Great Planes FlatOut Turmoil Turbulator 3D ARF Review - RC Groups
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Great Planes FlatOut Turmoil Turbulator 3D ARF Review

J. David Johnson explores this first release from the exciting new generation of 3D foamies with ultra high tech hardware and more. He finds this event-winning 3D beast to be great looking & absolutely awesome flying. The "turbulator" 3D Side Force Generators add a lot to its performance! He also found it to be amazingly lightweight, superbly crash resistant thanks to its specialized hardware, surprisingly rigid, and overall an absolute winner!

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Wing Area:291 sq. in.
Weight:8-9.5 oz.
Wing Loading:4-4.7 oz/sq. ft.
Servos:HiTec HS-55s
Transmitter:Futaba 9C
Receiver:Berg MicroStamp 4
Battery:ElectriFly 11.1 volt (3 cell) 640 mah
Motor:ElectriFly RimFire
ESC:ElectriFly BL-8
Manufacturer:Great Planes/ElectriFly

There is a tremendous demand for flat foam designs that perform. To answer this fast growing market Great Planes/ElectriFly have developed a whole new line of great looking foamies that are easy on the wallet -- AND that take the hardware to a new dimension.

The Turmoil is the plane that took first place at the EXGames this year and promises to be the "All-in-one Aerobat". Let's find out.

Kit Contents

Initially I had intended to do both a brushed and brushless setup for comparison, but using the RimFire Brushless option requires a different installation method, so I went straight for the hop-up!


The first thing I did was to read the instructions... but why? If you've built one foamie you've built them all right? WRONG! The Flatouts product line feature some innovative build techniques that make assembly easy and dramatically enhance crash resilience.

This is one well designed and thought out offering. Even the control horns use the snap on method, and feature custom clevises that not only fit tight with no slop, but make adjusting the linkages as easy as slip and slide.

The Turmoil features a single carbon fiber rod running through the fuse for stiffening and strengthening. In addition, there are servo "trays" and fuse aligners that slide on the rod that make building fast. The aligners are especially handy as they hold the fuse pieces together as you glue them.

Great Planes made things as easy and pre-built as possible. Even the slots for the snap on hinges were laser cut for perfect alignment!

Little things like the servo trays and this cute tailwheel are nice touches. Again it is easy to see the planning and thought that went into this offering.

This is one fast build -- once you learn the method, each aspect of the plane just makes sense and comes together quickly. Yet, even with all these "amenities" designed in, the weight was very light. The looks of this Turmoil is, well, awesome. A great scheme with colors that should be easy to see. The Turmoil, while light, is built very well. The nose ends up with 3 layers of foam both horizontally and vertically for a beefy feeling nose. It should hold up quite well.

The brushless upgrade consists of the Rimfire brushless outrunner and the BL-8 ESC. This is the first time I've used these new motors from ElectriFly and I was not disappointed! The motor features a built-in wobbly prop-saver while the ESC features programmability with brake control, safe-start, switching frequency, low-voltage control, timing and reverse rotation.

Another nice feature of this offering is the custom servo arms. It seems I am forever moving servos from one plane to the next, and run out of servo arms. But the Flatout series offers arms for 2 or 3 of the most popular servos that might be used. In the pic you'll also notice an Azaar Antenna. I have had very good performance and "luck" with these. They sure help reduce the problem of what to do with that long antenna.

With that, the Turmoil 3D ARF is complete... we need to get out and fly this thing... I can't wait!



Well, first the plane was VERY well powered with the RimFire and would rocket out of a hover. All-in-all the plane is very stable and smooth. More so than I expected from a flat foam offering.

Taking Off and Landing

Takeoffs? Well I just hung the plane out and gave it about 1/2 throttle. It slowly climbed from my hand and gave me PLENTY of time to get back on the sticks. Very nicely behaved hand-launches. Tests on the asphalt showed it to roll well and it would be nice for those with that surface more handy. I fly mostly over grass and so eventually the gear was removed.

With or without gear, the plane is easy to slow down and lightly plop into the grass with no harm.

