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Great Planes VFO Sport 3D/EP ARF

By Greg Covey
Published: March 12, 2010
Great Planes VFO hovering
The VFO hovering
Great Planes VFO
The VFO right after takeoff
Product: The Great Planes VFO (Vertical Flying Object, aka POGO) is a different kind of airplane that takes off vertically from the ground and then flies forward like an airplane. Although meant to be an indoor flyer, it can also be flown outdoors on very calm days.

The foam-with-carbon-fiber-bracing kit itself is inexpensive but it requires the following support items: ElectriFly Rimfire Brushless 300 Motor (GPMG4505); ElectriFly Silver Series 12A ESC (GPMM1810); ElectriFly BP Series 11.1V, 300mAh LiPo Pack (GPMP0701); Futaba S3114 Micro High-Torque Servos (4); and APC 9x4.7 Slo-Flyer Propeller (APCQ5010).

Optionally, the larger ElectriFly BP Series 11.1V, 640mAh LiPo Pack (GPMP0705) can be used for longer flights at the expense of an added ounce in weight.

The VFO box is beautifully designed to sell itself. However, in addition to the support items mentioned above, there are a few other caveats that a customer should be aware of for a successful experience. The ElectriFly RimFire 300 motor must be reconfigured in order to utilize the prop-saver adapter and rubber o-ring. This requires the customer to change the position of the motor shaft. I found this procedure too difficult due to the threadlocker applied to the two grub screws that needed to be loosened. Using the normal prop adapter (also included) was much easier.

The VFO uses several mixes to synchronize all four control surfaces, so a programmable transmitter is required. Elevon mixing is used on the "wings" to obtain normal flight and the second rudder surface is mixed from an AUX channel to match the rudder control. The final two mixes are used to allow the aileron channel to additionally swing the two rudder surfaces. In this manner, all four control surfaces follow the same aileron direction for rolls. Although three P-mixes are needed to accomplish this setup, it is still possible to leave out the last aileron-to-rudder mix so that only three of the four control surfaces follow the aileron stick. This reduction allows lower-end transmitters to be used on the VFO with minimal ill effects on rolls.

Performance: Although not mentioned on the box, the VFO Web page states that the building time is “Ready to fly in less than an hour." The actual build time requires several evenings. In addition to using foam-safe CA and kicker, I would recommend that the customer also have some 5-minute epoxy on hand for gluing the motor mount and carbon fiber pieces.

As a seasoned intermediate pilot, I found that the VFO is very responsive and fun to fly. The VFO works best when you are flying from a hard surface. When I was flying from grass, it got sideways on the longer grass and broke a tip. I found the VFO to be very “groovy” as it goes where you point it. Using the rudder for turning worked very well. If you don’t normally fly with rudder, the VFO will teach you quite a bit on flying coordinated. In a basketball court size gym, you can do figure 8s, loops, and rolls. If you are new to flying 3D, having a buddy catch the VFO from slow flight works better than trying to make hover landings on the hardwood floor, since the landing plates are fragile. If outside, take off from pavement and land in the grass until you are comfortable with the transitions. Five minute flights were typical using the 300mAh pack when not hovering. If you plan to practice hovering, the larger 640mAh pack should be used, as you need about half-throttle to keep it pointed up.

Marketing: Although the VFO is meant to be a hover trainer, it is not meant to be a general flying trainer. That being said, if you have intermediate flying skills, the VFO is a great way to learn to hover and coordinate rudder turns. Both intermediate and advanced pilots will have a great deal of fun with the VFO as it can perform many unusual stunts and maneuvers. It is a unique design that utilizes economical LiPo packs and components.

Some key spares to keep on hand would be some APC props. In addition to the recommended 9x4.7 Slo-Flyer size, a smaller 8x3.8 prop can be used to reduce motor heat when using the larger 640mAh LiPo pack.

VITAL STATS 
Products: VFO Sport 3D/EP ARF
Maker: Great Planes
Stock No: GPMA1135
MSRP: $34.99
Availability: Great Planes Model Distributors

BOTTOM LINE
  • Ideal for indoor sport, 3D stunts and learning how to hover
  • Intermediate flying skills
  • Requires programmable mixing transmitter
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