Question for pilots (full scale non R/C) - RC Groups
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Dec 22, 2004, 06:58 AM
Curtis S

Question for pilots (full scale non R/C)

This question is for anyone who flys passenger aircraft and R/C planes. Iíve always wondered if you have intermediate to advanced flying skills as an R/C pilot, how would you do behind the stick of a real plane? Let's say I was in the middle of the Sahara desert, found a Cessna single engine high wing plane on an airstrip ready to fly. What kind of chance would I have of taking off flying and landing with my skills as an RC pilot? That is assuming I knew where all of the controls were and that I would never actually attempt such a stunt. Any real pilots in the group?
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Dec 22, 2004, 07:32 AM
AndyKunz's Avatar
My brother said learning a real plane was way easier then a model. My son seems to have grasped both equally well, but he has a lot more stick time on models than I can afford full-scale. My neighbor flies 3D models, an aerobatic bipe, and small airliners and he says the real planes are tougher because he is responsible for the lives of 50+ people.

Both started out with models, though. The full-scale pilots (RC newbies) coming into our club have always had a tough time of it.

Dec 22, 2004, 07:34 AM
Registered User
Ben Diss's Avatar
If you could figure out how to start it, you could get it off the ground. Landing is another story. You might be able to get it down somewhere near the runway but odds are you'd roll it up into a big ball of aluminum. You might live ... might not.

On the other hand, there are a lot of things you'll already know going into pilot training that others won't that will speed things up a bit for you. The hand-eye thing with R/C is completely different than with full scale so the skill needed to control the airplane won't be there. If you want to jump start that skill spend some time with a PC yoke and rudder flying MS Flight Sim.

Dec 22, 2004, 07:50 AM
R/C Addict for Life!!
Darryl Miller's Avatar
The takeoff might be possible IF you knew what speeds your particular Cessna used for liftoff, etc. The landing, while deffinite and eventual, would not make any future attempts, possible.....

Just my humble opinion!!!!! Give it a shot with one of the many very realistic flight sims out there for PC's. But make sure you are in the cockpit, and not using one of the outside view options......That way you have the perspective that your IN the airplane, not flying from the R/C

All that said, the skills and knwledge transfer very well, and the students I had that were R/C ers, learned much faster in the full sized planes, than non-rcers.


PS....One of the most important axioms that we jokingly live by in my cockpit at work is.......

The number of takeoffs for the day must equal the number of Landings......and both must be succesful to be able to fly again!!!!
Last edited by Darryl Miller; Dec 22, 2004 at 07:53 AM.
Dec 22, 2004, 08:18 AM
dusty bible = dirty life
Majortomski's Avatar
I doubt it. As stated above if you don't know the speeds you're going to have an aluminum recycling party.

Ironically, everone says 1:1 pilots make poor rc pilots, but... I think I got much better at being an rcer after I'd worked on my 1:1 commercial liscence. The huge amount of time you spend working on pitch, power, trim, and airspeed made me understand what my model is doing. It also taught me that less control is more control. Let the airplane fly itself.

In this vein, I think that is where you as a regular rcer would have the problem, you would try to control the airplane too much, as opposed to just let it fly.

As someone said find a copy of flight sim and give the single engine planes a try.

Dec 22, 2004, 08:46 AM
Registered User
Andy W's Avatar

You'd kill yourself. The theory is identical. The implementation is vastly different.

We (full-scale) don't spend hours learning flight dynamics, we learn how to process situational information and correct accordingly, until the responses become somewhat "automatic" - for want of a better term. I don't mean you fly without thinking about it, but everything becomes more or less routine. Then if there's something that requires your attention (radio call, traffic avoidence, turbulence, etc.) you can focus on that while you continute to fly the airplane.

Without proper training in the operation of the airplane in question, you'd probably kill yourself. Even an experienced pilot would never just "hop in" an unfamiliar aircraft and attempt to fly it - possibly even in a life-or-death situation..
Dec 22, 2004, 09:46 AM
Registered User
Jared's Avatar
Here are some important things to consider:

First, models have much more favorable power/weight and wing loadings than biggns. So models can power or fly themselves out of much more trouble.

