Travel Tips & Articles

Flying Fun: R/C Planes

The prospect of flying has long fascinated people. While not everyone can train to be a pilot, there are still other ways to enjoy flight. A hobby that can be enjoyed by all age groups is remote controlled planes, or R/C planes. They are typically smaller replicas of real-life models that can be controlled from the ground.

Starting Out

Slightly slower but more stable R/C planes are best for beginners. Look for a model that can easily be fixed or repaired. Especially with beginners, crashes can mean that some parts might need to be replaced. These types of places can manage speeds of up to thirty miles per hour, while advanced models range up to two hundred.

Basics of R/C Flying

Based on the model, the transmitter unit can have several different controls. Certain channels control aspects such as the rudder, wing flaps, and throttle. To fly an R/C plane, enthusiasts have to study several aspects that commercial pilots also learn about. Planes that come with "tricycle gear" are generally easier to land, as well as safer.

Prebuilt Models Versus Kits

Assembling a plane from scratch adds much more enjoyment to the flying experience. However, it can be quite laborious and requires plenty of minute adjustments. Since this is not for everyone, beginners can instead opt for a prebuilt model. Prebuilt planes can be assembled much more easily, allowing the user to start flying it as soon as possible.

The Ideal Plane Size

When R/C enthusiasts talk about plane size, they are not usually referring to the physical dimensions. Instead they mean the plane's engine size. A standard size for beginners is a 40. This means that it requires a 0.40 - 0.53 size engine. This type of engine is sturdy and can manage to fly through slightly windy weather.

Types of Plane Engines

Once you have chosen the plane size, it is time to consider the type of engine. The electric variety of engines are powered with batteries. The other type is known as a glow engine. This type is actually a real miniature engine that runs on glow fuel. It sounds and acts the same way as a real plane engine. A two-stroke glow engine fires the engine once for each revolution of the plane's pistons, while a four-stroke engine does that once for every two revolutions. Two-stroke engines are more stable and affordable in general.

Radio Controls

The transmitter unit uses radio signals to communicate with the R/C plane. Some units have an optional feature that allows it to be synced with another transmitter unit called a buddy box. By doing this, beginners can have the added benefit of a backup pilot in case they make any mistakes.

R/C Equipment & Tools

Most types of R/C planes need some degree of assembly, even if they are prebuilt models. Your basic toolkit should consist of a utility knife, sandpaper, pliers, several screwdrivers, masking tape, and also some T-pins. Assembly kits may also suggest using glue, such as epoxy or cyanoacrylate. A drill is normally not required, but some models may suggest it.

Preparing a Field Kit

It is a good idea to take a small kit with you out on the field as a safety precaution. This kit can help take care of minor emergencies and problems. It should contain extra batteries and/or a charger, extra glow plugs, a secure container of fuel with a pump, tools to restart the engine, spare propellers, and a wrench. Make sure this kit is always with you when you fly the plane.

Extra Accessories

Most prebuilt R/C planes are just about ready to fly after purchase but there are a few things you can do to improve them. For example, several accessories such as a body cover and a muffler for the engine are relatively inexpensive. They are easy to install too, and help to prolong the life of the plane.

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