Each radio is on a specific frequency range. In North America this is typically 72 mhz or 27 mhz, with a couple others also approved.
Within that range are slices, called channels. So you radio might be on 72 mhz, channel 28 or 27 mhz channel 6. If two pilots are using radios on the same channel, neither can contol their plane. If someone is on your channel and they are flying their plane and you turn yours on, they will immediately lose control of their plane and typically crash.
Frequency control is the process by which you check with the other pilots to insure no conflicts. At most AMA fields, there is a formal process for this. Other places it may be informal, but absolutely ciritcal to everyone's personl safety and the safety of their planes.
At most fields, if you turn on and cause a crash, this is called a shoot-down. You just purchased that person's crashed plane. That can be thousands of $$. If it hits someone you will be liable for any medical costs and lawsuits that might result. You were the direct cause of the injuries.
This is serious stuff!
Thanks for the list Ed, I printed it off for a new pilot friend.
For the wind section, I would add a sentence about the importance of being aware of the exact wind direction for landing into the wind--(especially important with those 3 channel trainers.
Also, orientation seems to be one of the toughest things for me to teach. Do you have any coaching methods while buddy boxing you could add?
thanks again, Steve
I have made very little use of a buddy box. In fact among the dozen or so newbies that I have helped get into the air, only one was done with a buddy box and that was a 16 year old whom I taught to fly my Spirit sailplane. Within 2 hours he was launching off the hi-start, flying around, caught an 11 minute thermal and then landed the plane all in a 10 mph wind, which is a lot for a Spirit. He was a natural, but he did not continue in the hobby.
But most of my students are on RTF 27 mhz planes so no buddy box is possible. I teach them the 6 rules posted on the first page of this thread as their primary flying rules. So far results have been very good.
The things I use to help with orientation and flying toward yourself are:
a) keep the plane high, at least 100 feet
b) don't get far out. Trottle back so the plane does not get far away!
c) NEVER fly over your head - I give them such grief if they let the plane get behind them. In fact that is usually cause for me to take the radio. They don't like it but if they can't say in front, I take the radio, get them out front, then give it to them again.
d) Project yourself into the cockpit. When I say right I mean the plane's right. Right is always right stick regardless of which way the plane is going. so as I talk them through the flight I am giving them directions as seen from the pilot's seat. Seems to help them project into the pilot's seat.
Works for me!
Also, for orientation, there is nothing like a computer simulator. Doesn't have to be fancy. FMS works just fine.
The key is to set them up on a 3 channel slow flyer so the plane will not have a tendancy to get far away where you lose prospective on a sim.
The biggest trouble with sims is that you can't see around you, so I have devised this drill. Using this I taught my 14 year old and 10 year old nieces and both were able to fly a GWS pico tiger moth the first time I took them out.
1) Go to a scene that has a clear runway with few trees or buildings near the runway.
2) Remind them that they are standing on the runway so the best way to get back to the runway is to fly at themselves. Don't worry, when they are at the actual field they will not have a tendancy to fly at themselves.
3) Have them take off using the throttle for speed and climb. Very very very little use of elevator. Once up, go to about 30-40 feet and throttle back to hold altitude. Do a big circle off the end of the runway using slight up elevator in the turn to hold altitude at 30-40 feet. Then fly right back to themselves and land. Then fly off the other end, make a big circle and come back and land. With a three channel slow flyer like the Tiger Moth or the standard slow flyer that comes with FMS, this is not hard to do as the plane flys so slowly.
4) Get them to use the throttle to control the altitude more than the elevator. This way they don't develop the tendancy to stall by pulling too much elevator.
Launch at full, get to about 30 feet, then throttle back to half. Hold altitued with throttel management, make the circle in front of the runway. Then come back into the runway. Contol altitude primarily with the throttle ( just like a full scale plane) then come in and land. Add a little flair at the end.
It may take 10-20 attempts but after a while they get it. In the process they learn to fly toward themselves.
There are a number of free RC airplane simulators. FMS is probably the best
known. Not as fancy as the expensive ones but it works and can really help
you get your aileron timing down. It will also help you learn to fly the plane
The links offer other simulators plus sites that provides a cable that can
the trainer port on your radio so you can fly the sim using your own radio or
buddy box. I also list some exampels of low cost fully functional radios that
can run the sim AND fly a plane. I believe buddy boxes, which are not
functional radios, can also be used to run a simulator. Finally a low cost
used FM radio that has a trainer port would be an excellent way to run your
sim. I purchased a used Futaba conquest 4 channel FM radio for $10 to use as
a buddy box and to use on a simulator.
Then there is always the chance that someone at the club will loan you an
old radio with a trainer port so you can practice.
FMS Flight simulator Home Page
Parkflyers for FMS
Glider RC - Another sim. Have not tried it.
