E-flite’s 850mm Pitts, the Knife Edge Beast!
As you may recall me mentioning in my UMX Pitts review, that little Pitts just flies absolutely epicly! Well, drooling over E-Flite’s 850mm Pitts Biplane I couldn’t hold off any longer and I ordered one. I knew that if it flew anything like the UMX, it would be an incredible little airplane! Well, the good news is it shares much of the magic flying pretty darn close to the UMX…knife edge passes FTW!
The pitts is such an iconic aerobatic aircraft design that’s unmistakable and this E-Flite airplane captures it perfectly. Plus having flown the UMX one, it’s really fostered a love for the Pitts. It’s such a great looking biplane design.
Assembly of the E-flite Pitts I found pretty enjoyable. Taking the airplane out of the box, one thing became apparent to me pretty quickly and that was that the finish on the airplane was incredible! As I inspected the parts, it really was hard to tell that this was in fact a foam airplane. It was really impressive and is without a doubt the smoothest EPO foam airplane I’ve seen to date!
In terms of the assembly, I found it pretty straight forward with no major surprises. It starts by placing the landing gear on the fuselage which are a nice aluminum type. They are a little soft though and do bend on less than perfect landings…don’t ask how I know… From there the horizontal tail is glued on which is quick and easy. I do recommend test fitting the tail first and then using a medium or slower setting CA so you don’t run into problems or have to rush. The assembly is then wrapped up by installing the lower wing, pinning the wing struts in place and then adding the top wing and pinning the wing struts into the top wing. From there, the upper and lower ailerons are connected together with the supplied connecting rods. The wings are held on with cotter pins which is interesting, but certainly works well enough. It is worth mentioning that the cotter pin receiver that holds the lower wing in place can be screwed in or out to tighten or loosen up the wing fit if you find it’s not to your liking.
With the airplane completed, you’re awarded with a beautiful recreation of the iconic pitts airframe. I’ll be honest, the finish and smoothness of the foam is unreal. It legitimately is difficult to tell that it’s a foam airplane it’s that smooth. One thing to note is that there are some carbon rods supplied for optional flying wires which I would have liked to have used, but that didn’t quite work out as the receivers shown in the instructions didn’t seem to make it into the final production design, so there didn’t seem to be an obvious place to put them. Kind of a bummer, but they’re only for looks anyhow.
AIRCRAFT SETUP & CG
Setting up the airplane was pretty straight forward. Being a biplane, there’s really only elevator, aileron, and rudder to setup. The rates in the manual are plenty sufficient and I’m actually flying the airplane with the recommended high rate rudder and elevator and then low rate ailerons. It can be touchy on the ailerons depending on how you set it up, so be aware of that. The Bind N Fly airplane does have SAFE, so, be aware of the two different bind procedures whether you want that on or off (see my discussion on SAFE here). This is an aerobatic airplane, so flying with SAFE seems to kind of defeat the purpose in my mind a bit, but having it on a switch, it can help you get out of trouble if that happens. In terms of throws, here’s what I’m using:
- Elevator – 19mm up and down with 15% expo
- Aileron – 12mm up and down with 15% expo
- Rudder – 22mm left and right with 15% expo
For the CG, I’m flying the airplane per the manual at about 86mm as measured from the top wing leading edge root aft. Interestingly this is right at about where the wing pins are, so basically you have a built in CG fixture for you. The airplane is level when I pick it up with my finger tips at this location and it feels good in the air. It’s nimble but still statically stable to avoid getting into too much trouble. I’m using a 3s Roaring Top 35c 2200 mah pack and I find that this provides plenty of power. There’s a removable tray for the battery and I set the battery at the rear most location on it. Personally, I really like the power of the 3s battery, but you can go up to 4s if you want and I can imagine it would have insane power! If you’re wanting to 3d with the airplane, that would be the way to go.
FLYING THE E-FLITE 850mm PITTS
In terms of flying, I’ve really been enjoying this little airplane. It took a couple flights to get things tuned, but after that, the airplane just locked in super solid and flies great. IT’s extremely nimble and aerobatic, but at the same time cruises around easily and looks great doing it. I’m not the greatest aerobatic pilot, but I had a blast doing snap rolls, knife edges and anything else I could think of to try. The airplane has fantastic scale like power on 3s which I was really happy with. It’ll do big scale vertical maneuvers and nice crisp rolls easily enough and that knife edge is killer. For takeoff, I recommend bringing the power up rapidly to avoid ground looping. IT’s a pitts which means a narrow gear track, so applying the power quickly will help get the tail up quicker. The most difficulty I did have initially was in sorting out the landings. If you come in flat like a typical taildragger approach for a two wheel touch down, you will end up hot in the flare. I bent the gear a couple times finding this out. I discovered that the airplane really wants to land 3 point with what is similar to a jet approach. I set the aircraft to a nose up attitude and then control the descent with the power. This really slows the airplane down and then avoids those hot touchdowns that inevitably get you hopping down the runway. Once I sorted that out, it really made things much more user friendly on landings. The airplane will really slow down well if you let it and are comfortable with that.
Below is a full flight video of the airplane in action. This is the airplane bone stock on a 3s 2200 pack. I’m sorry to say, I’ve not flown the airplane on 4 cells, but in my mind for my style of flying, I really don’t find it necessary. Plus, I was kind of avoiding having to purchase more batteries…
There we have the E-flite 850mm Pitts for you. What a gorgeous little model that flies awesome. This thing is all about aerobatics and it will perform anything you throw at it, so most definitely have some fun with it. You know, the little UMX pitts really spawned a love for this airplane and this e-flite pitts just makes that love grow even more. It’s such a cool looking airplane that is so nimble in the air that knife edges like a beast and I’ve been having a blast with it. Having an aerobatic airplane like this in the hangar is a much welcomed change for me since I’m usually flying warbirds or jets. I’m not the most proficient aerobatic pilot, so this’ll give me a chance to work on those skills more. Until next time, I’ll see you at the field!