Beginners – start here!
Radio controlled aircraft modelling is an exciting and challenging hobby. It provides an opportunity to experience flying both fixed wing planes and helicopters and can lead to the development of aerobatic and other flying skills and ultimately participation in competition. Some will particularly enjoy scale building and replicating the appearance and flying characteristics of their favourite full size aircraft and this can also lead to competition for those who want it.
If you enjoy building and working with wood a traditional kit will be your choice. You will certainly feel a great sense of achievement when something you’ve created from a box full of wood flies successfully. On the other hand you may not have the time or patience and will just want to get on with the flying experience. The answer for you will be to choose from the vast range of ARTF (almost ready to fly) kits you will find at the model shop. These are virtually complete including the covering and decoration and will just need a few evenings work for final assembly and fitting the radio equipment etc.
Whichever route you take for your first model, you will have to decide whether to go for an ic (internal combustion) engine or electric power. The traditional choice is ic and for many, working with these miniature engines is one of the joys of the hobby. In recent years however, electric power has also grown in popularity. Developments with the motors and batteries have meant that electric power can now equal the performance of ic and it is quieter and cleaner.
You will also have to buy the radio equipment. Modern sets are very reliable and recent developments have completely overcome the risk of one transmitter interfering with another. You will find a wide range to choose from and your model shop will be the best place to go for advice.
If you want to avoid any kind of assembly you will also find completely ready to fly planes and helicopters at the model shop. These will be smaller than the traditional kits and ARTFs, but they will still offer the flying experience and can be great fun.
The hobby is constantly changing as new technology is developed. A new modeller will certainly never be bored.
To reduce the chance of frustration, a new modeller must accept that he will have to develop some flying skill before going for the more exotic machines. Some folk visit a club site or go to a model show and see powerful scale aerobatic or detailed world war II fighters being flown by experienced pilots. They decide that’s what they want and off they go to the model shop to buy one. The problem is that this sort of plane is difficult for a beginner and it will probably smash into the ground very quickly, turning the episode into a costly mistake that might well end in an early disenchantment with the hobby.
The fact is that most people find flying a remote control plane difficult to start with. The most common problem is that they get too far away and lose sight of the planes orientation. There is also the problem of controlling a turn when the plane is flying towards you and the primary controls are reversed. Getting this wrong with a fast plane means certain disaster.
The answer is to start with an easy to fly plane, or a ‘basic trainer’ and ideally to join a model flying club where an experienced flyer can assist you and be there to take over if things get out of hand. Many new comers find landing particularly difficult and like to leave this to their helper until they feel completely confident with basic flying.
The picture above shows a popular trainer design. A trainer like this is a specific type of model aircraft that is designed to be inherently stable and to fly slowly to give the new pilot plenty of thinking time. Most trainers have a tricycle under carriage and are designed to remain stable in slow flight so that they are easy to land. They should also be robust enough to survive the odd rough landing.
This one is typical of the traditional kit type and would be fitted with a 40 size ic engine.
If you are keen to get involved you will find a wealth of information on the net and there are several monthly magazines packed full of advertisements available from your model shop or the likes of WHSmith. Do your research first and take advice from your model shop or flying club.