How to Fly an RC Airplane - Beginner's Guide | ๐™Ž๐™ˆ๐Ÿ›ฉ๏ธ (2023)

When you have done all your final preparation and your instructor has done the final checks, there will come a time when you will find out if all the meticulous care and attention you have given to your pride and joy has been worth it. While you won't be flying the RC model airplane yourself, seeing it take off for the first time can be the most exciting moment in the entire learning to fly process.

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Would you like to fly a P-51 Mustang? A replica of the Wright brothers' Wright Flyer? A glider? A flying wing? You can do any of these things (and more!) in the exciting world of Radio Control (R/C) modeling.

If you have an interest in flying machines of any kind, you've picked the right hobby. No other sport or hobby offers opportunities as diverse as this AFTER you've mastered the stages of flight training, you can move on to aerobatic planes, model planes, giant scale planes, gliders, electric, jets, seaplanes and the list goes on and on. . Would you like to design your own planes? There is simply no end to the challenge that R/C flight offers. Just when you think you've got it down, something sneaks up on you and reminds you that there's still more to learn.

If you're up for a challenge, read on and find out how to get started.

First steps

The best way to start learning about R/C airplanes is to go to your local hobby store, look at some modeling magazines, and check out your local airfield. You will also want to join the BMFA or SAA.

For less than the cost of a small trainer, you get a magazine, stand, and that all-important liability insurance. Most flying clubs require membership (or similar insurance for members) as part of their bylaws, so you'll need to sign up to fly.

We cannot overemphasize the value of joining your local flying club. At almost every modeling club, you'll find a number of people willing to help you learn what you need to know to get started. They will be able to tell you what kind of trainer plane to buy, what kind of engine, radio, and accessories you will need, and how to build and configure your plane. Most clubs have one or more people assigned to train new members, but shapers tend to be outgoing and friendly anyway, so many more will be helpful on an informal basis. Don't be afraid to ask questions or express your interest in participating!

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To find out where the local club is, stop by your hobby store. The owner is usually interested in the hobby and can tell you where the field is. It will also be a great source of information on products needed for the hobby. If there is no local hobby store, you can contact the BMFA or SAA for information on airfields near you. The BMFA website is Since most R/C clubs are members, the BMFA/SAA may be able to locate a course near you.

what are you going to need

Most people ask, "How much does it cost to get into the hobby?" The answer is between ยฃ300 and ยฃ500. These figures can vary quite a bit depending on how good you can find.

If you look in the newspaper, you can find a good deal on a used R/C plane with a motor and radio, but make sure you know what you're buying. If possible, ask an experienced modeler to go with you and take a look at the plane. Sometimes hobby stores have planes already built and ready to fly. Some of them are decently priced. Comparing prices, knowing what you want and what the quality of a product is, will allow you to determine the cost.

All kits require some degree of assembly and most involve more than an hour or two of effort to build. Many modelers enjoy the building process. If you want to spend less time building, you can buy an "almost ready to fly" (ARTF) kit. Some kits are pre-made, but not covered with film. These are called โ€œalmost ready to coverโ€ (ARTC) kits.

The idea here is for you to create whatever color scheme you want, rather than accepting a ready-made scheme.
Basic items that will be part of your first purchase (see section "no fieldโ€ for details) include:

  • trainer kit;
  • motor;
  • glow conductor (to ignite the glow plug);
  • starting torque and power supply if not combined (to rotate the motor when starting);
  • fuel and fuel pump;
  • 4 channel radio (includes transmitter, receiver and servos).

your first plane

We recommend that you start with a .40 size trainer (see "Getting Started in Electric" for an alternative). It should have a flat-bottomed airfoil (they fly well, and if you build the wing yourself, construction is simplified). A good trainer has very stable handling characteristics, especially at low speeds. The .40 size refers to the size of the engine and is a good starting point. Anything more powerful will make learning to fly very difficult, even daunting. Master the basics before upgrading.

