RCU Review: Hobby-Lobby Escale Pilatus PC-21

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    Contributed by: Greg Covey | Published: August 2011 | Views: 38649 | email icon Email this Article | PDFpdf icon
    Escale Pilatus PC-21

    Review by: Greg Covey
    Photo Camera : Papa Jeff Ring
    Video Pilot: Devin McGrath

    Hobby Lobby Int, Inc
    5614 Franklin Pike Circle
    Brentwood, TN 37027
    Phone: (866) 512-1444

    Complete Package Less Rx. and Battery
    Retracts Already Installed with steerable nose wheel
    Superb Flying Performance with excellent power and speed
    Unique Scale Design and look

    Some parts arrived unglued
    Weak Plastic Wheel Hubs
    Sticky Finish Coating

    Escale Pilatus PC-21

    The Pilatus PC-21 is a single-turboprop, low wing swept monoplane advanced trainer with a stepped tandem cockpit manufactured by Pilatus Aircraft of Switzerland. Escale has created a scale Ready-To-Fly EPO foam Pilatus PC-21 model with full aerobatic performance, a 5-bladed prop and retracts.

    All you need to provide is your own receiver and a 3-cell or 4-cell Lipo pack with a 1600mAh to 2100mAH capacity.

    The PC-21 is molded with tough EPO foam and is pre-painted, and decorated. It is a faithful reproduction of the turboprop trainer that is being used to train the next generation of jet fighter pilots. This model is very close to the scale outlines of the real plane and includes the signature 5-bladed scale prop with scimitar blades. The prop is a great match for the included 760Kv brushless motor and 50A ESC w/BEC.


    • Wing Span: 36 in
    • Wing Area: 236 sq in
    • Overall Length: 44.25 in
    • Flying Weight: 43oz
    • Motor: Brushless Outrunner Motor, 760Kv (included and installed)
    • Speed Control : 50 Amp brushless w/BEC (included and installed)
    • Recommended Battery: 3-cell or 4-cell 2AH Lipo pack
    • Recommended Radio: 5+ Channel Radio system

    Key Features:

    • Fully aerobatic performance
    • Motor, ESC, 7-servos, and retracts all included and installed
    • CA-safe EPO Foam
    • Optional flaps can be fitted
    • Two pilots installed
    • Servo horns fitted and pushrods installed
    • Highly-detailed scale 5-blade prop
    • Steerable retractable nose wheel with doors
    In the Box:

    The PC-21 parts come well protected in the box and sealed in bags. The single piece wing has the ailerons, retracts, servos, and linkages all pre-installed.

    One of my pilots was DOA inside the canopy. They appear to be held in place with double-sided tape. The 5 prop blades have all the scale markings on them. Also included is a custom spinner and two exhaust outlets with mounting plates.

    The 16-page manual is full of clear color photos and excellent instruction steps. Hobby Lobby may have helped in the manual creation as their logo is on the back cover along with Escale. The manual is also on-line at Hobby Lobby here.


    A closer look at the fuselage reveals the high amount of pre-assembly on the Pilatus PC-21. The steerable retractable nose wheel has already been installed with doors.

    The brushless outrunner motor and 50-amp ESC have been installed with a build-in cooling system. The elevator and rudder servos and control cables are also pre-installed.


    The first step of the assembly for me was to fix my pilot. By cutting a square piece away from the black plastic flooring, I was able to reposition the pilot. Once in place, I glued the pilot bottom to the square opening with some epoxy.

    The normal first step of the assembly is to install the stabilizers. Although double-sided tape strips are supplied, I supplemented the installation with 5-minute epoxy.

    All you need to do once the glue dries is to attach the clevis to the control horn. I used my own rubber keepers for added security.

    The wing assembly is installed next using the supplied 3 long metal screws. I installed a Spektrum AR6110 receiver and taped some of the control lines out of the way.

    The battery bay was minimal so I reinforced the existing hook and loop material with some epoxy and decided to make some upgrades.

