Great Planes Escapade MX 30-35cc Gas/EP ARF 80" Review

Review by Adrian Apodaca, RealRCReviews Owner

Equipment Used:

- Escapade MX

- DLE 35RA engine

- Hitec HS-645MG servos all around

- Propeller 19x8 Xoar

- Futaba 14SG

- Futaba R6208 SB Receiver

- Hobbico LiFeSource LiFe 6.6V 2100mAh RX batteries for both servos and ignition (unregulated)

- Opto Gas Engine Kill Switch for remote engine kill

- Two RC on/off switches for ignition and receiver

Pros:

- Nice design and beautiful color scheme – looks great in the sky

- Nice build quality and attention to details

- Detailed build instructions

- A step up for pilots coming from a basic trainer – still very easy to fly

- Aerobatic capable with limited 3D capabilities

- Lots of room inside the fuselage for equipment arrangement

- Total head-turner at the field

- Pairs great with DLE engines

Cons:

- Elevator servos and linkage could have a better arrangement

- Main landing gear are a little stiff

Summary:

The Escapade MX is a great step up plane for RC pilots who are coming from a medium to large electric or nitro trainer type planes and have learned the basic skills of flying and building an RC plane. Experienced pilots who want to add another plane to their fleet will also enjoy this plane. It is relatively easy to build plane aided by the very detailed manual, thank you Great Planes! The cost of the Escapade 30cc and the DLE engine make it a pretty wallet friendly investment for those pilots wanting their first gas plane and want to forgo a boring trainer.

 

Out of the Box:

The plane is nicely boxed and every part was nicely wrapped and was in their individual protective bags. Once I opened the parts bags, I found the wings and fuselage were pretty wrinkled. While that is normal for balsa planes, it does add more time to the build. I have had some good luck in my time with a few planes that came tight as a drum. I was happy to find the included hardware was solid and strong. It sucks when other companies give you a decent plane, but cheap out on the hardware, not the case here thanfully.

 

Build:

As I mentioned, the Escapade is pretty straight forward with this. With a plane this wrinkled, I decided to employ a technique a friend taught me a while ago…let the parts lay out in the sun for a bit. You don’t want to leave it out for too long, but it does help do some initial Monokote tightening. The rest of the wrinkles were removed with my iron and a few small parts with my heat gun. Like any other of my builds, I ran a layer of thin CA on all joints and places to add extra strength to the glue applied at the factory.

Once I had everything nice and ironed, I started with the wing assembly by routing the servo leads inside the wing, installed the servos and installed the supplied servo horns and control rods. Everything worked as explained in the manual. I repeated the same process for the second wing. One side of the control rods need to be soldered to the clevis, which is easily done but in my opinion this arrangement could have been better if this were done with a threaded control rod. I opted against freeing the flaps for this plane (mostly to save money) but also because I wanted the full surface to work as the aileron.

 

Both the finished wings needed a nylon wing dowels to be glued and I had to sand the dowels a little to make them fit straight. 30 minutes epoxy was used to glue the dowels and I test fitted wings in the fuselage with the carbon fiber wing tube. The wing tube is a tight fit, but I definitely prefer that to a loose fitting on! The nylon dowels used as wing retainers were also a little tight so I sanded them a little to make them fit nicely.

 

Next, the wings and stabilizers were test fitted for alignment. The distance between the wings and stabilizers were measured to make sure they are aligned and marked for gluing. The stabilizers were also glued in using 30 minute epoxy. I deviated from the manual in that I glued both the stabilizers and fin together so they could cure together and any imperfections could be resolved before fully curing.

 

Tail wheel and main landing gears were installed following the directions exactly mentioned in the manual…no surprises there. Blue threadlock was used on all screws with metal to metal contact. The fuselage was prepared to install rudder and elevator servos by carefully aligning places for each servo. Holes were drilled for servo screws and a drop of thin CA was used to give strength to the servo screw holes. The space for all three servos (one for rudder and two for elevators) were a little bit tight to use any bigger control horns so longer servo horns were cut to a smaller size so they don’t hit each other during operation. Everything went according to the manual and once again one end of the control rods needed to be soldered to the metal clevises. It was simple and easy again, these style solder clevises are a bit old school and it would just be nicer and easier to have threaded rods and clevises right out of the box.

 

Gas Engine Installation:

Engine firewall was drilled for DLE35RA according to the instructions in the manual and per the instructions using the DLE manual. I test fitted everything to make sure everything is nicely lined up to my liking. Holes were drilled for throttle linkage and throttle arms were installed. I opted not to use choke on a servo so I made a choke arm for using the choke manually.

There were pre cut parts to make a servo tray for throttle and choke. I glued everything to make two trays but only used the tray for throttle servo. I followed the instructions to prepare servo rods for the elevator and all went fine following the instructions in the manual. I used Permatex Maximum Temperature Copper RTV gasket maker to mount the exhaust muffler to the engine cylinder exhaust.