Aerobatics/Special Flight Performance

Man, does this thing ROCK! It was very easy to "read" and making adjustments for hovering, harriers, etc were almost automatic. Perhaps the easy-to-see scheme had something to do with it, but it's also the inherent stability of the doesn't flip and leave you scrambling to recover. Jason Noll won the 2005 EX Games with this bird, and it's easy to see how!

I was able to do most any maneuver I wanted, including walls, blenders, elevators, hovering, high alpha knife edges, etc. About the only thing I initially had difficulty with was flat spins; however, since then I've slowly moved the CG back and am getting better and better results.

ManeuverGrade Notes
Hangar A The Turmoil is a very stable hover machine, it'll lock right in needing very little correction.
Torque Roll A As I am learning Torque Rolling, I find the stability in a hover very nice, requiring less input by me as it torques around. Perfect for learning TR's
High Alpha Level Flight A+ Rock Solid! It's almost as if you are laying the plane up on a shelf.
High Alpha Inverted A+ Just as stable as upright.
Flips (high alpha half loops) A Nice and straight through the flip. Multiples are way cool with the RimFire Option.
High Alpha Rolling A+ Because of the side force generators the plane needed almost no rudder input
High Alpha Knife Edge B Not too difficult, but there is a good bit of rudder coupling*... as in most foam models.
Stall Turns A As in all the more IMAC type maneuvers, the Turmoil flies quite clean for a flat plate design.
Knife-edge-to-knife-edge turns B It's a ball to watch, but the coupling requires some "stickin'" to maintain KE attitude.*
Wall A Watch as it pops into vertical attitude without snapping out.
Flying Flat-Spin B With only minimal work the Turmoil will flat-spin nicely.
Waterfall/loopet C Perhaps it was more me, but it more difficult to maintain heading on the upswing side of the waterfall
Pinwheel B With full throw and a quick blip of the throttle, the Turmoil will turn on it's CG

Great Planes' designer indicates that with the wheel-pants and gear in place, at the recommended CG, the model has little to no coupling. The wheel pants design was actually adjusted to correct the coupling!

Is This For a Beginner?

Well, no. Not exactly. It is a highly aerobatic plane with no dihedral and therefore requires intermediate+ skills. However, if a person has mastered other low wing planes, this would make a great first electric plane.

The crash resistance is quite impressive! The surfaces simply pop off...snap them back in place, and go fly again!

Flight Video


Editor's Note: Unfortunately, this early footage is the only video our author has been able to provide thus far, due to scheduling weather, camera man, and pilot all at once! We hope to add additional footage at a later date, but didn't want to hold back the article any longer. Be sure to stop back to check for additional footage!


In a word: Winner! The Turmoil 3D ARF is a quick and easy build, a real performer and easy on the wallet. While I am sure it is nicely powered with the supplied brushed 370 and gearbox, it is absolutely ballistic with the RimFire and BL-8 speed control.

Without a doubt, if you have been considering this foamie -- or a new foamie period! -- there's no reason in this reviewer's opinion not to order one right now!

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Aug 30, 2005, 11:47 AM
Registered User
..nice review ..titles on the vids are reversed I believe, and the music audio sucks, IMHO...


Sep 02, 2005, 02:53 PM
Dave North
timocharis's Avatar

A Few Additional Points For The Builder

There may be a few more things the discriminating builder might want to know about this design before starting (or even buying).

A typical 'overbuilt' shockie will have an airframe weight in the area of 3oz. You should be able to hold this airframe under 5oz, but 4.5-oz would probably require unobtainium. (I wish more reviewers would include the stripped airframe weight. Trying to work backward from final weight by subtracting various components is unreliable).

Though it's slightly larger, the primary reason for the extra ounces is probably the choice of foam: rather than depron, it uses something more like foamcore. The exposed interior material is relatively brittle, but the coating is superior to typical foamcore (stronger and lighter). This does mean the graphics print well. On the other hand, it's very easy to mar the flatness with a fingernail (virtually no 'bounceback').