Keep in mind that you can save money by investing in a 4 channel radio, but a more capable radio will fly more advanced models as you develop your modeling and flying skills. If you buy a 4 channel radio, your second model can only be a 4 channel model. If you buy a 6 to 10 channel radio, your next plane might have retractable flaps or gear in addition to the standard four channels.

In case you were wondering, the default four channels are aileron, elevator, throttle, and rudder. It may be worth spending a little more money now to buy a better radio instead of spending more money later.

Also, if you buy what is called a "programmable" radio, you can put anywhere from two to eight models on one transmitter (depends on which radio you buy). Programmable radios offer numerous control input combinations that can be programmed by selecting menu options.

starting in electrical

Electric glider trainers are widely available in ARTF versions and as complete kits. They are quieter than piston trainers, inexpensive, and a bit simpler to maintain.

While most modelers start their R/C piloting careers with 0.40 size light-powered trainers, some start with electric gliders, which offer several advantages: lower initial investment, simple propulsion systems, and no engine noise (important for those who fly). in areas where noise is a problem). If you like the beauty of flying high, you'll love electric gliders.

Electric powered aircraft can climb to altitudes of several hundred feet two to four times on a single battery charge.

Depending on the system, this is equivalent to running the engine for 4 to 7 minutes. Flight times, including engine on flight time, engine on flight time, and engine off glide time, can range from 10 to 15 minutes if there is no โ€œliftโ€ and much more (an hour or more) if thermals (heat plumes, rising air) are present.

You will need the following:

  • an electric glider or ARTF kit with a dihedral or polyhedron, that is, the wings are slightly raked like a very flat V;
  • an electric motor (many kits come with a motor);
  • an electronic speed control or on/off switch (many kits come with the latter);
  • a Ni-Cd battery charger that charges 7- to 10-cell batteries used in training aircraft;
  • at least two batteries (one can be charged while the other powers the aircraft);
  • a 4 channel radio (normally only three channels will be used: throttle or on/off, elevator and rudder).

Talk to your local hobby dealer about available kits. The first few times you fly your plane, you'll probably need the help of an instructor, so try to locate pilots through your local flying club.

After learning how to fly the plane, you will have the opportunity to chase the thermals. When you fly in a thermal, your glider can soar hundreds of meters into the sky with the power off, and this allows for relatively long flights on a single charge. On a day with strong thermals, it's not uncommon to be airborne for 45 minutes to an hour. "All up, last down" contests with other members of your flying club can be a lot of fun, so why not give it a try?

Building your first plane (optional)

Once you have the necessary components, it's time to assemble. Follow the instructions to the letter. If you have any problems, consult an experienced stylist.

Again, most modelers are very willing to help you out; All you have to do is ask. It will help you progress faster if you are selective in seeking help; don't pick someone just because they're in the field.

Check out the person building technique, flying skills and general people skills. The more experienced the modeler, the more useful his advice will be. Try to develop a good relationship with your adviser. The same selectivity should be applied when choosing a flight instructor. Some can blow like a storm, but they can't really teach; seek help from those who communicate their thoughts and techniques well. Choose wisely and your success will be assured.

If you've never built a kit and want to minimize your build time, try an ARTF. These kits are a quick way to get on the air. Whichever trainer you choose, perseverance and patience are things you need when starting out in this hobby. Showcase these qualities and the hobby rewards will be rich.

These are our suggestions for starting a hobby and a sport that will last a lifetime. Remember to proceed with a clear head and think things through before making any decisions. This will save you time and money in the long run.

