Bruce Brown of FlyOhio.com has updated his Free Spirit and I got to fly it at Beach Blast 2010. This review comes from notes recorded after the flight.
I made very few notes, probably because it flew and ground handled much like the 2007 model I reviewed in 2009. The updates mostly regard the frame, throttle and a few other changes that didn’t make a huge difference in behavior.
Weight: I didn’t get to weigh the machine, a situation that I’m going to remedy by carrying a portable digital scale. A machine’s empty weight should include everything necessary to fly except fuel.
Harness & Suspension: The custom-made Apco harness is handy in that it can accept either high or low hook-ins. I flew this one in the low hook-in position and it was standard, with good weight shift as you would expect with articulating arms, moving each riser through about 6 inches of travel.
Bruce was a long-time importer of the Airfer, a low hook-in machine with pivoting arms, so the similarities of the Free Spirit are not surprising.
Flight (-): Unfortunately, I made no notes here. Flying the machine comfort, harness adjustments, throttle response, cruise control, freedom of movement.
Weight Shift (-) 6 Inches of riser movement per riser. The articulating arms can be locked in place when flying with the high hook-in position. That’s cool, especially for new pilots. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to try the high hook-in position to see how it felt. Hopefully the next time.
Torque (-): I commented that the torque was well managed. That would suggest that my body twisted less than about 20 degrees when I went smoothfly from Idle to full power.
Thrust (-): Good. Standard Black Devil power averaging probably 130 pounds depending on prop size.
Endurance (-): The black devil is a bit thirsty. I own a couple of them and typically get about 1.2 gal per hour (GPH) on a Spice 22.
Vibration (-): Average. Nothing noted. I find the Black Devil can is just as smooth as any other motor when it’s at or above the recommended idle RPM. But if you let it idle much below about 2000, it shakes pretty vigorously.
Sound (-): Average.
Safety (-): Having a two-hoop cage is good although the prop does stick out behind a bit, as is common. The 2nd hoop is welded in AFT of the radial arms (most are forward) which reduces clearance to the the prop which, making it a bit tougher to pass the hand test.
There are openings big enough for a hand to pass through. but they’re in places where it may not matter as much. Still it would seem better if these cage openings were smaller. The netting has small openings that would not allow a hand through.
Construction (-): The machine seems well built with the frame being steel and the cage being aluminum. One cool thing is that each of the 4 cage pieces is identical with the bottom one having no netting (not needed there).
Reparability (-): Probably a bit better than average on the frame since it’s steel which is relatively easy to weld but the cage is aluminum. It’s handy that all four cage pieces are identical since you could have a couple on hand as spares.
Transport (-): Quite good since the cage pices are relatively flat and small. It comes apart with velcro straps pretty easily.
Cost: Please visit www.FlyOhio.com for cost.
Overall: Good machine for someone wanting to start out with high hook-ins and then try lows. I did not get to test it in the high position but Bruce tells me he trains in the high position so it’s probably pretty typical.