There's more carbon (much of it tube rather than flat) and heavier wheels, which also contribute to the weight issue. The rod in the fuse will be appreciated by many, and may be worth the weight. (Caveat: rods that go directly behind the motor can sometimes save a plane's nose at the cost of a motor shaft or bearing. It's your choice). But it's best to bear in mind this is not a lightweight foamy at all; more on the clunker end of the scale for its size. Choose motor and battery accordingly, but don't assume your CDROM setup will crank this pup like its lighter cousins. What effect the weight may have on flight performance is untested by me, but I can't recall seeing a 3-D foamy ever fly better by adding weight.

Though much is made of not requiring tape (it is recommended to use some during the build, then remove it) the hinging system is far more difficult to install than just taping the surfaces on. Over 20 little tabs have to be glued into various surfaces -- and the method suggested by the instructions will almost certainly result in misalignment (not of the connections, but of the tabs themselves inside the foam -- or protruding, as the case may be). You'll probably have better luck just slipping them in between the coating layers, then sliding the tube in to align. One welcome result though: no sanding bevels on the control surfaces. Good thing, since the foamcorish material is not easily worked. You will be required to sand the fuse support bevels.

Using CA is probably not a good idea at many stages, particularly where fit is shaky (many of the foam parts will require bracing to make full contact, particularly the bottom of the fuse. If your glue set before you got the tape -- or whatever method you like to use -- in place, it wouldn't be pretty). The instructions mention alternative glues can be used, but there are no specific suggestions. White glue (canopy glue) works well in places, as does either UHU or even some spare GWS glue. In others, foam-safe CA will be okay. Again, some thought is a good idea.

The tabs and plastic parts are molded from a flexible, somewhat sticky material. Seldom will the parts fit properly. Trying to insert "z-bend clevises" will probably result in some breakage -- fortunately plenty of spares are included. However, the fit is so snug, and the material so sticky, that the clips and control horns will put considerable drag on the servos. (Some mitigation can be achieved with lubricants such as wax bicycle chain lube, but not enough. You should also plan on sanding and reworking them to try for a looser fit to allow free movement). Though relatively small servos can suffice on a typical tape hinge, they may not cut the cake here. Figure on more weight because of that.

Extended servo arms are included for JR, Hitec and (?) Futaba servos. That's another reason you may have a problem with this plane if you prefer something lighter -- all the recommended servos are in the older, heavier mold. HS50s might cut it, but I have my doubts.

Almost nothing is quite the right size, so don't assume things will "just fit." They often won't, though they're usually close. You'll probably have to trim a bit here and there, and do some sanding. Assuming things will work out can be anywhere from annoying to disastrous: for example, if left "as stock" the rudder would not turn (the retainer clearance slot had to be moved). Try _all_ parts carefully before assembly, and think it through.

Blindly following instructions will confuse. For example, in one picture the wing Trailing Edge is clearly marked "Leading Edge." Sad to say, though, they're no worse than most instruction sets out there, and better than some.

The hinging system is interesting, and with further development may turn out to be a good idea. However, it's not quite what you might expect from the review. For example, it's indicated you could snap the elevator off for subsequent repair or replacement. But the elevator is also constrained by the rudder mounting tube, which is glued onto the plane -- snapping off the elevator requires literally ripping that tube off also. But wait, there's more: the control rods are glued on both ends, meaning the removal of _any_ control surface will require breaking this joint or removing the servo arm (topologically impossible on the ailerons) or using a different system in the first place (probably a good idea). Also, the rudder holds the tail wheel, but it's stuck over the mounting tube -- popping off the rudder without ripping off the tail wheel is a challenge!

It may be a bit misleading to say these surfaces are easily removed. I cannot personally see that it would be reasonable to try to remove any of them after assembly. Perhaps I missed a trick.

Some things do work well, but have weird quirks. The supports for the wheel rods and fuse braces are nicely designed and work well, but the instructions indicate they should be mounted from the top of the wing. This would support them quite nicely from the top (because of the flanges that extend beyond the holes) but normally landing stresses will push the tubes _up_ from the bottom, which might pop them out.

