Frequently Asked Question About R/C Aircraft Modeling

Check out the following frequently asked questions about radio controlled model aircraft building, flying and general r/c model aircraft questions.

How much does it cost?

Although some of the aircraft can be expensive, a person can get started in the R/C hobby for as little as $300.00 or less. This is not too expensive when you compare it to the cost of golfing or skiing for a season (approx. $1800.00 and more).

Many of those new to RC are starting with Electric powered models. Getting started in electric powered modeling has never been easier! With the huge variety of quality equipment that is now available (such as motors, batteries, speed controllers, and chargers), building and flying that first clean powered model can be a breeze.

At a recent electric fly-in, I had many club members ask me what type of model should I build and where can I get the components that are required?. These are probably two of the most common questions that are asked throughout the country at electric fly-ins. Ten or fifteen years ago modelers that chose to use electric power were limited on what type of model that they could build and fly. The motors and other electrical components were still in their infancy. But today all of that has changed! There are numerous companies that now produce excellent motors and other associated items for powering great performing electrics. Also, there is almost no limit on what size or type of model that can be made to perform well using quiet electric power.

Your first electric powered model does not have to be a departure from the current type of model that you are flying with glow fuel. In most cases you can start with a popular kit or set of plans that were originally designed for glow power. By making some minor weight savings while building the model and selecting the correct motor and battery combination, your initial venture into electric power can be an outstanding success. There are several ways to gain help in selecting the best possible power combination. One of the best ways is to contact a major manufacturer or supplier of electric motors. They have up to date knowledge on what has worked with other modelers across the country and are very willing to share their expertise.

How do these miniature aircraft work?

These are miniature aircraft with the same functions as their full sized counterparts. They fly in the same way with the same controls. The big difference is that they are controlled from the ground with a radio transmitter with control sticks on it. The engines can be either 2-stroke or 4-stroke, gasoline or the high end being the jet turbine. Also gaining in popularity is the electric motor . In the aircraft is a radio receiver that runs electric motors called servos. The servos move the control surfaces of the plane causing it to react to the pilot inputs from the transmitter on the ground.

Are they dangerous?

When not treated with due respect and caution, any machine can be dangerous. You must always keep thinking " safety " . We have strict rules and regulations governing the flying of our miniature aircraft. We only fly away from populated areas, and at least five miles away from airports. We are in compliance with rules and regulations of the Academy of Model Aeronautics, and are a sanctioned AMA club. Check the Links page to review the AMA and it's function within the hobby.

How do I learn to fly these R/C planes?

Check out our training program viewable from the home page. Another good tool is a flight simulator to practice on, and to get a "feel" what it's like. One good thing about a simulator is, if you crash it won't cost you any money.

Can I learn to fly without an instructor?

A small number of lucky modelers have taught themselves how to fly remote control airplanes but they are few and far between. More often than not, a novice pilot will crash and totally destroy his airplane without the assistance of an instructor - and he won't even be able to recognize what went wrong. Many hours of work can be involved in the construction of a model and it will be lost in a moment of beginners indecision. A skilled flyer can help you get past the first critical test and trimming flights without damage to the airplane.

Do I have to build my own model?

Part of the intrigue of R/C modeling is the construction of your own flying machine. Seeing your creation in the air adds to the enjoyment. There are, however, other ways of getting into the air. In the past few years, manufacturers have been selling ARF's (Almost Ready to Fly) airplanes. They come complete with everything needed to get into the air,( a few manufactures include the radio and engine also). The major structures have already been built and finished. It only takes a few hours to put it together. The Quality and functionality of these models has gone up greatly in the past few years, while the price has come down.

Are the models hard to build?

Most of the kits out today can be built with little fuss. If you are capable of following instructions, you shouldn't have any trouble at all. The instructions that come with the kit usually have pictures and diagrams showing you how the parts should go together. Modern model kits are precision cut (laser) and use the best materials. If you have questions about building a kit, there are many experienced model builders in the Club who would be more than happy to lend a hand.

What kinds of tools do I need?

The basic tools include a flat building surface,(a door is good and on top of the door cork or ceiling tile so you can stick your pins in), hobby knife, pins, sandpaper and glue. CA glue (Cyanoacrylate) but watch out DON'T stick your fingers together, it's handy to have a small bottle of DE-BONDER handy just in case, and also some epoxy. As you progress in the hobby, you will acquire other tools that help you in your endeavors.

How fast do they fly?

Their flying speeds can range from about 20 mph to over 200 mph ( jet turbine). The speed of an average sport model flown in this area from 20 to 50 mph.

How big are they?

A typical sport model or trainer can have about a five foot wingspan and weigh from four to eight pounds. There are single and multi-engine models that can have twelve foot wingspans and weigh twenty pounds or more. Jet turbines have been increasing in popularity. Most models can be disassembled for transportation with the wing being detached from the fuselage.

How long does it take to fly on your own?

That all depends on the student, and how much time an individual can spend with the instructor. A good guess would be two to six months on the average. The more time (Hrs.) a student can give, the faster (he or she) can fly solo and receive their "wings".