RCU Review: Estes Micro EP Helicopter RTF

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    Contributed by: Greg Covey | Published: April 2012 | Views: 9053 | email icon Email this Article | PDFpdf icon
    Estes EP Helis RTF

    Review by: Greg Covey
    Photos: Greg Covey
    Video Pilot: Greg Covey


    Dealer Info

    PO Box 227
    Penrose, CO 81240

    Great Planes Model Distributors
    P.O. Box 9021
    Champaign, IL 61826-9021

    Web: www.greatplanes.com


    Great Flying Model for Beginners
    Everything is Included
    No Assembly Required
    Light Model is Difficult to Damage
    Charger is built into Transmitter
    Spare Parts Included


    Can only be charged using the transmitter cord
    Requires 6 - 1.5V AA Alkaline Batteries (not included)


    The Estes indoor-only helicopters take ease and affordability to new heights. They come fully assembled and are perfect for first-time pilots! The SF161? includes counter-rotating blades for stability, a 3-channel infrared radio system and a 3.7V LiPo flight battery inside the model. All of this plus flashing LED searchlights and factory-applied decals are included. Estes joins the world of mini RTF helis with feature-filled, ready-to-fly choppers that take ease and affordability to new heights!


    The included 3-channel infrared radio system features dual sticks for throttle and directional control. Simply install six AA Alkaline batteries (not included) then charge up the heli using the charge cord built into the transmitter and you're ready for up to 5 minutes of flight excitement.

    SF-161 Specifications:

    • Length: 8.6" (220 mm)
    • Width: 1.4" (38 mm)
    • Height: 3.9" (98 mm)
    • Main Rotor: 7.5" (190 mm)
    • Tail Rotor: 1.2" (30 mm)


    • Counter rotating rotor blades for stable flight and easy maneuvering
    • Ideal for beginners
    • 3.7V 1S LiPo battery charges through controller
    • 3 channel infrared controller with built-in charger and trim dial to adjust flight orientation
    • Includes four spare main blades and one spare tail blade

    RTF Contents:


    The Estes Mini Helicopters come Ready-To-Fly with everything you need in the box except six AA Alkaline batteries. The R73-OPS Attack Helicopter has a military green finish and decals that give it a rugged look. The SF-161 Helicopter comes in a red and white scheme.

    The infrared transmitter has a band selector switch that should be set to either A or B to match the letter on the bottom of the heli. This allows several helis to fly together. Spare blades and a tail rotor are included but I have not needed them even after considerable abuse of the heli. The model is quite rugged! A multi-language manual is included with excellent photos and setup instructions.


    The transmitter requires six 1.5V AA Alkaline Batteries (not included) to be installed before you can charge the model. The hatch is held in place by a small screw. The charging cord is stored in the rear left handle of the transmitter. A hidden latch simply slides down for access to the chamber. Once the batteries are installed, the Power and Charge indicator just below the band selector on the front of the transmitter will light green when turned on. When the batteries get low, this indicator will flash red, indicating it is time for a new set of batteries.


    With the transmitter on, plug the charge cord into the helicopter. The controllers green LED will change to red, indicating the heli is being charged. Note that the connector will only fit one way into the heli.

    The helicopter can fly for 4-5 minutes after 30-40 minutes of charging. Charging is complete when the LED turns green again. Remove the charge cord, store it back into the transmitter handle, and you are ready to fly!

    After charging my heli, I turned the transmitter back on first and then set the On/Off switch on the heli to On. When I throttled up, the heli lifted off the ground nicely to a few feet. The counter-rotating blades provided very stable flight. I then used the trim knob on the front of the transmitter to eliminate the slow rotation and was off on my first indoor adventure around the house!

    I was happy with the ruggedness of the heli. After banging it into several objects, there was no damage even after it hit the tiled floor. I showed the heli's versatility in the video by flying in small areas and the infrared link between the transmitter and the heli was tested in a wide range of light sources. The only times I had problems was in bright florescent lights and outdoors. The heli simply stops when it encounters interference. Otherwise, the infrared link worked quite well.

    The flights were about 5 minutes long and the heli would not lift up more than a few inches once the battery was drained. The charging system appears to use a diode in-line with the connector on the heli, preventing use of a standard Lithium charger from recharging the model. I have recharged the heli about 10 times from the transmitter and the batteries are still going strong. Only the charge time increased.

    The Estes Micro EP Helicopters seem to be a great low-cost model for beginners that have never flown a heli before. Designed for entry-level flyers 14 years and older, it is easy to fly, safe, and difficult to damage. Further, the model is Ready-To-Fly (RTF) right out of the box and requires no assembly. I suspect that pilots younger than 14 will also enjoy this low-cost flying model as it is much more than just a toy!

    Estes EP Heli RTF


    PO Box 227
    Penrose, CO 81240

    Great Planes Model Distributors
    P.O. Box 9021
    Champaign, IL 61826-9021
    Web: www.greatplanes.com


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    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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