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Taken prior to flight number 7 on this plane this photo shows the elevator travel that I was already growing accustomed to because this Edge flies so well. Later, in a bad position that elevator helped me get in trouble though it was still all my fault.
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Extreme Flight 60" Edge 540T-EXP ARF

Precision or insanity in the air- you decide

Text, photos and video by Tom Hintz

Posted - 3-3-2014

The original full-scale Edge 540T was intended to be a full on aerobatics machine and that capability translates well to this model. The Extreme Flight Edge 540T-EXP is capable of high precision pattern-type flying but flip the switch to engage full control throws and you have an animal in the air with capabilities that will take some time (and perhaps courage) to fully explore. What elevates the stature of the Extreme Flight Edge 540T-EXP even further is the quality and design of the (ARF) kit.

 

The Basics

The Extreme Flight Edge 540T-EXP has a wingspan of 60 inches, is 58.5 inches long with a wing area of 760 sq. in. I used the Extreme Flight Edge 540T-EXP power package which includes their Torque 4016/500 Outrunner motor and Airboss 80A electronic speed control.

I used four HiTec HS 5245MG ball bearing servos as recommended by Extreme Flight and all of them slipped right into their openings with no trimming or coercing needed. The structure within the fuselage makes it easy to string the wires forward to the receiver – another nice touch. I can also get my hands into the fuselage to install the battery and lock the wings in place. I know that sounds like a small thing but can be frustrating with narrow, crowded fuselage bays.

The motor box/mount (left) comes almost ready to go though I did "paint" it with wood glue just to be sure. The wings are plug-in (right) as they come so we can't mess p something critical like wing incidence.
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All that is way more impressive when you consider that my Edge weighs just 5-lbs complete with radio gear and a 6S 3700mAh battery pack on board! Despite that light weight I would find that the Extreme Flight Edge 540T-EXP carries a surprising amount of speed after throttling down.

 

The Build

Just taking the Extreme Flight Edge 540T-EXP out of its protective shipping box shows that this is a first class aircraft. Everything about it is nicely done from the covering job to the fit of the components. If there is even a hint of a twist or warp in this airframe I can’t find it. The instruction manual that is included might benefit from a few extra photos but considering what passes for instructions these days Extreme Flight did a good job with this one. Another nice point is that the Extreme Flight Edge 540T-EXP is covered with Ultracote so you can get matching covering should you need to fix something. The colors are listed in the instruction manual.

I like that the included control horns are heavy-duty fiberglass and each fitted with a base plate that spreads the glue area substantially. Epoxy these control horns in correctly and you will have to sift his plane through a tree at speed to get them out again. No worries about them loosening up. To further speed assembly all of the CA hinges are in place with most ready for final alignment and gluing. I had to run a hobby knife through one of the rudder hinge slots and so far that is the only “complaint” about the Extreme Flight Edge 540T-EXP kit that I can come up with.

The tail feathers (left) are big and super effective though they do not look too large for the plane. The wing-tip plates can be removed if you like but if you are like me and need all the help with harriers and elevators I can get, leave them on!
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Easily the most labor-intensive part of this build was tweaking the saddle for the horizontal stabilizer to get it parallel to the wing tube. But even this bit of handwork took all of five minutes so we can’t count this as a problem. Not even a little one.

The only true problem I encountered was one wing having a 3mm blind nut built in while the other wing had the 4mm that accepts the plastic wing bolts. I fly helicopters also so finding an extra metric bolt was not an issue. The difference in bolt sizes does nothing to compromise structural integrity so I am calling this a very small problem and leaving it as is.

I also used the Du-Bro Super Strength Long Servo Arms Set (HiTec, DUB672) they recommend and combined with the sturdy control horns included in the Extreme Flight Edge 540T-EXP kit I was able to get some scary looking total throws on the control surfaces. Thanks to dual rates and the adjustability of modern computerized radios I was able to dial in the suggested range of movements and expos. I normally fly planes like this with full throws all of the time but will use the dual rates to “get acquainted” with the Extreme Flight Edge 540T-EXP. I’m not as dumb (or foolhardy) as I look.

The last thing I did was put the battery in the middle of the mounting plate and checked the CG. They give you a range of 3-3/4” to 4-3/4” from the leading edge at the root and my Extreme Flight Edge 540T-EXP came in right on the 4” sweet spot. I normally like a rearward CG but am going to start in the middle and will then play with moving it slightly. The battery tray and surrounding fuselage offer plenty of room and access to make this experimentation easy.

