How Do You Control the Sticks - Pinch or Thumbs Only? - RC Groups
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How Do You Control the Sticks - Pinch or Thumbs Only?

It's an age old question that has been debated for as long as we've had radio controlled transmitters. "What's the best way to hold the transmitter sticks?"

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Which is Better? Thumbs or Finger and Thumbs...

It's an age old question that has been debated for as long as we've had radio controlled transmitters. "What's the best way to hold the transmitter sticks?" There are primarily two methods to holding the sticks, 1. Putting just your thumbs on top of the sticks and 2. Pinching the sticks between your thumbs and index fingers. It's a hotly debated topic and while I see more thumbs only flyers out there (likely due to video gaming), I think most people would say that the pinch method offers more precision and finer control, but is that really true?

Thumbs only is by far the most common method as it is the most natural feeling, especially if you are console video gamer. Console controllers are exclusively thumbs only, so if pinching the sticks were better, why don't we see controllers designed for it? Pinching the sticks is said to offer better control because you have two points of contact instead of one, but now your brain has to tell four things to move instead of two, could that perhaps cause some mixed signals and make you fly sloppy? Maybe, maybe not.

What is comes down to for me when trying to answer this question, is there is no universal answer. Thumbs are better for one person and pinching is better for another. Just changing to the pinch or thumbs only method will not make you a better pilot. This is a personal preference issue and the only thing that really matters is what is comfortable and feels right to you. I'm a thumbs only flyer and anytime I've tried the pinch, it just felt terrible to me. Now one could argue that I'd need to spend a considerable amount of time practising and re-training my brain for that, but why would I want to spend the time to re-learn controls that I can already do perfectly fine with just my thumbs. It just doesn't make any sense for me. What about you, which way do you prefer to fly?

One last note. I've seen plenty of people argue that the best pilots in the world are pinchers. Well, Jase Dussia could be considered one of the best, if not THE best RC pilot in the world right now, and he's a thumbs only pilot, and on that bombshell here's a video of Jase and his thumbs rocking it out at the Horizon RC Fest.

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Jun 21, 2017, 10:14 AM
Registered User
jimm1962's Avatar
I pinch when flying helicopters and thumb when flying airplanes. I am unable to do it the other way around.
Jun 21, 2017, 10:19 AM
1st to the scene of the crash
Laneritc's Avatar
To the best of my knowledge I use my thumb on the throttle/rudder. But I normally "pinch"the right stick. Seems like on certain planes I only use thumbs, but not 100% sure I try to concentrate on my flying so I'm not real sure if I thumb or pinch! Next time I fly i'll get one of my buddies to watch my hands to see .
Latest blog entry: Building the sig astro-hog
Jun 21, 2017, 10:27 AM
Registered User
Clive66's Avatar
I thumb the left & pinch the right
My left stick is adjusted low & the right stick is high.

Oh, and I use a TX tray, with no added hand rests
Jun 21, 2017, 10:33 AM
"I will return" Federico
rclad's Avatar
I learned to fly using thumbs only and have been happy with the precision and feel of that method. Using thumbs only gives me more fingers to flip other switches on the transmitter. That's a big advantage over pinched flying.
Jun 21, 2017, 10:39 AM
Morning Light Mountain
badbill's Avatar
Mac Hodges flew with the thumb left and pinch right stick, and I always have admired his flying. But I have always just used thumbs, I tried pinching and just couldn't get the feel of it- no precision. Felt like stirring a 55 gallon drum of oil with a baseball bat. Pretty sure it comes down to what you started when you learned how to fly.

Bill Davenport
AMA 28141
Jun 21, 2017, 10:39 AM
RCG Staff
Jason Cole's Avatar
Wow, so many hybrid guys. I never knew so many did that.
Jun 21, 2017, 10:50 AM
DFS#000178
Rampage's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by jimm1962
I pinch when flying helicopters and thumb when flying airplanes. I am unable to do it the other way around.
Me too. If I'm flying a heli or multirotor I pinch.

If I'm flying a plane, I thumb.
Jun 21, 2017, 10:56 AM
Registered User
This post is divisive. Who cares if you pinch, use your thumbs or fly with your pinky's out! Everyone is equal, everyone deserves a trophy. Black, white, Hispanic or Chinese the Transmitter doesn't care...
Jun 21, 2017, 11:19 AM
I hate waiting for parts
Mike_Then's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by farticus
This post is divisive. Who cares if you pinch, use your thumbs or fly with your pinky's out! Everyone is equal, everyone deserves a trophy. Black, white, Hispanic or Chinese the Transmitter doesn't care...
Um, are you OK? Been reading too many political articles? Relax, this is just a friendly poll.

Thumbs only; been that way since my first two-stick transmitter in the early 80s. I fly both my planes and helis with thumbs.
Jun 21, 2017, 11:20 AM
Registered User
Quote:
Originally Posted by farticus
This post is divisive. Who cares if you pinch, use your thumbs or fly with your pinky's out! Everyone is equal, everyone deserves a trophy. Black, white, Hispanic or Chinese the Transmitter doesn't care...
What? How are you making this about race?
Jun 21, 2017, 11:20 AM
We shall serve the Lord
kingsflyer's Avatar

Hybrid Here!


I started out flying a single stick Gold Medal Kraft back in the day. The rudder control was a big knob on the end of a long stick so you had to "pinch" to be able to use the stick at all. I guess I just continued to pinch the right stick when I went to two sticks. For years I mostly used my left stick to throttle up for takeoffs and throttle down for landings. Sometimes I used rudder to taxi if the engine was still running so no need to pinch the left stick. When I started flying indoors, I learned how dumb my left hand really was!

Fast forward 15 years and my left hand is much smarter now but I'm still using my thumb. I feel like I have more precise control when I pinch, but I guess some habits are harder to break than others.

McD
Last edited by kingsflyer; Jun 21, 2017 at 11:26 AM.
Jun 21, 2017, 11:27 AM
Registered User
Clive66's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by farticus
This post is divisive. Who cares if you pinch, use your thumbs or fly with your pinky's out! Everyone is equal, everyone deserves a trophy. Black, white, Hispanic or Chinese the Transmitter doesn't care...
What a useless post (maybe done just to see responses)
Jun 21, 2017, 11:31 AM
AMA 537620
ChillPhatCat's Avatar
I used to just use thumbs all the time when I started, then I got into helis about 10 years ago and found that I needed a better handle on the throttle and rudder so I started pinching on the left. Now I pinch on the left for all aircraft and thumb the right... seems I do it backward from a lot of the other hybrid guys. lol

I admire people that can pinch both sticks, I'm not sure my thumbs will ever let me do that.
Jun 21, 2017, 12:13 PM
Drone offender FA377YHFNC
Well I'm a thumb guy. There is something to being able to get to all the switches and buttons when you do that.

But I was in pinch-curious mode, thinking that pinching would give more control until I started questioning 3D fliers. It's a crapshoot with them, no correlation between the better pilots and either method. Blew my theory out of the water and I don't have to learn to pinch!

The bad part is that I can't blame my lack of ability on using my thumbs....


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