What would you say if Avios asked you to test their latest model that wasn’t on the market yet? Yes? Obviously! So did I!
Only a few day’s later the mailman delivered a shiny box containing the brand new Avios Zazzy. Now I know that any new model review should contain lots of unboxing- and build pictures, but I have this condition…When a new box comes through the front door my vision narrows, outside noises disappear, chunks of cardboard start flying around the room in seconds, airplane parts get screwed/bolted together at a record-breaking pace and I rush of to the field for a maiden flight in as little time as humanly possible. Only after that maiden flight I will come to my senses and realise that I forgot to take notes and pictures, again…So here’s my retrospective of the Zazzy, with as many supporting picturesas I could muster.
What I do remember about the build of the Zazzy is this: my first reaction when taking the fuselage out of the box was: wow, this really feels solid, and that feeling stayed with me ever since. The assembly is a piece of cake. The plane really clicks together and it takes just a few easy steps to get it ready for the skies. Avios really paid attention to detail. The tail section, wings and canopy fit like a glove, and the paint and decals are top notch and really do the model justice.
A few details really stand out:
- The undercarriage bolts onto a hardwood plate that is sunk into the foam very nicely, this really looks and feels like it could take a beating, a good choice for a plane that many will transition to from a high wing trainer.
- The wings are easily removable for transport, simply unscrew 4 bolts (a lot of foamies have screws that go into plastic, with a lot of screwing and unscrewing the holes in the plastic wil wear, not an issue in the Zazzy…) The bolts are small, so make sure to bring a magnetic screwdriver in your flightcase.
- No need to slip your servo cables into the fuselage, the Zazzy has very nice 2.5mm gold pin connectors mounted on a PCB in the fuselage and the wingroots, that mean the servo connections just slide together. I didn’t have to adjust anything, the fit was just right. For me this sollution beats any type of connector of conventional connector I’ve seen to date.
- The battery compartiment is covered with an anti-slip pad so there is no need for velcro on your lipo’s, just tighten the velcro strap that goes around the battery and it will stay in place even in high-G manoeuvres. The compartiment is spacious and long enough to move the battery forward and back to find the sweetspot for your optimal CG.
I saw only one minor issue. The wing servo cables on the inside of the fuselage are a bit short. No issue when you use the supplied Y-lead and use only one channel for ailerons in your receiver. However, whenever I get the chance, I prefer to use 2 channels for ailerons, simply because it allows me to program them better in my radio (subtrim), because then I have the option to mix in flaps and because I can use aileron differential (in a lot of planes you will see that they roll a bit off-centered, aileron differential means that the aileron that goes down wil go down less as the aileron on the other side goes up, it usually takes a couple of flights of trial and error to finetune, but in the end your airplane will make tighter rolls). The challenge with the Zazzy is that there is a hole in the servoplate where these servocables enter the fuselage. You are able to plug the servo-cables into your receiver, but it will then be floating in that hole. The simple sollution is to glue a strip of hardwood over that hole et voila!
Avios has installed metal gear high torque servo’s through-out the Zazzy. I selected maximum throws on all surfaces in my transmitter, connected the pushrods to the inside holes on he control horns for rudder and elevator and to the middle holes for the ailerons.
For starters I programmed 40% expo on all surfaces. To keep it even more standard I am using 4S 3300 mAh 60C Zippy Compact LiPo’s. After some moving the LiPo around a bit and checking the CG every time I decided to maiden with the Lipo smack in the middle of the black anti-slip. After set up, must have been 30 minutes into my new-plane-frenzy, and it was off to the field I rushed.
Rose’s maiden flight (I forgot to mention my 3-year old daughter gets to name all my planes, this one apparantly was the first one worthy of carrying her own name) was an absolute breeze. The take-off went smooth at about 75% throttle. I hardly had any trimming to do. Despite the Zazzy being only 1300mm and relatively light it tracks really really well! I ran through my checklist of things I really wanted to know:
- Does it fly? Yes it does.
- Does it like to fly? It looks like it does.
- Does it like to be inverted? Yes it does!
- Does it like to be inverted really fast and really low? Uhuh, yes it does!
As tempting as it was to repeat that last question over and over (Are you sure Zazzy, really sure?, really really sure?) it was time for more serious investigative work. Basic aerobatic manoeuvres (loops, rolls, stallturns, barrel rolls) : check, all done with ease. A bit more advanced (knife edge, 4 point roll, snaproll): check! I was surprised to find zero coupling in knife edge, just put the plane on it’s side and add opposite rudder and it just stays there without having to counter with ailerons. 5 Minutes flew by, and as I don’t like to push my batteries in a plane I don’t know yet it was time to land. The Zazzy does come in kind of hot. It carries a bit of speed which will take some (very manageable) getting used to if you’ve just come off your trainer. I have this annoying little pet peeve about landings, I want every aproach perfect, ballooning or bouncing on landing can ruin my flight. The Zazzy did balloon a bit in the last part of the approach, nice landing though. In the course of the next 10 flights I meddled with throws, expo rates and played with the battery location a bit.
It turns out that my first choice fort he battery was perfect. After a few flights I programmed 140% throws in my RX. With that I gradually increased the expo on elevator and ailerons to 70%. That sounds super-soft but for me it works, I just like to be able to be really precise but have big throws at the same time. You could also program high- and low rates. I wouldn’t recommend using big throws without at least 40% expo. During the flight you will be OK but your landings will become rocky with the Zazzy. I haven’t experimented with an aileron mix for flaps because there’s just no need for it. For the same lack of necessity I haven’t programmed any aileron differentiol, rolls are nice and straight without it.
A lot of low wing aircraft stall a lot more agressively than high-wing aircraft, sometimes the stall is accompanied by a violent wing drop. The Zazzy however stalls quite gently. One of the wings will drop, but slow enough so there’s time to react. When testing the stall characteristics I noticed that the stal comes at a much lower speed than you would expect. Landings are quite fun, and it does take some steering to make a nice 3-pointer. With a plane like this you want to come in with some speed, and it takes a while to bleed that energy while you keep the plane just inches above the ground untill it settles onto it’s wheels. In this stage I like those tiny elevator inputs (possible due to the extra expo), ballooning right before landing just doesn’t look good. One little downside was a bit of a noise past 50% throttle. As I staticly balanced the prop I started looking at other causes, in the end I turned my attention back to the prop and balanced it dynamically, that made a world of difference.
Impression after 40 flights:
I’ve gotten quite fond of little Rose. If you’re looking for a plane to get into aerobatics, or if you are a club flyer that likes basic to advanced aerobatics this will certainly be the plane for you. What I really like is that the Zazzy tracks really well and doesn’t have adverse control effects. It really is an aerobatic model in the sense that there simply is no “autocorrect” like in a high winged trainer. If you put the plane in a position, it will stay there untill you tell it to do something else. That’s exactly what you want from an aerobatic plane.
It’s not a 3D plane, aerobatic manoeuvres require appropriate speed, it accelerates really well in a straight horizontal line, but with the 4S setup it doesn’t have unlimited vertical capability (it doesn’t need it either). On max throw the roll rate is superfast, but at the same time the digital metal gear servo’s give you very precise control with small control surface deflections as well. The plane is capable of doing a dead-straight 200 meters slow roll, and knife-edges like an arrow, so for novices in the art of putting airplanes in funny positions and advanced pilots alike the Zazzy will fill your days at the flying field with joy!
It's available here