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Flying Probs with the Firebird Freedom

Old 07-01-2006, 09:17 PM
  #26  
Ejet42
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Dear Jeditanker,
I also would advise you to contact Horizon Hobby. I did, returned the Freedom for evaluation (~$15 my cost including insurance - a must!!! - it guarantees delivery!!). HH "disposed" of the FBF because they said that receiving didn't know what to do with it (don't know why because Joe Chrisman's name was on the address label under "Attention"); hence no evaluation. Received replacement FBF. This one doesn't have nearly as bad a tip stall tendency as did the first but it's still there!! Wing configuration probably slightly different. HH still insists that they have not had a large set of problems to substantiate my assertions, and that "they do not pay attention to what is written in forums". They further state that they have design and test teams - experts that thoroughly appraise all products, and that these teams have deemed the FBF a Zone 1 plane for those who want to "teach themselves to fly". I personally think they are heavily involved in the Ostrich Syndrome. I also don't believe that there is a lot of maturity or flight experience in Horizon's Customer Service Department. These guys don't realize that they are the lubricant between products and unhappy customers, and that a little "give" on their part goes a long way toward customer satisfaction.

I think that the real problem from a customer's perspective is that users have not contacted customer service enough, written enough letters, gotten high enough in Horizon Hobby's management organization, and created enough attention to this problem. The real solution is to correct that situation. If everyone that has had problems with the Firebird Freedom would be on the horn to HH Customer Service and not accept "We haven't heard of any problems from the field", something might be done. Until that happens, my prediction is that all will remain "status quo", and Horizon Hobby will not use their afore mentioned "extensive design and test teams" to correct the problem.
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Old 07-01-2006, 09:37 PM
  #27  
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It is nay impossible to reach "higher up" in horizon. I had a long going warranty claim on a fault arrow trainer. I shipped it off and it went into a black hole, then went on back order for 3 months. It took like 3 phone calls and 2 letters to get an update. After that, I pointed out that all the delay had run out my ama dues and my flight field dues - so they tossed in a JR huggie and a form letter explaining their policies.
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Old 07-01-2006, 11:43 PM
  #28  
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Well I took it back to the store, told them what had happened and asked them to take a look and tell me how to make it air worthy. They looked at it and concluded that it could not be made air worthy and probably never was. The ACT was not working at all and the clerk thought the servos weren't responding properly. So they gave me a whole new plane (to destroy).

Hopefully we'll have better luck. Too windy today to find out, though. Mabye tomorrow.
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Old 07-01-2006, 11:48 PM
  #29  
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Beats nothing I guess. Before you go out tomorrow, packing tape the leading edges of the wing, make sure the battery has a good charge and check the control surfaces visually for trim.

Also be sure to give her a good heave on the hand launch. I found that most of the damage done to my plane was from a tip stall on a hand launch where I didn't throw it hard enough.

Ohh leave act off too.
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Old 07-01-2006, 11:51 PM
  #30  
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Originally Posted by jeditanker View Post
Well I took it back to the store, told them what had happened and asked them to take a look and tell me how to make it air worthy. They looked at it and concluded that it could not be made air worthy and probably never was. The ACT was not working at all and the clerk thought the servos weren't responding properly. So they gave me a whole new plane (to destroy).

Hopefully we'll have better luck. Too windy today to find out, though. Mabye tomorrow.
Well best of luck on the new one Jedi... That is precisely why I love to shop at my LHS as opposed to the net!

May the force be with you with this one! Let us know how it does.
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Old 07-09-2006, 11:12 PM
  #31  
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Any update on this? How goes it?
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Old 07-10-2006, 01:04 AM
  #32  
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Oh, it flew great on the first try. We flew it around for 5 minutes or so then I landed it. Beautiful. The second flight wasn't so great. It got airbourne again but after a couple minutes we got into trouble porpoising and it stalled, rolled left and crashed hard. Broke the wing. Destroyed the fuselage. Ohioclayguy agreed to sell me his and all the parts he has (two extra batteries, an extra fuselage, new tails, etc). I bought those, but decided to shelve it for a while. We picked up the Commander 2 instead. No this is truly a beginner's plane. It gets in the air everytime (I had to adjust the tail a little, though) and when it stalls, it recovers gracefully. We've crashed it a number of times (into a tree...into a telephone poll...into the ground) but haven't had to replace anything other than rubber bands for the wings! Great plane. My son can fly it and my 10 year-old nephew flew it too.

