Freewing Model Avanti S
Join the jet set with this sleek, plug-and-play flier
Join the jet set with this sleek, plug-and-play flier
Having recently developed an interest in electric ducted-fan jets, I started casting about for an easy, relatively inexpensive sport plane to get started. I wanted a plane that would be easy to fly yet still be fast and fairly aerobatic. I asked several friends what would be a good introductory jet and a couple of them pointed me to the Motion RC website (motionrc.com), where a preorder had just been opened for the Freewing Avanti S.
FREEWING’S AVANTI S HAS TURNED OUT TO BE JUST THE PLANE I WAS HOPING FOR. IT CAN BE ASSEMBLED QUICKLY, IN AN HOUR OR SO. IT’S STABLE AND HANDLES WIND VERY WELL.
Freewing’s Avanti S is an officially licensed version of SebArt’s turbine-powered Avanti S designed by Sebastiano Silvestri, a model that’s fairly well known in RC aerobatic competition. Constructed out of molded EPO foam, powered by an 80mm EDF on a 6S LiPo battery, with electric retracts and a full set of running lights and beacons, Freewing’s version is an attractive airframe.
I found a few demonstration-flight videos online and thought the model looked just about perfect for my wants, so I signed up for the preorder. A plug-and-play model, there’s not a lot needed to get it flying, just a radio system and battery. I have plenty of suitable 6S batteries, and a quick search through the radio parts box yielded a Spektrum AR9350 receiver that I knew would work well, so I was set to go.
When the Avanti S was finally delivered and unboxed, I was surprised at the low parts count. The airframe is beautifully molded, smooth, well-finished EPO foam. The color scheme is well done, some of it in paint and some in decals, all fairly well matched and applied. The power system, retractable landing gear, and servos are all installed, and the flying surfaces are hinged and ready to connect. The battery and radio compartment access hatch is large, attached to the fuselage by both strong magnets and a latch at the rear. It’s covered by the canopy, which is formed out of tinted clear plastic and covers a basic cockpit that can be detailed if desired.
The first thing I did was to avoid having to find and install a pilot figure by painting the inside of the canopy black. I don’t like a clear canopy on a model with no pilot, and the black canopy looks sharp and fits with the overall color scheme. While the paint dried, I laid a towel on the workbench to protect the foam finish and started assembling the airframe.
The installation of the stabilizer and the fin assemblies goes quickly. Snake the servo wires forward into the radio compartment and fit the parts into place; four bolts hold each of them securely. It couldn’t be easier. The two wing panels with the retracted landing gear are next. There are three carbon-fiber tubes in the wing: one glued in the aft part of each wing panel and a longer one that acts as a spar. With the spar tube inserted through the fuselage, the wing panels slide into place easily. A notable design point is that the retracted landing gear fits easily into the fuselage through a hole in the wing root big enough for the wheel. Wing-panel servos, lights, and landing gear are connected to the radio by way of a seven-wire ribbon cable—clean and easy. When it’s all together, four screws hold the two panels in place. That’s a total of only 12 screws to assemble the whole airframe.
The next step is installing the receiver. All the servo leads come together in the forward part of the battery compartment, where they’re plugged into a control board. Six leads for the receiver connections are factory installed and marked, so it’s a simple procedure to plug them into the proper channels in the receiver. The instruction manual gives basic settings for the control throws, which have worked well for me. To finish the assembly, I used the supplied glue to attach the freshly painted canopy to the hatch cover and taped it in place overnight.
IN THE AIR
When I got out to the field for test flights, weather forecasters had missed their wind prediction by a considerable margin. What I expected to be fairly calm conditions had turned into 15mph and gusty, ranging from straight down the runway to directly crosswind—“normal weather” in other words (this being Kansas).
I installed a Pulse 6S 5000mAh battery, powered up, and checked the flight controls. Everything looked good, so I headed out to the runway. As the Avanti S accelerated on the takeoff run, it tracked straight, with little need for correction except for bumps. As it neared the end of the runway, I started feeding in up-elevator, and after a moment, the plane jumped up into the air. It climbed out with authority and only needed a small amount of up-elevator trim. Aileron turns were easy—no rudder input necessary. I flew a couple of circuits around the field and quickly became comfortable with the plane. The first roll was crisp and surprisingly quick, but it didn’t feel scary. A big, whooshing loop put a smile on my face just before the four-minute flight timer reminded me it was time to set up for landing.
With the gear down and flaps fully extended and coupled with about 5% down-elevator mix, the Avanti S slowed down nicely, still feeling solid. The landing approach was stable in spite of the crosswind, but a too-early flare led to a bumpy first landing. The well-sprung landing gear absorbed the worst of it, fortunately, and the neat breakaway nose cone prevented any damage to the plane. I got in six flights that day, and each one was a little more satisfying than the previous one. My landing skills improved as well as I learned to keep some power on until just before the final flare.
GENERAL FLIGHT PERFORMANCE
Stability: Balanced within the recommended range, the Avanti S is stable and inspires confidence. It’s hard to get it to do anything unexpected, and if it does, relaxing the control sticks usually allows it to recover on its own.
Tracking: I hate to use all the clichés, but the Avanti S really does track like it’s on rails—on the ground and in the air. At high speed, it’s smooth and predictable, and low-speed tracking is just about as good. It goes where you point it—reliably.
Aerobatics: Fun, fun, fun! This plane accelerates quickly and sounds great doing it. It’s got abundant power for big, impressive loops and long vertical lines. At the recommended throws, the ailerons are quick, and the roll rate is impressive. I like to fly it balanced at the rear of the recommended balance range—about 110mm—where inverted flight requires just a touch of down-elevator correction. Fast knifeedge flight also requires just a little top rudder to stay on line.
Glide and stall performance: I couldn’t make the Avanti S exhibit any bad behavior at low speed. When it stalled, it simply dropped its nose, and adding a little power had it flying again. Power off, with its sleek shape, it glides fairly well. Full flaps make it a bit floaty, so keep a touch of power on when landing.
Did I mention that this is a fun model to fly? I really enjoy the big, whooshing jet sound when the Avanti S is flying through a big loop or doing a long slow roll down the center of the runway. With its excellent stability, it has certainly made me a believer in flying electric ducted fans, and I’d recommend it to anyone as a first jet.
The low parts count and good fit make for quick assembly. The bag of small parts includes a tube of glue for attaching the tinted plastic canopy to the cockpit hatch.
The bottom of the fuselage has a plywood keel molded into the foam for added ruggedness. The large hatch at the left is where the fan unit is installed. Also visible are the four wing retainers, the red LED, and the two ribbon cables for lights, retracts, and servos.
At the rear of the wing root is a carbon-fiber subspar for additional strength. The molded plastic root is sturdy, and just forward of the main spar tube a connector circuit board is mounted. This makes connecting everything in the wing an easy, one-step operation.
Big wheels, electric retracts with sturdy aluminum struts, and trailing-link suspension on all landing gear make the Avanti S well suited to grass- and rough-field operations.
The fuselage wing roots show some attention to detail. The wheel well is big enough to accept the wheel in its retracted position, making assembly easier. Wing servos and lights are connected by a seven-wire ribbon cable.
Above: With the wings mounted, the close-fitting landing-gear doors and other parts are plain to see. There are clear plastic viewports over the ribbon wire connectors, making it easy to confirm good connections.
Left: As seen on the fin and rudder, all flying surfaces have nylon pinned hinges. The metal-gear servos are connected to the surfaces with sturdy brass ball-link hardware.