Second, models are much more durable. If you scuff a model's wing tip on the ground, it's no big deal. If you scuff a wing tip on a full-scale plane, it is a major problem that could involve anything from replacing the wing to putting out the post-crash fire.

Third, models are much more forgiving when it comes to mistakes. Short of plane-pilot collisions and hand-landings gone awry, it is hard to hurt yourself by making an aeronautical mistake flying models. But obviously, in big planes, the stakes are much higher.

90 percent of the things that model pilots are deathly worried about are totally irrelevent in flying big planes. Think of building, maintenance, directional orientation, flying out of sight or into the sun, engine-outs while hovering...

Likewise, 90 percent of the things that full-scale pilots are essentially non-issues in models. Think of coordination, aerodynamic load factors, (and passenger load factors for some) stalls, runways, passengers, instrument weather conditions, navigation, interraction of onboard systems, communication...

I disagree with the guys above, in that I don't think you would crash because you didn't know the speeds. Oh I still think you'd crash, just not because of speeds. If you set the trim properly (you know how to do that, right?), you will be able to takeoff a cessna single without knowing the appropriate speeds. I would bet you'd be more likely to run off the runway by trying to steer with the yoke! Takeoff speeds are far more important in other airplanes, other than ones like a cessna.

If you were given a huge runway to land on, I would bet that you could even land a cessna surviably. On a really big one like you would find at large airports, you can cross the runway at cruise speed and still get it on the pavement under semi-normal circumstances. The trouble is that by having to land on a more common little strip of pavement, you have to be in the right place at the right time going at the right speeds, and that is one of many areas where you would probably not stand a chance.

PC Flight simulators don't help you much when it comes to visual piloting in my opinion, because you don't get most of the references that you need or use. Think of peripheral vision, being able to turn your head quickly and easily to look around, sound, control forces, etc. If you were in a cessna, control forces would be one of your most important cues to keep from stalling. You just can't stall one by not substantially overpowering the yoke.

I don't think there is a pilot out there who hasn't daydreamed about saving the day by taking the controls after the airline crew was incapacitated by the bad fish.

I would recommend that if you want to learn more about the flying part of flying, you read a book called "stick and rudder" that was written in the 1940s. Or you can see this web page, which is kind of a modernized version of the book.
Dec 22, 2004, 10:02 AM
Low AltiDude
PGR's Avatar
I want to ditto what others are saying with example:

I have a friend who is obsessed with the Piper Super Cub. All his models are of that plane. Last summer I had the opportunity to take him up in the real thing. Before we had even reached cruising altitude he was complaining about "what a slug" it was and asking if I could fly it inverted or "do some rolls or something exciting."

Ah, no!

He spent the rest of the flight bored to tears. Heaven forbid had he found this plane somewhere and tried to fly it. I doubt he or the plane would have survived the experience.

Dec 22, 2004, 10:14 AM
Registered User
Bill Glover's Avatar
I've found that full-size fliers were often over-confident about flying a "toy plane" ... the orientation issues (e.g. when the plane is coming towards you) come as a bit of a shock!

As a long-time r/c flier with zero hours full-size I was able to take off a 747 (full motion airline simulator), fly a circuit, and land safely back on the runway. But I was only handling the flight controls ... didn't have to worry about flaps, gear, etc. (someone else took care of them), never mind navigation and radio and the other bits and pieces a pilot has to cope with. And I hardly used the rudder; coordinating foot and hand movement is not something you learn through flying r/c!

The lag/anticipation required on the controls of a big plane is also a bit alien as models react pretty much instantly. Experience handling boats (which I had) probably helps with this!

Since then I've done a little power flying in a (real!) Cessna 150 and a Grumman AA5, and some sailplane flying. Coordinating rudder with stick was still the biggest thing to get used to in terms of just flying the plane, especially with the sailplane (a glass 2-seater). But I was allowed to do a landing at the end of the day!
Dec 22, 2004, 11:03 AM
Registered User
Radiofly's Avatar
The major thing RC and full scale aviators have in common is some kind of understanding of aircraft aerodynamics. That does help in going from RC to full scale or vice versa. But that is a relatively small thing.

