Home RC Airplane Reviews Aerobird Challenger Review
Aerobird Challenger Review Print E-mail
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Ever since I was a kid I have been fascinated with airplanes flight. As a child I would watch in awe as the nimble crop dusters buzzed around the family farm and I always wanted to be in the pilot’s seat. Throughout the decades the flying bug continually nibbled at me until about 5 years ago when I decided to try my hand at RC Flying. After much research for a beginner plane I finally decided upon the Hobby Zone Aerobird Challenger.



For approximately $110 the Ready-to-Fly 3-Channel Aerobird seemed like a no-brainer. Upon opening the box I discovered the Challenger had everything I needed to fly, right down to the 8 AA batteries for the transmitter. It even came with a CD for the computer that instructed me on assembly and basic flight maneuvers. I put my battery on the supplied charger, popped the CD in the computer and assembled my new plane.


Assembly
Assembly was super easy since most components of the bird are pre-assembled. All that was required of me was to attach the wing with the supplied rubber bands, push in the landing gear and make myself a drink since I was already done. My impatience got the better of me and even though the battery wasn’t done charging I stuck it on the plane and played around with the settings. I thought something was wrong with the stock motor as every time I went to full throttle the motor would cut out. I quickly learned that a battery with little charge won’t have enough to power the motor, good to know.


Features
The Aerobird is a 3-channel V-tail plane. 3 Channel means Throttle, Elevator and Rudder. Since the Aerobird has a v-tail the 2nd and 3rd channel are mixed to give you the ability to go up, down, left and right. In addition, the Aerobird is a pusher prop setup which saves the beginner from having to go through props in case they have a nose-in incident. For the intermediate pilot the Aerobird has a ‘pro mode’ which allows larger throws in the v-tail. One of the coolest and most fun features of the Aerobird is the X-Port Module. This module allows the addition of a Sonic Combat Module or an Aerial Drop Module. The Sonic Combat Module uses sound waves to ‘take down’ another pilot’s Aerobird equipped with the module as well. Once hit, the motor recovers after a few seconds allowing you to get right back in the action. If you don’t have a friend to fly with you can attach the Aerial Drop Module and use it to parachute bombs or paratroopers to the ground, both modules are a lot of fun and sold separately.  There is a button on the Transmitter that acts as a trigger for either of the modules.


First Flight

The maiden voyage with the Aerobird was also my first flight ever with an RC Plane. As you can imagine I was a bit nervous. In a baseball field with too many trees and houses nearby I took the plane up did one circuit and brought her down to a perfect two-point landing. I was thrilled. Over the course of an hour I logged several flights and got comfortable with the plane. The plane was very stable in the air, but even as a beginner I felt that the plane was hard to turn. Speed was about perfect for a beginner and I found it could stay afloat with just over half throttle, although I usually forgot this and went full throttle the whole time.


Takeoffs and Landings
Takeoffs and Landings were very easy. The plane lifts off the ground with great ease as full throttle. Landings aren’t too bad as long as you’re smooth with the throttle, I felt it took a slightly larger area to land then I had imagined it should with such a light, small plane.


Aerobatics
It is possible to do a loop with the plane with a fresh battery but other than that I felt it had no significant aerobatic performance.


Broken Horns, no control and other issues
It didn’t take long for me to have my first issue with the Aerobird. After having several successful flights I went to change the battery. Holding the Challenger by the nose I accidentally dropped the plane (about 1 foot off the ground) on its tail. When I picked it up I noticed the drop had broken one of the rear control horns. I was done for the day, but picked up some replacement horns to get her ready for another day of flying. My frustrations began when it came time to fix the horn. It was hard enough getting the broken horn out, but the real pain began when I was attaching the linkages to the new horns. The Aerobird Challenger uses fishing line (or a close cousin) from the servos to the rear horns to control the v-tail. The system used to secure the line is very frustrating and hard to get tight or just right. After securing everything I’d find that I had the line too tight or too loose and have to start all over again.  Eventually I got everything looking good, but after my repair the Aerobird never flew quite right.
The landing gear is also a very weak spot on the Aerobird Challenger. After a few hard landings the gear becomes very loose in the slot that holds it and without making modifications or gluing it permanently the gear will shift backwards when rolling on the ground.
The body of the airplane isn’t very conducive to those that like to tinker. It is very narrow and in order to even get to the inner servos, cutting the top of the body is necessary. I was unable to ever tinker with mine as the area where the boom and the body connect became slightly bent and even though I tried to straighten out the tiny bend, the bird was never flyable again.


Conclusion
When I first flew the Aerobird I was thrilled and happy to be flying for the first time. It worked well for a short while, but when things broke I found them difficult to repair and as a result the Challenger became less and less airworthy. It became a running joke between me and another friend that owned the Aerobird that she flew well as long as you didn’t have to turn. Turning the Aerobird Challenger was like trying to turn the Titanic. Thankfully there are no icebergs in the sky. Due to all of my own frustrations and frustrations of others that have owned the plane I can only give the Aerobird a rating of D.


Pros

  • Inexpensive
  • Easy to put together
  • Fairly forgiving and easy to fly
  • Will make you curse like a sailor


Cons

  • Not Very Repairable
  • Weak tail and landing gear
  • Turning ability leaves something to be desired
  • Motor is weak even for a beginner plane


Is this for a beginner?

It is most certainly a beginner plane and if everything is working correctly it flies stable and well. However there are better beginner planes out there like the Hobbyzone Supercub.

Read the Hobbyzone Supercub Review


 
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