Review: Hangar 9 Extra 330S

11/18/2004 by John Reid

Provider Name:  Model Airplane News

Issue:  September 2004

Copyright:© 2004 Air Age Media

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Page 2: Construction
Page 3: Flight Performance
(continued from previous page)

The Zenoah GT-80 provides plenty of power for all but the most aggressive vertical maneuvers. The plane can pull itself out of a hover, but it requires a bit of patience. I’m sure if I had taken the time to properly tune the engine for my altitude and experimented with different props, I would have found its vertical performance to be even better. As it stands, I am very pleased with the power-to-weight ratio of this combination.

TAKEOFF AND LANDING Whenever I test-fly a high-performance model such as this, I triple-check every nut, bolt, control throw, hinge and the center of gravity, but I found that as usual, John Reid had done a superb job of putting this beast together. After a few taxi trips down the runway and back, I checked the wind and the pattern and rolled on the throttle. The big Extra tracked very true and stayed right on the centerline with just a little pressure on right rudder. As soon as the wheels left the ground, I knew that I would have a hard time giving the radio back to its rightful owner!

Landing this plane is simple because it’s a bit of a floater. My first approach was slightly high, so I decided to abort. I’m always careful to ease into the throttle with these big gassers, particularly when I’m low and slow. The second approach was much better, and I managed a pretty good 3-point landing. Subsequent landings proved to be equally easy. The key is to fly a shallow approach with a few clicks of throttle. When the Extra reaches the runway’s threshold, I chop the throttle to idle and carefully add up-elevator until the wheels touch down.

LOW-SPEED PERFORMANCE In my mind, there are two modes of low-speed flight for a plane like this: 3D and normal. In normal flight attitudes, this Extra gives noticeable warning before it enters a hard stall. The flight controls start to become “mushy,” and you certainly can tell that it wants some power so it can fly normally again. If the envelope is pushed and a stall is forced, the Extra will drop its nose and “porpoise” until power is added or altitude is traded for airspeed.

In 3D/High Alpha flight, the Extra maintains positive control throughout the entire flight envelope with proper use of high-rate throws and throttle management. The JR 8411 digital servos provide excellent response, and the limiting factor is definitely my own reaction time—not the servos’. Elevators are very stable, and harriers don’t even require full throw on high rates. High Alpha knife-edge, rolling harriers, waterfalls—quite simply, every 3D maneuver that I know how to do—are all easily within the capabilities of this plane. With the GT-80 and the Zinger prop, I was able to easily hover at a tick below 1/2 throttle. Torque rolls are slow and graceful, and once the sweet spot was found (for me, this was almost perfectly vertical with a hint of right rudder and a touch of up-elevator), only small corrections were required to keep going around and around. I have never professed to be a master of aerobatic or 3D flight, but this plane makes me look good!

HIGH-SPEED PERFORMANCE Although low-speed performance can be coupled with 3D aerobatics, I like to separate high-speed performance from traditional aerobatics simply because there is a whole class of large planes that is dedicated to speed but is not intended to perform aerobatics competitively.

The Zenoah GT-80 will definitely haul this plane around at a very high rate of speed, but I wouldn’t recommend flying it at full throttle unless it is in a vertical upline. As with any large plane, throttle management is critical. Never fly downlines with anything more than one or two clicks of throttle, if that. The Extra is an easy-to-fly aerobat, but you must pay constant attention to the throttle.

AEROBATICS Aerobatic performance is where the Extra lives and what it was designed to do. It is an extremely neutral-flying plane; each individual control surface has very little impact on the others. For example, in straight knife-edge flight, absolutely no roll correction is required, and I noted only a touch of coupling toward the belly. Flat turns are done almost purely with rudder, with just a hint of elevator correction needed. Point rolls are exceptional; rolls are axial. With the proper application of a little elevator and rudder at the appropriate times, even slow rolls are a cinch. One of my favorite maneuvers is a very slow flat spin, which I was able to do on low rates at idle. It is quite graceful and easy to fly away from by adding throttle while neutralizing the rudder and aileron and easing off the elevator until airspeed is gained. Snap rolls are very clean and precise, but they require a bit more finesse with the Extra than with most smaller aerobatic planes. In the flight tips section at the end of the construction manual, Mike McConville gives the best advice for snaps: start a snap roll normally, but as soon as the sticks reach the corners, neutralize the elevator to prevent losing too much airspeed and getting too “deep” into the maneuver.

For pilots who want to compete in IMAC on a serious level or for weekend warriors who want to polish their repertoire, the 33% Hangar 9 Extra 330S is the plane that can get it done with style.

—Jet Thompson

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