Top 5 Tips for Beginner RC Pilots

If you are reading this, you are likely a beginner to RC airplanes and looking for tips and tricks to learn how to fly or operate your equipment safely.

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So You Want to Fly RC Airplanes....

If you are reading this, you are likely a beginner to RC airplanes and looking for tips and tricks to learn how to fly or operate your equipment safely. Well you've come to right place. Beyond this thread is the whole of RCGroups.com, one of the best resources for RC information on the planet.

I know what it's like to find a new hobby. You want to soak up as much information as you can so you feel prepared and ready to play. This article can be a starting point with just a few tips for new pilots. My hope is that others will chime in with their own experiences and reply with more tips that helped them get started. Enjoy and happy flights!

1. Start with the Right Airplane

Keep in mind that as a RC hobbyists, you are going to have many airplanes over time. You do not want to start out with a plane that is beyond your current skill level. That F16 fighter jet, or scale aerobatic plane are not the proper tools to learn to fly with. Luckily there are many great "trainer" planes available and many of them offer technology built in that helps prevent you from crashing and allows your skills to progress quickly so you can move on to more advanced aircraft.

2. Find the Right Place to Fly

While you can fly some airplanes in a cul-de-sac in front of your house, that's not where you want to go for your first flights. Ideally, you can find an RC airplane club near you with a dedicated field to use and more importantly, other experienced RC pilots who can help you. If you are going to try and learn on your own, then you'll want to look for a nice flat large open field that is free of obstacles, people etc. The first few times you fly, you'll be surprised at how quickly the plane moves through the air and even how the wind can affect it. The more open the space is, the better off you'll be.

3. Read the Manual

One of the slogans I like to use is RTM, Read the Manual. It's very important that you follow the directions for the assembly, setup and operation of your chosen airplane. There are things you may not realize that can have a dramatic effect on the airplane and your ability to be successful with it. For instance, not securing the battery properly or putting it in an incorrect location can change the center of gravity so that the plane becomes uncontrollable. Not checking the control surfaces on the plane could spell disaster when you try to climb and the plane dives into the ground because the elevator was backwards. So read that manual and double check everything is as it should be.

4. You WILL Crash

Let's just get this out of the way. Everyone crashes. Everyone! It's nothing to be ashamed of and is just part of the hobby. Crashes are less common for beginners these days due to the stabilization technology we have available that allows planes to practically fly themselves, but one day, you will crash. The most common times to crash are after the learning phase when you go off on your own and feel confident. You might start trying aerobatics or flying lower to the ground. You get a little complacent and then it bites you. Knowing that everyone crashes should take a little pressure off when your time comes.

5. Remember to Have Fun

That may sound silly, but it can be stressful learning how to fly. That's real money you put into that airplane and the idea that crashing could destroy it in seconds is not a great thought. Although, that will give you the opportunity to learn repair skills that will come in handy in the future. I've seen pilots get so stressed out and worried about crashing that they forget to have fun and it just ruins the experience. If you are not having fun, what's the point? Keeping that in mind may help you to ease your stress levels and keep you more relaxed which will help through the learning process.

Last edited by Jason Cole; Mar 08, 2021 at 09:51 AM..
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Mar 08, 2021, 11:36 AM
Power by hearty franks & beans
Awesome. Recommend some proven entry level aircraft? Is that E-Flite that you show the best one?
Mar 08, 2021, 12:03 PM
RCG Admin
Jason Cole's Avatar
Thread OP
There are many great options. The Aeroscout would likely be my top recommendation. $200 with everything needed, pusher prop so crashes are not so bad and the technology included will make it safe and easy to learn with. https://www.horizonhobby.com/product...f/HBZ3800.html
Mar 08, 2021, 01:22 PM
Registered User
1. Buy a sim and practise on that long before you attempt stuff with a real model. A sim is the right plane to start with.
Mar 08, 2021, 03:31 PM
An itch?. Scratch build.
eflightray's Avatar
I thought the 'in thing' now was gyros, gps, as3x, and auto everything flight controllers, ..... who needs a trainer when you can learn on anything, (according to some adverts)

Yes, I'm one of those 'old farts' who learned to fly RC before before any computers, (my first radio gear had valves, (ask your grandad what valves were), and YES, I'm very happy things have improved).

