By Curtis Mattikow
(See photos below)
I keep a close eye on what comes out of the turbine jet factories nowadays, and I have to say, the bar keeps getting raised on the completeness, quality and prefabrication fronts each time I see a new one. FeiBao is not a new company, they have made models that were or are sold by several other popular brand names. Recently, they started to sell under their own name, and have introduced a staggering new range of jets of all types and sizes. The first new one to hit our shores here is the Velox, a fantastic sport jet in the popular twin-boom mode.
The plane is all fiberglass, except for the outer wings, which are prebuilt from wood and glassed. The entire plane is painted in the mold, decaled and clear-coated at the factory, and the finish work is excellent. All the difficult parts, such as the formers, retract mounts, hatch latches and wing retainers are already done for you at the factory. You can open up the box, plug the parts together and have it looking like an airplane five or 10 minutes after opening the box. It’s available in plain white or four different sport paint schemes. A fantastic set of retracts, struts, wheels and brakes are available as a package with the airframe. All air hardware is included in the package, including tons of air line, y-connectors, two air valves and every part you need. There is more in the box, too. A really nice fiberglass fuel tank, plus super-duty titanium links with ball-bearing ball links, G-10 fiberglass control horns, fiberglass gear doors…pretty much everything you need except the electronics and engine. For an additional $150, the plane is available in a “factory-built” version, with control horns, landing gear and gear doors all preinstalled. That’s a heck of a deal! I was lucky enough to get the first one out of the factory, and mine was not the factory-built version, but I didn’t want the complication of gear doors anyway.
When my plane arrived, there was no manual included, so I wrote one, and you can have it emailed to you for no charge from Wagner Machado at rcjetmodels.com, the distributor for FeiBao. Wagner is a heck of a nice guy and glad to help in any way. The manual spans 52 pages and covers every single step of assembly. It should get you up and flying, even if you have never done a turbine model before. From a building point of view, there is nothing particularly daunting for an intermediate builder, you just need to use care and craftsmanship. From a flying point of view, this is a high-performance aircraft, and demands high intermediate skills.
All flying surfaces are pre-hinged with Robart-type hinges, which only need to be glued into place. The retract set is very nicely done, fits in with no modifications and worked perfectly from the start. The included wheels and pneumatic brakes are great, but the brakes won’t lock up hard and hold the aircraft still at full power. They certainly slow it down well and will stop the airplane at idle. In practice, this has worked out fine, as the brakes won’t cause the tires to lock up, skid and wear out flat spots. Also offered is an optional set of trailing-link struts that might soak up the bumps a little more on rough grass fields, but I found the regular set to work just fine. Flaps are included, and they are very effective. They are not really needed for takeoff, but are absolutely mandatory for landings; it’s nearly impossible to get this very slick aircraft slowed down enough without them.
The quality of the overall build from the factory is superb. No loose glue joints, everything is solid and the paint finish is very good. The Velox absolutely raises the bar on prefabrication, an incredible amount of stuff is already done for you at the factory and all the work is excellent.
All hardware is heavy-duty metric stuff, every bit was useable. The only worry I had was the plywood for the nosegear mount seemed a little thin for the job. I ended up reinforcing it with a second layer. I used the Spektrum DX7 radio, which has only seven outputs, so I flipped one flap servo over to reverse it so I could use a regular Y-harness to drive them. You need a heck of a lot of extensions to connect all your servos. I got mine from TanicPacks.com. I’ve found they have really nice 22 gauge extensions for very cheap prices and have very fast service.
