E-flite PT-17 1.1m Stearman Review

by FliteTest | January 22, 2018 | (4) Posted in Reviews

It's no secret that, here at Flite Test, we love all things that fly. However, classic birds hold a special place in our hearts. There's something about those 1930s vintage looks that just fire up the imagination. With that in mind, Josh and Alex were excited to take a look at the new 1.1 meter wingspan PT-17 from Horizon.

A Brief History of the Stearman

Over 10,000 Stearmans were built during the 1930s and 40s. Used primarily as a trainer by the U.S.A.F (United States Air Force), U.S Navy and the Canadian Air Force, many of these aircraft were also sold to civilians for various duties including crop-dusting. This was due to the highly favourable and manoeuvrable flight characteristics. 

Introduced in 1934, it remained in service and production through to 1945. The Stearman had many variants depending on the engine and other specifications but the PT-17 was the version that turned out to be the most popular with over 3,000 being produced. The price of one back then was $10-11,000, which is around $201,000 with inflation... so not too cheap! However, a Supermarine Spitfire, which was produced around the same time, was worth about $1,067,000 in today's money.

Among other uses, aside from being a trainer, the Stearman was used as a medical transport as you can see from the image below. I wouldn't like to take a ride in the back of this thing; I'd probably feel more unwell than before!

Instantly recognisable, the aircraft remains popular among flight enthusiasts and can be still seen at airfields and aerodromes all around the world. 

Spec of the model 

  • Park sized
  • U.S. Navy inspired trim scheme
  • EPO foam
  • only 6 screws required for initial assembly
  • Tool-free field assembly features a quick-release wing 
  • Realistic detail
  • Shock-absorbing landing gear 
  • Powerful 15-size brushless motor and 40A ESC
  • Large, easy-access battery hatch with magnetic closure
  • Simple 4-channel control 
  • Ideal for use with a 2200–3000mAh 3S

Our Review
First impressions of the battery mounting system were good. Horizon included a tray that you attach the battery to that can be slid easily into the model. This would have been tricky without such a device as the biplane configuration can make fitting a battery awkward. 

Impressions of the pilot, however, were not as good - he's just way too serious for such a fun little plane. 

As mentioned in the episode, they should have modelled the figure off of this guy! 

Our flight tests took place on a breezy day, typical for Ohio at this time of year, but the sturdy biplane coped surprisingly well. 

Coming in for landings were not too much of an issue if the power was kept on and the wind was fought all the way down to the ground. The springy landing gear helped a lot with this too, something not many other models of this size have. 

Both Alex and Josh took turns flying and both agreed that it was a superb scale flyer. 

Then, disaster struck! The chase quad collided with the model plane in spectacular fashion but somehow the biplane kept flying. Welcome to Flite Test everyone. 

Somehow, in an incredible act of flying skill, Josh brought the plane home whilst narrowly avoiding one of the infamous flag poles at FT HQ. 

Despite one aircraft being taken out, there were celebrations all round. 

Concluding thoughts

The Stearman is a great intermediate flyer with docile tenancies and a realistic performance. You have to fly the wing and treat it like a real full-scale aircraft, something that will appeal to many prospective PT-17 pilots! Horizon Hobby has simply done a superb job capturing those classic 1930's lines along with a contemporary flight experience to match. 

Pick up a Stearman of your own here

Check out RTF (Ready To Fly) planes in our store here

A great beginner RTF option


Article written by James Whomsley

FliteTest.com Editor



Instagram @jameswhomsley


FirebalOne on February 7, 2021
Love the movie from Disney, Blue Yonder. Filmed in 1985 & grew up watching my grandparents recorded on VHS, lol. Love the movie, sad Disney+ doesn’t have it. At least YouTube does!! I want this... if only I knew how to paint it like the Blue Yonder! 😏
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E-flite PT-17 1.1m Stearman Review