 

In the Air

The canopy (left) uses a simple slide lock that makes it easy to open. the cowl is nicely shaped and painted (right) for easy installation. It looks great in the air also.
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As has been the norm in our area of late I had to choose between snow, rain and gusty winds for the Extreme Flight Edge 540T-EXP maiden flight. So, on a windy but otherwise clear day I proved the theory that a lot of wing on a very light model means some buffeting around in the sky. On takeoff I had to make just a couple little trim changes but due to the wind I will wait to start adjusting linkages until I can confirm the settings on a calmer day. I did know that the Extreme Flight Edge 540T-EXP is both precise and very responsive even on reduced throw settings.

While the Extreme Flight Edge 540T-EXP does bounce around some in such gusty winds it remains very controllable. The mid-range CG appears to actually be mid-range because the Extreme Flight Edge 540T-EXP would continue on virtually any attitude I set it in at about ¾ throttle. Inverted flight took just a bit of down elevator to hold and I like that in a plane.

After shooting a few approaches I learned that the Extreme Flight Edge 540T-EXP does not slow down real fast. I had to get used to where I needed to bring the throttle down to get the approach slope I wanted. The elevator (and wings) remains very effective meaning you have to be light on that stick or the Extreme Flight Edge 540T-EXP will gain altitude at surprisingly slow speeds. With the winds gusting at ground level this all gets a bit more challenging but the Extreme Flight Edge 540T-EXP does fly to the ground if you give it the right commands.

I got in four flights the first day with the Extreme Flight Edge 540T-EXP and found that it tracks very well through big loops, stays on line inverted and has virtually no coupling in knife edge flight, left or right. I did all this at about ¾ throttle so did not need to hold much rudder to maintain knife edge flight but will wait for calmer conditions to explore those kinds of flight positions.

The battery tray (left) and surrounding area make swapping them out easy. It also gives you plenty of room to tweak the CG with battery position. This kit comes with tough fiberglass control horns (right) and ball link linkage that eliminates all play. VERY nice.
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It is clear that with the Extreme Flight motor and ESC the Edge 540T-EXP has plenty of power to climb straight up much farther than we need. You also have the throttle response to bail out of maneuvers when things start going wrong. The little low speed flying I did shows me that this plane should handle all of those types of flying very well. The best elevators I have ever done came in flight two with the Extreme Flight Edge 540T-EXP, downwind no less.

 

Over Testing

One of the realities of flying RC airplanes is that if you push the flight capabilities envelope you are going to crash occasionally. On day three of my flight testing and after shooting the video I thought I needed for this review I discovered that i could do knife edge loops on takeoff, something I thought of because the Extreme Flight Edge 540T-EXPdid knife edge so easily. I did three knife edge loops on takeoff without incident. On attempt four I was trying to open the down side of the knife edge loop and it started looking like the Extreme Flight Edge 540T-EXP was not coming around quickly enough because I had relaxed the rudder and throttle controls too much. I tried to quickly flatten the wings out and nail the elevator (full rates, almost 90-degree deflection) as it approached the bottom of the loop but that was too much elevator with not enough airspeed so it snapped and went in nose first. Totally my fault, the Extreme Flight Edge 540T-EXP was flying perfectly before I exceeded my own capabilities and failed to use the capabilities of the aircraft.

I have no one to blame but mew for killing a brand new airplane. I did three knife edge loops on takeoff, tried to open the back side of the fourth, lost it and put it in. If anything this plane is so easy to fly it lulled me in to thinking I could do something like that on the fifth flight!
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The Extreme Flight Edge 540T-EXP is such a great flying airplane that I immediately ordered another airframe. On high rates it is an animal in the air and I feel that I had only scratched the surface of its capabilities. Click in some dual rates and the Extreme Flight Edge 540T-EXP calms down a bunch for landings or getting used it if you want. This is far too good of an airplane for me to give up on because of my own mistake so within hours of killing the initial Extreme Flight Edge 540T-EXP I had ordered its replacement.

 

Conclusions

If you are looking for a relatively fast, hyper-aerobatic RC airplane the Extreme Flight Edge 540T-EXP should be at the top of your must-see list. This airplane is easily capable of being an animal or a puppy with those personalities decided by the dual rates you choose for your capabilities and flying style.

The kit itself is very well done with straight components and a quality covering job from the factory. Because everything is so well made it all fits together correctly and you get a great flying airplane with minimal work on your part.

Video Tour

With a price of $259.95 (3-3-2014) for the kit and $429.95 if you add their motor/speed controller package as I did this is a not-so-expensive way to get into great aerobatic airplane. The Extreme Flight Edge 540T-EXP is easy to fly but can take you to your limits and beyond if you overstep your capabilities as I did. As I write this I am awaiting delivery of my new Extreme Flight Edge 540T-EXP which I will thrash a little higher to start with until my abilities on the sticks catch up to what this plane is capable of.

Visit the Extreme Flight Edge 540T-EXP Page - Click Here

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