Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Sky Ace 9099 Electric Gyro RC Helicopter

The Sky Ace 9099 is essentially the second size up in a series of coaxial helicopters equipped with gyro technology. It is larger than the Phantom S107, and smaller than the Legend9050, making it the largest gyro helicopter in the series that is intended solely for indoor use. You might get some flight time outside on a particularly calm day, but inside is where the Sky Ace operates most effectively. You might think because of its similar size to the Phantom (which we discussed here, along with an explanation of how gyro technology functions and what it does for an RC helicopter), that the Sky Ace 9099 would perform similarly. While it is true that someone who has mastered flying a Phantom should have no trouble with the Sky Ace, it does perform differently than the Phantom.

First of all, although the Sky Ace is still fairly small and intended mostly for indoor use, it is quite a bit larger than the Phantom. The Sky Ace is about 5 inches longer, 1.5 inches taller, and has a wingspan that is 3.5 inches longer than the Phantom’s. On paper it may not seem like much but when you are actually flying the helicopter you notice the difference immediately.  The Phantom is a great learning tool for first timers, excellent value for the money, and a heck of a lot of fun. It is nimble and operates with almost robotic precision. The Sky Ace however, does not feel as robotic. When you lift off for the first time to adjust the trim it doesn’t just obediently hover and rotate in place. It will start to swing backwards or forwards a little bit, so it’s up to you to get the trim dialed in quickly (which really isn’t a daunting task at all when you are flying with a gyro), and to keep track of the helicopter’s position at the same time. Getting it to keep a steady altitude is slightly harder as well. It just feels more dynamic, and keeps you on your toes a bit more. I think the Sky Ace 9099 would hold my interest for longer than the Phantom if I had to only fly one helicopter all the time.

The Sky Ace operates on 3 channel control, same as the Phantom, but the remote itself is significantly different. A major difference is that the throttle stick is not rigged with a spring to return to zero. I liked this on the Phantom because it just seemed to work and made keeping a constant altitude really easy. However, free moving throttle sticks are the preferred medium for most RC enthusiasts for a good reason, they do allow more control, and most of the RC helicopters you fly will be in this format. For the Sky Ace 9099 it was certainly the way to go. The remote also includes a speed file switch which is pretty cool, it makes some fancy lights start to glow on the controller and the helicopter starts to go a little bit faster. It doesn’t make the Sky Ace go as fast as a 4 channel helicopter, but does make a small difference and is a nice little feature to play around with.

Although The Sky Ace 9099 is heavier than the Phantom S107, and would be easier to break, it still seems extremely durable. Mine had its fair share of running in to walls and failed low altitude maneuvers but is still completely fine. The main rotor blades are very flexible and won’t snap just because you accidentally fly in to the couch or fridge. It comes with a spare rear rotor because it is hard plastic and more likely to break, but I have to say I haven’t managed to actually break one yet on either the Sky Ace or Phantom (and not for lack of trying).

Overall for an indoor 3 channel coaxial gyro helicopter I can’t think of a better deal. For a great price you get a full hobby grade helicopter, with all replaceable parts that can be found anywhere and the opportunity for customization. LED lights and some other cool features help this helicopter stand apart, but the durability of the Sky Ace’s components is where the major value comes from. Especially for beginners, but really for anybody, not having to constantly be worried about impending doom and total destruction in the event of a crash is a big plus. You don’t buy anything else that breaks easily, why would you buy an RC helicopter that does?

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