E-flite Apprentice S 15e RTF



Stunningly attractive, this sporty trainer is as close as you’ll get to foolproof.
Article and photos Devin Troy.
Featured in the Winter 2014 issue of
Park Pilot.


You may have read my “Beginnings” report in this issue, where I introduced you to the Apprentice S 15e by E-flite. That article focuses on the training benefits of the model, but this review is more my overall impression of its performance.

Straight off, there is both a major time and financial advantage with this aircraft, in that everything you need, aside from a few household tools, comes with the package. You get every component of the model — fuselage, tail, wing and landing gear — as well as the motor, receiver and propeller already installed.



A DX5e already bound, batteries, flight battery and flight battery charger are all included.





The tail is secured by two screws that go into the bottom of the fuselage and the vertical fin’s pins.





To install the steerable nose gear, remove the cowl and insert the gear’s leg. One screw secures it.





The carbon wing tube easily slides into the wing panels, and the two halves are secured with tape.





The main landing gear legs are squeezed toward each other to slide more easily into the belly slot.





The receiver and servos are factory installed, but the aileron leads must be connected before flying.


The Apprentice S 15e comes with the Spektrum DX5e transmitter, which is already bound to the receiver inside the model. Four AA batteries for the transmitter, a 3S LiPo flight battery and a balance charger are all there. This is beyond “batteries included.” It’s customer consideration at its finest.

The few bits of required final assembly are simple. You only need to install the landing gear, tail and wing, which shouldn’t take more than 20 minutes. Any parts that need to be held together are secured with double-sided tape rather than glue, eliminating drying time and keeping the assembly process clean. I did it all on my living room floor.

While the easy assembly is great, the best aspects of the Apprentice S 15e are seen at the field. The options this model provides to pilots are extremely impressive. One flying feature that blew me out of the water is the Sensor Assisted Flight Envelope (SAFE) technology. This flight training system can limit the angles of pitch and roll that your aircraft can execute. It can also self-level the model, provide stability-assisted takeoff and landing, and throttle-based climb and descent. You can choose from three modes, beginner to experienced, to best match SAFE to your experience.

For those unexpected emergencies that pilots sometimes encounter, there is a panic recovery switch that, when pulled, rolls the wings level and pulls the aircraft’s nose out of a dive. When I was training, I could have used that feature a time or two — maybe 10! You also get a high/low-rate feature to control how the model responds to your commands, and for dual-control flight training, a buddy-box cord receptacle is located on the back of the transmitter.

So great, the Apprentice S 15e has a ton of features, but how does it fly? Well, it flies a lot of different ways — and all of them are excellent. With the long list of features this model offers, flying the Apprentice S 15e is like being able to switch between 10 different models while in flight, each with different levels of control response and aerobatic agility.



E-flite’s Apprentice S 15e looks great in the air, and it performs even better than it looks. The striking graphics increase visibility, and its many flight options create exciting variance in the air.


Put the model in low rate with SAFE in beginner mode and gently cruise across the sky. Switch the rate to high and switch SAFE to experienced mode, and fly loops, rolls and split-S turns.

I flew the Apprentice S 15e in nearly every way it could be flown, and none struck me as erratic. The Apprentice can fly gently as you earn your wings, and grow with you as your skills advance. This RTF is an RC airplane you’ll enjoy flying for years.


SPECIFICATIONS

Type: Ready-to-fly sport-trainer
Skill level: Beginner – intermediate
Wingspan: 59 inches
Weight: 49 ounces
Length: 42.5 inches
Price: $299.99
Info: horizonhobby.com

FEATURES

• Rugged, molded-foam construction
• Factory-built airframe components
• Two-piece wing panels with carbon-fiber joiner
• Vacuum-formed cowl
• Steerable nose gear, snap-in main gear
• Colorful, factory-applied graphics
• AS3X stabilization
• SAFE technology
• Factory-installed RC components
• Spektrum DX5e 2.4GHz DSMX transmitter
• 3S 3200mAh LiPo battery
• 2-3S DC LiPo balance charger
• Propeller and spinner
• 112-page instruction manual

Flight Video





Article: 

9 comments

I'm having a hard time understanding why planes are reviewed that exceed the Park Pilot rules of no more than two pounds. And what ever happened to the survey on increasing the weight limit? In short I'l love to buy a Apprentice if the rules changed. In the mean time I just will stay with lighter planes.

