Some people are of the opinion that it’s easier to learn to fly a .90-size machine than anything smaller, and in this respect I’ve no doubt that the N9 would be a good choice for the novice thanks to its exceptional stability in the hover. However, this machine isn’t just about stooging around, far from it! Fit the appropriate flybar ratio set and itll respond very quickly to 3D commands. The N9 really is a joy to fly; you can hammer it flat out in fast forward flight, sizzling as it passes by but with no tendency to tuck under or flare up. This must surely be due to good head design, that massive 5mm flybar and the very good SAB paddles. When stopping the N9 in front of you it’s like a sheepdog, attentive yet stable in its position, waiting to be sent away into whatever manoeuvre you can manage.
I found the N9 very similar to a Raptor 50 in terms of ‘throwability’, yet as stable and powerful as a Predator or Millennium. Ultimately though, the N9 is designed for pilots who want to push the boundaries, safe in the knowledge that the machine can take it. Of course, when the inevitable repairs are necessary youll find that costs are low, and maintenance easy. In fact I was able to put the low cost / easy maintenance bit to the test, after breaking the undercarriage thanks to an unscheduled arrival.
The cause of this incident was due to lack of fuel in the tank. Having fitted a ‘fuel magnet’ that sucks every last drop I didn’t see the need for a header tank. So there was I, in full flow doing continuous, low level rolls when I noticed that there was no fuel on board. I was just about to engage a landing when there was a sudden, eerie silence. Yep, the YS had gone quiet, whilst the N9 was inverted. Eek! Keeping the roll going I flared all the pitch and she arrived with a thump! She was down. Fortunately the only damage suffered was a broken u/c, although Ive since discovered that fellow N9 pilots have highlighted this as something of a weak point. That’s as maybe, but I’d much rather break the u/c than the frames!
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So, what don’t I like? Well, the list is pretty short. Er… I don’t like how dirty the heli’ gets. And that’s it! Since the fan is inverted it draws air from around and below, just where all the oil’s being chucked out, and this naturally drags onto the frames… yuk. Still, I guess an abundance of oil means the engine’s getting sufficient lubricant. Give me the dirty heli that runs cool and you can keep the clean, overheating one.
As you’re probably aware by now I’m not the first to build the N9, others have had the experience before me and have reported some issues that I’ve not seen. One of the main criticisms concerned loose (undersize) balls on the early versions, however, larger balls are now included. The next point concerned the torque drive for the tail, with reports that a few examples had slipped. All I can report in this respect is that some very ‘hard’ 3D fliers (including Duncan Osbourn) have flown the N9 and haven’t experienced any such problems, indeed it would appear that those suffering with this ill weren’t tightening the lock screws sufficiently, or applying Loctite to the spline. This could possibly have been caused by people building from experience rather than the instructions, which were at one point on disk and not printed. Anyway, production kits now have written instructions along with stickers for the canopy, a longer tail fin and, of course, those larger balls.
The last gripe to deal with concerns missing parts as the first batch of kits suffered some component shortages. In this respect I’ve been assured that no kit now leaves the factory with a bit missing!
On the plus side, the N9 is certainly a great machine to own. It’s very enjoyable to build, with all parts being of good quality and good fit. When putting my example together I noticed some slop in the washout and head on the bench, but this isn’t in evidence either in the hover or in general flight; it seems to tighten up when loaded, so no problems there. As for the flight characteristics? Excellent. With superb stability in the hover through to hard 3D, the N9 takes it in her stride. The ‘perfect helicopter’? Nothings perfect, but its not far off!
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