Once you've built your beautiful model and it's ready to go, you'll need some field support equipment that wasn't included in your kit.

no field

Here is a list of useful and necessary equipment:

  • a carry case to carry all your supplies;
  • a fuel can and a pump (mechanical or electric);
  • a battery (if you have an electric pump);
  • a supply of spark plugs specified by the engine manufacturer (they serve the same purpose as spark plugs in gas engines);
  • a glow plug wrench;
  • spare props and a prop wrench (you'll want to balance your props at home);
  • a glow starter โ€“ usually a single Ni-Cd battery powered unit used to "ignite" the glow plug when you start the engine, which runs on its own thereafter;
  • about 24 inches of fuel line and a short piece of 1/8-inch brass tubing to fill and drain your model;
  • a chicken stick to spin the propeller when starting the engine;
  • a small mat to place under the engine while working in the field so that small screws and other items do not get lost in the grass;
  • an adjustable wrench;
  • paper towels and cleaning spray to clean the model after flying (exhaust tends to spray oily residue on parts of the model);
  • small and long screwdrivers (common and Phillips);
  • a complete set of allen keys.

If you really like it, you'll also want these:

  • electric start and starting battery;
  • AC/DC field battery charger for transmitter and receiver;
  • folding table or a small stand for the model;
  • folding chair;
  • insect repellent;
  • protector solar;
  • Sunglasses;
  • small first aid kit;
  • wide-brimmed hat (baseball caps allow your ears to
  • tanned);
  • soft drink cooler;

Perhaps the most important thing to bring is a friend or arrange to meet someone there. It will be more fun and much safer. This is especially true for beginners who haven't soloed yet. An instructor will save your model from destruction while you learn to master the flight; he can save you money and make the hobby much more enjoyable. Failures sometimes happen even with an instructor, but they are less likely. Above all, have fun and stay safe!

Frequently Asked Questions About Flying RC Airplanes

Who can fly RC model airplanes?

Anyone can fly RC. You don't need a radio license or a pilot's license, or even know anything about flight or electronics. However, it doesn't hurt to have these skills. If you dedicate yourself to the hobby long enough, you will acquire some degree of knowledge in each of these areas.

It's a good idea to join an organization that offers modelers insurance through membership. Why safe? The average power model can weigh five and a half pounds and have a flight speed of 30 miles per hour. In the nose there will be two sharp blades that rotate at 2000-28000 rpm. Accidents happen, no matter how careful you are. There are radio glitches, control surface glitches, and plenty of pilot error. Therefore, a model airplane can be a dangerous projectile and should be treated with respect. Occasionally people are injured and property is damaged. Yes, there have been quite a few deaths in this sport over the years. Most accidents occur with the pilot himself, such as putting a body part too close to the prop or getting burned on a hot engine cylinder. Another common variety of mishaps is gluing body parts with today's quick-fix super glues or sticking them in the eyes.

So while anyone can fly, it takes a lot of common sense. Security is something we think about all the time. You must be a responsible person, not only with yourself, but with others. This means that young children must be closely supervised. I have seen several five-year-olds fly, but never alone.

Who flies RC model airplanes?

The desire to fly can attack anyone. I see assembly workers flying and building alongside commercial airline pilots. The only thing that separates them is language and sometimes money. Yes, the most expensive equipment is often found in higher paying jobs. But the greatest ingenuity in the build often falls to those with the least money to spend on the hobby. The biggest problem for everyone I know in the hobby is finding time to fly and build.

What types of RC airplanes are there?

There are as many types of models as there are types of full-scale aircraft. After all, they are models. Also, there are model airplanes that do not have a full-scale counterpart. They range from ugly, almost shapeless, stick-like models to ultra-fancy patterned boats. The wingspan can range from 12 inches up to 24 foot monsters. They can be powered by combustion engines or electric motors no bigger than a fat thumb up to powerful chainsaw engines. Speeds can range from a few kilometers per hour for a glider or some trainers to almost 200 kilometers per hour in jets or racing planes.

Many of the RC airplanes are specific to certain types of flying that people are interested in: trainers for beginners or advanced pilots just to relax, sport and aerobatic boats for general flying fun, standard boats for precision aerobatics, airplanes to Scale modeled in exquisite detail after complete, full-size airplanes, gliders, gliders, helicopters, and of course, jets.

What do you need for this hobby?