The placement of some components begs for tape support. In particular, the outer hinges for the elevator leave very little foam to the edge of the stabilizer, and mine broke off quite easily. With a little tape, they were back in business. The tab for the tail wheel is another weak point, but not so easily solved. Oh, and my tail wheel barely rolls, even after trying to lube it. Make a decent skid, though.

I'm not yet done with assembly after nearly a week, and consider it a more difficult build than, say, a shockie. Some of that is doubtless due to unfamiliarity, but knowing what I know now, I'd still assume it would take longer to build a second one than most other foamies. That may just be me.

I have no idea at this point (of course) whether the flying characteristics will justify the effort. Questions about that, and power system/servos, will have to wait a bit. These comments are only meant to address the build process, with which I am almost done. I thought, however, it was best to get some of these comments "on the air" quickly. I did read this review before buying, and I have had quite a different experience from the writer. Wish I got that kit instead!

As always, this is just one kit and one builder. Hopefully some of the comments will be useful in deciding to buy, and getting a good build if you do.

Dave North
Sep 02, 2005, 04:54 PM
of RC Guild
mordib's Avatar

It's almost as if you and I received a different plane.

All of your comments have merit, though I'd have to say that to what extent they apply to the average user. You seem to be VERY particular.

I do disagree with the assembly comments that this is a more difficult build. In no way did I find it so... and built it quite quickly.

Perhaps my comments regarding the "pull away" hinges were misinterpreted. The plus side is the ability of the surface to detach upon impact. And yes as is the case with the elevator isn't as "replaceable" as the ailerons or rudder.

The term used was crash resistance. And on several ocaasion when hovering a foot or so off the ground I dorked it only to find a surface had pooped off the axle. It didn NOT come off entirely, but saved the surface from frther damage.

That's not to say it's indestuctible... as I have several times knocked the SFG's off. I've also cracked a surface... but less than I have experienced on shoclies or other foam aircraft.

This is an experience you might enjoy after you actually fly yours. Add to that the tremendous flight charateristics and this plane is a winner.

The plane flies great despite your claims of it being heavy, and it's not just my opinion... as many falout owners are raving about the plane.

I don't mean to sound reactive, but your post failed to recognize any positive attributes. Perhaps you found none... if that is the case I'd contact GP and send it in for a refund.

I'm sorry you found it so lacking as I found it to be the cat's meow... perhaps there is that much difference between builders.
Sep 03, 2005, 02:04 PM
Dave North
timocharis's Avatar

You raise a good question: who is the average user of a flat-plate foamie designed for tight knife-edge and axial roll character? I'm not sure at all!

One thing I think we can definitely see is: one person's "easy" can be another person's "hmm." What, me picky?

Got a question for you. My instructions say high rates should be +/- 55-60 degrees on all surfaces (normal and reasonable) but the elevator cutouts stop my rudder from going much more than 30 degrees either way. Same on yours? If so, is rudder authority adequate at that low angle, or did you end up cutting the elevator to get clearance?

Dave North
Sep 05, 2005, 01:01 PM
Dave North
timocharis's Avatar

First Flight

Managed to hold the weight down to 8.3 oz with a 14-turn 24AWG cdrom motor to see if it could haul the plane. (Could have held the weight to 8oz flat but needed to use a TP 730 2s all the way out at the nose to keep the balance reasonably forward).

It works! Pullout is feeble, and most people would want more power (including me) but will fly adequately with a cd motor. On the other hand, 8.3 oz doesn't really allow a stable balance (my cg is a bit over 40-percent back). This just confirms the design recommendation to use a heavier and more powerful motor, which I will soon.

At a guess, 8-1/2 ounces is probably about the minimum weight to get the balance right, and planning on maybe nine ounces would give some flexibility.

