Horizon Hobby E-flite Pitts S-1S 850mm BNF Basic with AS3X and SAFE Select

Written by Greg Gimlick It takes two wings to carry the joy of flying this model As seen in the Spring 2019 issue of Park Pilot

Bonus Video


Type: Aerobatic scale park flyer Skill level: Intermediate to expert Wingspan: 33.5 inches Wing area: 437 square inches Airfoil: Semisymmetrical Length: 31 inches Weight: 46 ounces Wing loading: 15.18 ounces per square foot Power system: BL15 880 Kv brushless outrunner motor; 40-amp programmable brushless ESC; 11 x 7 propeller Receiver: Spektrum AR636 six-channel AS3X Sport Material: EPO foam Requires: Full-range, five-plus-channel DSMX/DSM2 transmitter; 1,800 to 2,200 mAh 3S to 4S LiPo battery; compatible LiPo charger Flight duration: 4 to 6 minutes Price: $199.99 Info: horizonhobby.com


  • 3S- and 4S-compatible brushless motor and 40-amp ESC
  • AS3X and SAFE Select technology
  • Scale looks and smooth surface detail
  • Aluminum landing gear with scale covers and wheel pants
  • Tool-free wing assembly
  • Large cockpit hatch and removable battery tray
  • Horizon Hobby E-flite Pitts S-1S 850mm BNF Basic with AS3X and SAFE Select
  • It takes two wings to carry the joy of flying this model
  • Product Review

    The E-flite Pitts S-1S arrived intricately packed in a foam box that held everything securely. The finish on this little Pitts is something to behold! You’ll look twice to see whether it’s really a foam airplane.
    The parts count is small.

    Unpacking the bits and pieces, I found a gorgeous set of aluminum landing gear. This gear is nicely done and extremely sturdy. On top of that, the wheel pants are solidly secured. Overall, the airplane made an impression as I was unpacking. I began by thoroughly reading the manual then checking online to see if there were any corrections or addendums. There weren’t any, but hopefully by now there are updates to the motor and to correct the CG (center of gravity) location, which is 70 mm, plus or minus 3 mm, from the leading edge of the top wing. I was made aware of this via an email from a friend who had talked to technical support at Horizon Hobby. Assembly begins by installing the landing gear with three screws. I added a drop of threadlocker to each. Although it’s not mentioned in the manual, I preferred using some. The horizontal stabilizer halves are installed next; take care to align the joiner properly.
    The aluminum landing gear is screwed in place and the bottom wing is fitted on the aircraft.

    The stabilizers are secured with a drop of CA glue, which won’t hurt the EPO foam. The elevator control rod is preinstalled, so you only need to attach the clevis to the horn in the depicted location. Installing the wings requires some care and patience. There’s nothing complicated here, but if you’re not careful, you can damage the foam by pressing too hard while installing the retention pins. The bottom wing slides into place and a stub protrudes through the wing and is secured by a body clip. With the airplane upright, the interplane struts are set into position and secured with long pins. A little pressure and wiggling will help this process, but be careful not to damage the smooth surface of the foam by mashing too hard. I had difficulty on one side, but I eventually got everything lined up so that the pin would bottom out through both receptacles. Patience is the key to this step. You’ll also find that it’s easier if you first slide the center front of the wing into the cabane and install the body clips. When all of the pins are in place, both wings are very secure.
    The upper wing is retained with a tab and two clips to the cabane.

