FMS 1090MM LED Firefly PNP Review
Review by Gunnar Hovmark, Staff Contributor
Spektrum DX6 transmitter
Spektrum AR610 receiver
Redragon 3-cell 2200 mAh battery, weight 177 grams
- The LED panels, this plane really shines in low light conditions
- Very agile, yet easy to fly
- Excellent ground handling
- Convenient size
- Very quick and easy assembly
- The holes in the control horns were too big, could have caused a disaster
- Recommended aileron throws in the manual were way too small
Here’s a plane that will make you stay at the field until late in the evening, and it’s great fun in broad daylight too. However, study the ”cons” in this review carefully before you go flying!
As I have indicated in ”cons”, there are two things you need to know. On my plane the holes in the control horns were too big. It looked like the ball links for the control surfaces were nicely attached to the control horns, but in reality the screws that held them could not be tightened, they just rotated in the holes. On my 20th flight one of the aileron links fell off. One of the pictures shows that my rudder horn is the same. If your plane has the same problem you have to prevent the screws from coming out. I use CA glue to secure each screw, and that seems to work, just make sure that you don’t get the ball stuck inside the socket. Other solutions might be to drill smaller holes in the control horns, or get bigger screws.
The other ”con” is the recommended aileron throws. In my manual they were 8-12 mm up and down. In reality that’s so little that you’ll have trouble controlling the plane on a gusty day. A good value to start with is 35 mm up and down, and you will probably want more when you start doing aerobatics.
The Firefly is a PNP model, so everything is included and installed except the ”equipment used” that I’ve listed. The Firefly comes almost ready assembled, you just have to attach the wing tips, the landing gear, the stabilizer and the propeller, and join the fuselage with the wing. The assembly is very much like any other PNP foamie, the main difference is that there are seven extra connectors to plug in, for the LED panels. The wing is held to the fuselage with six twist-to-lock pins, so in theory it should be very easy to remove it for transport and storage. In reality there are also five connectors for the wing’s LED panels and two for the aileron servos, so I don’t think I will take the wing off very often. The size of the plane makes transport quite convenient anyway. Unlike most FMS models the Firefly uses a standard propeller, so if you happen to break it you can get a new one anywhere.
I recommend that you put the CG in the forward part of the region that the manual recommends. For me it was sufficient to push the battery as far forward in the battery compartment as possible, but you may want to add a tiny bit of lead. I put Velcro on the battery and on the battery compartment floor to make sure that the battery doesn’t slide backwards. You can see the battery position in one of the pictures. The Firefly comes with an E-flite battery connector, but I replaced it with a Deans connector to suit my batteries. That means that the ugly soldering you see in the picture is made by me, not by FMS.
The LEDs have four different modes that you can choose via the 5th channel on your radio. If you don’t like any of them you can experiment with moving the connectors around. I switched connectors P3 and P4 to make the left wing go all red and the right wing go all green in the default mode. Total weight of the Firefly including battery is 1250 grams.
The Firefly is a ”night flyer”, i.e. it’s equipped with LED panels to make it visible in the dark. Midsummer in Sweden is a ridiculous time to test a night flyer because it never gets really dark. I have flown a lot in dusk though, and the LEDs work magnificently then, especially in the default mode. The color-changing modes are not as good for showing the plane’s orientation, but they look cool. I have also flown a lot in daylight, and I really like the way this plane behaves. Straight takeoffs are easy, aileron turns look good, roll rate is high, turns can be made very tight, landing speed is low and it does a decent knife-edge. Spins are not very thrilling, maybe the CG has to be moved back a bit for that. Driving around on our grass field is easy thanks to the big wheels, steerable tail wheel and a good landing gear geometry. My first taxi test failed because the right wheel was stuck though. I always carry screwdrivers and a wrench to the field, so that was easily fixed.
The ailerons are a bit odd. In fact the whole wing tips move. I don’t really know what the point with that is, but it works very well.
With my battery, full power and all lights on I get a little over five minutes flight time, which is decent in my opinion.
If you’re looking for a plane that can be flown in low light this is an excellent choice. It’s not a plane for beginners, but if you know the basics and want an aerobatic plane that’s easy to fly, then it’s for you. Hopefully FMS will fix the ”cons” ASAP. The top video below is the FMS promo video, and the other video is another FMS video with a lot more flight footage. We haven't had a chance to record any video but feel these videos should give you a good idea of the performance.