Dave North
Oct 17, 2005, 12:44 PM
Registered User
I have found this to be the worst plane I have ever built, the plastic hinges would not snap over the torque tube on all flight surfaces, no matter how hard or gentle you pushed, instead they just broke up, the z bends were twice the thickness of the holes in the control horns so had to open them up a lot, the hinge retainer rings had 3/32 holes in them whilst the tube they went over was 1/8. the holes in the z bends were so tight and half of them were blocked so every carbon rod snapped, even being careful, and especially when trying to adjust the control surface caused them to break.
the rear reinforcement pieces, are they supposed to lay flat or at an angle? the pictures in the instruction manual are terrible and not at all clear,
the servo tray cutouts were to small and did not even line up with the foam cutouts on the fuse, even using micro servos,
no where in my instruction book does it tell you to install the nose reinforcement pieces, which I saw mentioned in another thread, hence first flight it just broke into pieces.
Loads of pieces left over after building with no mention in the instructions what they are for.
And on standard motor and a 3 cell lipo it is not a particularly exciting flyer, I must admit I expected a bit of an animal as it looks like one, but it is a pussy cat to fly, perhaps this is the only good thing about it.
After 3 flights I have the u/c just push straight through the fuse and ripping it apart, on a gentle landing, the elevator ripped off breaking the new hinges, the fuse keeps breaking in various palces, and it has not had a hard landing.
Do I have a reject one? as it certainly is not as you all describe yours as.

Just brought an ultrafly ferocious and a slow stick to replace this, and the instructions on both are terrible, hopefully they will build and fly better.
Oct 25, 2005, 12:54 PM
Dave North
timocharis's Avatar

> Do I have a reject one? as it certainly is not as you all describe yours as.

What you describe is consistent with my experience, and the one other person I know around here who built one. The collapse of the landing gear is inevitable, for example, until you rebuild it more effectively.

I no longer have mine. After a couple more flights, I decided it was a tiresome plane and sold it.

The other guy who built one is an excellent pilot, nationally competitive. He rightly questioned my analysis and wanted to see for himself. He also used somewhat different build techniques, but to no avail. His comment was along the lines of "what were they thinking?"

He sold his a few days after building it. Neither of us has any knowledge of the current fate of either plane. I was straightforward about mine when selling it, so I got basically nothing for the air frame, which is an approximately fair deal.

Weirdly, I have heard some of the other similar kits don't seem to have the parts fit problem, so that may be variable from kit to kit. But certainly all the Turmoils I've heard about (except the review kit) have suffered from that problem.

Good luck on the ultrafly. I have not built one, but I have seen it fly. A bit heavy for my taste, but it seemed fine from watching.

Dave North
Feb 04, 2008, 05:10 AM
Registered User

Dave speaks the truth

I'm currently beating my head against an Electrifly FlatOuts RC biplane. What Dave says about the hinging system
used in FlatOuts is right on. This kit is really making me mad.

None of the plastic parts seem to be usable as is. All of the
plastic parts I've used so far waste your time drilling them to
size, nipping the ends of the clips to avoid breakage, etc. The
hinge retainer rings have to be drilled out or reamed to fit
over the 3mm carbon tube.

Hint to others, modify the retainer rings to fit the tube before
you cut them loose from the plastic sprue.

The instructions tell you to nip off the tips of the clip hinges to
avoid breakage when snapping them onto the carbon tube. You've
got to drill a #59 hole through the z-bend clevis, and a #38 hole
through the plastic control horn it is supposed to fit through. And,
it does not want to go through that nice new hole. It wants to bend
or break instead.

I've previously built an Aerocat from, and I found
that kit very easy to build. Cutting the depron at a 45 deg angle
was easy with a straightedge and a new blade. Hinging with
blenderm was quick, easy, and durable. Their lasercut ply control
horns were quick to install, and worked great with lightweight
wire pushrods.

I keep looking at this kit and wondering why? How much more
complicated could they have made the kit? Why didn't they make
parts that fit right out of the box? GRrrrrrrrrrrrrr!

Chris Shaker

Originally Posted by timocharis
There may be a few more things the discriminating builder might want to know about this design before starting (or even buying).