There are six basic ingredients to fly:


Enthusiasm might sound like a strange ingredient, but you'd be surprised how many people give up after a few flights. The excitement quickly fades when, even if you live flying a Boeing 757, or play in a Cessna for fun, you are looking at your model spread over twenty square meters of land. Knowing the fundamentals of flight certainly helps you understand what your plane is doing, but you don't have time to consider many options when your model is descending directly at full power. Here's an experiment: see how many logical arguments you can make with yourself in one second.

One of the most common problems is that beginners forget that the plane is supposed to return. I have witnessed many accidents involving rookie pilots who were afraid to call for help and were not noticed in time. They generally have an equal chance of getting off the ground. So they have to turn. Maybe half of them complete the first round successfully. With the rest, the plane usually lowers the nose and turns on the ground. Half of those who pass the first turn can pass the second. But now the plane is coming straight at them. Oh no, the controls seem reversed. Goodbye orientation, hello alone. Well, in the end, perhaps one in a hundred beginners can successfully complete a flight with a typically powered trainer. Forget the bravado and start with the attitude that you are not one in a hundred. It's not just a hand-eye coordination issue, it's learning to coordinate the amount of stick release on the transmitter with the plane's reaction in a very short and relentless amount of time.

Therefore, you need a lot of enthusiasm to sustain you through the learning period and subsequent failures. It also helps to have a comforting loved one. There is one thing about flying RC: you are going to crash. Some flaws are minor, some are spectacular. Sometimes it's just a damaged wing, sometimes the plane is in more parts than the original kit. I know people who carry big garbage bags with them to make sure they get all the parts. And you want all those pieces. It's amazing what you can put together with today's modern stickers.


No matter how creative you are, you will need money for this hobby. A beginner can expect to pay around ยฃ300.00. be fully equipped. This includes accessories to keep everything running. Yes, it's a lot of money. (At least for me!) Remember that a lot of that money will buy equipment that will outlast your first plane and maybe even your interest in the hobby.


Almost everyone wants to get started in the hobby with a good model or some fancy acrobatic shout. I did. Forget it, it doesn't work like that. The more responsive the plane is, the quicker your responses should be. A well-designed sport or aerobatic aircraft goes where you want it to go and stays there. Beginners need something more forgiving. They need to think small, simple and slow. A typical trainer will have a wingspan of 50 to 60 inches and will weigh four to seven pounds when ready to fly. Most of the models we fly are in this range. A typical trainer has a thick, flat-bottomed wing that sits high on the fuselage. Many dihedrals (the amount of angle the wingtips rise from the center point of the wing) are integrated. This is a very stable setup and tends to straighten up if left alone.

Once past the training stage, your options depend on your interests and abilities. Most people switch to sport planes. These may be based on full-scale aircraft, but many are not. They have intermediate level flight characteristics. They typically have generous wing areas with moderately thick airfoils. The wing can be semi-symmetric (more camber at the top of the wing) or fully symmetric. They can do a wide variety of aerobatic maneuvers and for many people this is the class they are in.

Another popular area is 1/4 scale or giant scale. These models are impressive in size, power, and price. Wingspan must be at least 1/4 scale of a full size aircraft or a minimum length of 80โ€ณ. Weights are in the range of 10 to 45 pounds. An aircraft in this range can easily be a great investment. Typically, pilots wait until they have several years of experience before advancing to this level.

Gliders are also popular. They have long, thin wings with thin airfoils. Many have multiple dihedrals. Getting gliders off the ground is usually done with a device called a high start. It consists of something like 100 feet of surgical tubing that is stretched and attached to the glider. Up lift is applied when the glider is released. To free itself from the tow line, the glider will dive to slide a retaining ring from a pin on the plane. Another more expensive variant is a motorized winch. Other altitude gain methods consist of a power pod attached to the glider. A tiny glowing engine is attached to the wing of the glider. The engine carries enough fuel to carry the plane several hundred feet.

Electric gliders are also becoming popular. In this case, an electric motor powered by rechargeable batteries drives a propeller. The engine is only used to gain altitude and then shuts down.

It is not uncommon for gliders to have flights of 30 minutes or more. The trick is to find thermals (rising pockets of hot air) so they can regain altitude. This is exactly what some birds like hawks or eagles do.

