Horizon Hobby HobbyZone Champ S+ RTF

Written by Jay Smith
Beginner-friendly model for flying indoors or out
Product review
As seen in the Fall 2017 issue of
Park Pilot.


Type: Semiscale RTF
Wingspan: 27.3 inches
Wing area: 114.5 square inches
Length: 18.2 inches
Needed to complete: Nothing
Minimum flying area: Sports field
Power system: 3,000 Kv outrunner brushless motor (included); 5.75 x 2.50 propeller (included); E-flite 2S 280 mAh 30C LiPo battery
Flying weight: 3.7 ounces
Flight time: 9 to 10 minutes
Price: $169.99
Info: horizonhobby.com


>> Three flight modes
>> Brushless power system
>> AS3X and SAFE Plus technology
>> Panic Recovery mode

Product Review

>> The HobbyZone Champ S+ RTF (Ready to Fly) makes a bold claim on its colorful box that states, “Anyone can fly this airplane.” Given that, and the fact that this aircraft has been equipped with SAFE Plus technology, providing self-leveling stability and GPS, it’s clear that the targeted audience is beginner pilots.

SAFE Plus technology can land the airplane for you, keep you from flying too far away, and even let you virtually “pause” the flight and allow the airplane to circle by itself on command. SAFE Plus also includes three flight modes that allow you to learn at your own pace by preventing you from overcontrolling the airplane and allowing you to perform basic aerobatic maneuvers when you’re ready.

Inside the box you will find everything you need to get the Champ airborne, including the aircraft, transmitter, four AA transmitter batteries, a charger with AC power supply, flight battery, and manual.

An inspection of the aircraft uncovered an issue with the battery connector. The insulation on the wires didn’t extend all the way into the plug, leaving bare wires, which, if touched together while the battery was connected, could damage the battery and radio system. The problem was easily remedied by wrapping the exposed wires with electrical tape.

Everything needed to fly the Champ is included in the RTF version.

The included 2S 280 mAh LiPo flight battery is capable of powering the aircraft in flight for roughly 10 minutes. Charging time with the included charger is approximately 45 minutes, so I recommend investing in additional batteries.

The charger is made specifically for the flight battery and can only be connected one way to prevent a reverse polarity connection. Press the button on the charger and the red LED will illuminate, indicating that charging has begun. After charging is complete, the LED will turn solid green.

The RTF model comes with a video game-style transmitter that has a three-position switch on the top left to select flight modes. Beginner Mode (with automatic self-leveling) limits pitch and roll. Intermediate Mode provides greater pitch and roll angle limits and when the model is above 20 feet, the self-leveling is inactive. Experienced Mode has no pitch or roll angle/control limits.

On the top right of the transmitter is the button that can engage the HP/AL (Holding Pattern or AutoLand) feature. The Holding Pattern will make the aircraft return to the initialization point/location and begin to fly a circular pattern at an altitude of approximately 65 feet until the button is pressed again to resume flying governed by pilot inputs.

The battery compartment provides ample space for the included battery. The exposed wires on the battery connector were covered with electrical tape for safety.

AutoLand is activated by holding the red HP/AL button on the transmitter for 4 seconds. The model will instantly respond and begin an upwind landing approach to return to the initialization point/location. The aircraft will land into the wind near your initialization point/location and come to a complete stop.

When AutoLand is activated, you can still control the aircraft to avoid obstacles such as trees or poles. After you’re clear of the obstacles, simply let go of the control sticks and the AutoLand feature will take over and resume the landing. You can abort a landing by pressing and releasing the HP/AL button or by changing the flight mode at any time.

With AS3X and SAFE Plus in the aircraft, it is important to complete the control direction test before your first flight. It is detailed in the manual to ensure these systems are properly set up. The CG (center of gravity) is located roughly 29 to 35mm from the leading edge of the wing, where the wing meets the fuselage. Using the supplied battery, you should have no problem obtaining the proper CG.

Connect the flight battery at the location you will be using for takeoff. After the battery is connected, both ailerons will go up, indicating that the aircraft is powered up. The airplane will not connect to the transmitter or start to seek a GPS lock until it is upright on the ground and motionless. When the aircraft is placed on the ground in the desired takeoff location and is motionless, it will connect to the transmitter.

The ailerons will return to center to indicate the transmitter connection. Allow up to 90 seconds for the aircraft to establish a GPS lock. The GPS lock will be indicated by several tones and the transmitter will be given control.

If utilizing the GPS system, the aircraft needs to be placed upright on the ground when connecting the battery and be motionless at the desired takeoff location to establish a GPS lock.

The lightweight Champ is best suited for calmer conditions, especially if being flown by beginners. Wind speed of 6 mph or less is optimum. Although the Champ can handle more wind, with the help of AS3X, the wind’s effect becomes much more noticeable.

The brushless power system is capable of getting the Champ airborne in less than three feet from a paved surface. It has spritely, but not unlimited, vertical performance. The model has plenty of power for basic aerobatics and is capable of knife-edge and inverted flight.

The HobbyZone Champ is also capable of slow, controlled flight and will benefit by making coordinated turns using both rudder and ailerons. The Beginner Mode allowed a coworker to successfully fly a fixed-wing model aircraft for the first time and the person felt that it was easier than expected, given that the model helps prevent overcontrolling, which is common for new pilots.

The Holding Pattern is a handy feature that the beginner pilot utilized. More experienced pilots also used that option when passing the transmitter back and forth to fly the Champ. I used it once when the model was momentarily lost in the sun.

The HobbyZone Champ S+ packs a lot of technology into a smaller aircraft and is capable of helping beginner pilots achieve successful flights. It is a good option for those with a limited flying space, or who are interested in a model that is capable of flying indoors in larger spaces.

Pilots with access to a larger flying site, or who commonly fly in windier conditions, might be better suited to a larger aircraft outfitted with the same technology as the HobbyZone Champ S+.

-Jay Smith



I didn't Purchase This Model, Though It Sounds More Like A Predator Quadcopter Than A Remote Control Monoplane.

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