The essential know-how for RC can be learned very quickly. In my case it took about 3 hours spread over about a month of crashing and repairing. The essential skills and knowledge base for flying a full scale Cessna are considerably more. While it took me about 5 hours of dual instruction for me to feel I had a better than 50% chance of managing the plane alone in an emergency, it took me almost 100 hours to get my certificate. And with hundreds of hours now logged, I'm still learning subtle things that significantly can improve my survival.

Furthermore, full scale aviation, very much more so than RC, has a recurrency factor. If I stop flying for a while, say 3 months, my first few flights thereafter simply do not have the polish I should have for my experience level. Even as a trained pilot, one can conceivably get so out of proficiency that one can crash the plane you trained on.

So to answer the question...individuals can show amazing rates of learning and luck, but the chances are not in your favor flying a full scale aircraft without previous training. A five hour introductory course (not joy riding) might inch you up to 50/50.
Dec 22, 2004, 11:22 AM
Registered User
Herleman's Avatar
While we've all heard that any landing you walk away from is good, the idea would be to be able to use the airplane again afterward. Seems unlikely that you would be able to do that.

Your "Desert Cessna" would not have a buddy box or a space bar to reset everything and the trim controls are not beside the "joysticks". My slowstick does not require mixture controls or carburetor heat and I don't have to use my feet for anything except standing up. Flying while sitting in the airplane is considerably more complex.

Was your first RC flight perfect?
Dec 22, 2004, 11:57 AM
Registered User
Andy W's Avatar
Originally Posted by PGR
He spent the rest of the flight bored to tears. Heaven forbid had he found this plane somewhere and tried to fly it. I doubt he or the plane would have survived the experience.
.. many full-scale commercial pilots that I know, even some with significant military jet time, would love the opportunity to keep a stock cub in a hanger somewhere, and fly it on weekends, just for fun. I know one person who has flown every airplane you'd want to fly (i.e. stealth, etc.) and, from my experiences, prefers to loiter around in an old metal sailplane than any other form of flight.

Many who haven't flown full-scale simply don't have this perspective..
Dec 22, 2004, 12:09 PM
Go get them Meg!
lrsudog's Avatar
Originally Posted by Andy W
.. many full-scale commercial pilots that I know, even some with significant military jet time, would love the opportunity to keep a stock cub in a hanger somewhere, and fly it on weekends, just for fun. I know one person who has flown every airplane you'd want to fly (i.e. stealth, etc.) and, from my experiences, prefers to loiter around in an old metal sailplane than any other form of flight.

Many who haven't flown full-scale simply don't have this perspective..

"Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing -- absolute nothing -- half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats." -Wind in the willows

Cranky old aircraft, motorcycles, and cars too...
Dec 22, 2004, 02:20 PM
Glow Free Since Aug, 2005
tommy321's Avatar
When people hear that I fly both full scale and RC, I always get the question which one is tougher. And I honestly think that RC is tougher. Mostly because it's more reflex and "feel", and takes much more concentration (IMHO) than flying full scale. (I fly full size gliders, and am a tow pilot at my glider club). While you have to be ready to react in an instant if something goes wrong in full scale, there are many procedures and numbers that you have ready to help get you through those instants. And once you get the feel of it, it's really no more difficult that driving a car. You also have oodles more sensory information when you're sitting in an airplane listening to your engine, hearing the wind, feeling the air on the controls, etc. But this is once you're used to it. The first 50hours or so you're suffering from huge sensory overload. You have almost none of this in a model, where you can only have your stick position, and the apparent speed of the model to guide you.

What keeps me RC flying is 1) the cost, and 2) the lack of rules/numbers/and procedures. I don't think a Blender is a maneuver that is talked about in any pilot operating handbook for real aircraft. Besides, I don't think I'd want to be sitting in a plane doing a blender anyways. It'd probably result in severe buising where the shoulder straps rest :P

Funny how a question like this brings all the full-scale pilots out of the woodwork (I'm guilty as charged too).

Q: How can you tell if there's a pilot at your party?
A: Don't worry, he or she will tell you.

heh heh

Dec 22, 2004, 03:39 PM
Registered User

Flying real ones

Three months to solo RC, 18 months at Navy Flight School in Pensacola. Sure hope I wasn't wasting my time in P'cola.

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