Pilot Skill: Pilot Skill Level 2
Manufacturer: E-Flite
Power: E-flite Brushless 450
Wingspan: 54 in.
Kit Includes: Covered aircraft, installed electronics, speed control, 11×6 folding propeller

Photographer: Anand Gona

Overview

E-flight’s Ascent BL is a powered park glider that requires minimal work to construct and has gentle handling characteristics which make it a suitable aircraft for the advancing flyer. Plus, this latest release of the Ascent included a brushless motor giving you plenty of power for relaxed cruises or for aggressive climbs to altitude to power off and glide back down to earth.

Features

Having experienced the pleasures of piloting a first generation Ascent we were excited when E-flight re-released the kit to include the essentials of a plug and play but more importantly, the marked improvement of a pre-installed brushless motor. Plus, the Ascent was now sporting a fresh blue scheme and had numerous structural upgrades to all the wing surfaces.

We were pleased to find the necessary components already installed: servos, control rods, electronic speed control, motor, it’s all done ahead of time. What’s left is to build the tail surfaces (rudder and elevator), install a radio, and get a battery to power the Ascent. And in true E-flight fashion all the recommended equipment to get going is detailed in the instruction manual, in case you have any questions.

Flight Performance

The key to making the Ascent a real pleasure to fly is ensuring you have the Center of Gravity (CG) set up correctly. Don’t forget this step during construction or when placing a battery in for flight. An incorrect CG will cause the Ascent’s glide path to be very erratic (up & down) and very inefficient for battery life.

The day we flew there was a breeze from the west around 10mph which gave us great flight duration when we decided to climb high and power down for smooth glides back to earth. Hand launching the Ascent on your own is easy. Just point into the wind, throttle up to about 3/4, give it a solid toss with just a slight upward angle, and you are well on your way. It really is that simple.

Additionally we found two approaches to flying the Ascent worked well and gave us the most satisfaction and flight duration:

  • Climb and Glide
    It is what it sounds like. Push the throttle all the way and send the Ascent skyward for a massive altitude climb. Then kill the power and start gliding. It’s a blast and gives you plenty of room to play around especially if you’re new.
  • 3/4 Power Play
    If you are more comfortable having the motor on the entire time (minus the landing), we recommend going only 3/4 throttle. We found more consistency for smooth and level flights when not using full power and it also extended the life of the battery and gave us 15 minute flights.

When it comes to landing, the Ascent gives you time to think. As with all landings, point it into the wind and continue to reduce power till your motor is completely off. The Ascent will begin a steady and slow decent and all you need to do is make sure it’s pointing in the right direction – no need to worry about the power.

If you’re looking for thrilling excitement from the Ascent, put the box down and walk away. The only maneuver this glider can do is a loop that’s only achievable by diving at a 35 degree angle and pulling back full elevator when you have enough air speed. It’s not built for aerobatics, it’s built for stability and that’s what makes it great for a beginner.

Summary

We decided to give the Ascent an Advancing rating because it is a fragile aircraft for a beginner. And while E-flight did improve on the structure it still can’t take the abuse from harsh landings and most certainly will not survive a ‘wing over’. If you choose this as your first aircraft we highly recommend a few tandem flights first.

The Ascent 450 BL is dedicated to the beginner seeking a second aircraft or the individual seeking a relatively inexpensive glider that has most all components installed and is looking for a quick shop-to-field experience. It’s easy to transport, very easy to assemble at the field, and very forgiving in the air for someone learning the ropes of radio control.

Recommended Parts & Accessories

Additional Notes

  • Fragile Tail Construction
    A serious issue with the Ascent is the lack of strength in the tail boom connection to the fuselage. This is one of the reasons we gave it an Advancing rating. If your landings are hard you run the risk of the glider going into a quick spin on the ground that will put undue stress on the tail boom; cracking it or even breaking it clean off (as we have done). This is why landings are critical for the longevity of the Ascent.
  • Prop Performance
    If you want to get the most of your glider, try replacing the stock prop with a Graupner folding CAM propeller. While they can be expensive, the Graupner props are known for efficiency and performance. We saw improve battery performance with our 10.5×6 carbon fiber Graupner prop.
  • Don’t Crank it Up
    Remember, it’s a glider not a pylon racer. You can add a more powerful motor, however, you’ll add undo stress to the airframe. The body is well built but not built to take blazing speeds. Beware if you decide to ‘pimp-your-ride’.
  • Full-range Receiver
    While you can get away just fine with a park receiver we recommend a full-range receiver. At some point you’ll want to get up there to enjoy the endless skies. And with a light breeze, getting 1500 feet up is an amazing experience and we were able to glide for almost 20 minutes on one climb!

3 Comments

  1. 7SP
    June 16, 2010

    Nice write up… But have a question about props for this bird.

    You list the following:

    “Recommended Parts & Accessories
    * Graupner Folding Propeller (10×8)”

    But say later:

    “We saw improve battery performance with our 10.5×6”

    The factory prop is: 11 x 6

    So can we to assume the 10×8 is the best performance, 10.5×6 best for duration and the 11×6 is is just too big ?

    Thanks 7SP

  2. Chatter
    June 17, 2010

    Nice catch 7SP…

    The factory 11×6 prop isn’t too big. We thought it too heavy and found it required more battery juice to turn it. By going with a higher quality and much lighter Graupner folding propeller, we found improved longevity of our battery life and better blade performance (stronger pull).

    Since the brushless motor is 890Kv, it’s got the torque to spin a large blade[*]. We liked the performance a 10×8 Graupner gave for climbs as we were shutting the motor off during decent.

    For constant powered flight, we found the 10.5×6 was best at chewing up the least amount of battery life. This prop size gave us longer flight times and a constant air speed for stable and controlled flight (no gliding).

    Overall, we recommend a lighter & better quality prop then the factory default. You’ll notice the difference.

    [*In general, for electric motors a lower Kv number (i.e. 890Kv) means higher torque, slower RPM, but the ability to turn a big propeller (11×6). This is somewhat reversed for electric motors with a higher Kv number (i.e. 2700Kv). They have less torque but a faster RPM which can equal faster flight “speed”. A higher Kv motor performs best with a smaller propeller (8×6).]

  3. 7SP
    June 20, 2010

    Thanks for the clarification Chatter.

    I keep handy a brushless version of the original Ascent I built with a removable tail. It fits nicely back in the box handy for relaxing spur of the moment flying. It’s been a great little plane for years. I was reading your write up to see if they had done better with the choice of factory prop on the new one then they had with the original brushed motor/prop combo.

    Thanks again, 7SP

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