e-flite apprentice sts

E-flite Apprentice STS 1.5m Review 2020

The E-flite Apprentice STS (Smart Trainer with SAFE) 1.5m is based on the legendary E-flite Apprentice S 15e which is one of the best RC airplanes for learning how to fly.  The large wingspan makes it an ideal choice for handling more wind and easier to see in the sky.  It is very stable with the proprietary SAFE (Sensor Assisted Flight Envelope) technology. 

The Apprentice STS 1.5m RTF (Ready-To-Fly) includes many Smart technology components including the ESC (Electric Speed Controller), battery and charger.  The Apprentice STS 1.5m has optional SAFE Plus GPS-enabled technology and optional LAS (Landing Assist Sensor) to help in your learning experience.

Bind-N-Fly (BNF)

The Apprentice STS 1.5m BNF (Bind-N-Fly) version does not include the radio/transmitter, Smart battery or Smart charger.  Those items are sold separately making the Apprentice STS 1.5m BNF a lower cost option if you already own those items. 

Ready-To-Fly (RTF)

The RTF version includes everything in the box that you need to get flying.  The Spektrum DXeA 2.4Ghz transmitter remote control is the base model for all the Spektrum DX based controllers.  Later down the road upgrading from a Spektrum DXeA to a Spektrum DX6 or DX8 will be easy and feel very similar.  The DXeA has a switch reserved, called Flight Mode, for SAFE technology to switch between beginner, intermediate and advanced flight modes.

Durable EPO Foam

Both versions of the Apprentice STS 1.5m are built with durable EPO foam and lightweight construction.  The EPO foam construction also makes repairs and fixes easy to handle with proper EPO foam safe glue and tape.  Painting the EPO foam can done, so changing the paint color or design is easy to do.

Three SAFE flight modes for the E-flite Apprentice STS 1.5m airplane.

rc_airplane_modeThe three flight modes include Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced.  Each mode alters the planes abilities based on the pilots skill and comfort of flying the airplane.  Each of these modes will affect how much control authority the pilot has with the control surfaces of the RC airplane. 

Those modes will directly affect pitch, roll and yaw.  Pitch is how to control the nose of the airplane to go up or down which is controlled by the horizontal elevator on the rear tail of the airplane.  Roll is how to control the airplane from rolling left or right onto its side and making turns.  And lastly yaw, is how to control the direction of the nose left or right which is controlled by the rudder on the rear vertical tail of the RC airplane.

Beginner Mode

In Beginner mode, indicated by a GREEN LED light on the top windshield and in the forward or “0” position of the top switch on the DXeA transmitter.  This mode restricts the pilot from over-steering or over-correcting the airplane during flight.  The beginner mode will allow the plane to take off and will naturally climb as there is a direct correlation of the throttle to the elevator.  Increasing the throttle will increase the up elevator input and the airplane will go up.  When making left or right hand turns the ailerons are directly correlated to the rudder to make a coordinated smooth turn.

No Stunts in Beginner Mode

Another characteristic of Beginner mode is the RC airplane will not turn sharp enough for the plane to roll over on its side, fly inverted (upside-down) or perform a loop.  This allows the pilot to get use to the controls without fear of making the plane turn to short and nose dive into the ground.  While beginner mode is a good way to start I would suggest only using it in the very beginning for about the first 10 flights and then begin switching to intermediate mode.  You will want to learn how to fly the RC plane as soon as possible without the assistance of SAFE because this will allow you to fly other RC airplanes that do not have the SAFE technology included.

Intermediate Mode

Taking a look at the second flight mode called Intermediate indicated by a BLUE LED light on the top center of the windshield or the middle “1” position of the flight mode switch. In this mode, the pilot has the ability to have more control of the E-flite Apprentice STS 1.5m with greater ability to turn, increase the climbing or descending angle.  However the pilot will not be able to roll the plane over on its side, fly inverted or perform a loop.  

Built-in Barometer Keeps This Plane Flying!

The Apprentice STS 1.5m comes with a built in barometer.  When the airplane is in intermediate mode and descends below 30 feet above ground level it will automatically switch into beginner mode.  I have found this feature to be somewhat of a hinder but I understand why it exists. 

One Drawback To The Barometer

One of the downsides of of the barometer is that the RC airplane can be difficult to land.  I have found it takes a lot more landing area to land in beginner or intermediate mode vs advanced mode.

It’s even more difficult when there is a head wind which will cause the plane to float and stay flying.  The optional GPS and LAS modules can help out but those modules cost more money and not worth it in my opinion.  My recommendation is to get to Intermediate mode as soon as possible to have a bit more control authority.  You can always switch to beginner mode if you panic and need the airplane to level itself out.

Advanced Mode

Lastly, let’s talk about Advanced mode.  You will want to get to this mode as fast as possible because you have full control of the Apprentice STS 1.5m plane.  This mode has a RED LED light at the top center of the windshield and the flight mode switch in the back or “2” position.  This mode is the goal and where you want to be proficient in.  This mode  allows for tricks and stunts to show your family and friends.  This is the most exciting way to fly.  I encourage you to get a minimum of 15 to 20 flights under your belt before you try advanced mode.  I am speaking from experience.  🙂

I crashed my E-flite Apprentice STS 1.5m RTF TWICE!

