RC Airplanes – Flying High with Your Feet Firmly on the Ground!

RC Airplanes happens to be one of the most exciting outdoor action hobbies around today. And, learning to fly is not hard to do; it only takes a little practice. Just remember, we all have to start as beginners so don’t be afraid to give it a try.

Since you are new to RC Planes, I want to assure you that getting started is really quite easy. Head for the library, bookstore or newsstand and pick up one of the many model airplane magazines that are published monthly. You will find these magazines packed with articles on the best RC model airplanes for a beginner and give you tips on how to keep your plane in top running condition.

The next thing you should do when getting started is to try to join a flying club in your local area. These clubs can be a great help in getting you off on the right foot. One other thing, is you should look at joining the Academy of Model Aeronautics as they have a ton of great information on getting started.

Some Terms to Know

To help you be less confused about some of the things you will read and hear about in this hobby, we will cover a few terms you will run into.

Fuselage – This is the main structure of the airplane. Everything attaches to the fuselage.

Wings – These are, of course, the part of the plane that provides lift and allows it to fly. The curved surface on the top of the wing causes the air to travel much faster than the air flowing under the wing. This causes a suction on the top of the wing and a buildup of pressure under the wing. The two of these work together to lift the plane off the ground.

Flight Control Surfaces – Your model plane, just like the big passenger jets, depend on various parts of the planes exterior to steer it, gain or lose altitude and tilt side to side. These are called elevators, ailerons and the rudder.

Elevators – These control the nose up or nose down angle of the RC Airplane. This is also called the attitude or “pitch axis”. The elevators work by exposing more or less of the wings lower surface to the oncoming air. This change in angle causes increased or decreased lift, raising the nose or lowering the nose. This wing angle is called the “angle of attack”.

Ailerons – These are located on the outer ends of your plane’s wings. These cause the plane to roll or tilt right or left when you move your control stick right or left.

Rudder – This is basically steering. Rudder control to the right or left, called the “yaw axis”, is used to counter the effects of aileron movement when making a turn.

Aerodynamics – There are four aerodynamic forces acting on your plane as it flys. These are lift, drag, thrust and gravity. Lift is created by air rushing past the wing. Drag is the friction of your plane as it slides through the air. Thrust is the energy applied to move your plane forward, usually by a motor driven propeller or jet. Gravity, of course, is what pulls your plane toward the ground.

Flight Simulators

Perhaps before taking your RC Airplane to the field for it’s first flight, you should consider investing in a flight simulator. This software allows you to connect your transmitter to your PC Computer and simulate flying. The beauty of one of these is that crashing does not damage anything. These are great for building your confidence prior to flying your new plane.


Flight simulators are really good but the best way to learn to fly your RC plane is to use an instructor. The instructor will have a set of controls patched into your transmitter and can take over for you in the event you lose control. The instructor will have a structured lesson plan which will begin with the basics and slowly advance the degree of difficulty as you skill level increases. This approach greatly reduces the risk of damage to your model plane.

Type of Model to Select

Do you want a ready to fly, almost ready or a kit? As a beginner with no building experience, you will likely want to start with a ready to fly model. While most RC airplane makers give you the chance to build from a kit, You will likely be too excited to spend the few hours it will take to construct your kit. It will likely be best if you buy it ready to go.

Next choice is to decide if you want a gas powered or battery powered RC airplane. For a beginner, the electric is the best choice as you don’t have to mess with gasoline and the hazards involved with that. You will likely graduate to gasoline after gaining some experience with the electric model. Battery packs are slower to charge than just refilling your fuel tank.

Some Safety Thoughts

The spinning propeller of an RC Airplane contain kinetic energy which you want to keep away from your body and any other people or pets in the area. For this reason keep the following in mind:

- Make sure when preparing to start your machine that the throttle control is in the start position. Having your plane fire up at full throttle is an experience that you want to avoid.

- Never fly at head high elevation. For obvious reasons, if your plane goes out of control, you will be better off if it doesn’t hit you or someone else in the head.

- Never fly close to yourself or others. There are simply too many accidents that can happen where you can get hurt if you are close by.

- Never let spectators get between you and your airplane. They might block your vision and realize your ability to judge distances gets harder as the machine gets farther away from you.

- Do not overestimate your abilities. Remember to advance your skills through small pre-thought out steps. And, don’t skip steps. Be patient and practice before moving to more advanced techniques.

- Never let anyone untrained fly your airplane.

A Final Thought

RC Airplane flying is fun and exciting. While all of the safety warnings above make it sound as though you are risking danger, using the proper precautions will keep everyone safe. This will help make it a fun and rewarding hobby, in fact, a really great hobby!

Graspr- How-to Videos

Return from RC Airplanes to RC Vehicles

Return to Hobbies and Pastimes Homepage

This is how I built this website - You can build one too!