This is the first of the seven RC Electric planes, peripheral equipment and add-ons supplied by www.rchobbies.com.au. We intend to do seven separate in-depth reviews over the next few months – on the E-flite Apprentice 15e, Hobbyzone Champ, Mini Super Cub, Super Cub LP, Trojan T28, Cessna 182 and the new Cessna Classic 500 with a final comparison grid on all planes. Hence, we were very pleased when the Apprentice 15E arrived at our door a day or so earlier than expected.
As described in the “Upcoming Reviews”, we will be evaluating the planes from both a true beginner as well as from an expert perspective and will report on all sorts of info in areas that you are unlikely to have seen in other reviews, ie space required to fly each plane as a beginner pilot or an experienced one, take off and landing distances, type and condition of landing medium required for that plane, peculiarities of flight, advantages of Li-Po performance batteries, up market DX6i transmitter, simulators, and Swallow EQ chargers to mention but a few. We are hopeful of covering everything that anyone wanting to fly RC electric would need to know.
So let’s get started!
(See 21 Best RC electric planes compared – this site)
The Apprentice 15e is already recognised as an up-market trainer with intermediate potential. As an RTF you are supplied with pretty much everything to make it all go, but we feel that we should comment on a couple of items before we move on to Spec’s and testing etc.
We took it all out of the box and put it together in about 45 min, but we noticed that whilst the packing box says everything is there, it is not. If you lived well out of town and didn’t read the book, you would be fairly annoyed to find that you do need 15ml of epoxy to glue the main wings. Due to the low cost and volume of glue needed, we suggest that E-flite include this in with the plane package.
When fixing the tail section to the fuselage, we experienced some difficulty in getting the locating pegs aligned correctly into the already fixed dowels, but once lined up it all screwed together with no further dramas in this area whatsoever.
We used a tape measure to check diagonal distances from front to rear wing tips etc, and adjusted where necessary. We suggest to the manufacturer that perhaps locating dowels could also be used so that the main wings are assembled square to the body more easily as they are often removed quite frequently.
A max 3 amp Li-Po charger is supplied, but whilst it appears to work well it only charges via the balance connection plug, unlike the Swallow EQ which we will also review shortly. We must state however that check readings on cells after being charged verified that it still did what it was designed for.
The TX DX Spektrum 5 is ideally matched quality wise to the plane, and we found it to be a pleasure to use. We noted also, that such is the build quality and function control that you could also use it later on any other high-end planes.
With binding and minor trim adjustments carried out as per the supplied instructions, we were ready to go flying.
• Completely ready-to-fly
• Durable Z-Foam™ construction
• DX5e transmitter and AR500 receiver included
• 3S 3200mAh Li-Po battery included
• Li-Po balancing charger included
• Tricycle landing gear
• 15-size brushless outrunner motor installed
• E-flite 30A Pro Switch-Mode BEC Brushless ESC installed
• All electronics installed
Wingspan: 58 in (1475mm)
Overall Length: 37 in (940mm)
Flying Weight: 40–45 oz (1135–1275 g)
Motor Size: 15-size brushless outrunner (installed)
Radio: Spektrum DX5e 2.4GHz (included)
Servos: 4 servos (installed)
Prop Size: 11 x 8 electric (installed)
Wing Area: 525 sq in (33.7 sq dm)
Wing Loading: 12 oz/sq ft
Charger: 3S Balancing Li-Po Battery Charger (EFLC3010) (included)
Speed Control: 30A Brushless Pro SB Brushless ESC (EFLA1030) (installed)
Approximate Assembly Time: 30 minutes
Recommended Battery: 3200mAh 3S 11.1V 15C Li-Po (EFLB1040) (included)
Experience Level: Beginner
Is Assembly Required: Yes
Trim Scheme Colours: White Z-Foam with red, black and silver decals
Approximate Flying Duration: 15 minutes
CG (centre of gravity): 3.25 in (83mm) back from the leading edge
You Will Need
Nothing, everything is included — except epoxy glue.
As an absolute raw beginner, NEVER having flown before, I taxied around the drive way then took it to a football oval and thought smugly “just how hard can this be, let’s take it up just a bit”. With a bit of throttle and up elevator, the plane, to my horror, took off within about five metres and immediately climbed to about two Power poles high. I panicked, not sure of what I did and it dove straight to earth!
I think you can see the damage, so I tested http://www.rchobbies.com.au back up service for parts. Well they had all I needed and within a few days we were operational again.
This time I asked a friend with some 30 years experience to assist.
Second and Subsequent Flights
We visited the oval again and with my Spektrum DX5 hooked into his Spektrum DX7, my friend George took it up and proceeded to do faultless loops and barrel rolls before he flicked the switch for me to play with it at an altitude he could rescue the plane if I lost control (which I did).
As an expert and as a beginner we deduced the following:
As a Beginner on your own:
• Nice looking plane easy construction
• Easy to repair
• Has ailerons and stick configuration is correct for all future 4 channel planes
• Predictable flying
• Takes off and lands well on grass @ 32mm high
• If you are as silly as I was, you too will likely crash on first flight
• Fast plane
• Requires large area
• Need to use Simulator until proficient or
• Need to use someone with RC plane experience and TX’s in tandem to obtain experience or
• Need to get proficient using a small slow inexpensive raw recruit training-suited plane as shown in final comparison grid first
As an accomplished RC flyer:
• A lovely predictable plane
• Short take off distance required only
• Very powerful
• Robust construction
• Lands and takes off on grass @ 32mm high easily
• A very responsive aeroplane
• Capable of high speed
• Excellent fly time
• Really suited to fly areas larger than a football field or keep well focussed
Summary conclusion – Apprentice 15E
A lovely responsive predictable aeroplane, (which I should have flown last to really appreciate) flying well in winds up to approximately 10 to12 km/hr. with good capability for short take off and landings on grass. (Full details of all attributes on the test base will be in final “Comparison Grid”.) At a retail price of approx $449 Aud, George the expert and I the beginner both give it the double thumbs up!