    I'll be test flying the Pilatus PC-21 using a 4-cell Blue Lipo 30C 2200mAh pack. To improve the battery bay, I added and additional piece of Velcro to the aft bottom of the bay to help hold the pack. I also added a strap to hold the back of the pack and used some foam wedges to keep the pack from rocking in place. These improvements should hold the pack secure while performing aerobatics.

    The last few pieces of assembly are a scale antenna and ventral fin for the bottom side of the fuselage. I used a little 5-minute epoxy on both pieces in addition to the double-side tape already on the ventral fin.

    Finally, the 5-bladed prop and exhaust pipes are installed. I had no issues with the exhaust pipes but be aware that the offset in them, as well as the cowl, is truly scale. The propeller assembly was without issue and the manual does a good job explaining the assembly with photos and a drawing. I needed to trim one of the back sections of the spinner to keep it from rubbing on the fuselage.

    When hand spinning the prop, it seemed ok with little to no wobble on the spinner tip. Although I was a bit skeptical that the prop would work well when I fired up the motor, mostly because I didn't even try to balance it, I was very happy with the performance! It had very little vibration and the thrust could hold the weight of the plane in the air at 1/2 throttle when using a 4-cell 2200mAh pack.



    Test Flying / Summary

    My Pilatus PC-21 was ready to fly at under 3lbs using the 4-cell 2200mAh pack. The balance was about perfect (maybe a little nose heavy) with the 4s pack so you may need to add some tail weight if you decide to use a 3-cell pack since the pack resides behind the CG.

    • 290w at 25a using the 6.6oz 3s 2200mAh pack
    • 560w at 37a using the 8.7oz 4s 2200mAh pack

    The Pilatus weighed 44.8oz (2.8lbs) and had 104w/lb on the 3-cell pack. On the 4-cell pack, it weighed 46.9oz (2.9lbs) and had a whooping 193w/lb! Jet power for a jet trainer!

    The Pilatus PC-21 flew beautifully on its maiden voyage off pavement using the 4s 2200mAh pack. It not only has plenty of power, it has plenty of speed! We flew for about 5 minutes which only took 50% of the pack capacity.


    Pilatus PC-21 Flying Video (10 meg)

    We did, however, have a few issues with the weak plastic wheels. One of them locked up when doing a taxi test and the other fell of just as we returned to the pit area. I feel that this is a weak area in the design and will replace the stock wheels with something else.

    Another issue is that the finish remains a bit sticky but I have not had any problems with paint loss. Perhaps a clear gloss spray paint might help here or some 30-minute finishing epoxy. Overall, the Pilatus PC-21 is a uniquely scale model that flies as good as it looks. It is highly integrated but requires some minor modifications in the battery bay and wheels. I would only recommend this model for intermediate to advanced pilots as the speed is too high for beginners.


    The white lines in the flap grooves are fresh white glue (that dries clear). I decided that since I am not installing flaps, I would strengthen that area of the wing.

    The stock wheels on the left used plastic hubs that fit tight on the axle and allowed the outer wheel to spin around it for a scale wheel hub. Unfortunately, the plastic was soft and the wheels would lock up from little use.

    Ideally, I would prefer a rubber wheel replacement so I will look for a suitable candidate. There isn't much axle to put wider wheels on so they must be relatively thin but sturdy enough to handle the 3lb flying weight on pavement.

    I had some thin electric foam wheels on hand that allowed me to get the Pilatus operational again for the short term. I used the stock metal retainers to hold them onto the axle. At the time of this review, Hobby Lobby was working with Escale to correct this issue and several others. They expect the upgraded version to be available soon.



    Hobby Lobby International, Inc
    5614 Franklin Pike Circle
    Brentwood, TN 37027
    Phone: (866) 512-1444

    Comments on RCU Review: Hobby-Lobby Escale Pilatus PC-21

    Posted by: NoFlaps on 08/15/2011

    Page: 1
    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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