The Extra 300S is a single seat variant of the original Extra 300 twin seat aerobatic light aircraft. It’s one of the better known aerobatic planes and has been piloted to victory in any number of aerobatic competitions. It’s also the craft favoured by The Blades Aerobatic Display Team, a well known team from the UK who have used the 300S for a number of years.
At first glance, the Alabeo 300S is aesthetically pleasing, with rather attractive specular texturing on all of the included liveries and a well designed virtual cockpit that includes a digital COM radio. As far as navigation aids go, the 300 lacks, well, anything. There’s no GPS and no VOR radio functionality, so if you’re thinking of flying this aircraft point-to-point, you’re going to have an uphill struggle But then, that’s not what the 300S is about. (Note: It is possible to fit a GPS to the 300 if you do want to do some traveling – Click here to see how).
Otherwise though, the virtual cockpit, whilst very basic, is also very functional. You can run a basic startup procedure from cold and dark (if that’s how you have your flight sim setup), or with the electrics on and just needing her engine turned over.
Again, take off is a simple affair. With so little to worry about in the way of additional inputs (such as autopilot & nav settings), it’s a case of getting radio clearance and just trundling off down the taxiway to your chosen runway. Maneuvering the 300S is done through rudder control and responds positively without being overly sensitive to pilot inputs.
Due to the 300 being a taildragger, it’s often difficult to see where you’re going as you taxi or takeoff. When taxiing, I often use the external camera to provide me with more visibility and assist in keeping a straight line. Once on the end of the runway, I’m back in the cockpit as, once you’ve hit about 40 kts, pushing forwards on the stick a little will lift the tail, making it easier to guide the 300 in a straight line until you’re fast enough to get airborne.
Due to her light weight and powerful engine, the 300 will lift from the tarmac easily and you can enter into a relatively steep climb straight off the bat.
Once in flight, the 300 is agile, precise and a great deal of fun, providing a stable base to learn aerobatic maneuvers or low altitude flying. Whilst there’s still the possibility to overdo the control inputs, especially if you’re pushing her close to the boundary of it’s capabilities, the 300 is forgiving and won’t bite if you’re pushing for tighter turns, rolls and loops. I have managed to stall the 300 on a handful of occasions, but the majority of these were in situations that I knew this was something likely to happen. As long as you have a little height under your belt when it does happen, regaining control is not hardship at all.
As I mentioned towards the beginning of this post, the 300 isn’t really about flying from one airfield to another at a couple of thousand feet and in a straight line. If I’m honest, I actually find her really quite dull in those situations and I’m eager for something a bit more interesting…
…So here’s the SpenceTec 300S Point-to-Point Flying Guide;
- Ensure you’ve found a way to navigate around in the first place.
- Take Off
- Drop her to 150 feet above ground level
- Follow the contours of the earth.
- Take her through valleys, under bridges and around tall buildings.
- Arrive at your destination with a big cheesy grin adorning your features. 😀
Landing the 300 can be an interesting experience. With no flaps and fixed gear, touching down with any kind of sink rate will have you bouncing down the runway. Personally, I found this to be the most challenging part of learning to fly the 300, with a number of very interesting landings before I got the hang of putting her down.
A very fun little aircraft at a very reasonable price (£12.99/$19.99), the 300S is great if you’re looking for an aircraft that you can throw around the sky, although perhaps not such a great choice if you’re wanting a nice relaxing flight from one airport to another. There’s a good level of detail present throughout the model and the specular texturing is well done too. In terms of flight dynamics, I have the feeling that a certain amount of realism has been sacrificed in order to keep this model as fun and flyable as possible yet still keeping it’s needed agility.
All in all, definitely worth the asking price and a model I’d recommend if you’re a fan of small GA aircraft and aerobatic flying.