CRRCsim - Free flight simulator for MacOS/Linux/Windows
CRRCsim - FAQ
Flight simulator adaptor for Hitec/Futaba and JR radios $10
Virtual RC parallel port
Multiple Sim Cords - Simblaster
Sim cables and other items
USB Simulator cables
Convert a game controller to a flight sim controller
Brand new, Low cost full function 4 channel radios that have trainer ports
that will fly your plane AND act as a simulator constoller with one of the
above adapters. These prices do NOT include servos, receivers, etc.
GWS 4 Channel Radio - $48
GWS 4 Channel Radio w/ FMS cable and CD - $69
Hitec Laser 4 - $60
Buddy Box with trainer cord - $35
good for SIM, but will not fly a plane by itself.
Last edited by aeajr; Dec 28, 2005 at 09:31 PM.
The key to flying successfully in the wind is to use the down elevator to control the speed. People want to use the throttle to punch back against the wind. If you have enough power, you can do that. But what if you don't??
If you push the nose down slightly, you go into a mild dive into the wind and pick up speed without the help of the motor. You trade altitude ( your friend ) for speed and distance. Now you can push back against the wind.
I REALLY learned this when I started flying thermal duration gliders. No motors, so how could you possibly come back against the wind. The fact is I sometimes come back 1/2 mile against the wind with no motor at all.
Using this technique, I have put my Aerobird up in an 18 mph wind ( clocked ), climbed to about 200 feet, gotten about 200 feet down wind, then cut the motor off completely and flown the plane back to land it at my feet. And, since the Aerobird's prop just freewheels, it acts at a break making this harder. If I could stop it from spining, the plane would be even better in the wind.
Cool? Yes? Based on proper use of the elevator.
This lack of elevator control is why the 2 channel R/T planes are so easily lost in more than 5 mph winds. They have enough power to push back against the wind, but they climb on throttle and as they climb the wind pushes them back. With no elevator, they can not push the nose down to come back against the wind.
10-15 mph winds are now common flying conditions for me with my gliders and my electrics.
Last edited by aeajr; Apr 06, 2006 at 10:09 PM.
Great post. Words of wisdom from an experienced pilot are always welcome to this newbie. I waited 51 years before getting my first plane this Christmas as a gift from my son. I have been wanting to do this for years, as he knew, so now that he is an adult and can afford to buy Dad toys for Christmas he did. Please note, I also refer to my Harley and my travel trailer as toys!
Anyway, thanks for the great insight.....as soon as I fix my plane I'll be back up....not damaged from a crash, although I have had a few good ones. I managed to break the tail boom on my Hobbyzone Firebird Commander2 by fumbling it at launch and dropping it on the tail, snapping the tail boom where it is cut for the control wires to exit.
If you actually broke the tail boom, they sell a piece to rejoin it. Works well. Just make sure you fly that plane in calm air.
A critical piece of advice to you and to all two channel pilots. Respect the
wind! REALLY RESPECT THE WIND!!!!!
These planes either have throttle and rudder or throttle and differential
thrust, which does about the same thing.
If you fly on a windy day you have a very high probability of losing the
plane. Why, because you have no way to fight the wind. If the plane gets
down wind from you, and it will, here is what happens. You hit the power to
fight the wind, but these planes climb when you hit the power, so instead of
coming back to you, they climb and as they climb, the wind pushes the plane
A very very experience two channel pilot can work around this through a series
of maneuvers called the death spiral. However, this is a difficult thing to
control for a new pilot. There is a fellow in our club who has lost two
Firebird Commanders to the wind. We finally convinced him to get an Aerobird.
A three channel plane with elevator control can push the nose down and dive
into the wind to come back. This is how gliders can fly against the wind
So, don't fly your rudder/throttle or diff thrust plane in wind over 5 MPH
until you are very good with the plane. Don't get over 7 MPH until you can
easily fight your way back from a down wind position.
I don't know if this works for that Outlaw or the Scout, but for the Firebird,
II, sT, XL,
Fighterbird and Commander, if you put a popsicle stick under the back of the
wing, it lowers the angle of attack of the wing and the plane will not climb
as much on power application. If you learn to manage the plane well, this can
give you better penetration into the wind, but it still will not let you put
the nose down into the wind.
Enjoy these planes but remember, they are best flown in little to no wind.
Last edited by aeajr; Apr 06, 2006 at 10:10 PM.
1. Be sceptical of Wattage. They do make some good planes, but better check it out
2. Ditto for Megatech
3. No P-51s, especially the GWS P-51
4. If it looks real cool, it probably won't after its first flight
5. In general, the uglier it looks, the easier it will probably fly
6. Get famiar with the elevator. If your still smacking yourself like Chris Farley on the Sat Night Live "Chris Farley Show", when you go down instead of up, then you're not ready yet.
Many thanks from two newbies!
Awesome advice, Ed, thanks! I've printed out your six rules for my son and I to memorize prior to our maiden flights in the spring. So far we are using FMS - but we will give some other sims you mentioned a try. We are learning so much on this forum - thank you all!
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