Though much is made of not requiring tape (it is recommended to use some during the build, then remove it) the hinging system is far more difficult to install than just taping the surfaces on. Over 20 little tabs have to be glued into various surfaces -- and the method suggested by the instructions will almost certainly result in misalignment (not of the connections, but of the tabs themselves inside the foam -- or protruding, as the case may be). You'll probably have better luck just slipping them in between the coating layers, then sliding the tube in to align. One welcome result though: no sanding bevels on the control surfaces. Good thing, since the foamcorish material is not easily worked. You will be required to sand the fuse support bevels.

Dave North
Jul 14, 2011, 04:12 PM
Registered User

Flatout Waste

I completely understand this thread is old but wanted to comment that I just finished building one myself. They are still selling them and still made exactly as described. I've had one other heavier foam aircraft and hated it, but decided to give it another chance with the flatout (flatana) wanting to learn 3d. Been in the hobby since I was 15. I'm 46 now and consider myself an intermediate flyer. Not a pro by no means, but there has to be a better flying, better building, more durable foamie out there for 3d practice, as this is one big waste of time. Unstable and delicate are the 2 words that come to mind. I will prob mess with it some more as it can be repaired and maybe CG has alot to do with the stability problem I found. I also thought I could fly anything as far as a plane, (have my REAL pilots license), but this thing just makes me not want any foam airplanes period! Also, I've just been tinkering in this foam airplane area, so...take my opinion as you may.
Jul 14, 2011, 08:02 PM
Wake up, feel pulse, be happy!
Piece's Avatar
this thing just makes me not want any foam airplanes period!
No no no no no!!! Foamies are EXCELLENT, but this FlatOut garbage is bad enough that it shouldn't even be called a 'foamy'.

I had an RC Bipe awhile back. I fought/struggled with it for awhile, but never even got it off the ground. A few weeks ago I was cleaning out the garage and I had the most fun with it that it could ever provide: I tore it to pieces and stuffed it into a trash bag. I tried to salvage some of the CF, but it was mostly covered in CA and would be very hard to use with anything else.

A GOOD foamy is really an excellent plane to have. I would say that you should try... pretty much anything else on the market. ANYTHING would be better than these stupid CrapOuts
Jul 15, 2011, 12:20 AM
Registered User
Wingman26's Avatar
I am an experienced builder and experienced RC flyer, I wasted my time and money building one of these "flat outs", it was a pain to build since much of the plastic hardware didn't fit. The provided servo arms didn't fit the recommended servos, the lightweight plastic pushrod ends didn't fit the lightweight plastic control horns, half of which broke while trying in vain to make them fit. The landing gear wasn't long enough for the prop included in the kit to really clear the ground.

The whole thing was extremely flimsy, I went out to fly it the first time by myself, I set it on the ground to range check the radio, the prop barely cleared the ground, while I was doing the range check the tail raised up a little bit, the prop struck the ground and the thing self destructed before it was ever flown. I wouldn't recommend the flat out series to anyone.

The first foamy I built was an Airfoilz Edge, it's great, I still fly it, the flat out was my second foamy, and I've built several other foamies since then and have been happy with them, this one was a waste of time and money.
Jul 15, 2011, 12:35 AM
Wake up, feel pulse, be happy!
Piece's Avatar
Ooh, that reminds me: I like the servo arms. They seem to fit my (only) pair of JR servos great, and I've never really tried them on anything else.

It's rather sad, though, when the best part of a kit are the below-average servo arms
Jul 15, 2011, 03:14 AM
Registered User
efflandt's Avatar
Turmoil sounds like an appropriate name for this plane (what you go through building it?).

I am relatively new to this hobby (earlier this year), so I don't have much experience with profile foamies. But after I got a 3D balsa plane, I figured I should get some practice besides the sim before rekitting that. So I got a 3DHS EPP Extra which takes awhile to build (letting Welder's glue dry), but is fun and durable as long as you do not dive into rocks or pavement too often. But just in case you knock out a chunk you lose or cannot glue back in, they give you extra firewall and spare foam, including colored pieces for the nose. No landing gear, but landing is as simple as pulling both sticks back to elevator (float) down to the ground, or you can harrier in if it is windy.

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