RCU Review: Great Planes Sequence F3A

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    Contributed by: Greg Covey | Published: November 2009 | Views: 73550 | email icon Email this Article | PDFpdf icon
    Great Planes Sequence F3A

    Review by: Greg Covey
    Flying Photos: "Papa Jeff" Ring
    Video Pilots: Dan Landis & Devin McGrath

    Great Planes Model Distributors
    P.O. Box 9021
    Champaign, IL 61826-9021
    Telephone: 800-637-7660
    Telephone: 217-398-3630

    Web: www.greatplanes.com
    E-mail: gpinfo@gpmd.com

    Complete Kit with hardware
    Easy to build with an excellent manual
    Superb Flying Performance and great looks
    Durable Fiberglass and carbon parts
    Removable Wings
    Magnetic Hatch for easy battery access
    Optional tail servo position for alternate power set-ups
    Carbon gear mains upgrade
    Matched Power Set

    Pull-Pull rudder exit holes were difficult to find
    Pull-Pull rudder tubes extended too long
    Reported fit issues with the canopy and rudder hinge alignment so inspect the model upon purchase
    Great Planes Sequence F3A

    The Great Planes Sequence F3A is an Almost-Ready-to-Fly 50" class E-Performance XLC Series pattern ship. It features a light hand-selected balsa and plywood frame with a pre-built plywood motor box. The two-piece wings are connected with a light but tough carbon joiner. The ailerons are factory-hinged and the rudder uses a pull-pull system for control authority. The Sequence comes complete with wheels, canopy, self-aligning wheel pants, pre-built motor box, decals and a 24-page instruction manual loaded with photos and detailed steps for a quick assembly.


    • Wingspan: 50" (1270mm)
    • Wing Area: 505 sq in (32.6 sq dm)
    • Wing Loading: 16-17 oz/sq ft (49-52 g/sq dm)
    • Length: 51.5" (1310mm)
    • Weight: 3.5 - 3.75 lb (1590 - 1700 g)
    • Center of Gravity (CG): 4-7/8" (124mm) back from the leading edge of the wing measured at the fuselage

    Key Features:

    • Balsa and plywood construction with prebuilt plywood motor box
    • Two piece wing with carbon wing joiner
    • Pull-pull rudder control system
    • Dual servo aileron control, factory hinged
    • Painted fiberglass cowl and wheel pants
    • Canopy magnetically attaches to fuselage
    • Covered in six colors of Top Flite MonoKote
    • Two piece painted fiberglass main landing gear with tailwheel wire
    • Foam wheels, main 2.25" (56mm), tailwheel .75" (19mm) diameter
    • Spinner: 2" (51mm) diameter, white in color (included)
    • Ready to fly in 4-6 hours
    ARF Contents :

    The parts come well protected in a custom box. Each section is individually wrapped in plastic but I removed some of the bags to get better photos below.

    The tail has an airfoiled surface that improves both tracking and handling precision. The covering looked perfect and the brilliant 6-color MonoKote trim scheme shows an international flair. Bold graphics on the wing bottom make it easy to orient the Sequence at a glance.

    The pre-painted fiberglass cowl has air-cooling openings and pre-installed magnets for easy mounting. Be sure to add the recommended tape strips on each side of the cowl for added hold security during maneuvers.

    Carbon fiber and painted fiberglass parts, a prebuilt motor box, and self-aligning wheel pants all help to reduce work and weight simultaneously. Optional carbon fiber gear mains (GPMA3378) are also available for the Sequence F3A. The wing tube joiner is made from carbon fiber material. It aligns the wing automatically and allows for the wings to be easily removed for transport to the field.

    The one-piece canopy is held by powerful magnets and plywood hooks as it slides into place. Front and rear guides provide automatic alignment. Removing the canopy provides easy access to the battery compartment which is roomy enough for 4-cell Lipo packs. The canopy design gives the Sequence F3A a very clean and quality appearance!

    The 24-page instruction manual is loaded with photos and detailed steps for a quick assembly. A large sheet is included with pre-cut decals.

    A closer look at the fuselage reveals the quality construction techniques that keep the Sequence light yet strong. When I lifted the fuselage, I noticed that it weighed almost nothing yet was incredibly strong! I twisted the fuselage and applied pressure in many directions but there was no give and no creaking noise. The E-Performance XLC (Extreme Light Concept) Series truly features advanced ElectriFly engineering and pre-fabrication.

