Home RC Airplane Reviews E-Flite UMX Gee Bee R2 Review
E-Flite UMX Gee Bee R2 Review Print E-mail
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Tuesday, 14 February 2012 19:57

History

The Gee Bee Model R Super Sportster was a special purpose racing aircraft made by Granville Brothers Aircraft of Springfield, Massachusetts. Gee Bee stands for Granville Brothers.

The 1932 R-1 and its sister plane, the R-2, were the successors of the previous year's Thompson Trophy-winning Model Z. Assistant Chief Engineer Howell "Pete" Miller and Zantford "Granny" Granville spent three days of wind tunnel testing at NYU with aeronautical engineering professor Alexander Klemin. The aircraft had a very peculiar design. Granville reasoned that a teardrop-shaped fuselage would have lower drag than a straight-tapered one, so the fuselage was wider than the engine at its widest point (at the wing attachment point). The cockpit was located very far aft, just in front of the vertical stabilizer, in order to give the racing pilot better vision while making crowded pylon turns. In addition, it turned out that the fuselage acted as an airfoil, just like the 'lifting-body' designs of the 1960s. This allowed the aircraft to make tight "knife-edge" turns without losing altitude. It was, in effect, a Pratt & Whitney R-1340 engine with wings and a tail on it. The Gee Bee was powered by an 800hp Pratt & Whitney engine that produced a maximum speed of 294 mph with a cruise speed of 260mph. The Gee Bee's range was 925 miles.

E-flite, Parkzone, Traxxas...RC Hobbies has it all!



Intro

Gee Bees are probably the most cartoonish looking aircraft I have ever laid eyes on. I don’t know what it is about them but I love ‘em. I was thrilled that E-flite was going to be releasing a UMX Gee Bee but curious as to how well it would fly given the unique body lines. This week the Gee Bee finally arrived and at last I could test the little bubbly bird.

   

   

Kit Contents

I brought the “kit” home, popped it open and found everything tightly packed in the box. The E-flite Gee Bee kit comes with the completely assembled plane, a 2S 200mah Lipo battery, battery charger, alligator clips to connect to a 12V power source, extra velcro for your battery and an instruction manual.  Inside of the fuselage you will find a 180 sized 3000kv brushless motor. Linear “long throw” servos that control all the moveable parts and the brain of the entire outfit is the new 6-chennel DSM2 UM AS3X/RX/BL ESC unit that contains Spektrum technology. As mentioned previously, the kit was well packaged and there was no damage to any of the plane.

   

   

Assembly

The Eflite UMX Gee Bee is 100% assembled. Nothing to do but take it out of the box and charge the battery! The battery takes about 30 minutes to charge so sit back and do thumb exercises while you wait.

Features

The E-Flite Gee Bee has very smooth lines and given the Ultra-Micro size it honestly looks great. The paint scheme is bright and scale with little features like the fake radial engine sticker to the pilot’s name and even a pilot’s head in the cockpit. The wing wires feel strong and secure all the way down to the Gee Bee’s distinctive wheel pants. A smart feature that I accidentally tested out a few times is the plastic protector piece on the top of the vertical stab. Smart move E-flite! On a few wild landings the plane flipped and skidded on the stab but received no damage. The Gee Bee also packs a solid punch with the 3000kv motor under the hood. There is a wide range of power available on the throttle stick and I never felt the need to go FULL BLAST.

Perhaps the most important feature is the new AS3X Gyro technology contained under the magnetic hatch of the plane. Without this stabilizing technology I seriously wonder if the Micro Gee Bee would have become a reality. The Gee Bee would have been a completely different plane without this brain keeping things stable.

   

First Flight

The first night I picked up the Gee Bee. I hurried home, opened the box, threw the battery on the charger and waited…waited…waited. We had a beautiful sunny day, but the sun was setting and the wind was picking up and my time was short to try and get a flight of the Gee Bee in. Regardless of the swirling wind I drove to the local park and tried to fly the little plane. Despite my conscience I took off and flew the Gee Bee in 10-15 mph wind. It was way too windy for the little plane although I was able to keep it in the air ok. Fortunately I returned to my senses and brought the plane down without a scratch.

The next day was much more successful.

I checked all of the surfaces, set the plane down and throttled up. The R2 did not need much runway space and in a matter of 6-8 feet she was off of the ground. The cartoony plane climbed out beautifully and within a few seconds she was at a comfortable cruising altitude. While doing a few circuits I could feel that something was off and I finally figured out that there was way too much left rudder causing the plane to turn left. I had to give the entire right rudder trim my radio had to even things out and I made a mental note to physically adjust the rudder on the ground.

