Of all the trainer RC model airplanes we have reviewed, the E-Flite Apprentice STS is our ‘Editor’s Choice’ for 2021. The E-Flight Apprentice was adopted by the AMA (Academy of Model Aeronautics) as their Official Trainer. The earlier version of the E-Flight Apprentice had a large following and enjoyed a reputation as one of the best RC airplane kits you can buy. E-Flite, building on that hard to follow reputation has upgraded and evolved the Apprentice into the STS version. From the perspective of a newbie the Apprentice STS is one of the best RC airplanes for beginners. If you are willing to spend the extra cash and upgrade your plane to ‘SAFE Plus’ it would probably be the hardest RC plane to crash.
Strong and Robust
Its 1.5 meter (59 inch) wingspan makes it an ideal progression onto larger RC airplanes. Constructed from EPO it is strong and robust. The tough landing gear can handle the bumpiest of landings and has a steerable nose wheel for taxing. The powerful brushless ‘outrunner’ electric motor delivers even more power (and torque to the propeller) and is supervised by a ‘smart’ electronic speed control (ESC).
The E-Flite Apprentice boasts ‘Sensor Assisted Flight Envelope’ (SAFE) technology with three modes of operation. Beginner, intermediate and experienced. In all modes the Apprentice will quite literally take off from the runway and handle the ‘climb out’ by itself. Simply hold the throttle lever open (don’t touch any other control) and it will take off on its own. When the Apprentice reaches the desired altitude, release the throttle control and it will return to straight and level flight.
Three modes of operation
In beginner mode, the Apprentice prevents loss of control by limiting the amount of bank angle and other extreme manoeuvres. It offers a simple easy and sedate flying experience for a nervous student pilot as they learn and acquire flying experience.
Intermediate mode moves things up a notch and allows steeper bank angles and manoeuvring than the basic mode but is always in the background to prevent over control. In either mode, releasing the aileron control returns the Apprentice to straight and level flight.
Expert mode removes all the limits. The pilot can enjoy a full aerobatic experience with loops, rolls, extreme bank angles and inverted flight. If the pilot becomes disorientated, flip the mode switch back into either basic or intermediate mode and the Apprentice will automatically recover to straight and level flight.
Versions & Options
The Apprentice STS is offered as a RTF (ready to fly kit). Shipped with a Spektrum DXE transmitter, 3200 mAh battery and a USB charger. You can even recharge the battery, in the car, as you drive to the flying field. It is also available in Bind and fly ‘basic version’ where you can use your own transmitter, receiver and battery. The Apprentice can flown from and land on water, if you chose to purchase (and fit) the floats.
If you decide to further upgrade your E-Flight Apprentice to SAFE plus with the on-board GPS module and the ‘Landing Assist Sensor’ (LAS), you can enjoy such features such as ‘Holding Pattern’, ‘Auto-land’ and ‘Virtual Fence’.
During ‘Auto-land’ the LAS monitors the height above the ground and controls the landing flare to ensure a smooth ‘professional’ landing. In almost all cases, a first time, zero hours newbie can land the plane better than an experienced RC pilot.
The ‘Virtual Fence’ allows you to define the flying area or rather the airspace you want your E-Flight Apprentice to stay within. Properly set, it ensures your plane does not overfly people, property and other areas in an unsafe manner. If you inadvertently, breach the ‘Virtual Fence’ the Apprentice will take control and fly itself back into the safe area that you defined. As the Apprentice returns to the safe area it rocks its wings to signal it has returned control back to you.
The holding pattern, as the name suggests, has the Apprentice circle the flying area at the same altitude while other RC airplanes land or take off. It is a useful feature that when appropriate to do so, allows the instructor to speak to the student pilot directly or discuss a feature on the transmitter without having to continuously monitor the plane whilst it is in flight. This is a desirable feature that is not available to many RC model airplanes.
The Apprentice – Features recap
- The E-Flite Apprentice STS is ideal for first time, novice RC pilots.
- Aerodynamically stable in flight.
- It is the official trainer of the AMA.
- Unlike smaller lighter RC trainers its large size makes it less susceptible to crosswind.
- 5 meter (59 inch) wingspan.
- Three modes of operation: Beginner, intermediate and expert.
- Available as a ready to fly kit: supplied with a Spektrum DXS transmitter.
- Also, available as Bind and fly.
- Can be upgraded to SAFE plus: Auto-land, landing assist, Holding pattern and Virtual fence.
- Float conversion: take-off and land on water.
In summary, the E-Flite Apprentice is an excellent choice for new RC pilots. Buy this RC plane kit as a beginner and you will still be flying it as an expert. One RC plane, covering three roles. It’s aerobatic, capable and versatile enough that you wouldn’t get bored with it. Easily transportable, simple to assemble, you can be flying in a matter of minutes.
Hopefully you found this post on the E-Flight Apprentice STS interesting and informative. You should check out our post on the HobbyZone Scout S1 RC trainer.
The editorial team