RC Planes Beginners Choice – Seagull E-Pioneer
Electric flight grows stronger and stronger as each month passes. The new E-Pioneer from Seagull addresses the needs of the rc planes beginners fraternity who want a trainer that has the appearance of a typical Nitro/Glow powered model.
Even electric flight cynics and die-hard petrol heads are starting to admit that the gulf is narrowing and many are embracing the attraction of clean flight.
Seagull have made a few adjustments to reduce airframe weight a little. The E-Pioneer could just as easily have been designed for nitro/glow power, but isn’t.
This model has been designed as a dedicated electric powered trainer from the outset and despite the built-up construction, it lacks the fragility often associate with electric powered models of this class.
This Is Different
There is no foam in this plane, it is totally built up from balsa and ply. There’s a substantial dedicated space for the battery and motor drive components. This is definitely an out and out electric design.
As you open the box you’d be forgiven for thinking that you had received a damaged kit. Not so! It is intended that this model be broken down into its component parts for transport or storage.
The design of the model demonstrates some innovative thinking. Take, for example, the way the whole front-end of the fuselage (forward of the wing seat) is removable.
Similarly, the rudder and elevator servos are contained within the bolt-on fin and tailplane assembly.
The two-piece bolt-on wing panels and the large central fuselage access hatch all contribute to one of the most easily built aircraft I have seen.
Assembling the E-Pioneer
Our motor of choice, the N3548-800KV is ideal for this plane and was fitted to the set of pre-fabricated motor mounts supplied to suit either an inrunner or, as in this case, outrunner motor. An APC-E 12″ x 6″ propeller was fitted.
Attaching the motor mount to the front bulkhead is the one and only necessary gluing experience in the entire build.
The lightweight wide chord wing measures over 61” in span making the E-Pioneer a good sized model.
The heavy duty undercarriage wires, decent size wheels and steerable nose leg mechanism all feel right for the model. There’s a reassuringly feeling of strength in these key areas. All of these features result in a model fit for purpose, be it bumpy grass strip or tarmac runway.
The removable front section, two-piece wing and tail mounted servos mean that you will need extension leads for your servos and possibly to take the signal feed from the receiver to the ESC. Be sure to use extension lead retainers on these joints to avoid loss of control mid-flight should connectors separate accidentally.
To avoid having to use a servo reverser you will need to select two servos that operate in opposite directions for the rudder and steerable nose wheel if you wish to operate them via a “Y” lead from the rudder output of the receiver. Alternatively you can use one servo but ensure that the rudder horn is mounted on the appropriate side of the control surface to give the correct movement.
Holes for the plastic control horns are pre-drilled and hidden under the covering so you’ll need to look closely to find them.
With the captive nuts for the tailplane pre-fitted and the top fuselage centre-section fitting nicely onto its magnetic catch, the model can be rigged in a little less than five minutes.
Select your servos carefully to fit the pre-cut holes in the airframe. The servo mounting plates are made from substantial plywood so enlarging these holes would not be easy.
A three-cell Li-Po and a 12 x 6” prop needs a speed controller that will handle the job. A 60 Amp ESC is ideal for this power train and has proved to be so, providing a good margin for overload should it be necessary.
Seagull’s stated flying weight of 4 – 4.5 lbs is a little on the conservative side but so long as you achieve a weight of around 4.5 – 5 lbs you will be absolutely fine. In actual fact, the 600+ square inches of wing still make the E-Pioneer a bit of a floater.
In The Air
The model is ideally sedate on three-cells and this would be my battery recommendation. The light weight and the low inertia means the E-Pioneer can be really flung around and a rookie pilot will have no difficulty in progressing from the first flight at the patch right up to ‘B’ certificate level.
The low weight means that the effect of low level turbulence in higher winds has to be watched. Aileron authority afforded by the narrow control surfaces mean the requirement to suddenly pick up a wing can cause moments of consternation when landing. Having said this, the yaw and pitch controls are very crisp, so the rate switches were employed for the first flights. The E-Pioneer’s direct rudder and elevator to servo control linkage system to allow a smooth, accurate feel when flying.
The model tracks well and is easy to land. It is well suited for use on club grass strips and firm smooth runways alike and with its direct linkage steerable nose wheel, the ground handling is excellent.
It’s a little more control sensitive than an equivalent i.c. powered model which is down to the lower weight, but the smooth reliability of the electric powertrain generates real confidence.
The landing flare-out can cause the model to float on a little in a low headwind. Be aware that the externally mounted elevator servo is open to water spray. I gave it a quick spray of a silicone based spray to prevent ingress of any such water. Other than that the Seagull E-Pioneer is a fantastic model for the newcomer who wants to follow the electric route. Sticking with three cells and sensible servos will provide an ideal rc planes beginners choice.
- Name: Seagull E-Pioneer
- Aircraft type: ARTF electric trainer
- Manufactured by: Seagull
- Wingspan: 61/2″ (1560mm)
- Wing area: 606 sq. in.
- All-up weight: 5 lbs
- Wing loading: 19oz / sq. ft.
- Functions (servos): Aileron (2); elevator (1); rudder (1); nose wheel steering (1); throttle (0)
Should you wish to purchase this model, you can do so by clicking this link:-
Seagull E-Pioneer (UK)
Seagull E-Pioneer (USA)