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May 01, 2011, 06:41 AM
Registered User
Borneoben's Avatar

Clarification of Styles of Planes and Styles of Flying

Hi Guys

I am a Heli pilot looking to get into fixed wing aircraft and have a few Newbie questions for you.

The main question is

What is the main difference between Sport planes and 3D planes?

What is the difference between flying styles or methods?

Can a sport Plane do 3D and can a 3D plane fly sport?

I am a big fan of the Precision Aerobatics Katana MD and Addiction X

The Addiction X is to me a true 3D aircraft and the Katana MD more of a sport plane. But both are marketed as 3D.

However I cannot really tell the difference between and Edge 540 and a and AJ Slick or a Velox or an Sbach etc etc!!

What are the main characteristics of a particular plane that makes it either a sport plane or a 3D plane?


It seems almost every RC plane these days, no matter what style of plane it is, is capable of some Aerobatics. Loops Rolls Knife Edge etc etc.

At what stage do basic aerobatics become sport flying or 3D?

Thanks in advance for any clarification on the subject!

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May 01, 2011, 06:54 AM
AMA 537620
ChillPhatCat's Avatar
It's really hard to say where the cut off is, the main requirement for 3D is that you have giant control surfaces and a lot of throw. There are planes specifically designed for this like the Addiction, and then there are planes that are simply capable with the right setup... planes like the Extra 300 or Edge 540. Those scale models that are of Unlimited class aerobatic planes are often capable with an aft CG, lower pitched props and larger control throws. I don't really know how to define 3D however, all I can say is it usually involves a lot of hovering, and some maneuvers are simply called 3D, and some are not.
May 01, 2011, 07:14 AM
Registered User
Borneoben's Avatar
Wow Fast response thanks!

OK so a 3D plane normaly has a larger control surfaces for those extreme manouvres.

So by that logic sport planes normaly have smaller control surfaces?

The Extra's and the Edges's are all seem to be based around the Redbull Airace kind of aircraft and style of flying so would that be considered sport flying then in the RC world?

I guess a sport plane would fly faster than a full 3D plane?
The Addiction and Addiction X can be flown super slow and still remain stable.

Of and where do Pattern Planes fit in?
Are they sport or 3D or half way between?

Can some one give me an example of a typical Pattern plane?

Just trying to get my head around the different aspects of the Fixed wing world.


May 01, 2011, 07:35 AM
Registered User
Andy W's Avatar
Your original assuming was correct - katana may be capable of some extreme 3D-style stuff, but the addiction is the better all-around. It is, however, one heck of a nice flying model.

Sport is more "everyday flyer" - it's not a straight line between sport, pattern, 3D, but it would go in that order. Sport having generally smaller control surfaces for the less skilled pilot, pattern more control for advanced maneuvers, 3D taking it way beyond extreme!

3D has evolved more towards pattern, in my limited opinion. The 3D smackdown @ SEFF was nothing like the 3D flying I'd seen in years past, and had much more pattern-like stuff going on..
May 01, 2011, 07:40 AM
Registered User
Borneoben's Avatar
So whats the main diference between pattern flying and 3D?

Can you point me towards some Pattern flying videos?

May 01, 2011, 08:11 AM
R/C Addict for Life!!
Darryl Miller's Avatar

3d - pattern - Sport

Ok, I have been asked this.....and here is my very general, non technical, answer:

Sport Flying:Encompasses everything from beginners to advanced airplanes flown in easy, non aerobatic flight, to basic aerbatics, ie loops rolls, etc, that can be flown by a REAL full scale airplane.

pattern Flying: An airplane flown in a set schedule of aerobatic, routine, that encompass a wide variety of manuevers that can be flown by a REAL , full size airplane. This can be flown by almost any rc model.......but some are better suited to fly the maneuvers well.

3D: Flying of aerobatic maneuvers in mostly freestyle, but sometimes a prescribed sequence, but the difference is, some, if not most of the real 3D maneuvers one would NEVER see a full scale aerobatic aircraft be able to accomplish. You wont see a full scale (fixed wing) hover......and the high alpha I have seen doesnt come close to what our models can do. Again, there are certain qualities that make a model better able to fly 3d, ie, large control surfaces and throws.......lots of power, very light weights......rearward cg's., etc. Almost any rc plane could do 3d, in the right hands, its just that some are more capable than others.

These are, as I said, generalities....but that is how I explaine it to the askers at the field.....

As for the for IMAC, and u should get some.

Last edited by Darryl Miller; May 01, 2011 at 08:14 AM. Reason: added content
May 01, 2011, 04:16 PM
AMA 537620
ChillPhatCat's Avatar
A typical pattern plane would take a rough form like this: Long turtledeck, long tail moment, lots of side surface area.

May 01, 2011, 09:47 PM
Registered User
Originally Posted by wazzer
So whats the main diference between pattern flying and 3D?