    Four carbon-fiber rods simulate flying wires; their use is optional. If you opt to install them, you will need to glue them in place. This will prevent you from disassembling the airplane later if needed. You probably won’t have problems transporting this compact airplane in one piece, but I decided to forgo the flying wires anyway. Battery installation is an innovative affair. The 3S LiPo battery pack is fastened with hook-and-loop tape to a removable battery tray. This makes installing and removing the pack a cinch. Slide the tray forward until you hear an audible thud and it’s secure. I was skeptical at first, but it takes quite a tug to loosen for removal, so I’ve quit worrying. I suggest securing the ESC to the bottom of the fuselage under the battery tray. After several flights, I noticed that the tray didn’t give me the familiar thud when it locked in place. Investigation showed the wires from the ESC were interfering with the tray going all the way forward. Positioning the wires out of the way and securing the ESC with tape cured the problem. There are no surprises when you’re programming your radio. E-flite has provided its usual easy-to-read chart that shows all of the settings for various radios in the Spektrum line. There are two methods of binding, depending upon whether you want SAFE Select available. Whether you activate SAFE Select or choose not to, AS3X is still active. To bind in SAFE Select mode, insert the bind plug, connect the battery, and wait to see the bind light flash on the receiver. At this point, remove the bind plug and you’ll notice that the light is still flashing, indicating that the receiver is in bind mode. Bind your transmitter in the usual way and the light will indicate when the process is complete. If you don’t wish to have SAFE Select available, you can bind it in the normal fashion, leaving the bind plug in place throughout the process. This will still give you the AS3X capability, but SAFE Select will not be activated. It’s up to you which binding process you prefer. I’m experienced, so SAFE Select isn’t a concern for me, but I do bind with it active when it’s available on an airplane. Doing so allows me to have less-experienced pilots try the airplane with the assurance that SAFE Select will help them to not overcontrol it. After it is bound in this manner, I can assign a switch to turn SAFE Select on or off as desired in flight. This offers a sort of “bail-out” option for less-experienced pilots to attempt maneuvers. If he or she gets confused or disoriented, flipping the switch activates SAFE Select. The airplane will level itself, allowing the pilot to gather his or her wits and continue.
    The battery attaches to a removable tray. Cinching the straps too tight can bend the tray, affecting its fit.

    I set the CG at the corrected 70 mm (instead of the 86 mm listed in the manual) and adjusted the battery on the tray to achieve that. The CG range changed when E-flite upgraded to the larger BL15 motor. Control throws are listed in the manual and will pretty much come out to those if you set up your radio as shown. Dual rates are suggested at 100% and 70%. I will caution that the ailerons are quite sporty in high rate. This was the fun part, and the little Pitts didn’t disappoint. I did all of the test flights using a 3S LiPo pack and the power was impressive. Slightly advancing the throttle brought the tail up and it taxied easily for takeoff from my grass field. I left it in SAFE mode for the first takeoff and it felt solid despite the gusty wind. Handling in SAFE Select mode was comfortable. An intermediate pilot should be quite relaxed feeling it out like this. Switching SAFE Select off opened up an entire envelope of capabilities! I actually flipped the ailerons to low rate after I turned off the SAFE Select mode. This felt good to me and was more than enough throw for nice rolls, etc. Don’t tell this little model that it can’t do what the big airplanes do! Vertical climbs on 3S were impressive; with 4S, it’s a whole step beyond. Knife-edge, rolls, inverted flight, Immelmans, spins, snaps inside and out, outside loops ... you can do it all with the Pitts. Stalls were comfortable and easy to recover from, as were the spins. Gusty wind tends to knock it around a bit, but it has a lot of wing area and only weighs 44 ounces, so that’s not surprising. The AS3X really helps smooth that out. This is the third Pitts airplane that I’ve owned and it might well be my favorite. I’ve had 1/4-scale and 1/5-scale aircraft, but never one quite this small. With the AS3X and ease of transport, it’s a regular choice when I load up the arsenal for the field. Because you can choose 3S or 4S without changing anything makes it a game changer. I imagine Horizon Hobby will have updated its website to reflect the changes by the time you read this. One of the most telling comments I heard at the field was, “I thought it was covered in fabric!” The foam finish is fantastic. This isn’t a trainer, but if you’re an intermediate pilot who is looking for an aerobatic scale airplane that won’t break the bank, this one will grow with you.
    The Pitts can be flown at a smaller field where Park Pilot Program-size aircraft are generally flown. It is a nice-looking, small model, and the foam finish is fantastic.

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    Cant read the text. Brown on grey just doesn't work.

    After saving my last comment, now the background for the text is white. hm.

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