Anyway...I have the freedom airworthy again. Maybe in a few weeks (once I can fly the Commander 2 with no stalls) I'll take it out again.
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Old 07-10-2006, 02:29 AM
  #33  
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One thing I noted on my freedom - and it is HARD to learn. That power system w/ the 7 cell battery. It only has around 1 good launch in it. No clue why it'd porpoise on the 2nd flight - did you bump the trims - they move EASY.

Glad to hear you found something that worked for you. Stuff falling from the sky is frustrating.
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Old 07-11-2006, 08:45 PM
  #34  
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I started out with the Firebird Freedom, just as most folks, trusting the glowing online reviews... I had the exact same problems you've mentioned... I was constantly chasing the controls trying to keep it up and level. I went through probably 2 or 3 tails and wings in ugly crashes, just happy that the replacement parts were cheap and readily available.

Finally, based on several forum suggestions, I turned the "ACT" off, and it was instantly better. I flew it several more times, then after another crash, decided it was time to move on to better technology. Months later, cleaning out the "hangar" of old stuff, I decided to tear the plane down and look inside. To my amazement, one of the two connectors for the ACT was disconnected! I don't know if it came that way from the factory or if one of my less than desireable encounters with terra firma shook it loose, but it certainly explained how, in my case, turning it off made life measurably better.

I was a little suprized that they hid these connections so far down inside the plane that you'd have to disassemble it to notice there was even a connector down there!
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Old 07-14-2006, 05:42 AM
  #35  
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Default Same problems here

I too have experienced the same problems mentioned with the Freedom. It is capable of beautiful flight, but it has that tendancy to suddenly drop a wing and head for the ground without any real provocation. I'm on my second set of wings after sticking it in a tree thanks to ACT and my being a rookie pilot, this being my first plane at the time.

After flying some other planes including a nitro trainer fairly successfully, I had the nerve to put the Freedom in the air again. Had a pretty good flight or two with one occurance of the tip stall, which I just assumed I had somehow caused. Then I noticed the problem recurring on multiple occasions.

I then decided just to get another plane, a proven one so I bought a Aerobird Challenger. What a difference. The plane all but flies itself in the "sport" mode. Two relaxing, lengthy flights this afternoon with absolutely no weird behavior or problems whatsoever. It also launches much easier than the Freedom.

I am going to strongly suggest to my LHS that they put newbies in something like a Commander or Scout to begin with and then advance to the Challenger, unless they have someone with experience to help them, in which case the Challenger would be a great start.

I love the looks of the Freedom, and the rod type control linkage, etc. but I really think there is a serious design flaw with the wing of this plane...something is causing that weird dip. It would be great if someone could come up with a fix for this...otherwise it is a really nice plane.

BTW, I would probably let the Freedom go for a fifty bucks or so, if anyone is interested. It's still in decent shape.
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Old 07-14-2006, 03:29 PM
  #36  
Leo L
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Without a doubt the Challenger is a much better plane than the Freedom. Forget about the "Sport" mode and go directly to the "Pro" mode. As long as you remember to be easy on the controls, you'll love the way that it flies.

The problem with the Freedom is that it is relatively heavy for its wing size, giving it a high wing load. This makes the plane difficult to fly, particularly for a beginner. If you don't keep up the speed, the wing stalls, causing the plane to drop, spin and crash. It would be interesting if some adventurous owner of a Freedom added 6-8 inches of wing to the end of the Freedom's wing and posted the results. Any takers?
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Old 07-14-2006, 09:39 PM
  #37  
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Originally Posted by Leo L View Post
Without a doubt the Challenger is a much better plane than the Freedom. Forget about the "Sport" mode and go directly to the "Pro" mode. As long as you remember to be easy on the controls, you'll love the way that it flies.

The problem with the Freedom is that it is relatively heavy for its wing size, giving it a high wing load. This makes the plane difficult to fly, particularly for a beginner. If you don't keep up the speed, the wing stalls, causing the plane to drop, spin and crash. It would be interesting if some adventurous owner of a Freedom added 6-8 inches of wing to the end of the Freedom's wing and posted the results. Any takers?
I have two creased wings that I could probably salvage enough material out of to do that...might be worth a try. I bet if you built up a wing slightly wider and add a little dihedryl to it it would also help the problem. With the carbon fiber wing attachment method this might not be too hard to do. Actually I had also been eyeing it last night with thoughts of maybe putting something like a firebird extreme wing on it somehow.