RC model building alone would fill many pages. There is too much for a simple page like this. Generally, there are three kinds of construction. Commercial, almost ready to fly (ARTF) and built from scratch kits.

Commercially prepared kits vary greatly in the construction materials they contain. In smaller plants, balsa wood is the predominant material. Its high resistance combined with its low density makes it one of the best materials for the production of light and robust structures. Where high strength and sturdiness is required, such as in firewalls (where the engine is mounted) or wing saddle areas, aircraft grade plywood is used. This type of plywood is a bit different than regular construction plywood. It has many fine layers of closed grain. In the large models, the plywood to balsa ratio is increased and the balsa pieces are thicker than in the smaller models.

The wings can be shaped in many ways. They can be "built" out of wood with ribs and spars, just like full-scale aircraft. Or a foam insulation board can be used to make a brim. The material is cut to the desired shape and size with a "hot wire". This foam core is then clad with thin balsa planks, cap strips or thin wood veneers.

Fiberglass is commonly used for many large-scale models, both to form fuselages and to form wings. Carbon fiber composites are even being used, especially in gliders, to strengthen the long wings.

Almost Ready to Fly (ARTF) kits are gaining popularity. These models can have built-in or foam core fins. Its main feature is that the surfaces of the wing halves, fuselage and tail are already built for you. In many cases, parts are pre-coated. The only gluing that needs to be done is to join the wing halves together and glue the stabilizer surfaces and fins to the plane. In some cases, the control surfaces: ailerons, rudder, and elevator, come factory-installed.

Both wooden kits and ARTF kits usually contain some hardware in addition to the material to build the basic structure. This can range from nothing to almost complete hardware, including wheels, landing gear, engine mounts with all bolts and nuts, plastic cover, plastic cover, plastic hinges for control surfaces, and including the fuel tank.

The last type of aircraft construction is building from scratch. Many modelers would consider this the maximum level. The builder starts with a set of plans, either of his own design or commercially prepared. He buys all the material to his specifications, makes his own templates, and cuts them out to build the plane. Anything goes here.

Some pilots cheat a bit and just mix and match, taking an airfoil from standard kit planes and a fuselage from another kit plane. Both types of construction generally require a reasonably well-equipped shop.

In all these modes of construction, glues are the most important fastener. A variety of glues are used: common wood glues, epoxies, contact cements, and super glues. Cyanoacrylates or super glues are becoming the favorites of many modelers. These glues produce strong joints very quickly, minimizing construction time. There are several different formulations for specific uses. Often a kit will require more than one type of glue. For example, where high resistance is required, such as firewalls, epoxy glues are recommended.

There are many different techniques used to cover airframes. In balsa and foam models, the most common liner material is thin heat shrink polyester. This material, which has a wide variety of colors, has a heat-activated adhesive to fix the material to the raft. Small irons (including clothing irons) or heat guns are used to set and shrink the material. First, the cover is fixed to the fuselage with the iron, and then the iron or heat gun is used to shrink the cover between the fixed areas. The result is very tight coverage. Older methods such as dope and closed weave are also used.

Construction time varies greatly. It depends on how efficient the builder is, how complicated the kit is, how intricate the deck design and external details are. A typical kit built can take 100-150 hours to get to the ready-to-fly stage. An ARTF can take between 10 and 40 hours. A model airplane with exquisite details, like seat belts for a model pilot and a hand-painted dashboard, can take over a thousand hours.

