Model type: Sport scale ARF
Skill level: Intermediate to expert
Wingspan: 56 inches
Length: 54 inches
Weight: 4 to 4.5 pounds
Power system: Hacker A40-10S V2 brushless motor; 90-amp ESC; 4S 3,300 mAh LiPo
Radio: Five-channel minimum with four high-torque servos
Construction: Conventional balsa and plywood
Street price: $249.99 (ARF only)
Motor used: Hacker A40-10S V2 brushless outrunner
Speed controller: Castle Talon 90
Battery: Thunder Power 4S 3,300 mAh G8 Pro-Lite+ 25C LiPo
Propeller: Xoar 14 x 7
Radio system: Futaba 14SG transmitter; Futaba R617FS seven-channel receiver; four Hitec HS-5087 digital servos
Ready-to-fly weight: 4 pounds, 3.5 ounces
Flight duration: 5 to 6 minutes
• Wide flight envelope encompasses and 3-D flying.
• Strong, yet lightweight, airframe.
• Fiberglass cowl and wheel pants are painted to match the color scheme.
• Removable side force generators are included.
• Dual ball links provided for slop-free linkages.
• Recommended equipment is a perfect match for the airframe.
• Manual is not included. (Can be downloaded from AJ Aircraft website)
Anyone who is familiar with Precision Aerobatics or 3-D flight has likely heard the name Andrew Jesky, or simply AJ. Beyond being an F3A World Championship competitor and a Camp AMA instructor, Andrew is also a noted aircraft designer who recently started his own company, AJ Aircraft.
The company’s first release, the Laser 230z, is available in three sizes with wingspans of 56, 73, and 93 inches. Each size aircraft is available in two color schemes: Competition and Retro Scale. The subject of this review is the 56-inch version, which is built for electric power.
The Laser arrived double boxed and neatly packaged. With the exception of the parts bag, each item was separately encased in plastic, ensuring that everything arrived in great shape.
After unpacking the contents, I discovered that the instruction manual is not included with the model. It is available in PDF format on the AJ Aircraft website. The manual spans 24 pages and includes color photos of the steps needed to complete the aircraft. The manual and the website provide a complete list of recommended equipment that has been tested with the model. A link to the manual is provided in the “Sources” section.
Because the manual provides all of the details on the assembly process of this aircraft and is available for download to anyone with an Internet connection, I won’t cover the entire process, but simply touch on some of the steps.
After inspecting all the airframe components, I noticed the Oracover covering had only minor wrinkles. It’s best to go over all of the covering, especially the seams, as mentioned in the manual with a covering iron. I used a “hot sock” on the iron to further protect the covering.
After I completed sealing the covering and removing wrinkles, I began removing the covering from certain areas of the fuselage and wing. In the case of the Laser’s fuselage, that includes holes for the antirotation pins, wing tube, aileron extensions, and wing capture bolts. Remove the covering from the horizontal stabilizer slot on each side and the hole for the elevator servo at the rear of the fuselage.
The wing requires that the covering be removed from the servo pockets. A sharp hobby knife or a covering iron with a small head can be used. When I’m done, I like to make sure that the covering is still securely adhered around the areas where I removed the covering.
Getting the Laser on its wheels requires drilling two holes on the bottom of the fuselage to mount the tailwheel assembly. The main gear is bolted to the fuselage using the supplied hardware. A wood filler block between the landing gear and the underside of the fuselage hides the screws and gives the model a finished look.
Mounting the wheels and wheel pants is easier if it is done before the landing gear is bolted to the fuselage. To aid in mounting the wheel pants, a small wrench is included with the hardware.
When work moves to the tail, which includes installing the horizontal stabilizer, elevator haves with joiner, and the rudder, it is important to take your time and closely follow the instructions. Although none of these steps are difficult, I tend to labor over getting the horizontal stabilizer perfectly aligned and parallel with the wing.
Epoxy the elevator halves together going through the stabilizer slot in the fuselage. I recommend using the clamping method described in the manual to ensure that both sides are perfectly even.
The ailerons, elevator, and rudder are prehinged and glued to each respective control surface while the other side is left to be glued by the builder. I visually inspected each hinge and confirm that they were well attached before gluing the other side of each with thin CA adhesive.
Using the recommended power system has advantages beyond ensuring good performance. In the case of the Hacker A40-10S brushless motor, the bolt pattern of the preinstalled blind nuts on the firewall perfectly matches the Hacker motor mount.
Nylon zip ties secure the Castle Talon 90 ESC via its included mounting bracket to the side of the motor box. Mounting the cowl was easy using a 3 x 5 card as a guide. The cowl’s trim scheme nicely matched the fuselage!
Finishing the recommended power system is the Thunder Power 4S 3,300 mAh LiPo battery. It easily fits in the battery tray and is held in place with Velcro and a strap. A Xoar 14 x 7 PJN propeller is mounted to a 2-inch Gator-RC Flow-Thru spinner. This setup achieved the proper center of gravity (CG) of 95 mm to 103 mm behind the wing’s leading edge near the root. There was no need to relocate equipment or add weight.
Greyson Pritchett piloted the AJ Aircraft Laser 230z and here are his impressions:
“This airplane flies great! It can do Precision Aerobatics [Pattern] and extreme 3-D that a lot of people want. If you already have some successful stick time on a trainer, this could be your second or third go-to airplane. The Laser is very good and capable of doing any maneuver I can do and then some, making it a model I can grow with.
“My first flight on this aircraft required no trim at all! The entire setup was exactly as suggested in the instructions including CG, surface throw, and exponential. The model took off and landed smoothly in the wind with just a little rudder input. It is also very smooth in the air.
“The first thing that I liked was that it was so easy to fly straight and level—it never searches for a straight line like many 3-D airplanes do. My first flight was made in very windy conditions and the Laser could not have been any more stable or tracked better.
“The Laser feels like a bigger airplane than it is. It rolls fast, loops fast, and snaps even faster! Knife-edge flight is easy as are snaps from knife edge and I can nail them every time. Back and forth 11/2 snaps from knife edge look great. Harrier flight is also stable and enjoyable with the Laser.
“My favorite trick is a flat inverted spin; the AJ Laser 230z does it great and changing the rotation speed on the way down is a blast, but it always feels solid to recover! I also enjoy hovering low to the ground because of how stable the aircraft can be, even in the wind. It is one of the best airplanes to hover and perform knife-edge flight.
“The AJ Laser is by far one of the best airplanes Andrew has designed that I have flown. It is easy to transport, by removing the wing halves, and simple to put together at the field. The Competition color scheme is easy to see in the air. If you love to fly a lot and enjoy flying 3-D or some Pattern maneuvers, you, like me, will love the AJ Laser 230z.”
The AJ Aircraft Laser 230z is a well-designed, lightweight aircraft that can be easily assembled following the detailed instruction manual. Its wide flight envelope can be tamed with less surface travel for sport flying and precision flight or throws of 45° or more turn it into a 3-D monster.
Its 56-inch wingspan provides a good presence in the air for both visibility and handling, while the removable wing halves make it manageable to transport and store.
If you are looking for an electric-powered, aerobatic model, the Laser is worth considering. The only difficult choice may be deciding which color scheme to go with![