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The Runway

11/9/2005 by Gary Katzer

Copyright:© 2005 Horizon Hobby, Inc.

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New Entry Stay on Target

As a child who grew up in the early ‘80’s, I always dreamed of dog fighting in space in a single-seat snub-fighter of my very own. I spent countless afternoons playing with my different action figures and space ships, all the time my imagination was solidly in the stars. The feeling returned to me when I bolted the HobbyZone X-Port Sonic Combat Module (HBZ4020) to the fuselage of the Firebird Commander 2. But the Sonic Combat Module doesn’t do you any good on its own. You’re going to need someone to fly against that also has a Sonic Combat Module or you can use the Stealth Target (HBZ4025). Since I generally fly alone, I opted for the Stealth Target and took to the sky.

Before I took off, I re-installed the landing gear as a protective step to ensure that the Sonic Combat Module didn’t become damaged on landing. I took off with the 6-cell battery in the battery compartment, just to get the feel of how this whole thing worked. The plane didn’t fly any differently than it did without the module installed, and I soon landed, installed the 7-cell pack, and setup the Stealth Target.

The Firebird Commander 2 once again took flight, this time with a bogey in its sights. I made a few trial passes “down the trench” to make sure that I could line the plane up as I prepared to fire at the target. I was a little nervous at first to fire, because it requires you to hold the throttle stick in the down or off position for a moment in order for the module to “fire”. But after just a few passes I was able to get comfortable and hit the target at will. With each additional pass I was able to strafe the target closer and closer, and just about every time I was rewarded with a loud signal from the target that I was successful. Take that you dirty imperials!

New Entry Taking Command

Having seen the Firebird Commander 2 fly before, I was totally jazzed to finally get a Firebird Commander 2 of my very own. Along with buying this new bird, I also bought a 7-cell battery pack (HBZ1013). When I fly, I don’t like having the throttle cranked to 100% all the time. The extra voltage of the 7-cell battery pack would help the Firebird Commander 2 climb faster when needed, but I could also cruise around with less throttle input which indirectly increases flight time as well.

Assembly was identical to the original Firebird Commander; five minutes and I was ready to go. I used the stock 6-cell pack first, just so I could get the hang of the flight characteristics of the Firebird Commander 2. I hand-launched the Firebird Commander 2 and it climbed quickly and easily. I noticed instantly that the Firebird Commander 2 didn’t have the same tendency to porpoise that the original Firebird Commander would sometimes suffer from. The feel of the Firebird Commander 2 was also very neutral and easy to fly. I flew the new plane with the 6-cell battery for about 10-minutes before I swapped batteries and installed the 7-cell battery.

The Firebird Commander 2 climbed much quicker with the additional voltage provided by the 7-cell battery. There were a few times when I felt like I pushed the Firebird Commander 2 a little too far and could have potentially crashed, but the ACT kicked in instantly to correct the flight path and level the plane out. Once I returned the sticks to neutral, the ACT disengaged and I was able to resume normal flight. I brought the Firebird Commander 2 in for the night, very happy with its performance. I had some plans for my next flight though, as I recently picked up the X-Port Sonic Combat Module (HBZ4020) and the Stealth Target (HBZ4025). Game On!