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Learn How To Fly an Electric RC Airplane - A Beginners Guide to Radio Control Flying

Updated on April 6, 2012

Flying an Radio Control Airplane

I love to fly electric radio control airplanes. It is a great way to get outside, have fun and spend time with the family. My son is nine years old and really enjoys to go out to fly them as well. This is a great hobby and provides for hours of entertainment.

If you don't know how to fly an RC airplane, don't worry! There are three ways to help you with the learning curve.

First, join an RC flying club. There are clubs all over the country and they enjoy sharing their knowledge and teaching people how to fly. Their trainer will even "buddy box" to you. What that means is that if you are flying a plane and are about to crash it, the trainer can take over and make a recovery, saving you from annoying repairs!

Second, spend the few dollars and purchase a high quality RC flight simulator. Hands down, this is the best way to get a realistic feel for flying aircraft without having to worry about breaking aircraft. My son views it as a game and we spend a lot of time flying (and CRASHING) many different models.

Lastly, look for a high-wing trainer plane for your first RC aircraft. Most of these are electric and use LiPo batteries that can quickly be charged. My personal favorite plane is the Hobbyzone Champ. Not only is this plane extremely versatile, it is so light that it is fairly difficult to break. We have had several nose-first meetings with the ground and have yet to need any significant repair. Additionally, these training planes come with everything you need to fly, including the transmitter.

Flight Simulators

Hands down, the single best way to learn how to fly an RC airplane is to buy a good simulator for your computer. Crashing a real electric RC plane in a flying field can result in costly repairs. Crashing a plane on the simulator costs nothing!

Look for good software like the Phoenix RC Flight Simulator. This is constantly updated with new planes, helicopters and gliders. In addition, there are many flying areas to chose from, including soaring mountains and aquatic environments to practice your amphibious take-offs and landings.

You can use your own transmitter or buy the package that includes the Spektrum DX5e. The transmitter is the exact piece of equipment that you can later use to bind to your aircraft and fly in the field. It works wonderfully to practice on the exact same piece of equipment.

Of course, an RC flight simulator is also fun for challenging your skills as you move up to more complicated aircraft and helicopters.  Following the tutorials and practice events, you will be able to hone your skills without the risks of crashing expensive planes!

Hobbyzone Champ

3 Channel RC Plane

Your first real RC Electric Plane should be a 3 channel plane. What that means is that there are three controls you manage.

The first control is the throttle. This determines how fast you want the plane to move.

The second control is the rudder. This will turn the plane left or right.

The third control is the elevator. This is on the tail of the plane and will point the nose up or down to gain or reduce altitude.

Any of the planes shown to the right are great 3 channel planes that will make learning to fly an easier process.  

My personal favorite is the Hobbyzone Champ.  Not only is it extremely light, it can be flown in an area the size of a baseball field. My 9 year old son can fly it very easily!  It is so light that even hard landings will seldom cause damage.


Transmitters

You will need a transmitter to fly your plane. The models shown above are RTF, which stands for Ready-To-Fly. That is industry speak that means everything you need to fly the plane comes in the box, including a transmitter.

The included transmitter works great! It is easy to use and the instruction books are thorough.

At some point, you might want to upgrade to a transmitter that can bind to many different aircraft. Additionally, the higher end transmitters can "remember" the planes and helicopters that you have set up in the past and can readily reassign control back to the various models.  This means that you don't need to take multiple transmitters to the flying field if you are flying more than one aircraft.

Lastly, the Spektrum transmitters can be used for the RC flight simulator as well.  You will find that a multi-functional transmitter may quickly be added to your Christmas list!

Repairability

You will crash your plane!  That is a guarantee.  My son and I have crashed our Super Cub many, many times.  The good news is that our most expensive crash has only resulted in repairs that amounted for less than $5.  

You will need to keep a bottle of foam-safe CA glue and an accelerator on hand.  These models are made from different types of foam, but even the worst breaks can be fixed by a dab of glue and a spritz of accelerator.  

If a piece is damaged beyond repair, the replacement parts are easy to purchase and very inexpensive.  The entire replacement wing for the high-wing trainers shown above can be bought for $10-20.  I have yet to have a case where I needed to replace the wing.  Each time, I was able to repair it using some glue.

Electric RC Planes
Electric RC Planes

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    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      7 years ago from London, UK

      That must be realy fun. Thanks for the hub.

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