If you switch to advance mode too soon you will crash it.  I’ve done it twice.  The first time was really expensive to replace the broken parts.  The plane did a nose dive into the ground and I had to replace the prop, motor mount, firewall, spinner, landing nose gear and cowl.  After the crash my heart sank and I had this feeling in the pit of my stomach of “what did I just do!?!” 

It is a feeling that all pilots have and I’m sure you will too at some point.  Take my advice and save money by getting good at flying in intermediate mode.  Then switch over to advanced mode. 

What happened?  The answer is simple.  I was not high enough to recover from a downward spiral and when I added aileron control in the wrong direction the plane turned nose down and BOOM!  I heard the boom of the plane hitting the ground and saw pieces fly into the air.  At that point I knew I crashed it and had a bad deep gut feeling.

Second Crash

The second time I flew in advanced mode I was really nervous and decided to fly a bit higher and decided to try flying inverted.  Everything was going well until I got mixed up with direction of the ailerons and pitch, I ended up skimming the ground with the nose and left wing. 

Once again, I replaced the prop, spinner, motor mount and cowl.  Thankfully the wing did not sustain any damage.  I hope my two crash stories can be an easy lesson for you to learn from and not make those mistakes. 

Don’t rush and fly higher.  I understand how eager you will be to fly in advanced mode to impress your friends or family, but don’t do it until you are comfortable.  Don’t crash and embarrass yourself, just tell them that you are new and not ready for those tricks just yet.

The E-flite Apprentice STS has replacement parts

One thing I like about E-flite and specifically the Apprentice STS is replacement parts are usually available.  Many local hobby stores carry the basic parts for the Apprentice S 15e and most of those parts will fit an Apprentice STS. 

If you are not able to find the parts locally, you can purchase them online through your local hobby shop, Amazon or from Horizon Hobby directly.  Either way, replacement parts are easy to find, readily available and cost effective.  Most repairs are relatively easy and quick allowing you to get back up and flying as soon as possible.

E-flite Apprentice STS modifications

In addition to replacement parts there are some small modifications that you can make to the Apprentice STS to improve your take offs and landings.  Taking off or landing on gravel or grass areas are a bit more challenging.  The plane requires more power for take offs in those areas but can be helpful by providing ground friction when landing.  One modification you may consider is to increase the wheel size of all three wheels. 

The RC airplane comes with 2.5 inch wheels and this does not provide enough clearance to takeoff or land from a grassy area without the grass being super short like a golf course fairway.  Also the standard wheels will work on the gravel but there is a greater potential for the prop to kick up rocks and ding up the propeller. 

Personally, I have upgraded my wheels from the standard 2.5 inch to 3.25 inch wheels and WOW what a difference that has made.  For me, the extra three-quarter inch clearance has made a big improvement on takeoffs and landings on the gravel road.  The 3.25 inch wheel on the nose gear does fit making this modification a success.

The E-flite Apprentice STS 1.5m RTF comes with a Spektrum Smart Battery!

The new Spektrum Smart battery that is included with this RTF RC airplane is awesome.  The Spektrum Smart batteries have added performance making this airplane fly well and offers slightly longer flight times than other batteries on the market.  I have found with proper power management during flight I have been able to fly for 10 to 12 minutes while keeping the battery at a safe voltage.

I like the battery compartment of the airplane because E-flite includes two high quality Velcro straps to hold the battery in place.  Personally, I add extra Velcro as a precaution, to the battery compartment and on the battery itself.  This is not needed but a common practice in the RC flying world.

Does the E-flite Apprentice STS require FAA registration?

Yes.  In order to safely and legally fly the Apprentice STS you must register with the FAA as a recreational drone pilot.  The rule is any drone over 250 grams must be registered.  The registration is easy and there is a small annual fee.  There are no tests or certifications for recreational drone pilots.  The registration is required for you to understand the proper procedures of safely flying.  The registration and training videos will not take long, maybe an hour or two but it is worth getting registered. 

I highly recommend you also become an AMA (Academy of Model Aeronautics) member.  Members have access to AMA benefits including insurance to cover any damage done by you or your aircraft.  Most RC model air clubs require the AMA and FAA registration, so if you are interested in joining a flying club you will probably need both. 

I am proud to be FAA registered and an AMA member.  I am a member of a local flying club in the Des Moines, Iowa and enjoy using the club’s flying sights.   Check out the AMA and FAA websites for more details on registration.  You’ll be glad you did!

Features

Ready-To-Fly (RTF) vs Bind-N-Fly (BNF)

What's Included?

RTF

BNF

Durable EPO Foam Model
SAFE Technology
Pre-built, minimal assembly
Motor, ESC, Flight Controller, Servos, Receivers Assembled
Transmitter / Radio Controller
Spektrum Smart LiPo Battery
Spektrum Smart LiPo Battery Charger

Wrap Up

Finally, I would say that I love this airplane for many reasons but mostly because it was my first airplane.  It is easy to fly.  The Apprentice STS 1.5m from E-Flite offers some of the best features for a new person getting started in the hobby.  The Apprentice RTF version has everything you need to get flying asap.  There are many Bind-N-Fly models out there that will cost more when you buy the items individually, so the ability to buy a RTF version and get started is a big benefit.

Lastly, have fun with this hobby.  Fly around, make a mistake, crash, repair and repeat!

Thank you for reading.  Please comment or ask questions below.

Jerry

Check out some other beginner RC airplanes.

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