Hi Rich,

Thanks for your comments. The previous editor, Jeff Troy, created an EP3 category for aircraft that were outside the guidelines of the Park Pilot Program. The thought was that readers would be interested to see what was available to open members. Also a large majority of Park Pilot readers are open members and seem to appreciate the content.

A change to the weight limit has been considered, but no decisions have been made.

Hi, this plane is fantastic and not that heavy. I only fly mine at our club although it handles so well. I have noticed park flyers tend to hit trees which is more a wind span problem.

Flying off a small dam is also great.
Sean

The praise I have for the S 15e goes beyond reason. As a 'newbie' with 2 years experience I have tried heli's with poor results even though I had a lot of 'simulator' time. It seemed confusing when they used cyclic terms. So I figured that taking a step back was what I needed because I just got in over my head a bit. I loved the ease of this planes assembly and all graphics are really good too. I got about 10 hours sim time and I thought ... how hard could it be? Truth is its a breeze, and flight time is over 25 minutes for me if I keep her tame. To be able to rely on the SAFE technology where you can level out at the flick of a switch allows you to try to be aggressive. The rate switch make transitions to higher levels very easy. I now have been flying the S 15e for about 6 months and I've learned by leaps and bounds! I am currently an intermediate with the rates on hi. I've been flipping to the advanced and do some loops but right back to within safer limits. It keeps it from getting boring, like that could EVER happen with the Apprentice... I flown it in 16mph winds with gusts to 22 and this trainer just keep flying on and on. Don't get me wrong I've had to do some repairs from small to large, but this too is easy. I was at the Ohio 3DHS Fly Low In Sookfest 2014 last month put on by Eaglesquadronrc.com. I decided to keep to the far end away from the experts and I was still in the wrong place. I was forced to make a quick evade near a tree off the course at full throttle. Then a large gust caught me also and my s 15e became intimate with the tree. All I will say is OUCH. Even as bad as it was, I completely rebuilt it with new parts in about 11 hours. Next day I was on the main flight line and other pilots that had seen my adventure and they became very interested in this 'little flyer.' I now have 5 helis, 4 airplanes, 2 quadcopters and a new hex 550 flamewheel and my Apprentice S 15e is still my favorite to fly by far! GET ONE! You can't go wrong for training all the way up to the experts because it does aerobatics well also. Maybe next year I'll be at that level...

I just ordered one...got the optional pontoons to make it a sea plane also...good for Florida. Cheers.

I'm starting all over again after a long absence. This time, all electric. No more glow engines and won't consider petrol.

I have a Night Vapor right now, but the S15e will be the next model. I have read numerous reviews and comparisons with similar models and this seems to be the one to have. It looks such a versatile aircraft and has rave reviews from all of those who've flown it.

I like the S15e, because it looks like an actual full sized aircraft.

The Night Vapor is fun, but, it looks like a Night Vapor.

I recieved my S15 from Great Hobbies and the battery was dead Some other people have complained online about this problem. However the store in Prince Edward Island was very co-operative and sent me a new Eflite battery.

But ALL apprentist owners should read forums and see the You Tube videos on tail flutter as fins, elevators and rear stabilizers are failing in flight causing crashes, and should be beafed up.

Oh yes.I should also mention that the wing hold down rods are tearing out of the fuselage causing crashes. Horizon Hobbies claims that using CA to glue the rods to the fuselage will prevent this problem. But some people are successful using rubber bands wrapped under the fuselage attached to the wing hold down rods to take the strain.

Some people are reporting that the battery hatch is opening in flight loosing the battery. A rubber band is often used to keep it closed.

A preferred replacement for the stock motor is the e-flite power 25 with an adequate ESC for this motor (40-45 amps). The stock 30 amp ESC would be too small and could burn up. There are videos on YouTube showing how to do this conversion.

GOOD LUCK!

Unless you really know what you're doing with RC planes and have many hours of flight time with similar models, be prepared to crash and burn several times, each resulting in frustrations, tedious fixes and plenty of additional dollars. All the while, the Apprentice is on the workbench. Count your blessings while on the workbench since it means you're not out crashing her. No I not experienced with model airplanes. Unless you are, I can all but guarantee you'll be gazing down on a $300 Apprentice sitting on your workbench broken and bruised. I'm reminded of Buddha's observation: "Your possessions are your burdens." ..and your workbench challenges. Good luck.

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