   

With the plane trimmed out I nearly instantly felt comfortable with it. This surprised me since I figured the little Gee Bee would be ‘twitchy’ or a handful. On the contrary it was a joy to fly. It is quick and nimble and definitely needs to carry a bit more speed than other UM micros like the Spitfire or Mosquito, but with the AS3X keeping things in order I never felt out of control.

I flew the plane all over the sky and it responded excellently. I continued to fly until the motor suddenly gave the all too familiar pulsating sound, warning me that the battery was about to die and I had 2.4 seconds to find a safe landing zone. I tried to make it back to the cement for a smooth landing but there was not enough juice so I ditched it in the grass causing it to flip over. The landing produced no damage.

Flight Characteristics

The E-flite Gee Bee flies extremely well and despite the small stature it handles a slight breeze without pause. The plane is able to handle all of the basic maneuvers with ease. Rolls are predictable and inverted flight is stable, although it needed ¾ down elevator to stay level. The plane knife edges nicely and stall turns are a lot of fun. The Gee Bee needs a constant speed to stay in the air although the few times I tried to aggressively stall it, it remained stable and did not tip stall. I feel the AS3X is the reason for keeping things a float so well at slow speeds. When throttle is turned off the plane will start to descend fairly rapidly so be aware and plan your landings accordingly. Overall I was pleased with the flight characteristics although I felt the lil’ Bee could use some larger rudder throw.

   

Takeoffs and Landings

Taking off can be done from either a hand launch or from the ground. The Gee Bee has a tail wheel that isn’t steerable but I found there was just enough movement from the rudder the plane can be taxied around on the pavement.

Point the plane in the wind, throttle up to ½-full and let ‘er rip! At nearly full throttle the Gee Bee will take off in a matter of feet, but if flying scale is your cup ‘o tea the plane only needs about 10 feet at ¾ throttle.

   

Although in the video I had trouble landing the plane and for all intents and purposes it appeared as if I was trying to hit my lovely assistant; I assure you that was not the case. The Gee Bee is fairly easy to land and should definitely be landed over pavement or some other solid surface. The plane carries a bit of speed and one can make it easier on themselves if they give plenty of run up space to throttle down and glide the plane in. Bumping down the throttle will definitely cause the plane to descend rapidly before it does a final glide toward the ground.

Possible Problems?

In the 6 or so flights I have put on the Gee Bee I have not had one single problem and the bird has survived several less than stellar landings and 5 minutes of hard flying. I heard some reports from my local hobby shop that several Gee Bees had an issue where the ailerons suddenly tweaked out and turned into flaps. Yikes. I have not experienced even a single glitch so I cannot comment on the issue, but I thought it was important to share. If this happens while flying, remember the flaps will help you float and you can still guide the plane down with the rudder and elevator.

Is This Plane For a Beginner?

No, this would not be a great beginner plane since it is a bit speedy and can definitely be tad tricky on landing. There are not a lot of floating characteristics contained within the bird.

Conclusion

The E-flite Gee Bee in an impressive airplane wrapped up in a cute, bubbly package. Don’t let the cartoonish design fool you, this plane rips and will spread a smile on your face wider than the Spruce Goose’s wingspan. The Gee Bee is fast and nimble and for an experienced pilot, very easy to fly. The AS3X smooths everything out and virtually eliminates all of the twitchiness and bad habits of former low-wing Ultra Micro birds. The looks of the plane are outstanding and I noticed many heads turn and watch as I buzzed the Gee Bee around the park. Perhaps the only sad thing about the plane is the flight time. Horizon Hobby mentions that average flight time is 4 minutes and they are not lying. I was able to squeeze out 5 minute flights on separate occasions but that was all the way to the low voltage cutoff. The 3000kv sucks the juice down and more batteries are a definite if you want to keep the Gee Bee flying. The Gee Bee is a fantastic buy and the perfect little plane to throw in the trunk and fly at the local school or park. Don’t let this one pass you up!

GRADE: A

Pros

  • Scale Looks
  • Fast and Stable – Gyro Tech!
  • Aerobatic
  • Plenty of Power
  • Can be flown in mild wind

Neutrals

  • Battery life is on the short side
  • One of the wheels was terribly off center

Cons

  • None Noted

 

Media and FLIGHT TIME!

   

   

   

   



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