Freew­ing Model Avanti S

Join the jet set with this sleek, plug-and-play flier

Model Airplane News - - CONTENTS - By John Kauk

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.

UNIQUE FEA­TURES

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.

PILOT DEBRIEFING

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.

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