The new Firebird XL takes all of the simplicity and fantastic flying manners of the first Firebird and adds more size, more power, and legs-that's right, landing gear! Now you can launch with a rolling take-off and shoot touch-and-go's. Not since . . .well . . . the first Firebird has ready-to-fly been this much fun.

Like the original, the Firebird XL includes everything you need to fly in one package. This includes a 2-channel transmitter and a 900mAh NiMH battery pack with a 300mAh wall charger. It also features the same super simple 2-channel flight control system that the original Firebird uses.

You can assemble the Firebird XL and have it flying almost as soon as you get it home from the shop. The whole assembly process only takes about 15 minutes, and you may need an hour or two to charge up the battery for the first flight. The included instructional video takes you step-by-step through the assembly process and offers some useful flying tips. So even if you've never flown an R/C airplane in your life, you can experience a successful start on your own.

The main differences between the first Firebird and the new XL version are size and power. The XL's larger 40" wingspan, bigger fuselage, and more powerful Mabuchi 380 motor allow it to be flown in windier conditions. Beginners shouldn't fly it with any more wind than about 8 mph, but experienced pilots should be able to fly the XL with confidence in 12-15 mph winds.

Climb performance is outstanding-almost twice that of the original Firebird, in fact. In several of our test flights, a straight-out climb at full throttle for about 45 seconds would put the Firebird XL at about 800 feet and almost out of sight. With this much excess power, it was easy to loaf along at 1/2 to 3/4 throttle without losing any altitude at all.

To go with the increase in size and power, the Firebird XL features a larger, redesigned V-tail with bigger control surfaces. In addition to providing more authority in turns with the power on, the beefy tail surfaces produce better turn performance with the power off too. This is appreciated most during an approach to landing or when thermalling with the power off. Instead of using wire, high-test nylon fishing line is connected to control horns on top of the control surfaces. A rubber band on the bottom of the V-tail mounting bracket balances out the tension from the nylon lines and helps keep the control surfaces level when not in use.

The larger size and a more powerful motor aren't the only improvements the Firebird XL has going for it. It sports a few other new design features, such as dual-wing braces for the polyhedral wing and a lightweight plastic spar rod. These work together to substantially strengthen the wing and help prevent any warping. The wing is further strengthened by a factory mounted wing cap on the trailing edge that keeps the rubber bands from digging into the foam on the wing.

The coolest of these little additions, has to be a wing shim that can be inserted under the trailing edge of the center portion of the wing. This reduces the wing's angle of incidence and is really handy for those breezier days, because it allows the Firebird XL to climb into a stronger breeze without porpoising. Since reducing the angle of incidence also decreases induced drag (drag from the creation of lift), the shim can be used on calmer days for a little extra speed in straight-and-level flight, at the cost of a little climb performance.

Like the first Firebird, the Firebird XL is great fun for just about anyone of any age. While the first Firebird was recommended for ages 8 and up, the increased power and larger size of the Firebird XL comes with a slightly higher minimum recommended age of 12. We suspect, however, that the vast majority of folks who will want the Firebird XL are those who got hooked on the first Firebird and are ready for something with a little more zip. If the fun that our staff of experienced R/C pilots experienced with the XL is any indication, many seasoned wing nuts will probably want one also.

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Firebird XL RTF Electric ** [HBZ2000]


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