    The motor box is pre-installed with blind nuts, providing perfect spacing for the cowl and spinner backplate without the need for any measuring. Even the proper thrust angle was already built into the firewall.

    Key Components :

    Some key components I'll be using on my G.P. Sequence F3A are as follows:

    • Futaba S3150 Slim Digital Servos
      • Optionally, you can use lower cost Futaba S3115 Micro Precision Servos
    • Great Planes Rimfire .32 42-50-800 Outrunner Brushless motor
    • Great Planes Silver Series 45A Brushless ESC
    • Great Planes ElectriFly Power Series Lithium Polymer 2200mAh, 14.8V, 25C Battery Pack with Balance Connector
    • APC 12x6 e-prop


    The assembly begins with the aileron servo installation. The steps in the manual were straightforward and I found no issues. Fiberglass plates are supplied to be used when mounting the servos instead of the grommets and eyelets that come with the servo. The plates reduce the flex on the servo for greater precision on the control surfaces. I used Futaba S3150 Slim Digital servos with Hobbico HCAM2100 12" extensions. Strings are installed inside each wing half to help route the servo control wires.

    The horizontal stabilizer is glued in place with 30-minute epoxy after first installing the wings to check the alignment. The manual has good photos that detail the key alignment measurements needed. An elevator joiner wire is also installed with the stabilizer. The stabilizer covering comes pre-cut on the areas to be glued so there is no chance of weakening the surface with a razor knife.

    After the glue dries on the stab, the elevators are glued to the joiner wire with epoxy and the three hinges on each elevator are secured with thin CA. I installed the elevators when gluing on the stab, as suggested in the manual, to help create a perfect alignment between the stab tips and elevators on each side.

    Landing Gear:

    The landing gear installed without issue per the manual. There is nothing to align as even the pants have pre-drilled holes and installed T-nuts. The manual clearly shows which gear leg is left and which is right. The tail gear assembly was also well designed and easy to install. A metal tail gear bracket is screwed into the fuselage and a nylon post is glued into the rudder. The tail gear assembly is then simply inserted in place.

    If desired, optional carbon fiber gear mains (GPMA3378) are also available for the Sequence F3A.


    The elevator servo is mounted next on the far right side of the tail mounting servo rails. The position shown is used for proper balancing when using the recommended power system that I am using. An aft position is also available to help offset tail ballast when using a heavier motor or battery pack.

    I used some silicone lubricant spray to remove the sticky tape reside from the long elevator pushrod. It had been secured in the box with tape for shipping. The pushrod is cut to length and the servo end is bent 90 degrees. Both ends are secured with supplied keepers. The control horn screws, like in the ailerons, are not visible from the top side of the model.

    Pull-Pull Rudder:

    The pull-pull rudder control system is assembled by mounting the servo first and then feeding the strings from the inside through the tubes to the tail. The exit holes must have the covering cut away and they were not easy to find. It would be an improvement if the next lot of planes had these areas marked.

    One important thing to note is that my pull-pull rudder tubes inside the fuselage extended much longer than the photos in the manual so you may need to cut them shorter before feeding the strings through them. This will insure that the crimp doesn't hit the tube on a full rudder deflection. The rest of the rudder assembly was per the manual and the control strings tightened up nicely.

    Also note that the Sequence has optional servo mounting for the tail. Separate elevator and rudder servo bays exist under the covering beneath the horizontal stabilizer so you can run short linkages (supplied) to the control surfaces. The additional servo weight in the tail can be used to offset a heavier motor or battery pack.


    The motor mounting is pretty straightforward. After first installing the x-mount and prop adapter that are included with the RimFire .32 outrunner, the assembly gets screwed onto the motor box using four 6-32 x 1/2" screws, flat washers, and lock washers. Locktite is used on all the screws.

    Instead of using servo tape to mount the ESC, I used two tie wraps to secure the ESC and wires. It is a good time to test the motor direction for counter-clockwise before securing the motor/ESC leads. The ElectriFly 45A Silver Series ESC has a safe arming feature that requires you to move the throttle to full up for a few seconds and back down before it arms the motors. You can hear the ESC beeps acknowledging your movements during the arming sequence.


    The magnetic cowl does not require any work to install. It simply snaps into place and is perfectly positioned. A small piece of clear tape should be used on each side to insure that it will not shift in flight.

    Component Locations:

    I mounted a Spektrum AR6200 dual receiver in the recommended position just behind the wing tube. This minimizes the number of servo extensions needed. The battery pack is held in place by hook and loop material on the bottom as well as a strap around the entire pack that goes through the mounting tray. The pack can be moved forward or aft to dial in the preferred CG.

