In the mid-1500s, Leonardo da Vinci set his quill to paper and diagrammed a device that would eventually inspire the creation of the modern helicopter. Like most great ideas, it took a while to get off the ground (literally!), and various people of all nationalities took a stab at perfecting the design over the centuries. Considering all of their efforts, I cant help but be amazed, and perhaps feel even a tad bit guilty, at how accessible and affordable helicopter flight now is to us RC enthusiasts. The Heli-Max Axe CX Micro shows just how far we have come, and Im sure that Leonardo Da Vinci would be just as thrilled as I was if one showed up on his doorstep on a cold winter day.
Im still very new to helicopter flying, and I found the Axe CX Micro stable yet responsive. Always a bit nervous about first flights and especially when both my wife and my cat are looking on, I cleared a large area in my living room so that I would have plenty of room to trim the Axe CX out. A gentle push on the throttle stick started the coaxial rotors spinning with a whirring sound that sent the cat running as the landing skids floated above the surface of the living room table. A bit more throttle, and the Axe CX Micro took to the air, gently hovering while I made minor trim adjustments on the radio. I was pleased by its stability in hover, and I found it very easy to stay one step ahead with stick inputs to keep it hanging in the air with little movement at all.Next, I experimented with the control inputs and found that they struck an excellent balance between stability and maneuverability. The tail-rotor controls offered an excellent yaw rate that was a good match for the cyclic and collective controls. For such a small heli, the Axe CX Micro has a fair amount of mass and inertia; this forced me to plan carefully to avoid having it careen into walls while changing direction. Although this took some getting used to, Ive come to appreciate that it was helping me to develop skills that Id find helpful later on as I progress to larger and less forgiving helicopters. Whenever I felt that things were happening too quickly for my novice thumbs to keep up with, I simply arrested its forward momentum, and it quickly resumed a stable hover.
At first, I felt that the throttle response was somewhat sensitive, as there is a narrow window to stay within to keep the heli in the same vertical plane. But once I had developed the appropriate thumb sensitivity, I was able to use just the right amount of throttle to maintain my desired flight path without gaining or losing altitude, and I realized that once again, the Axe CX Micro was forcing me to become a better heli pilot. After five fun minutes of flying, I landed it on the table and checked the battery and motors. The battery was still cool to the touch but the motors were surprisingly warm, proving that I had given the heli as good a workout as I had while scooting around in the thin Colorado air. Since then, Ive found that the battery life is not quite as long as I would like; I attribute this to the increased strain on the power system while flying at my home elevation of 5,200 feet above sea level (ASL). I expect that its sealevel performance is much better, but those who fly at higher elevations might want to invest in additional batteries to keep the fun going with minimal interruption.