The Definitive Beginner’s Guide For RC Airplanes
If you’ve ever thought about trying out radio controlled planes – also known as RC airplanes – you’re in luck. Thanks to the rapidly increasing selection and availability of electric RC airplanes, there’s never been a better time to try your hand at this high- flying hobby.
Once considered a somewhat expensive and time-consuming pastime, RC airplanes are now available to almost anyone with almost any budget. This is due in large part to the electric RC plane, which is a much easier and less expensive alternative to the traditional gas RC planes (also known as nitro RC airplanes).
Electric RC planes are not only significantly less expensive to their gas counterparts, with many models starting at less than $100, but they’re also much easier to start out with and maintain. Beginners can start with something as straightforward as an RTF plane (ready-to-fly), which they can simply charge and fly! Some of the more popular RTF models include the Hobby Zone Super Cub LP and the Firebird Commander 2, both of which let brand-new fliers jump right in to the exciting world of RC airplanes.
Besides being less costly than gas RC airplanes – and easier to get started on – electric RC planes also require much less maintenance. Another difference between electric and gas RC planes is one you can hear: gas RC airplanes are much noisier – so much so that they’re banned from many public areas because of the noise. Some people consider the noise of a gas RC airplane to be a bad thing, but just as many people see it as an advantage over electric models, thinking that it adds to the authenticity of the flying experience.
Gas RC plane lovers don’t just think it’s the noise that adds to the realism of their planes; these models also tend to operate more like an actual plane than the electric ones – although electric planes have come a long way since they were first introduced as far as things like speed and torque. In fact, many electric RC airplane models now give gas ones a run for their money.
One big advantage of gas RC planes over electric ones is their ability to fly for longer periods of time. While electric RC airplanes run on batteries and can only fly as long as the batteries stay charged, many gas RC airplanes can fly for hours at a time. Of course, running planes on actual fuel can get expensive!
While the initial cost and maintenance of gas RC planes tend to be higher than that of electric RC planes, if you have your heart set on a gas plane, don’t worry. It’s true that many gas models run upwards of $500 – the 42% Ultimate will cost you around $1,200 for the kit alone – but there are many other gas RC models that are much more affordable. For instance, beginners can learn to fly a nitro RC airplane with something like the Sky Raider Mach I, which costs just over $100 and is simple enough for brand-new pilots to master.
No matter how much you spend on your RC airplane, it’s never fun to experience a crash. While every pilot is bound to experience a crash sooner or later, there are some precautions you can take in order to decrease the chances of an air disaster.
First of all, make sure that you choose your flying area carefully. While many electric RC plane models can be flown indoors (another advantage over nitro planes), beginners should opt for a large, open outdoor area free of buildings, power lines, and pedestrian traffic.
Once you’ve found a good place to fly your RC airplane, it’s important to perform a proper pre-flight check in order to avoid a damaging crash. One of the most important things to check in your pre-flight preparations is the plane’s balance. It’s imperative that you take the time to balance your plane properly before you fly it. It’s also important to always make sure that your battery is fully charged in your receiver, and that the battery pack is installed securely.
Other things you can do to reduce the likelihood of a crash is to make sure that you fly your plane at a reasonable distance – not so far that you lose sight of it, but not so close to you that you don’t have room for in-air corrections. A good rule of thumb is to wait until your plane is about 40-50 feet in the air before you execute turns, so that if things don’t go the way you planned, you’ll have time to pull it back up. Finally, never fly into the sun – it’s the easiest way to lose sight of your plane.
If you’re flying a more complicated RC airplane, consider getting an instructor, or join a local RC club in your area. RC plane clubs usually have designated places to fly, and you can learn about how to safely operate your plane from more seasoned fliers.
While precautions like these can reduce the likelihood of a crash, even the most veteran RC plane pilots sustain damage to their crafts every so often. You should consider this when deciding which RC plan model to purchase – the more expensive your plane, the more devastating it is when it gets damaged.
That’s an important fact to keep in mind when selecting your first RC airplane. It can be tempting to go straight for a more expensive model, since costlier RC airplanes usually have more features. For instance, higher-cost planes often feature more channels – meaning that you can control more aspects of your plane’s flight. A 3-channel receive controls the altitude, yawl, and pitch, while a 4-channel receiver controls the bank, pitch, yawl, and throttle – the more channels, the more you control.
Beginner models usually feature two channels, while more complex (and more expensive models) feature three, four, or more channels. The 89” Carden Edition Yak 54 by Hangar 9 requires a minimum 7-channel receiver (and costs around $700).
While the extras of costlier models can be tempting, it’s best to start with a less expensive model until you master the basics – the higher-end RC airplanes will be waiting for you once you feel comfortable at the controls! Instead, consider starting with something like the Hobby Zone Mini Super Cub RTF, which runs around $100 and features Anti-Crash Technology. It’s important, too, to remember that more expensive models ten to require more expensive RC airplane parts.
Now that you’ve got an idea of some of the basics of RC airplanes, all you have to do it decide on the model that’s right for you and get flying!
Philip Luther is a RC enthusiast writer that has published hundreds of RC related articles. The Beginners RC Helicopter Guide helps RC enthusiasts by learning the basics to flying. You can start by learning more by visiting http://www.xenonproject.com