A message to parents who have an interested son or daughter: To parents trying to justify the expense. This is a great hobby for both parents and children. Building an airplane and learning to fly together is a great experience. Building a model teaches the importance of reading the plans and following the instructions. It's a great way to introduce work with simple tools to a child. Many tasks do not require heavy manual labor. However, building an airplane is a tedious job that requires a lot of attention to detail. Most children get bored very easily, and between 15 and 30 minutes is usually the limit of tolerance to build. This is especially true during the initial construction phase, where very little seems to be done to transform it into an aircraft. Tolerance is also more limited in the summer months. Prepare to be patient. You may also find that at some stages of construction it is not worth trying to keep the child close.

radio system

Most of the passengers buy their radios. Things have changed dramatically since RC started in the 1930's. Gone are the fifty pound transmitters with twenty foot antennas and multi pound receivers. Current equipment is based on solid state electronics. Today's basic radio system consists of a transmitter, receiver, servos, and battery. The transmitters are proportional, that is, a certain amount of movement of the transmitter stick causes a proportional change in the control surface of the model. The receiver, servos and battery are installed on the plane. The transmitter is what the pilot holds in his hands.

Radio systems have several "channels". Each channel can be assigned a certain function, such as controlling ailerons or throttle. Radio systems usually have four or six channels in the lower price range; large models can use up to nine channels or more. Radios with microprocessors are also becoming more common. These marvels can allow you to combine various controls to achieve a custom effect, such as a coordinated aileron/rudder curve or fast roll. The most common type of transmitter setup consists of two main control sticks. Moving the left joystick up or down controls the throttle. Lateral movement controls the rudder. Moving the right stick up or down controls elevator, and moving it left or right controls ailerons. The receiver, which is attached to the aircraft, is usually small, weighing only a few grams. It gets its power from a rechargeable NiCad battery. The receiver not only picks up the signal from the transmitter, but also decodes it and tells the appropriate servo how much to move. It is the servo that moves the control surface. There are additional "trim" controls on the transmitter for adjusting the control surfaces. These settings move the aircraft's servos only a few percent.

Its purpose is to overcome any minor imperfections in aircraft flight surfaces to achieve ideal flight conditions or "no interference" level flight.

How can there be more than one plane in the air at the same time? Transmitters broadcast on specific frequencies, just like different radio stations broadcast on different frequencies. There are more than forty different frequencies assigned to model aircraft. When a flyer goes to an airfield, there is a frequency board or transmitter impound area. The frequency plate tells you which frequencies are being used and whether your transmitter's frequency is in use. If it is in use, you must wait for the other passenger to lower the frequency.


Most engines used for RC flying are 2-stroke, single-piston, air-cooled engines. That's the fire in every hit. Engines in the 30 to 90 range are the most common. Glow ignition is used to ignite the fuel. Unlike the familiar spark plug, glow plugs consist of a platinum alloy spring, which shines continuously like the most familiar item in the toaster. This ignites the compressed fuel. Initially, a battery is used to keep the spark plug hot, but once the engine is running, the combustion of fuel keeps the spark plug hot and the battery can be removed. These engines spin from 3,000 rpm at idle to around 28,000 rpm in the higher performance class.

Four-stroke incandescent engines are also used. They are more like a family car engine and have a true cam and valve system. These engines spin around 2,500 to 11,000 rpm. Many people like these engines because of their more realistic sound. They have a less obtrusive tone than two-strokes.

All of these engines have adjustable carburettors to speed up the fuel mixture at both idle and high speed. Glow engine fuel is a mixture of methyl alcohol, oil such as castor oil, and nitromethane.

Additionally, two-stroke and four-stroke regular-firing engines are used in larger models. These engines are similar to chainsaw or brushcutter engines, but modified to withstand the different forces generated by a propeller. These engines burn gasoline

essential accessories

A plane, an engine, a radio is what most people think is all it takes. Well, it's pretty close, but there are some accessories that can make the problems a little less frustrating. Let's not forget the fuel. Oh, and then we need something to transfer the fuel to the plane's fuel tank. You didn't forget the glow plug battery, did you?

Well, there are ways to solve all these problems. Fuel can be dispensed with hand crank pumps or small electric pumps designed to be compatible with glowing fuel. Starting the engine can be greatly simplified by using modified motorcycle starters sold specifically for RC use. Often all of these frustrating fenders are powered by 12V motorcycle batteries with power panels to control the pump, starter, and glow plug. All of this equipment, along with a variety of tools, is usually placed in a carrying case.

