E-Flight Draco

The Draco is Mike Patey’s vision of the ultimate bush plane. Unmatched in power and STOL (short take off & landing) capability. 

According to Mike, he was flying his Polish manufactured Wilga 2000 when its Lycoming engine threw a couple of rods and promptly quit. Fortunately, he was able to make a safe landing.  Mike said he’d already been thinking about swapping the engine out forImage of the E-Flight Draco in flight something more powerful as the basic Wilga always felt slightly underpowered.

He overcame the underpowered issue by fitting a 680hp Pratt & Whitney PT6-28 turboprop engine.  Now with the bit between his teeth, Mike didn’t stop there, he also designed, built and fitted larger wings with slotted flaps and leading edge slats to generate more lift. The changes were so radical, that the FAA was completely freaked out. The Wilga would only be granted a permit to fly as an experimental aircraft at exhibitions.  Mike promptly renamed his new creation the Draco.

Unexpected Bonus

The Draco conversion had one unexpected bonus, altitude!  Bush planes are not normally set up for high altitude flying but the PT6 powered Draco can reach more than 28,000 feet.  Clearly, an oxygen system was called for.  Mike promptly set about devising and installing his own so that he could take advantage of the faster cruising speeds at higher altitudes. 

Aside from the extra power an advantage of the Pratt & Whitney PT6 is that it will run on just about any fuel you can find lying around.  From Jet-A at the airport, standard motor gas to diesel syphoned out of a tractor. Mike says that this makes it a true ‘bush plane’, since it can run on whatever fuel can be scrounged. Whereas, traditional piston engined bush planes are restricted to Avgas.

The most widely anticipated product launch in years

E-Flight’s homage to the Draco has resulted in a highly detailed scale model of the original. Even the model’s pilot bears a similarity to Mike.  The E-Image of the E-Flight Draco in flightFlight Draco was almost two years from inception to first flight. This has given rise to perhaps the most widely anticipated RC airplane product launch in years.

The process of building a scale model, started with E-Flight having the original Draco laser scanned to create precise a 3D computer template.  The result is an exact scale model right down to the hatches, panel lines, steps, antennas, rivets, corrugated sections and wingtip skids.  The model’s dimensions are precisely scaled in every detail from the shape of the fuselage to the thickness and contour of the wing.

As you would expect the E-Flight’s Draco airframe emulates the original for strength and rigidity. Its fully-molded EPO fuselage and wings are reinforced with carbon fiber and wood throughout.

Flying the E-Flight Draco

The model is fitted with a brushless outrunner motor, specially designed and developed for the Draco project.  From the outset, E-Flight wanted to match the power performance of Mike Patey’s creation, albeit on a scaled down basis.  They knew that oversized fourImage of the RC model Airplane blade propeller was going to biting into very large chunks of air and they needed something with a lot of torque to deliver the necessary performance.

While the original Draco has an almost one to one power ratio, the E-Flight Draco is no slouch and is off the ground in less than 25 inches!

E-Flight’s Draco is easy to fly, and features SAFE Select flight envelope protection. This feature can be selected on or off during flight and affords an extra level of control.  It also works in conjunction with the AS3X technology which provides additional stability in windy conditions. 

With SAFE selected you have limits on the airplane’s bank and pitch angles.  New or low hours RC pilots tend to over control an unfamiliar plane when they feel stressed or under pressure. This can lead to a complete loss of control.

With SAFE selected you could move the control sticks right against the stops Image of a Draco RC planeand the airplane will not bank or climb beyond its programed limits. SAFE can be switched on or off through all phases of the flight from take-off to landing.

One of the benefits of having SAFE, if you became disoriented or lost sight of your airplane, simply release the control sticks and the model will return to straight and level flight by itself. 

As you become familiar with the model and gain experience, you can switch SAFE off and explore its capabilities. If things get too much, switch back onto SAFE.  In this way you gain experience and confidence which leads to longer flights without SAFE.

Aerobatics are easy and present no problem to the E-Flight Draco.  The massive wingspan creates phenomenal lift and there is always plenty of power on tap.

E-Flight recommends a 6S 5000mAh battery as a minimum. Although, you can fit 6S batteries from 4000 – 7000mAh for a broad range of performance. Flight endurance will depend on how aggressively you want to explore that envelope.

Landing the E-Flight Draco

The Spektrum smart ESC (electronic speed control) can be programed to spin the propeller in the opposite direction to create reverse thrust for short landing. Even with a slight headwind its possible to land the E-Flight Draco and bring it toImage of the tail wheel and shock absorber a complete stop within 4 feet.  Slotted flaps and leading edge slats are fitted as standard.

The landing gear is carbon fiber and is attached to fully functioning shock absorbers which are licensed replicas of the ‘King Shocks’ on Mike Patey’s Draco.  The steerable tailwheel assembly also has its own shock absorber. The model has been fitted with oversized Tundra tires and can be flown from a variety of challenging surfaces.  Ground handling over rough uneven surfaces is superb. Propeller clearance, even during the heaviest of landings is easily maintained.

Noteworthy features

The Draco has a 2.1 meter (82.6 inch) wingspan with trailing flaps and leading edge slats. The wings are simple and easy to assemble and disassemble with twist and lock screws.  Each wing root slots into alignment plugs on either side. All done in a matter of minutes.

Image of the Draco RC airplane kit and its accessoriesThe custom light controller handles the navigation lights, landing spot lights and tail beacon. Even the instrument panel inside the cockpit is backlit. You can select various solid and strobe lighting patterns and effects from the Spektrum NX-8 transmitter.

The E-Flight Draco is shipped with a Spectrum receiver which provides real time telemetry for motor RPM, voltage, current flow and temperature.

What’s in the box:  E-flite DRACO BNF Basic. Spektrum NX8 8-Channel Transmitter. Spektrum Smart Charger.  5000mAh 6S Smart Battery. Tool Set. Foam Safe Glue. RealFlight Trainer Edition RC Flight Simulator.

In conclusion, the E-Flight Draco is a long awaited and eagerly anticipated delight. Demos and videos of the original Draco’s back story and the RC version’s capabilities are driving the demand for this RC airplane kit from all sectors. 

Hopefully you found the post on the E-Flight Draco interesting and useful.

You should check out our other posts on the Apprentice STS and the T-28 Trojan.

Happy landings.

The editorial team

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