 

The fuel tank was assembled using the instructions in the manual. Soldering the fuel barbs onto the end of the brass tubes were not really required so I did not use them. I used the fuel tubing onto the brass tubes and secured it with small zip ties. I always cut and align the fuel tubing a little smaller so the pickup line stay away from the end of the fuel tank. Fuel tubing with contact with fuel will expand so it is better to leave some space for the pickup line to easy move around the tank for fuel pickup.

 

The switches were installed to control the on/off of ignition and receiver and servos. The kit has cutouts for smaller switches but I wanted to use bigger switches with light indicator and charging harness so I made cut outs in the fuselage for two switches. The fuel tank was installed inside the fuselage, and all the fuel plumbing was done. The vent line was routed towards the bottom of the fuselage, batteries were placed, and all wiring was routed and zip tied for a clean finish. The ignition module was mounted at the front section of the fuselage along with the ignition battery and ignition kill switch.

 

A Xoar 19x8 prop was drilled for the DLE35 RA using a drill jig, test fitted and moved on to cut and fit the cowl. I drew a template to make cut-outs for cylinder head, two exhausts pipes and easy routing of the spark plug wire. The cowl was mounted and secured using the technique explained in the manual and the rod for manual choke was fitted and routed outside of the cowl for easy access. I finished the final assembly by installing all the decals and I must admit, the plane looks really beautiful and feels really sturdy.

 

The engine was test run for a slight break-in on the ground with cowl off for extra cooling. All control surfaces were checked and control throws were measured. Dual rates were programed in the Futaba 14SG as per the manual while another rate (triple rate) was also programmed for maximum throws on all surfaces to test some 3D capabilities of the plane. Lawn-Boy Ashless 2-Cycle Engine Oil of 32:1 mix was used for engine break-in.

 

Flight:

The CG of the plane was measured and it was spot on (neutral) with the ignition battery mounted at the front section while the RX battery was mounted at the back section of the fuselage. No change of any equipment was needed and no extra weight was needed. All control surfaces were double checked for correct movements, batteries were charged and the plane was ready for its maiden flight. Range check was done at the field before maiden flight. The ground handling was very good with big size wheels and the rudder had a very good response to turn the plane around. The DLE 35RA on 19x8 Prop had good thrust on the ground so the plane easily taxis on the grass field.

 

All set for maiden flight, the plane nicely tracked on the ground with almost no rudder correction during its take off. Once the plane was at a safe height control sticks were relaxed with mid-stick throttle, the plane needed only two clicks of left aileron trim. No elevator or rudder trim was needed as the plane was virtually flying hands off.  The plane was put into an inverted flight to further check its center of gravity. In inverted flight, the plane needed a very slight elevator input to correct its pitch down characteristics and that’s how it should be for a plane of this type with a neutral CG. Roll rate in low rate was very sluggish while in high rates the roll rate is very decent but not enough to do fast corkscrew rolls. Triple rates with maximum control throws produce very good speed rolls. Loops were very easy to pull off with no tendency of going off track on its path.

 

The DLE35RA has enough power to provide the plane unlimited vertical abilities. The plane can hold its hovering position with the power of the DLE35RA. The plane has great speed at wide open throttle and also has the ability to fly slow just like a trainer with good stable flying characteristics. Low and slow passes were fun to watch. After about 8 minutes of initial flying, a couple of touch and goes were done with a couple of landings afterward. On the final approach with throttle down, the plane slows down very well and still tracks very well for its landing approach. It settles itself with the nose down approach very easily to make touch downs a breeze. The only problem with the landings are very stiff main landing gear. Due to the stiffness of the landing gear, any landings less than perfect will cause a bump or two after the landing.

 

During the initial break-in process, the needle settings on the carburetor are kept slightly rich which will be adjusted after a gallon use of the break-in mix. A synthetic mix of 40:1 will be used once the break-in is done. No changes were needed after the maiden flight except to check each and every nut and bolt and glued sections to make sure they are secured.

 

Conclusion:

This is an overall a very nice plane to build and fly. It is definitely a must have plane for anyone who is stepping up from a trainer and wants to explore aerobatic style of flying. It is still a very relaxed plane for casual flying and will still work as a trainer for instructor who wants to train beginners on a buddy box system. It is also a great platform for anyone who wants to start into gas planes. It is very easy to setup as a first gas plane and will handle the power of both the DLE 30 and 35cc gas engines. The Escapade is an excellent choice for a great, smooth flying giant scale airplane without breaking the bank. Since practically everything I used on this plane were available on Tower Hobbies, that meant I could take advantage of their sweet coupon codes. It knocked quite a bit off the total price of the setup for this plane. While the Escapade looks almost like a 3D capable plane, it is relatively limited in that regard. That is fine for me because, as you may have seen from my other videos, I am not much of a 3D pilot. I like calling myself a “sport flyer” and the Escpade 30cc fits my needs perfectly. If you are in the market for a good size, awesome flying, great quality plane, backed by one of the biggest names in RC, I say go grab yourself one of these, you’re going to love it!  Check out my maiden flight (first video below) and a later flight on the second video below.

 

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