Flying RC Airplanes โ€“ Useful Tips

First, let me start with etiquette: Even if you never fly solo, please never, ever laugh or comment rudely if you see a model plane crash. Consider the amount of work and care that went into the model. When someone spends over a hundred hours building a model and the model is gone in seconds, it's in very bad taste to make fun of it. If the model is repairable, it could easily take twenty hours of work to fix.

Start with a glider or trainer. Yes, dream and delight in the P-38 or the spitfire, but forget about it for now. You'll see why on your first flight.

Befriend an experienced instructor or pilot

If possible, learn to fly from an instructor. An instructor can point out some simple problems. Your plane may be tail-heavy, a control surface may be inverted, or it may be oversteering. Most of the beginners crash their planes to take off because they don't have enough time to feel how the planes fly.

An instructor can do the first few takeoffs and landings, giving you a chance to fly the plane without worrying about the ground. With his help, he's much more likely to get his new plane home in one piece. Most clubs have approved instructors to help new passengers fly and build their aircraft. Just come to the airfield and ask. Very few flyers are snobs. They will be happy to give you tips about the club and how to join.

In many cases, if you ask nicely, a flyer will help you on the spur of the moment. If he refuses, then, most likely, he is not a snob, but a cautious one. This is true even for many advanced fliers. They just aren't comfortable teaching. Don't take it personally. A word of caution here; Actions speak louder than words.

Watch a person fly first before calling for help. Are you attentive to others? Can you fly well, but safely? Does it seem to follow the rules of the course? Spend some time choosing the right person to ask.

With any obvious problems removed, your instructor will be ready to fly the RC plane. Just step back and enjoy the euphoric feeling as your instructor puts the model through its paces. Don't worry if you see him making adjustments to the transmitter settings during this flight. very little newsflying rc planeThe models will take off and fly absolutely straight and level without a few minor adjustments here and there. After a few loops, the instructor is likely ready to lower the model for its first landing. This can be one of the most critical moments for an untested model, since no one can know exactly how it will perform on its first approach to landing. That said, unless you're drastically out of shape or overweight, most trainers are relatively easy to land on and the event should go by without incident.

In the old days, the RC instructor and student would pass the control transmitter back and forth while the plane was in the air. For obvious reasons, crashes were quite common. But now the standard training method is to use a "buddy lanyard". The Buddy Cord is an accessory that allows the instructor to connect their transmitter to the student's transmitter. As long as the instructor presses the "instruct" button on his transmitter, the student will be in control of the aircraft. When the instructor releases the button, control is immediately transferred to the instructor's transmitter. Using this system, it is very rare for an aircraft to crash during "new pilot" training.

Your instructor may want to give the model several test flights before he is ready to issue the transmitter to you. Be patient! There are very good reasons for this approach. Your instructor will want to be absolutely sure that he has the best chance of controlling the model effectively once he takes control. If he's struggling to control the model, more than likely you're struggling too; that's the last thing you need when you're learning. If this is the sum total of accomplishments during this first visit to the airfield, you are in for a successful day. The model is tested, your instructor is satisfied with its flight characteristics, and you go home with your aircraft intact. His patience will be rewarded with the chance to have his first hands-on experience next time. In addition, you will have the opportunity to discuss the driving characteristics of the model with your instructor. If you carry a notepad and pen with you, you can jot down all the important points to remember.

Once the model plane is back in the pit area, engine stopped, receiver and transmitter off, you can walk away and congratulate yourself on a job well done. Don't forget to think of your instructor for their expert handling of your model. Now that he knows he can fly, there's nothing stopping him from becoming a successful model airplane pilot. This is the point at which your instructor will "autopsy" the flight and show you how to make any changes to the joints that may be necessary to incorporate the trim changes made during the flight. This means that the next time the model takes off, all trim levers (other than throttle trim) on your transmitter should be centered, with the model flying "hands free" in a straight and level attitude. It should be possible to get your model to fly straight and level in the wind, release the sticks on the transmitter, and as long as the wind conditions are reasonably light and smooth, expect it to fly exactly as set.

