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Kingsbay RC Modelers Club
The most important thing you need to know about learning to fly RC aircraft is that if you try to learn on your own, you WILL crash, and probably on your very first attempt to fly! If you learn with an instructor on a buddy box, like the guys in the picture on the right, you probably won't crash. Once you crash, your learning stops until you replace or rebuild your airplane. We encourage you to join us in this exciting, challenging hobby, and we want you to be successful. If you have never flown R/C planes before, talk to a club member before buying anything or trying it on your own. We hate to see new pilots spend money on a new plane and RC gear, crash the first time out, get discouraged and quit. Please let us (or another experienced pilot) help you learn to fly!
There are many types of airplanes available, and many types of perfectly acceptable trainer aircraft, both gas and electric. Don't be misled by the term 'trainer', as many of these aircraft can perform aerobatics; loops, rolls, and inverted flight. Trainer really means that these planes can fly more slowly, and are more stable and forgiving in flight. The plane pictured above is a typical 40-sized nitro (gas) engined trainer. Even the best trainer aircraft are much more difficult to learn to fly than learning to drive a RC car. Why? Because with a car, if you get confused you can slow down, or stop until you get it sorted out. Once you take off with an airplane, it will keep moving until one of four things happens:
1. You land. Perfect ending, not likely on your first attempt.
2. You crash. Either by completely loosing control, or while TRYING to land, very likely.
3. Your plane hits a solid object; a tree, light pole, building, car, or a person. This is actually just a way to crash BEFORE you hit the ground.
4. Your plane flys away never to be found again. This always ends with a crash, you just don't know where or how, and now you don't even get to salvage your motor and radio!
Four ways for your first flight to end, and only one of them is good! I have personally have had flights end in ways 1, 2, and 3, and come close to ending in method 4 once. Please, get an instructor!
The flight instructor is the beginners best friend, and the buddy-box, or trainer cord is his most important tool. This $10.00 cord has saved many $200.00 airplanes, (including mine) more than once. In the picture on the top right, can you see that cord hanging from the control? It connects two controllers (transmitters) so that the instructor can take off, climb, level out, and then transfer control to your transmitter without taking his hands off of the transmitter, or his eyes off of the airplane. More importantly, he can take control back from you instantly and recover from your mistakes. This (usually) prevents a crash, allows you to settle your nerves, and then practice the maneuver again. This is much faster, (and less expensive) than having to rebuild or replace your plane every time you get disoriented. The only way to learn to fly, is to fly, and practice maneuvers. You can't fly if your plane is broken. Find an instructor, use a training cord, learn to fly. Try it by yourself, learn to repair and build airplanes, and maybe, eventually learn to fly. It's your choice.
The three questions most new newcomers want to ask are: how high, how fast, and how much (does it cost)?
1. How high can it fly? The answer is the planes can fly, and remain in range of the transmitter, higher and farther than you can see them. Gliders with wingspans of 6 feet and more are known to be flown more than 2,000 feet high. At our field my personal highest flight is 1,691 feet, and I brought the plane down because it was very hard for me to see the plane at that distance. (How do I know the exact altitude? The plane has an electronic altimeter on board.)
2. How fast can they fly? That depends on the type of plane. Light 'foamies' and indoor planes can fly at under 5 mph. most sport fliers fly from 20 to about 100 mph. Racing planes and jets, which use true jet turbine engines, fly well over 100 mph. The fastest RC aircraft are, oddly enough, gliders! A high performance slope soarer Dynamic Soaring can exceed 400 mph!
3. How much does it cost to get started in this hobby? You can get an electric "park flier" with radio and battery ready to fly for about $100. A larger trainer with radio system and a gas motor will cost about $250. For much more information go to our KBRC Links page page and/or click [Easy RC Logo] .
Written by Dave Simons
LEARNING TO FLY RADIO CONTROLLED AIRPLANES