Radio Controlled Airplanes

The Hobby of Radio Controlled airplanes is an amazing one. You can build and fly an airplane that has all the characteristics of a real airplane. And it can be quite enthralling and challenging. You can build a plane that practically needs a real pilot. I am talking all the usual things like throttle, ailerons, roll, pitch, yaw, altitude, landing gear and well just about everything!

But a great thing about this hobby is that you can start out small and work your way up to these bigger and more complex aircraft.

And there are several different parts of this hobby that are very appealing. First off you can fly the airplanes and that in itself is very enjoyable. But secondly you can be involved in the building of the planes and for me that is just terrific.

Ok, there is a lot to this hobby and I am going to go over some of the basics for you.

Introduction: What RC Airplanes is all about

There is a lot involved in this hobby and if you want to get to the point where you are flying the big planes on airfields you will most likely have to build up to it. The picture here shows several men out on the airfield with a big ole Mustang aircraft. This is toward the top end of the hobby and I will give you a look at what is involved in getting to something like this.

To fly a plane like this you need experience or (stick time) It isn't easy and making a mistake can crash the plane. So, typically you start out with something smaller (and less expensive) and work your way up! And smaller and less expensive usually means easier to fly too!

 

And there are a lot of other things to take care of before you get to this point.

1. You will need to join the AMA. The AMA is the Academy of Model Aeronautics and they are the overall organization that handles this across the country. Membership will cost you around $50 per year and you get a free subscription to their magazine a member card with pilot number. You also get covered under their insurance policy which is great if something happens!

2. You have to join an official airplane club near where you live. This will be a club that is officially a part of the AMA. This is part of the reason why you need an AMA card. The club will require it. The airplane club will have an airfield someewhere that needs to be maintained so they will probably collect dues. The club I am in collects dues of $50 dollars a year so you can see, before we have even bought an airplane the hobby already costs $100.

But there are some real benefits to joining a club like this

First off you get an actual airfield where you can fly your plane! And secondly you get access to some experts and experienced flyers who will help you in the hobby. They will have great advice on planes, what to buy, what not to buy, where you can go to buy supplies and more importantly they will help you learn how to fly!

Getting to this point might be your overall goal but you can see that it takes time, effort, money and experience to get there.

You don't have to start right out with all of this. And it is probably better that you don't! You can work your way up to this. Let me outline some good steps on how you start out in the hobby of RC airplanes and how you can work your way up to this.

Getting Started

I recommend the first thing you do, or at least early on in your new hobby, you contact a local airplane club. There is just so much to be gained. You can get a lot of insight and have a lot of questions answered. And you will have a lot of questions. I know I sure did! And they won't ask you to join right away. You won't have to dish out the dues right off the bat. You will be able to go to the airfield and meet with other flyers and learn about the whole process. They will also give you insights as to which kind of plane you should start out with and where you can buy one.

After that

Now, there are two distinct aspects of this hobby and some people prefer one aspect over the other while some people like both aspects.

Building and flying

The whole aspect of flying the airplanes is very rewarding and some people aim to do just this. And it is easy to do because you can buy airplanes that are ready to fly. You just have to gas them up and turn them on - voila! Let's go flying.

The whole aspect of building the planes is very different. It is something that involves a lot of time and some skill. And it can go as far as you getting blue prints for a plane and building the whole thing, piece by piece, from scratch. It could take a couple of a hundred hours to complete an average plane. Some people go as far as designing their own unique planes while others are fanatic about existing designs like military aircraft.

Middle Ground

There is a lot of middle ground in the hobby though and you don't necessarily have to proscrible to either end of this spectrum. You can, for example, get a plane called an "ARF" or "Almost Ready to Fly". With this kind of plane you do some of the assembly work then you fly it. Typically about 90% of the work is done for you and you have to finish it up; which still may take ten hours to do. But, you get a great look at the building aspect of the hobby before you fly.

Get a beginners electric plane

If you just want to fly something you might consider getting a beginners electric plane. Something that comes in a kit with absolutely everything you need. A kit like this will probably cost you around $100 dollars but the whole thing should be worry free and ready to go. And, often times you won't have to join a club to do it. You can just take it to a local park or baseball field. These types of planes are often called Park Flyers. I do have a recommendation for you from amazon.com and one of the members at my airplane club has this exact plane so I have seen it fly and it really flies quite nicely and is durable. You can crash it somewhat. If you look further at this airplane on the amazon site you will also see it has a whole lot of great reviews. ( Champ RTF )

 

 

 

Or you can go a little bit bigger

You can get a wooden airplane that is Almost ready to fly for around $100 dollars but this is not the whole cost. You will also have to buy a gas engine for it and a controller. Each of these will cost you about another hundred. This is what I did and I am very happy with the results but it is a bigger step. I haven't tried the exact plane I have recommended here but it is just about the same thing as I started with. ( New RC Courage 9 Trainer ARF Remote Control Airplane )

 

 

 

 

Being out on the airfield

This is something that people can perceive as a challenge but it really is the whole point to the hobby! And you won't have to worry much about not knowing what to do. Typically a more experienced flyer will help you through the whole process in a few different ways. Some clubs give control of your plane to an experienced flyer who will control the plane through take off and landing then give you a little bit of control while it is high in the air.

And often times a club will use something called a buddy box. This is a control cable that allows two hand held controllers to be hooked up to a plane. You and the experienced flyer each have a controller. He takes it up into the air and then releases control to you for short periods of time. If anything goes wrong he assumes control and rights the airplane. It's a terrific way to get started with the flying.

 

Building airplanes

 

I did want to say a little bit about the aspect of building the planes because I really love this part of the hobby. It is very rewarding for me and I spend a lot of time tinkering with planes and other stuff.

The picture at the right shows my airplane with the engine being installed. Just a lot of fun and you just need a basic set of tools to do it.

There is some wood work you do, some engine work and some electrical work so you get a nice well rounded look at the various aspects of planes.

 

 

Summary

Flying RC Airplanes can be a complex hobby and there is a lot to it! But, there are some great ways to get started and keep your investment of time and money down to a reasonable cost. There are a lot of choices and you should join a loal club as soon as possible. They will give you a lot of great help and advice.

 

Books, Resources and More

Flying RC Airplanes can be a complex hobby and there is a lot to it! But, there are some great ways to get started and keep your investment of time and money down to a reasonable cost. There are a lot of choices and you should join a loal club as soon as possible. They will give you a lot of great help and advice.

  • I have a whole series of tutorials and articles about RC Airplanes including a lot of information about building an ARF airplane then taking it out for flights. All About RC Airplanes
  • Want to watch some videos of building a plane or flying a plane? I even have some crash footage with a camera that was onboard the plane when it crashed: RC Airplane videos on my youtube channel. Below is a series of my videos that you can watch too. Al about making the gas plane and flying (crashing) it.
  • buying RC Airplanes: RC Airplanes on Amazon.com

 

  The most comprehensive and up-to-date book answers all of the beginning hobbyist's questions about building and flying remote control airplanes. Step-by-step techniques and are illustrated with a wealth of photography and cover all the basics, from choosing and building a first model to covering and finishing it, understanding and installing glow engines, flight basics, and much more. Getting Started in Radio Control Airplanes

 

Kit Airplane Construction Featuring new and classic kitplane designs, this proven bestseller is the most current and comprehensive resource available on choosing, building, and flying homebuilt planes. Covering tubing and fabric, wood, traditional sheet metal, and the latest composites, Kit Airplane Construction uses step-by-step instructions and detailed case studies of kitplane models to give amateur plane builders the knowledge needed to create and fly their own aircraft.