So why are beginners still crashing ?, could it be that even though same may have all-singing-all-dancing- models and RC gear, they just don't know how to set it up, or how to use it, or even why ?

The top of this forum has the 'Sticky' threads specifically for helping beginners ...., perhaps they are viewed the same as the instructions/manual, they don't get read until after things go wrong, if at all.

Sorry.

But here's my advice for beginners ---

You are the pilot, just the same as a driver in a car, You have to plan your route one or two seconds ahead, (preferably more), look and lead the model where you want it to go, and not watch were the plane decides to go and try and react to/correct it.

Happy flying.

Ray.
Mar 08, 2021, 08:28 PM
Registered User
old4570's Avatar
Pick the right plane ( Good advice )
Also some simulator time , till you get the feel for the Tx .. Once the Tx feels natural , go do the real thing .

You dont need to crash ... Planes like the UMX Turbo Timber make it hard to crash . They also almost land themselves .
The OMP Hobby T720 does actually land itself . But the gyro requires calibration ( Catch 22 ) .
Pick the right plane , and you might be bored flying it in no time at all ( T720 ) .
Mar 08, 2021, 08:53 PM
Registered User

Learning to fly.


If at all possible join a local AMA sponsored club, and get some proper buddy-box training from one of the club instructors. Advances in technology have made learning to fly much easier than it was 20 years ago, but if you want to really get into the hobby and develop good habits from the start, nothing beats learning from someone who knows.
Mar 09, 2021, 10:08 AM
MK
MK
Registered User
Quote:
Originally Posted by yktmxbow
If at all possible join a local AMA sponsored club, and get some proper buddy-box training from one of the club instructors. Advances in technology have made learning to fly much easier than it was 20 years ago, but if you want to really get into the hobby and develop good habits from the start, nothing beats learning from someone who knows.
This!

2b. Find the Right Person to Fly With
Mar 10, 2021, 04:08 PM
Retired USAF
Cobra1365's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by eflightray
I thought the 'in thing' now was gyros, gps, as3x, and auto everything flight controllers, ..... who needs a trainer when you can learn on anything, (according to some adverts)

Yes, I'm one of those 'old farts' who learned to fly RC before before any computers, (my first radio gear had valves, (ask your grandad what valves were), and YES, I'm very happy things have improved).

So why are beginners still crashing ?, could it be that even though same may have all-singing-all-dancing- models and RC gear, they just don't know how to set it up, or how to use it, or even why ?


The top of this forum has the 'Sticky' threads specifically for helping beginners ...., perhaps they are viewed the same as the instructions/manual, they don't get read until after things go wrong, if at all.

Sorry.

But here's my advice for beginners ---

You are the pilot, just the same as a driver in a car, You have to plan your route one or two seconds ahead, (preferably more), look and lead the model where you want it to go, and not watch were the plane decides to go and try and react to/correct it.

Happy flying.

Ray.
I agree. I think the adverts can be detrimental in that they make someone think these things are crash proof.

I love a lot of the new technology. Remember when cars didn’t have power steering standard? BUT, even with the new tech, if you don’t understand how an airfoil works, then all the tech in the world isn’t going to pull you out of the spin!
Mar 12, 2021, 07:54 PM
yank and bank!!
Stabilization is cool..... but will never be a crashproofing solution until they implement airspeed sensing.

Wildly flailing control surfaces do nothing if there isn't enough air flowing over them.
Mar 12, 2021, 11:42 PM
Registered User
old4570's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by failboat
Stabilization is cool..... but will never be a crashproofing solution until they implement airspeed sensing.