I think the Freedom might be an example of a design solely for the purpose of being something different. With the success of the other top wing planes in their line, I don't really know of any other reason for the shift to the mid mounted wing and different wing dimensions. As far as the ACT thing goes, they need to can that and just stick to the normal beginner / pro setups IMO. Too many factors can affect the ACT sensors, and quite frankly there are times when I would much rather be allowed to dive my plane into the ground than to be over-ridden by a computer which might not realize the plane is about to stick itself 60' above ground in a tree. (Which , btw, is exactly what happened to me the first time I flew it.)
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Old 07-14-2006, 11:28 PM
  #38  
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Originally Posted by jimw1956 View Post
Too many factors can affect the ACT sensors, and quite frankly there are times when I would much rather be allowed to dive my plane into the ground than to be over-ridden by a computer which might not realize the plane is about to stick itself 60' above ground in a tree. (Which , btw, is exactly what happened to me the first time I flew it.)
Better yet, allow you to dive and pick up speed, so you can come out and stay out of the stall. Can't see how ACT can work, without that ability to pick up speed.

Originally Posted by jimw1956 View Post
BTW, I would probably let the Freedom go for a fifty bucks or so, if anyone is interested. It's still in decent shape.
Best of luck, but when I had a few planes like this still around dust collecting, I found that I couldn't give them away.
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Old 07-15-2006, 04:33 AM
  #39  
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[QUOTE=You might read up on the challenger or the skyfly(I think) by hobbyico - there's a thread here - it is a challenger clone but lots cheaper[/QUOTE]

I hate to be negative about something, but beware the Hobbyco clone of the challenger which is called the Redhawk.
It is only rated at 500' radio range and mine won't even do that far. Spend the extra $40 and get the Challenger. I don't know about the Skyfly, it might do better, but it is in the same price range as the Challenger.
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Old 07-15-2006, 04:46 AM
  #40  
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Default Two more great flights on the challenger today...pro mode.

It was a little windy this afternoon when I went out to my nearby pasture to fly, so I decided it would probably be best to engage the Pro mode on my new Challenger in case I needed the added control.

Wow, what a nice flying plane. Plenty of control, but still very easy to fly, even at somewhat higher speeds. Light winds didn't really bother it at all.
To be quite honest at this setting it flies very much like my nitro LT-40 trainer does, only capable of sharper turns and less speed of course. Needless to say, it wouldn't tolerate the wind that the '40 will either.

Only thing I want to do now is try and come up with some type of landing gear that will work on the rough terrain of the fields I fly in, as I am belly landing it for now (with some tape on the bottom to protect the plane as much as possible). This plane seems to come in a little hard on the landings...some of my other planes just gently slide in...this one generally makes a thump when it touches down. I'm thinking of trying to fit some Slo-V wheels on it, which I did with my GWS Beaver. These are large diameter, but small and light, and can run through the grass pretty well.
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Old 07-28-2006, 09:29 PM
  #41  
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The Freedom is the first plane I've ever purchased, and after 3 evenings of practice, I'm doubting that my money was well spent. I've already bent up a wing and the tore the tail section due to the stall condition that this plane is plagued with. Luckily I found an ideal place to fly; a long, straight stretch of paved road with no obstacles nearby, which allows for rolling take-offs and landings. The field directly beside the road has very tall grass and weeds, so the "nose-first" landings (and there have been many) are usually softened by the vegetation.

As a first-time flyer, I've found that this ACT system hinders more than helps. My flights are more successful when it's turned off.

I'll keep trying, but I gotta admit that I'm not having that much fun. I spend more time retrieving, tweaking and cussing, and when it IS in the air, I'm nervous about what it's going to do next. So instead of having fun flying, I'm thinking about how to pull it out of the next spiral that it's about dive into.

One thing about the replacement wing I bought: it's junk. Straight outta the package, and I noticed that the left wing is completely flat, wasn't "cup" shaped like the right wing (I'm a complete newb, but I think this is called camber). The hobby store replaced it, but you should note that when buying a new wing.

A question I have regarding the bent wing; it is obviously very weak where it creased, and I tried to strengthen it with packing tape (recommended by the guy at the hobby shop). But it still seems too weak for flight. Any suggestions on how to beef it up and get some more use out of it?
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Old 07-28-2006, 09:37 PM
  #42  
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I strengthened mine by running some wire through the foam along the spar - it helped.

the fear of crashing/what to do when it dives is part of the learning process to me - at least learning on a freedom I went through the same thing. It's gonna be a part of the learning that you have to "muscle" through. If you keep the plane 1/2 air worthy and regardless of how irritated you get, stay calm and keep putting it in the air - you'll out grow it.

