch (Channel 5) to change from SAFE Mode to AS3X Mode. However, the UMX receiver in the Aero Commander does NOT have SAFE Mode available. The online Manual has removed the references to SAFE Mode and I assume the next revision of the printed Manual will also incorporate this change. The Aero Commander is always in AS3X Mode.

Transmitter Programming

My Dx18G2 transmitter was programmed according to the table on Page 5 of the Manual. Aileron, Elevator, and Rudder Dual Rates were set to 70% for Low and 100% for High. The manual did not recommend programming any Exponential into the flight channels.

Completion

The completed Aero Commander weighed 5.6 ounces, with the 800 mAh 2S battery, RTF. The plane balanced perfectly at 20mm back from the leading edge of the wing with the battery installed all the way to the back of the battery area.

The transmitter countdown timer was set for 8 minutes and set to start and run at any throttle setting above 20%.

Flying

The E-flite Aero Commander is a small scale model of an aerobatic civilian business-twin. To remain true to its full scale heritage, the model should exhibit stable low speed capabilities as well as Air Show aerobatic maneuverability. Will this model fly as well as Bob Hoover's Aero Commander? There's only one way to find out. Let's get flying!

Taxi Testing

Before the first flight, taxi testing showed the nose wheel steering to be very sensitive. At speed, any minor course corrections, even on low rate rudder, caused the Aero Commander to veer to the left or right. Once the rudder low rate was reduced from 70% to 30%, the Aero Commander was easily controlled even at takeoff speed. Thus low rate rudder was used for takeoffs and landings and high rate rudder was used for everything else.

Taking Off and Landing

Gear On

With rudder rates set to low, takeoffs were nice and straight. A slow and even application of throttle would result in a nice scale takeoff roll and a scale departure angle. A quick jab to full throttle would result in an almost instantaneous takeoff and a near vertical departure angle! This Aero Commander has HEAPS of thrust, so the choice is up to the pilot - Scale or Wail. It's nice to have the option.

The best landings were those where a little throttle was carried all the way to touchdown. The Aero Commander was so light that killing the throttles on final seemed to loose too much airspeed.

The AS3X technology was amazing for both takeoffs and landings. Wind gusts were a non-issue and the Aero Commander was rock solid.

Gear Off

The landing gear were easily removed to look more like the full-scale Aero Commander in the air. The AS3X stabilization made hand launches a non-event. 3/4 throttle and a gentle toss was all that was needed to get airborne. I was a little worried about prop strikes on landing, but the motors sit high enough above the bottom of the fuselage, that the props clear the ground just fine. A little throttle helped keep things lined up on final, and all the way to just a few inches above the grass. Chopping the throttle just before touchdown seemed to work best.

Scale Flight

The Aero Commander looked almost real as it moved around the pattern at 1/3 to 1/2 throttle. Using just a breath of rudder with the ailerons in the turns kept them amazingly flat. At scale speed, this model flew like a docile executive transport aircraft with impeccable manners.

Aerobatics

Did the E-flite Aero Commander live up to the aerobatic linage and legend of Bob Hoover's Aero Commander? Absolutely! The twin brushless 180 motors gave this plane an amazing level of power that Bob could only have dreamed about in the full-scale. Loops could be as large as you like, upright or inverted. Rolls were pleasant, but not drill bit fast. Snaps and spins were plenty fast when full deflection rudder was used. Knife edge flight only needed about 1/4 rudder to keep the nose up. I'm not sure if the surfaces are big enough to hold a hover, but the power level sure is tempting.

Is This For a Beginner?

The E-flite Aero Commander doesn't have any self-righting characteristics and is not suitable for the true beginner pilot. However, the AS3X gives the model such stability, that any beginner that has mastered aileron planes can easily fly the Aero Commander.

Flight Photo Gallery

The early morning Texas sun was just right as we powered up the Nikon for the Aero Commander's first flight. Jesse Webb's skills were tested to the max by the small-size Aero Commander and my first flight shenanigans. Once I stopped hot rodding and showing off, and settled down into something resembling a traffic pattern, Jesse was able to take some excellent flying shots.

Flight Video

Major props to Jesse Webb and his expertise on the Camcorder. Small fast planes are really hard to keep in the frame when you zoom in tight enough. The Camcorder was even having trouble keeping the small plane in focus as I flew back and forth across the runway area. I think Jesse did an exceptional job capturing the Aero Commander's second flight. I hope you enjoy the results.

Horizon Hobby E-flite UMX Aero Commander BNF Basic with AS3X - RCGroups Review (6 min 21 sec)

Final Thoughts

This new E-flite Aero Commander has tons of Power! The scale details look just right, and the 3-blade props are killer. This UMX Aero Commander is just as happy loafing around the pattern as it is blazing through an aerobatic sequence. I think E-flite absolutely nailed it with this Aero Commander. I hope E-flite has a whole fleet of these powerful UMX designs on the drawing board.