    At this point, I installed the wings and set all the control throws per the high and low rates in the manual.


    The APC 12x6 e-prop must be drilled out with a 5/16" bit before mounting on the adapter. I had no fit issue with the white spinner supplied in the kit and the gap to the cowl was perfect.


    I marked the CG of 124mm on the top side of each wing using blue masking tape and applied most of the decals. I then used a Great Planes CG Machine to check the balance and it was dead on with the pack placement shown.

    The pack position is consistent with the photo in the manual.


    My stock build G.P. Sequence was Ready-To-Fly at 62oz (3.9lbs) including the 8.5oz ElectriFly Power Series Lithium Polymer 2200mAh, 14.8V, 25C Battery Pack. I measured 600w at 41amps which provides a very capable 154w/lb power level.

    Test Flying

    I video taped Team Futaba's, Dan Landis flying his stock GP Sequence F3A at the 2009 NEAT Fair during the open flying. There were many other planes in the air so flying a circuit was not possible. Dan only had one previous flight on it at the time and no mixes set up.

    Dan Landis Flying the Great Planes Sequence F3A (12meg)


    Devin McGrath flies my stock Great Planes Sequence F3A (32meg)

    For our maiden flight testing, the weather was sunny but it was a cool 51 degrees F outside with winds blowing from 10mph to 20mph. Not great conditions for test flying or trimming but the Sequence flew well with plenty of power. Team JR's, Devin McGrath, put the Sequence through a series of maneuvers to test its agility and power. Flight times were about 10 minutes. Since my canopy seemed to fit as designed, I used no tape to hold it down.

    On the first flight, we used the recommended CG and the battery pack was positioned as previously shown. After a few minutes, we moved the pack aft about 1/2" but I am not sure how much this changed the CG. Overall, we were quite pleased with the performance of the Sequence. I knew that it wouldn't be long before the snow arrives in upstate NY so I was happy to have an opportunity to test fly it before Winter. The one modification I plan to incorporate on my Sequence is to add a carbon fiber blade between the two piece gear mains per Rusty's photo below. My Sequence will see many more flights next season. Although I do not compete, I love to fly aerobatics and plan to use the Sequence to increase my own piloting skills using this excellent flying model.

    The Great Planes Sequence F3A is another model in the E-Performance XLC (Extreme Light Concept) Series that features advanced ElectriFly engineering and pre-fabrication. It weighs almost nothing yet is incredibly strong due to hand-selected woods, and lightweight fiberglass and carbon parts.

    The Sequence F3A is modestly priced and requires minimal skills to create a good flying model. Its matched ElectriFly power system is plug and play so you get all the benefits of reliable electric flight without the worry of fit or performance. The Sequence can be flown in a variety of wind conditions and has the potential to fly with great precision with little set-up effort.

    Set-up and Modifications by Rusty Dose

    Team Futaba's, Rusty Dose hosted an event at the AMA flying Site 1 in Muncie, Indiana in September and one of the models he brought was his new Great Planes Sequence F3A. Rusty has reported set-up details and modifications to his Sequence that go well beyond my knowledge of pattern flying so I decided to share his report in this review.

    The photo on the right shows Rusty (left) with Mark Radcliff, a 4-Time USA F3A Team member. Mark is holding his Phoenix 8 that he flew in the 1981 World Championships to place 5th.

    Rusty used the following components in his Sequence.

    • Great Planes Rimfire .32 42-50-800 brushless motor
    • APC 12 x 6 "E" prop
    • Great Planes Silver Series 45 amp speed control
    • Futaba 10C Transmitter
    • Futaba R617FS 2.4 GHZ 7-channel receiver
    • (4) Futaba S3156 Digital Micro High-Speed servos

    Total flying weight with a 240 gram True R/C 4S 2100mAh LiPo battery is 3lbs 11oz. Rusty built the model exactly per the manual except for the following:

    • Great Planes 2" Nylon spinner (GPMQ4761) with aluminum back plate and hole in the front to save 4 grams and aid cooling. The hole is very easy to use a socket through after installing the (4) screws, provides cooling due to the lightened back plate, and, it is AMA legal.

