DRL Nikko Air Elite 115Starting under $70
Nikko Air has teamed up with the DRL (Drone Racing League) to create two exciting products. The Air Elite 115 Race Set and the Race Vision 220 FPV Pro. Both are ready-to-fly drone kits that come with some extras. From what I can see, Nikko Air and the DRL put some real effort into providing beginner pilots with some easy-to-fly drones so you can work your way up to a real race drone. Let’s see if they accomplished their goal.
The Air Elite 115 packs in features like altitude hold, a real acro mode, and Betaflight compatibility. For those who don’t know, Betaflight lets you customize settings like angle limits and sensitivities. The combination of these three features alone makes this a very intriguing quadcopter, maybe one-of-a-kind. Let’s learn more about the smaller Air Elite 115.
Air Elite 115 Design
The Air Elite 115 is a small but rugged drone. Its speed and durability remind me of the original Hubsan X4 (H107) models, one of my favorite little drones and one of the all-time most popular drones ever. But the Air Elite 115 has some key features that the Hubsan models don’t have, like altitude hold, acro mode, and a more robust prop guard.
The frame of the Nikko 115 can handle a crash. The circular propeller guard really does a nice job of protecting the drone and allowing it to bounce off of obstacles. Its small enough to fly indoors, but powerful enough to take outside too.
Air Elite 115 Features
The Air Elite is both fast and nimble with its powerful 8020 brushed motors. You can do a variety of flips, rolls, loops, funnels, and corkscrews with the Air Elite by doing nothing more than pushing one of the four top buttons. Many drones in this class have a single flip button, nothing like the four built-in maneuvers of the Nikko drone. The acrobatics this little quad is capable of is impressive.
There are also some really nice safety features. The propellers will automatically shut off if you crash or hit something really hard. The controller will shake and vibrate to let you know when the battery is low so you can bring it in for a landing.
The remote is also one of the nicer ones we have used. It has a gamepad-style feel to it. It is well laid out. The gimbals (sticks) are plastic, but still nice. All buttons are easy to access, but not labeled. The buttons on the top left do spins and twists and the top right does flips and rolls. Auto-takeoff and landing is another separate button on the controller.
The Air Elite also adds altitude hold for some impressive stability. It has three speed and three different flight modes. Low speed is good for beginners, medium picks it up a notch and high makes this little quad a lot of fun.
N-mode, A-mode, and P-mode on the Air Elite 115
The Air Elite also has three different modes. N-mode is Nikko mode. This mode was designed to make the quadcopter easier to fly. They switched the yaw and roll on the remote to the right stick. I do NOT recommend using this mode. It makes little sense and will only be confusing when you try to fly traditionally or any other quadcopter.
A-mode is angle mode or self-leveling mode. This is the mode that most pilots fly in. We recommend you skip Nikko mode and start here. This mode allows the Air Elite to self-level and is the best mode for beginners to learn how to fly a drone.
P-mode is acro or rate mode. This is the mode that DRL pilots and racers fly in. In this mode, the quad does not self-level. It allows for the pilot to push the drone to its limits. It takes some time and practice to learn how to fly acro. We’d recommend practicing in a simulator, like the free DRL simulator before you try on your quadcopter. This mode is something we have been wanting to see on an inexpensive quadcopter for quite some time, so it is nice to see Nikko Air put it in action.
The Air Elite 115 Race Set comes with race gates so you can set up a course for you and your friends to fly and race. This really is a nice addition to the quadcopter, especially since it is geared to help you learn how to race.
While we are fans of the Air Elite 115, there are a handful of things that we think would make this little quad even better. The biggest thing missing from this drone is the camera. Flying line-of-sight is fun but certainly doesn’t compare to flying FPV like the pros on the DRL circuit. You’ll have to add your own or try their 220 version to get a camera.
Nikko mode? I really struggle to see the point. Not only is it confusing, I don’t see how it is easier. Adding Horizon mode instead of Nikko mode would have been a better solution. Horizon is a combination of angle mode and acro mode and would have made a lot more sense.
The battery is removable, but you have to charge it inside the drone. We would have preferred to have the ability to charge it separately so you aren’t grounded while charging.
It also is difficult to tell the front from the rear of the drone, especially when the propeller guard is on. Some more distinguishing colors or lights would be helpful, especially or a beginner.
Should I Buy an Air Elite 115?
Overall, the Air Elite 115 is a fantastic machine. It is small, durable, flexible and fun. It is easy to fly. It is a great drone for a beginner and the addition of acro mode makes it a great option for the beginner to advance their skills. This is one unique drone and one we definitely would recommend.
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The maximum takeoff weight (MTOW) of the Air Elite 115 is 200 grams.
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