Pluses

  • Iconic Aero Commander Good Looks
  • Surprising Power
  • Twin Motors
  • AS3X Stabilization
  • Steerable Nose Wheel
  • Removable Gear
  • Gentle Scale Flight Characteristics
  • Nimble Aerobatic Capabilities

Minuses

  • Over Sensitive Steering
  • No SAFE technology included

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Last edited by Matt Gunn; Mar 21, 2018 at 10:41 AM..
Thread Tools
Mar 21, 2018, 10:39 AM
DFS#000178
Rampage's Avatar
Will the servos last more than 5 flights? They haven't on any of my B-25s..
Mar 21, 2018, 11:05 AM
If it's R/C, I LIKE IT!
Nikolei Zinsli's Avatar
Not bad for a lil micro!
Latest blog entry: 93" AJ Laser 230z
Mar 21, 2018, 12:23 PM
Registered User
Bill Glover's Avatar
Sweet little plane. The dihedral looks odd but is actually scale.
Mar 21, 2018, 12:59 PM
MK
MK
Registered User
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rampage
Will the servos last more than 5 flights? They haven't on any of my B-25s..
All the UMX planes that I have with linear servos, have short servo life spans. They last 1 to 1.5 flying seasons. Deoxit extends it maybe another 0.5 season. Then it's replacement time.
Mar 21, 2018, 02:04 PM
Registered User

replacement servos


Quote:
Originally Posted by MK
All the UMX planes that I have with linear servos, have short servo life spans. They last 1 to 1.5 flying seasons. Deoxit extends it maybe another 0.5 season. Then it's replacement time.
What would be reliable replacement servos for this plane?
Mar 21, 2018, 02:05 PM
Registered User
Bill Glover's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by MK
All the UMX planes that I have with linear servos, have short servo life spans. They last 1 to 1.5 flying seasons. Deoxit extends it maybe another 0.5 season. Then it's replacement time.
I think they work OK on indoor models - my Vapor is coming up for 10 years old now and servos are only just starting to play up. But the feedback design isn't the best, that's for sure.
Mar 21, 2018, 02:24 PM
We shall serve the Lord
kingsflyer's Avatar
Iím on my second season on the B25 flying indoor and out without a single servo issue to date. Aero Commander gets abused regularly as well. Servos are working great for me.

McD
Latest blog entry: LEDs on my T-28
Mar 21, 2018, 03:17 PM
Registered User
microheli's Avatar
Why is "Over Sensitive Steering" a "Minus" of the plane?
I think "Over Sensitive" is normally only a wrong expo setting.
Dual Rate work's to but expo is much better because no need for switching.
Mar 21, 2018, 04:14 PM
We shall serve the Lord
kingsflyer's Avatar
I believe the AS3X brick contains the expo settings pre programmed and the manual only lists settings for dual rates for the transmitter. I guess sensitivity is a personal preference issue, and to me, it was “too sensitive” for my preferences.

McD
Latest blog entry: LEDs on my T-28
Mar 21, 2018, 08:17 PM
Registered User
Clive66's Avatar
I agree with kingsflyer about some expo being pre-programmed in the AS3X RX.
I never add any expo with the TX on a plane with AS3X.
Makes the plane way to sluggish for me.
Tried that on a few different planes with AS3X & always ended up removing all expo.
This plane is quite easy to fly, so I don't use any dual rates either.
The nose gear is sensitive, but I haven't found that to be much of an issue.
If the gear is centered, the plane tracks very straight, with little to no input needed for take off.
Just don't get carried away with the left thumb (tiny inputs work fine for take off)
Latest blog entry: Goldberg Eagle 2
Mar 22, 2018, 05:49 AM
Registered User
Straight line tracking is aided greatly by getting the rudder and nose wheel trimmed correctly so they are in sync for going straight. If they are fighting each other it is harder to control. That said though this thing is off the ground in a few feet anyway so not much of an issue.
Mar 23, 2018, 11:24 AM
Registered User
microheli's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by locoworks
Straight line tracking is aided greatly by getting the rudder and nose wheel trimmed correctly so they are in sync for going straight. If they are fighting each other it is harder to control.
A perfect wheel trim make a straight line.
But for compensating stronger side wind effects easy and precise steering properties helps a lot. Yes the manual suggest no values but say:
"Adjust according to the individual preferences after the initial flight."
And some expo for rudder make the ground handling very easy.
Mar 23, 2018, 02:54 PM
Registered User
Buran's Avatar
Gawd I'd like this plane. I don't use Spectrum so it's too bad they don't sell PNP. With a plane this small and jittery, I'd might want AS3X.
Mar 24, 2018, 06:35 PM
Registered User
AntiArf's Avatar
28" is a large span model, in terms of micro models. Built and flown a number of models smaller than this including the Guillows's B25. Not even a thought of a need for any type of stabilization. Clear glass would be a plus, especially at this size. Not as if it's 16" span. Sticker windows mostly died out since the days of the GWS Islander. People want better scale looks now, and it's a standout feature.


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