We’ve been looking to practise some formation flying with some of our colleagues in our club and have been looking for a suitable plane for a while now. Our two main criteria were; 1) must be scale foamy for less than CHF 200,-; and 2) it must be able to fly relatively slowly. When HobbyKing had its Buffalo Brewster (920mm) on sale, we didn’t wait long and ordered a few. Unfortunately we hadn’t seen the plane fly “live”, but the many videos and reviews on the net gave us the confidence that this couldn’t be too bad a little plane.
We’ve had quite a bit of flying time with these little fellas over the past few weeks. The opinions on this aircraft are very divided, with some hating it and others loving it. One thing is very clear though: out of the box, it doesn’t fly very well at all, but with a bit of work it can be made into a fun plane. After a lot of test flying and fine-tuning, we found that the following changes are essential to get this plane to fly:
- Center of Gravity: the internet fora are full of people adding lots of weight to the nose of the plane. Don’t. It flies best with a standard 3S battery (ours are in the 170gr range) pushed forward as much as possible. No extra weight needed.
- Elevator Servo: the Servo that comes with the plane has two problems: 1) it’s too imprecise and some have quite a bit of play; and 2) the servo arm is way too long. The Buffalo is very sensitive on the elevator and needs relatively little throw (around 8mm up and down). With the long servo arm and the imprecise servo it flies like a dolphin, impossible to trim it into a straight line. With the Servo Arm shortened and the connector as close as possible to the servo it’s a different plane. If the servo has too much play then I’d also recommend changing the servo (I replaced mine with a metal gear servo).
- The motor’s side and down thrust should be adjusted. It pulls too much down and too little to the right. We’ve found that moving one washer from the top left screw to the down right screw (viewed from the front of the plane – see picture below) corrects this. Note that there are differences between individual planes and some may need a bit more, or less, and it’s worth playing around with it a bit.
With these changes, the Buffalo flies surprisingly well and precise. Most of all, it has a huge speed envelope – from slow to superfast. Even then it remains a plane for more skilled pilots. Fortunately it’s incredibly robust though. We hope to start practising some formation flying in the months to come.