Monday, February 1, 2010

Ultra Micro 4-Site “Real World” Review

In this blog entry I try to answer these questions:
  1. Can a somewhat experienced 4-channel pilot handle this plane?
  2. Do the air brakes slow it down enough to be manageable by lesser-experienced pilots?
  3. Do I like this plane (clue – “YES I DO – LOVE IT!!!”) and why or why not.
  4. Do you have Video (crash footage too!?!) and Pictures? (clue – “YES I DO - taken Jan 30, 2010”)

Like everyone else – I’ve been anxiously awaiting the release of this little plane! We were told originally mid to late November 2009… and here we are finally getting our hands on it late Jan 2010. Was it worth the wait!?!

Bottom Line – YES!

Before I comment more on why I LOVE this little plane… I want to cover the questions I'm getting emails from people on.

FIRST – people have been asking, “Mark, do you think a novice / someone with limited 4 channel experience / a non 3D pilot… can fly this plane?”

The short answer is, “No.” I mean… it can certainly be flown – but this is one twitchy little plane. That’s micro! Their small size makes them EXTREEMLY maneuverable for one thing. But, their small size also makes them VERY difficult to see in the air. So… things happen very VERY fast LITERALLY for the plane… but… very VERY fast perceptivity wise too because the plane is so SO small that “untrained” eyes have a hard time seeing & responding to the quick little movements.

3D pilots LOVE this snappiness in the air! But, for those without these kind of eyes / thumbs… this plane is just too much of a handful to enjoy. Too much so in my opinion. Unless... you want to be doing lots of repairs... on a tiny tiny plane. Have you ever tried to repair something this small!?! I have! I got my start in micro - and I can tell you, repairs are tricky... not only because BIG hands & small plane parts don't mix - but - because every drop of glue or small piece of tape you add... adds to the weight of the plane... and before too long - she just won't fly. :-(

Or, at least not as per her design. :-(

So, if your thumbs / eyes are not trained to 4 channels… or more specifically, to 3D type flying… where you respond immediately out of “reflex” rather than a thought process – “Oh, the plane is turning to the right… I’d better…” :-( ... then this plane really isn't for you.

“Reflex” works for this plane.

But, if you are still at the place in your flying where you have to think things through as you fly – then this plane is just too much for you. Too twitchy. In the above illustration, you’d of crashed at, “Oh the plane is…” :-( The plane is that fast.

Can you “turn it down” by utilizing your radio to limit control throw? Certainly – but as you can see from the video below – the results are less than satisfactory. Radio settings don’t make up for pilot skills.

Don’t take my word for it though. Watch the video I’ve posted below. It includes good and not so good (experienced 4 channel guys, but non 3D guys) pilots flying it. See for yourself how fast it goes from level flight to Terra Firma! :-(

SECONDLY – people have been asking, “Mark, do you think the air brakes slow the plane down enough to give the novice pilot the ability to fly it / to think through the flight?”

The short answer is again, “No.” I don’t think so – but again, you be the judge. Watch the video below. It’s divided into sections – some with the air brakes – and some without. Some with GOOD pilots using the air brakes – and some with NOVICE pilots using the air brakes. I also have footage on there with some GOOD pilots NOT using the air brakes – and some with NOVICE pilots NOT using the air brakes. So check it out. You tell me what you see. NOTE: Each section is labeled - so you'll know what section you are watching - and please note that even the experienced pilots have trouble with it at times!

Me, I don’t think the air brakes really slow things down all that much. A little bit, certainly – but, the speed is more in the throttle management / the skills of the pilot… as you’ll see on the video. The slowest footage I have of guys flying with the air brakes… I have footage to match (if not beat) of a good pilot flying it WITHOUT air brakes… but just as slowly! :-) So… no… I don’t think the air brakes will make up for the lack of pilot skill.
  • SIDE NOTE: I have not put the air brakes on mine – and I do not intend to.
The book that comes with the plane – and virtually every write up on this plane says the same thing… this is not a novice plane.

What it is… is a very VERY capable 3D machine!

As such – I LOVE IT!!! :-)

It is a very VERY good airplane! It has plenty of power to hover – and to pull out of a hover with a decent amount of authority. It knife edges like a champ – does rolling harriers easily, etc, etc! :-) Check out the video! :-)

Want some good crashes? Yup – I’ve got those on there too! There were many MANY  crashes the day I filmed for this… so you not only see footage of me flying mine (I’m the “full 4 ½ minute flight” on there) but of a whole bunch of other people flying theirs. Some crashes captured on here… there was significant damage. Other crashes during the day I missed / didn’t get footage of – but, the planes were destroyed. Several were by guys that had a good amount of 4 channel experience, but, not 3D experience, so they weren’t used to the snappiness of this little plane. It’ll change direction on a dime – and often times the “default direction” is the gym floor! :-(  

As the old adage goes: “Gravity still works.”

Ok, video is pasted below, but first, two pictures of the packaging - so you can see how nicely they've done at making the case a protective travel case. (Double click on any of the pics on this blog & they will jump to High Resolution Picture size & quality)

So, if you are not a very competent 4 channel pilot - or not so hot at 3D - but still are tempted by the plane... and you have the cash to blow - then go for it! :-) Its only money! :-( If not... (and you are like me financially) then I'd encourage you to consider the 3D trainer I recommend in the right hand column of this blog. Start there. Learn that... and then move on to tougher planes like this one.

Either way - I hope you enjoy the video!