Wildly flailing control surfaces do nothing if there isn't enough air flowing over them.
Try the OMP Hobby T720 ... Unless the pilot - Pilot's the T720 into the ground - It wont crash ..

Cut the power - it lands itself - Turn off the Tx and apparently it lands itself ( Video on YouTube ) .

Gyro needs to be correctly calibrated , but it's easily done .

I have a T720 and it is soo boring to fly ! At first it was a novelty , but it's such a dull plane . You could fly it with your eyes closed !
That might be exciting , just need some one to tell you when to turn .

Mar 13, 2021, 11:19 PM
tic
tic
thunderscreech
tic's Avatar
I disagree with point #4 "everyone crashes, it's nothing to be ashamed of"... They don't call it the walk of shame for nothing!
Mar 14, 2021, 02:02 PM
B for Bruce
BMatthews's Avatar
Back for the few years where I was instructing something I did was give the student a task to perform during the flight pretty early on. Before the flight I'd explain what I wanted them to do and how to fly to position the model to do the tasking. During the flight I'd remind them or tell them they were too high, not high enough or other corrective bits. But it was up to them to fly the pattern we discussed during the pre-flight. Otherwise I found that they tended to just aimlessly watch the model fly and only turned and only try to turn back when they realized the model was getting small in a hurry. And that's not a good way to learn.

Most of these involved doing flat figure 8's with fairly large open turns to the right and left. I made sure they did turns both ways so as not to get into any sort of comfort zone with only one direction... yes, it can and does happen. As they did these I'd talk them through with the size of turn vs the discussed turn diameter from the pre-flight. Part of the task was also to keep the model at the same height. Again a bit part of learning to perceive the model's attitude correctly. So I'd tell them if they were descending or climbing as they flew through the turns.

Parts of each flight were also done at low, cruise and high speeds up a few mistakes high with stalls and stall recovery included. Again to make sure they didn't zero in on any sort of comfort zone speeds. Also to get a feel for how the model controls respond at each speed range and how to spot that they were on the verge of a stall when the controls got to where they seemed slow and stodgy to respond.

later on we would add in deliberate climbing and descents in the turns. And shortly after that start doing practice landing approaches. All of this up to starting landing approaches took around 10 flights give or take depending on how the student was doing.

These days with stabilization takes the place of the instructor taking over to save the model. But it doesn't give the novice pilot the feedback on how they are doing at controlling the model and how best to learn to make the model fly like they want and not to mentally just follow the model around the sky aimlessly doing turns and climbs and dives which have no set goal to cause the pilot to learn any precision in their flight. Well, other than landings where it suddenly the need for precision suddenly all piles up in a hurry.

So even with stabilization I think that there is still a big role to be played by having an instructor that sets learning tasks to force the novice to learn some degree of precision and to point out where they are diving or climbing in the turns and such. Learning to perceive what the model is doing up there is very much as important a part in the control loop as learning which way to move the sticks.
Mar 27, 2021, 09:35 AM
Registered User

Beginner....comments from an “expert”


Landing...landing is why beginners like me crash! I gave up in my Carbon Cub and switched last week to the 1.5 M apprentice. The three point landing gear is very user friendly. My first plane was the UMX Radian. Very fragile, but easy to fly.

I have been practicing with PicASim and RC Absolute RC Simulator (both very iPad friendly) and have a friend at the field who is walking me through all the basics. Finally had a successful day of flying and landing.
Mar 27, 2021, 09:41 AM
Registered User

RC tears and lessons learned the hard way...


Landing...landing is why beginners like me crash! I gave up in my Carbon Cub and switched last week to the 1.5 M apprentice. The three point landing gear is very user friendly. My first plane was the UMX Radian. Very fragile, but easy to fly.

I have been practicing with PicASim and RC Absolute RC Simulator (both very iPad friendly) and have a friend at the field who is walking me through all the basics. Finally had a successful day of flying and landing.

My many crashes and RC tears qualify me as an “expert.”


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