Whether your first practical experience takes place on the same day as the test flights or not, it is sure to be a memorable event for you. While you'll likely only be in control for a few minutes during this first flight, enjoy it; It is a special occasion and you will feel pride and euphoria. You are also likely to be very nervous and give your instructor a few apprehensive moments. Try not to panic - your instructor is by your side, ready to take charge if you find yourself in a situation from which you can't recover. Try to remember that the transmitter control inputs do not have to be excessive. Too much control will lead to troublesome situations, while smooth control movements will create smooth, sweeping maneuvers that give you time to think about your next control input. Your instructor will be talking to you the whole time, giving you tips on how to fly the model in a controlled manner and be where you want to be.

Club units

Flying RC airplanes is not difficult, but it is almost impossible to learn without experienced help. Regardless, it is ALWAYS easier and safer with an experienced RC airplane instructor. Please note that this is not a computer game and there is no "reset button". Collisions can cause an enormous amount of damage and even destroy the plane completely! And it takes a very large area to fly safely. The best way to start is to find a local club. In addition to providing instructions and a safe place to fly, club members will recommend equipment and provide valuable advice. And it's always more fun when there are others with the same interest in helping each other!

Instructors will be members of local CR clubs found throughout the country. There is a national organization, the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA), which publishes a list of all sanctioned clubs in the US with their addresses. They also provide insurance, education. and guidance for all aspects of this exciting hobby, including contests and shows.

final thoughts

Flying a model airplane is about getting it to do what you want it to do, not just reacting to the model going where it wants to go and then trying to get it under control. Once the model is safely back on the ground after its first practical experience, it's time to take a deep breath, relax, and enjoy the sense of accomplishment. Discuss the event with your instructor and try to learn from the mistakes you made during your time in command. As with any acquired skill, the more practice you get, the faster you will succeed and the more proficient you will become.

Visit the AMA website for more information.

Local RC airplane clubs will require you to join the AMA as a condition of membership, and this will also allow you to enjoy the use of their facilities and instruction in RC airplane flying.

Flight instruction typically includes a safety inspection of your new aircraft and a series of one-on-one lessons designed to teach you the fundamentals of takeoff, rollover, and landing. Even with a small electric trainer, you should expect to find a strong emphasis on safety.

What I do not recommend is going to the local park and trying to learn how to fly. Not only will you endanger those around you, but you are almost 100% guaranteed to fall! So save yourself time, money, embarrassment, and possibly even danger, and make a few calls to find an instructor to help you fly!

You can get started on your own by using an RC airplane flight simulator like Real Flight Simulator, which not only contains a variety of radio control airplanes and helicopters, but also has an instructor module to help you out. Although this is not exactly the same as in reality, you can still learn a lot, have a lot of fun, and not worry about fixing your plane when it crashes.

However, I will try to write, over the course of a series of articles, information designed to help those who want to try learning RC flying.

If a term here confuses you, see if it was included in theRC Airplane Glossary.

Remember to fly safe, check your equipment and plane every time before you fly. You have a wonderful aircraft that can allow you to fly to incredible feats. But it is also a potentially dangerous machine. Stay alert and keep your equipment in good condition.

Finally, there's nothing like your first solo flight, where you take off, fly and land alone. It's a moment you'll bore your family and friends with for at least a week. It is a personal achievement that only those who have done it can fully understand. Yes, a racing heart, weak knees, and sweaty palms are also part of the experience. They will be there even after many flights.

I hope I've helped make this hobby more desirable for newcomers, and I hope the above has whetted your appetite to give it a try.

Good luck in your new hobby.

Lesson 1 โ€“ Before your first plane
Lesson 2 - Your first flight
Lesson 3 - Your next flights
Lesson 4: Beginning to master it
Lesson 5 - Getting to work
Lesson 6: Now you're really flying!
Lesson 7 - The possibility of flying
Lesson 8 - Silver Wings

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