For power, I chose the Artes Super Bee turbine. It has been an excellent choice, fits in perfectly, is very thrifty on fuel and has a superb power-to-weight ratio, along with spectacular service and a lifetime warranty. It puts out an honest 14 pounds of thrust, which is plenty to drive the Velox along at a very rapid rate. There’s room to fit a larger turbine, such as the Jetcat P-80, but everything is a tradeoff. More engine weight aft of the CG is going to mean more noseweight required, and an overall increase in weight at least partially cancels out the additional thrust. I’d be pretty sure the airframe can take it, even larger engines such as the 27-pound thrust P-120 types, but I feel pretty strongly that the Super Bee has plenty of power, and the light weight of the smaller engines makes for a nicer flying aircraft. If you really feel the need for more power, perhaps the best choice is the Wren Super Sport, which weighs the same as most 14-pound engines but puts out 18 pounds of thrust. I used a BVM UAT for an air trap.
If you follow the instruction manual for assembly, it will save you a lot of time. There is a very specific sequence to getting the plane together, and it’s worth following because you may end up having to move bac
Expect to spend 30 hours or so getting the Velox together. It’s not a difficult assembly job, but with 10 servos, three retracts, brakes and fuel system, there is a fair amount of work to do, and it requires careful craftsmanship. While construction is very fast, you still need to pay attention and perform every step of assembly with care and precision. Ask yourself after every step of every operation, “Is this potentially going to crash my aircraft?” and take the time to re-do anything that might be even a little suspect. Turbine- powered model aircraft are very intolerant of sloppiness.
In the Air
The Velox performs fine off of either pavement or grass. It will be airborne in perhaps 100 feet from pavement, 200 from grass. I do not use flaps on takeoff, I’m sure you could reduce the takeoff distance with a little flap. Ground handling is superb, no issues whatsoever. Landings are easy, with full flaps and she slows down very nicely to maybe 25mph and will fly right down to the runway and settle in.
General Flight Performance
Stability It’s a very stable aircraft, but it has no self-neutralizing tendencies. It will go in whatever direction you left it in, without any change and it’s not going to level out by itself.
Tracking A very steady flyer. The built-in downthrust was perfect with the Super Bee, there are no pitch changes with thrust changes, and no real noticeble trim change with fuel burn; the tank is very close to the CG.
Aerobatics Huge thousand-foot loops, very rapid rolls, unlimited knife-edge, spins, inverted flight, the plane is capable of just about anything the pilot can think up. It seems to be doing close to 200mph on a fast pass, and with the Super Bee, vertical is almost unlimited if you have a little inertia up.
Glide and stall performance It will glide a heck of a long way if you have a flame-out, it’s very clean, and if you keep the speed up, you’ll be very surprised at the low sink rate and will likely overshoot your landings if you don’t drop the flaps. It stalls straight forward, at a very low speed, with a little wing rocking to indicate the stall is about to happen. Aileron and elevator controls get pretty mushy right at the stall, so make sure you are high enough before trying one, it does take some room to regain speed and recover.
The only radio mix I used is to add about 15 degrees of up-elevator with full flaps. The nose pitches down with flap application, and the up-elevator cancels that out. You might want to add a landing mix that gives you down flaps, a little up-elevator trim and additional elevator up authority to help it flare on landing, if you’re flying from a short runway.
Aerobatically, the plane is awesome. It has large and effective control surfaces and is pretty forgiving of mistakes. You’ll have a hard time getting into a situation you cannot get out of without just adding a little power and using the rudders to correct a spin. It lands easily for a jet, but I won’t say “walking speed,” you need to be used to a fast aircraft that needs to be flown right down to the runway. If you have experience with heavy warbirds or pattern planes, you’ll have no problem, it flies straight and true like a good pattern ship.
Excellent LG and brakes
Factory paint job is superb
Flight performance is outstanding
Radio: Spektrum DX7, Hitec 5645 digitals on all main flight surfaces, 225MG on rudders, HS55 on gear and brakes
2×1800 6v Ni-Cds from TanicPacks.com for radio with two separate switches
Engine/motor: Jet Central Super Bee, BVM UAT
Type: Sport turbine
Wing area: 2.00m
Weight: 18.5 pounds
Radio req’d: 7 channels, 10 servos
Power req’d: 12-18 pound thrust turbine