    • Carbon fiber elevator pushrod (MidwestProd #5800 .060 or 1.5mm weighs .081 grams per inch) replaced metal pushrod with Central Hobbies NMP 2 mm Dual Axis rod ends on servo and Hayes #131 steel pin clevis on elevator end attached using slotted Dubro large threaded coupler #212 slotted with a Dremel cut-off wheel for better glue adhesion, glued with 45 minute epoxy. Saved 18 grams, no slop.

    • Details of the elevator alignment can be seen on the right. Rusty found the Midwest carbon fiber blade and rod material at a local hobby shop but it is also available at Tower Hobbies here.

    • Based on his experience with (2) piece gear, he added a .070 x .437 (Midwest Products # 5743 1.8mm x 11mm, .770 grams inch) carbon fiber blade between the outside attachment screws as done for most F3A models. The two-piece landing gear is very strong, easily mounted and has a robust enough mounting system/structure. The problem is that the gear legs tend to pull against each other or pull each other apart when force is applied.

    Rusty Dose and Mark Radcliff

    Dave Guerin and Bob Brown pose with the Sequence

    Great Planes 2" Nylon spinner

    Carbon elevator pushrod

    Carbon rod alignment

    Carbon blade gear support

    Construction Details:

    "I carefully aligned the stabilizer with the wing and fuselage.

    The elevators use a metal wire connecting the (2) elevator halves and carefully aligned using sharpened carbon fiber rods. Using 45 minute epoxy, careful alignment, heat gun application to remove slight warp in on stab half, they were very, very close to perfect (whatever perfect is)."

    Center of Gravity:

    "Experienced pilots understand the importance of a proper CG. An improper CG may cause excessive amounts of mix, typically rudder/elevator mix. Having said that, I selected the mid-range of the specified CG per the instruction booklet which just happened to be at the front edge of the aileron servo mounting tabs. Better said, with the nose of the model facing you, reach under the wings placing your fingers 'on' the aileron servo mounting tabs and the nose slowly dropped towards the nose."

    Flight Experiences:

    "The first flight was completed at about 9:30 in the morning with a slight cross-wind less than 5 miles an hour with the temperature about 60 degrees. The brand new battery was charged, installed in the model and the CG was verified.

    I selected "low" rate for aileron, "mid" rate for elevator and "low" rate for rudder. (See below for amount and methodology) I increased the throttle trim until the prop was just spinning at low throttle with the throttle cut "off"."

    Flight Number 3/4's:

    "I taxied out and turned into the wind and set-up for a long and smooth take-off. After take-off, the model IMMEDIATELY felt very locked, solid and groovy at a slow to moderate speed. (California pilots know how slow Dave Snow flies...slow like that).

    I made a few laps and began the P-09 preliminary sequence for about (4) maneuvers, a few F-09 manuevers...the knife edge to knife edge 1 1/2 snap, rolling loop, a few silly things that seemed within the capability and precision including a CPLR knife edge circle with (4) snaps alternating inside/outside @ 90 degrees, suuuupppper slow roll, 8-point, 16-point and a 4-point and landed...about (4) minutes. I was truly surprised. The model's size made it appear and actually fly "big" and not feel like a twitchy, crappy little electric airplane like the dozens I have owned and flown. I rarely used full power, could draw stuff as large as was appropriate for the size of the model. The model transitions well adding power or reducing power. It does not accelerate like a rocket when pointed down and feels like a low wing loading performance model. Rudder and pitch inputs in rolls is minimal (assumes you don't let the nose fall 20 degrees!) control. I prefer a "biased" set-up...Chip Hyde suggests that a perfectly neutral is bad, an airplane that has a specific tendency like add elevator when inverted (my preference) is better."

    Adjustments made after flight with the afore mentioned CG:

    • Rudder/Elevator: I added 8% left/8% right rudder elevator mix.
    • Rudder/Aileron mix: I added -8% of left aileron with left rudder and +7% right aileron with right rudder.
    • Aileron Differential: Servo #1 (always left for me) 100% Right 95%
      Servo #2 95% Right 100%

    Flight 1/4: (completion of first flight and end of battery):

    "Same take-off, immediately affirmed various mixes, tried the various rolls and the motor suddenly stopped...I blew it up (the battery) after about 6 minutes of flight time. My ThunderPower charging stuff said that the voltage "too low to recover"...a cell was toast. Ok, I only had one battery.

    Later in the Day, Bob Brown, AMA District III VP, came by and asked about the model (it was sitting next to my Integral, MK Champion and Intruder...see RCU "Classic Pattern Tailgate" thread under classic pattern) and asked if I would like to borrow his batteries. I said, "absolutely"."