Can you point me towards some Pattern flying videos?

Pattern flying, as far as I know, is entirely "on the wing." As it is in real planes. Many 3D maneuvers are not, they're post-stall, with all or most of the lift coming directly from the prop.

Pattern flying is a matter of accurate, smooth maneuvers, eg. perfectly round loops, four-point rolls, slow rolls, perfectly axial rolls on up/down/diagonal lines, etc. 3D flying is a good deal more frenetic, taking the model through moves that (I'm guessing) would be highly improbable, if not impossible in a real airplane.
May 02, 2011, 01:40 AM
Registered User
Borneoben's Avatar
Thanks Guys that makes much more sense to me now

I think I am looking for a more Sport style plane than a 3D plane


May 02, 2011, 02:10 AM
Registered User
Threshold's Avatar
A sport plane cannot do 3D but a 3D plane can do sport flying and pattern flying reasonably well. Pattern planes are not designed to fly in a stalled condition 3D planes are (hopefully). Just putting big control surfaces on a plane and calling it a 3D plane is nonsense. Main thing it has to be able to fly harriers smoothly and fly in and out of a stall smoothly without dropping a wing. If you get a 3DHS extra SHP it will fly sport and 3D very well and do a fair job at pattern. Pattern planes have a longer tail moment and are designed to fly straight lines cleanly and break into a stall crisply.
May 02, 2011, 02:19 AM
Registered User
Borneoben's Avatar
Very Interesting thanks

I hadnt thought about it like that

Then maybe it is a 3D plane I am looking for after all!!


May 02, 2011, 11:33 AM
Team Hitec, Customer Support
Xpress..'s Avatar
Basically, a 3D airplane is designed to fly all aspects of flying, mainly using the motors power to keep it airborne, or basically flying in a post stall manner. The large control surfaces greatly improve the airplanes control responses, so it can be flown very extreme.

A sport plane flies on its wing, and generally can do the basic aerobatics (rolls, knife edge, loops, ect.) from the simple one stick movement, to the more complex multi-stick movements (like spins and whatnot).

A pattern plane is designed for long, graceful patterns, due to the long fuselage moment.

All 3D planes are pattern/sport planes.

All sport planes are pattern planes.

All pattern planes are sport planes.

All sport/pattern planes are not 3D planes.
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May 02, 2011, 12:00 PM
Registered User
Originally Posted by Xpress..
A pattern plane is designed for long, graceful patterns, due to the long fuselage moment.

All 3D planes are pattern/sport planes.

All sport planes are pattern planes.

All pattern planes are sport planes.
As you pointed out yourself, true pattern planes have a very distinctive wing and fuselage shape.

If you had said "all sport planes can do pattern maneuvers" I'd maybe agree. But pattern planes are specifically optimized for a certain class of maneuvers. (aka F3A.) And 3D planes are optimized for a different class of maneuvers.

"Sport" is a pretty vague category as far as I'm concerned. I think we can safely say that a C-130 is not a sport plane, but aside from that, it doesn't really convey much information. In RC, "pattern" actually has a fairly specific meaning.
May 02, 2011, 02:12 PM
Mile High Pilot
milehighjc's Avatar
Just to reinforce a comment made here... one that has been a major consideration for me : A 3D plane can be flown as a sport flyer.

I was looking for my next plane after flying several PZ foamies. I wanted something more aerobatically capable than my T-28D, but was pretty sure I was not up for a full 3D bird (according to my lack of success on the sim). I asked the question on RCG, and one of the recommendations was the 3D Hobby Shop 47" Extra 300 SHP. After much research, I decided to go for it. The best thread I found for my situation was about THAT Plane (search for Doc Austin's threads on the Extra 300). It was a detailed tutorial on how to set up the SHP as a sport plane.

It has been nothing short of a total grin machine.

Im now starting to crank up the throws a little, and trying more 3D flying (still very tame however). The plane is capable of being a full 3D bird, and will grow WITH me.

Ive tried to capture the story on my blog page, but frankly its only a subset of the wealth of info you will find in Doc's thread.

EDIT >>> just updated my blog page, and remembered that I have the links to Doc's thread, as well as build videos - should you be interested in checking either out.

Last edited by milehighjc; May 02, 2011 at 02:22 PM.
May 02, 2011, 02:33 PM
Suspended Account
Pattern Flying: Style of flying where one tries to remember the exact geometric location of trees in the flight path, and planning out a 'flight pattern' to get through them all.

3D Flying: Style of flying one attempts in a panic when the sudden realization a large Oak tree is 15 feet in front of a plane traveling 30 mph. This requires huge elevator throws, and requires a thrust to weight ratio well in excess of 5:1 to be successful.

Sport Flying: What you tell people you are doing when they ask you how you managed to do a touch and go in the parking lot under someone's parked car.


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