As it comes out of the box, the E550 needs only minor assembly.
The Talon 90 is mounted on the
tray near the tailboom, so it’s
easy to disconnect the motor
Photos by the author
I charged up my battery packs and prepared to head out to my
The first thing I noticed on spool up was that this helicopter
had a different sound than the original 550—it seemed to have
a little more bass to it. It popped right off the ground, and
although the GT5.2 was set up well enough to fly, it required
further tuning to get it where I like it.
I enlisted the help of Team Thunder Tiger pilot Gary Wright
(see his interview about flybarless gyros in my November
2014 “RC Helicopters” column). Being the guru that he is, in 4
minutes, we had the heli dialed in!
Although the GT5.2 can be programmed through its unique
touch pad interface, the optional USB dongle that allows you
to plug into a PC makes programming easier. I made use of
this and set the GT5.2 up through a laptop at the field.
My GT5.2 settings file is available for download on www.
ModelAviation.com to help give you a starting point when
trying to set it up. It’s worth noting that, as new firmware
becomes available, you can update the
gyro using the USB dongle and software.
So, how does it fly? It flies like any
other 3-D helicopter. The cyclic and
collective both felt as responsive as a
two-blade heli, but I initially kept bogging
down the motor with hard collective
inputs. I realized that when I ran my head
speed at 1,800 rpm instead of 2,000 rpm,
I was no longer bogging the motor, but
was still getting the same collective “pop”
that a 3-D heli needs.
It felt as though fewer inputs were
required during Tic-Tocs. In other words, I
I ran a few short autorotations, and the model had slightly
more hang time than normal. During autorotations, the
collective felt touchier as the head speed wound down, but I
think this was me overcontrolling the model.
The model felt good in the air and I think more flights will
help me understand the differences between flying 3-D with
a three-blade head versus a two-blade head. Not that I need
an excuse to fly it more. The heli looks cool, sounds good, and
with a few minor tweaks, it flies great!
To find out more about the characteristics between the two,
I enlisted the help of Nick Maxwell, who commented that the
three-blade model provides extra stability and more control
authority. The head speed can be run slower at roughly 1,950
rpm versus the 2,300 rpm that Nick uses with the two-blade
Nick also mentioned that the three-blade heli is slightly
more efficient for sport flying and ought to provide slightly
longer flight times, and pilots should see the benefit when
flying in windier conditions.
Hobbico/Thunder Tiger USA
50 Model Aviation DECEMBER 2014