    Flight Two:

    "Exactly like number 3/4 and 1/4 except I liked it more flying the same maneuvers. The airplane, very well set-up and trimmed is a very capable precision machine with potential well beyond my skills."

    Flight Three:

    "Dave Guerin, many time NATS CD, USA F3A team manager, builder to the stars...was the pilot. He couldn't believe how well the airplane flew so I said...try it for yourself. He smiled, laughed and smiled the entire flight! We use very different set-up's, but he has flown my stuff alot and knows this...he loved the airplane."


    "After (3) flights I will say that it is a nifty airplane and the unique size of the fuselage creates a very favorable impression. It is precise, smooth and very predictable. It is by far the best sub 51" electric airplane I have flown and this is NOT what I expected.

    I am going to build a little crate so I can take the model and a transmitter compaq flash card to Phoenix in February. I will use Rusty Fried's transmitter, batteries and charger!"

    Control Throws:

    "My model followed the instructions for servo arm location and control surface horn hole. I used 100% ATV/AFR in high rate, 85% AFR for elevator mid rate and 70% AFR for low rate. I used 100% ATV/AFR for ailerons high rate and 70% AFR for low rate. Rudder used 120% ATV for high rate and 70% AFR for low rate. I use expo on all and no throttle curve."

    Rusty Dose
    Team Futaba

    Great Planes Model Distributors
    P.O. Box 9021
    Champaign, IL 61826-9021
    Telephone: 800-637-7660
    Telephone: 217-398-3630

    Web: www.greatplanes.com
    E-mail: gpinfo@gpmd.com

    ZAP Glues On-line at Frank Tiano Enterprises

    Pacer Z-42 Thread Locker
    5-minute Z-poxy
    Pacer POLY ZAP(tm)

    Comments on RCU Review: Great Planes Sequence F3A

    Posted by: ZHS on 11/10/2009
    I read the article on this pattern ship and no where is the price of this model stated. Why did you avoid giving the price? When an article like this is written, ie, detailed with lots of info but no price, that is a red flag for me. It is either over priced or you are afraid of the price or both. If you are going to put this much effort into introducing a new model to the hobby, how about giving us the price? It is one of the first things pilots want to know and for some reason, one of the things you do not evince. And if this is done to make us read the entire write up, it only results in anger when the price is either hidden or not given. I would red flag this model because you either have hidden the price or purposely avoided giving it. And whatever reason you are going to give for this evasion will not be venial.
    Posted by: Greg Covey on 11/10/2009
    ZHS, you bust me up! The 4th word into the review is linked to the current price. While this static review will be read for several years, the dynamic price will change many times. Using an active link to the current price is the reason for not posting it. I hope you find this reason "venial". Thanks for reading my review.
    Posted by: ZHS on 11/10/2009
    Is this another Chinese manufactured kit?
    Posted by: ZHS on 11/10/2009
    I wrote your reason would not be venial and true to form, it was not. I wrote the price was not easily found, and it is not. Please give me "The 4th word into the review..." that would reasonably lead me to the price.
    Posted by: jdscw on 11/10/2009
    I completed my build shortly after neat 2009 and love this plane. I think it is worth the $$$$. have 10 plus flights on it now and love it more every day.
    Posted by: RC_Kiwi on 11/18/2009
    Sequence F3A is the 4th word in. Click on it.....
    Posted by: marcv on 11/18/2009
    ZHS - we do not put in prices anymore as they change. It is up to the user to source pricing at their local hobby shop or online at a given point in time. Pricing here is not relevant in future months or years so we prefer to exclude it. I'm sure you or anybody who wants pricing could find it in five to ten seconds via a google search and the pricing would then be current no matter when this review gets read. Hope this answers your question of why we exclude pricing.
    Posted by: marcv on 11/21/2009
    Awesome flying there Devin!
    Posted by: flazo on 11/24/2009
    Nice looking plane, did this plane come from Fliton factory? Fred
    Posted by: Warren on 04/11/2012
    I am enjoying this airplane and combo - But the SS45 is not up to the task if you want to cruise around leisurely at 1/2 throttle - It will overheat and shut down every time.... All 3 of ours do... So I recommend a 60 amp controller for more headroom.
    Page: 1 2 >
    The comments, observations and conclusions made in this review are solely with respect to the particular item the editor reviewed and may not apply generally to similar products by the manufacturer. We cannot be responsible for any manufacturer defects in workmanship or other deficiencies in products like the one featured in the review.

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