One thing on I did on my freedom that helped me, every time I ate it - which was frequent - I stopped and thought about the orientation of the plane and where the throttle was before I lost control. I then thought about what I did versus what I should have done before I tried again. If I got into a spot I didn't understand, I asked here or locally for what I did wrong.

Another thing to try to help your confidence, and it'll be scary at first is ALWAYS fly the freedom at near full throttle. It will feel too fast the first little bit. if you get overwhelmed, cut back on the straight aways to let yourself unwind and get your head straight. She flies alot better fast. You'll just have to trim the elevator down some to make up for it. If you can get to the point to where you are flying this thing wide open comfortably, the the bird has served its purpose and you can move on to something that won't give you as many fits.
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Old 07-28-2006, 11:17 PM
  #43  
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Thanks for the advice, jc. I'll thread some wire through it tonight and give that wing another go.

I actually tried full throttle for a couple minutes last night. It seemed too fast, and I wasn't prepared for the quick responses, so I backed off.... but I'll see about working up to full throttle 100% of the time. I'll have to undo some of the adjustments I've made, as it really wanted to climb at full throttle (the manual said to expect that), but it had too much of a nose-high attitude and it was stalling out if I didn't hold the stick forward.

I'm anxious to try another plane at some point, but since I have the Freedom, I might as well sharpen my teeth on it. It could be worse, and at least I can get it to stay in the air for a while.
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Old 07-29-2006, 12:47 AM
  #44  
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I've seen some folks run small bamboo dowels (from a hobby shop) down the top side of the wing, secured with some heavy packing tape. They claimed that it worked very well.
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Old 07-29-2006, 02:07 AM
  #45  
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Try 2/3's throttle - that could be a good compromise.
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Old 07-31-2006, 11:28 PM
  #46  
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I too am a newbie with a Firebird Freedom.....It is definately a humbling experience.....The good thing (I guess) is that I'm getting really good at repairing it...LOL.....Someday I may even learn to fly it, without the ground getting in the way.....
I have a question for all you aero-experts......HAs anyone tried modifying the wing....I'm thinking that by adding about 3/4 inch to the trailing edge it may reduce some of this planes bad tendencies....Come on EXPERTS...What ya think???.....Pat
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Old 08-01-2006, 04:27 AM
  #47  
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Its your plane and your time, so if you feel comfortable... heck, what have you got to lose, you've already got a plane that won't fly.

Toying with the wing dynamics its a REAL risky proposition. The designers (should) have sophistocated CAD applications that understand lift and drag, and recommend the proper design. Putting a "best guess" on top of that, especially with little experience in the hobby, could spell the end to your beginning... but... like I mentioned earlier, what have you got to lose.

I crashed mine for the last time several months ago and never looked back, but I have seen and talked to others who took bamboo (shish kabob sticks) or carbon fiber sticks and used packing tape to attach them to the top side of the wing. This gave the wing much more rigidity, and supposedly greatly improved the stability of the plane.. you might try this before extending the wing.
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Old 08-01-2006, 05:21 AM
  #48  
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I have several damaged, patched up wings, laying around. What I was thinking was to cut strips of 1/16 balsa. One 3/4 inches wide, the other
1 1/2 inches wide. Glue one on top of the other. Then setting the step on the trailing edge and taping it from the top and bottom. Thae way it could follow some of the contour, and have rigidity. As the wings just slid on and off, it only requires popping them on to try it...
As to the engineers with all their fancy software and their degrees in aerodynamics............They're the ones that made this thing and marketed it as a novice plane. If Hobby Zone had any B____, they'd buy em all back, or offer credits for different models. One LHS by us is stuck with a dozen of em and doesn't want to compromise their integrity, by selling them.....
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Old 08-02-2006, 03:01 AM
  #49  
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I wish My LHS would have found a moment of integrity before selling me that piece of (foam). Maybe they should break the kits down and sell the wings, tails, nose, etc.. Or better yet, to make a point, just wrap them up and ship them back to Hobby Zone.. don't ask for a credit or anything, just get them out of the store! They stink up the place.

It might be fun to auction them off, then have the winners (hopefully experienced pilots) put on a combat show, last plane in the air wins all the money! Now that would be a fitting death for these things!
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Old 08-04-2006, 11:27 PM
  #50  
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I, now have an interesting situation. I just got a Super Cub.....And have basically nothing in the Freedom.....So I can experiment, modify, and crash it, till it's so heavy it needs a crane to get off the ground....LOL....I just finished building a modified tail for it, out of balsa and packing tape...If the wind is low....I will try it in the morning....Worse come to worse....I'll cannibalize it and use the Transmitter, reciever, motor, and servos, to make a boat...Pat
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