A tremendous example of what can happen when you combine excellent design with first class materials and innovative ideas about how to compensate for the natural tendencies of RC plane novices. The HobbyZone Duet HBZ5300 RC plane will have the kids and grandkids tugging at your shirt tails to take them to the park. It’s really difficult to bring this aircraft down in a destructive way due to the built in compensators of the Virtual Instructor. Without those advanced control overrides this might be just another good low-end RC plane. With them it’s a dream come true for youngsters wanting to learn RC flight and parents wanting to maximize bang for their buck.
How to fly an RC Plane?
You’ll likely hear some RC enthusiasts debating whether RC stands for “remote control” or “radio control”. The fact is it doesn’t matter because both are correct. You operate an RC plane remotely using radio control.
The Transmitter and Receiver – You send operational signals to the plane using the transmitter (sometimes simply called “the radio” or “TX”). You hold the transmitter in your hands and utilize the various controls to operate the plane from takeoff to landing. The signals the transmitter sends are picked up by the receiver in the RC plane which relays the commands to the various operational components (rudder, ailerons etc). Both the transmitter and the receiver (the “RX”) must be tuned to the same frequency for signals to be sent and received between them. Today’s systems make use of the 2.4 GHz frequency. This frequency has proven itself far less susceptible to interference meaning there’s a much better chance commands sent will be properly executed.
Moving and Turning an RC Plane – As with full size aircraft the primary controls surfaces of your RC plane are the rudder, ailerons and elevators with the simplest RC planes having only rudder control. Most, however, have at least 3 channel control with each control surface representing a channel.
The rudder is a vertical flap on the tail of the plane which is used to control the plane’s “yaw” or left/right turning; just like the rudder on a ship.
The ailerons control the “roll” of the RC plane. Right aileron down and left up will cause the plane to roll to the left with the opposite settings causing the plane to roll right.
The elevator is on the plane’s tail. The elevator controls the “pitch” of the plane. With the back end of the elevator pointing upward the plane will pitch upward and vice versa.
Channels – Each distinct operation that is controllable on an RC plane is called a “channel”. 2 channel control is defined as throttle control plus rudder control. 3 channel control will entail throttle control along with elevators and ailerons or rudder, though not both. 4 channels control will have typical 3 channel control except it will include both aileron and rudder control. The typical hobby RC plane has either 2, 3 or 4 channel control.
RC “Trainers” – Some folks prefer to learn to fly RC planes using what are called “trainers.” These aircraft have certain characteristics and/or built in control mechanisms that make them more foolproof than a standard RC plane. This is so that the operator does not destroy their plane while learning how to use it. There are a few things to look for that give away that an RC plane is intended to be a trainer. Automatic control overrides is certainly one such giveaway while others include the position of the wing (higher = more stable) and the amount of so-called “dihedral”; which is the upward “V” shape of the wings when looking at them from the front. It’s usually wise to learn on a trainer and graduate to a more deluxe RC plane once you’ve mastered the basics.
Where to Buy RC Planes?
If you live in a town with a hobby store you should drop in and have a talk with the proprietor. They’ll likely have their own selection of RC planes to choose from and if they don’t have one you want they can likely order it for you. They’ll also be able to give you useful tips on owning and maintaining your RC plane and can put you in touch with other RC owners. Just be careful not to be talked into something that’s completely out of your league if you’re just starting out. Being business people hobby store owners will occasionally try to sell you more RC plane than you might need.
Buying from Amazon or other online outlets is fine as well. Amazon has a great reputation for uber-competitive pricing and fast, often free, delivery. Many RC plane manufacturers now actually have their own Amazon ‘storefronts’ through which they sell their wares directly to the public.
Things to Consider When Buying a Remote Control Aircraft
You should never go into the process of selecting an RC plane without some idea of what you’re looking for. To that end here are a few things to look for when buying a remote control aircraft.
Configuration – If this is your first RC plane you’ll want it to have a forgiving design. That is, one that lends itself to easy, stable flight so that you don’t have to work too hard to keep it aloft. If this is your first RC plane look for one with a high wing configuration. The high wing setup is one that lends itself to greater stability and will ensure your early flying attempts are fun and not a constant effort to find your crashed vehicle.
Also look for generous dihedral on the wings of your RC plane. Dihedral is the upward V angle of the wings when looking at them from the front. The greater the dihedral the easier to achieve stable flight – up to a point of course. As a general rule the lower the center of gravity relative to the fuselage the more stable the aircraft.
Power Type – There are plenty of RC planes out there that operate on internal combustion engines like your car but for the purposes of this guide we’re sticking to electric RC planes and so should you if this is your first RC plane.
Number of Channels – If this is indeed your first RC plane there’s no need to load up on the channels. You’ll just get confused and that’s never a good thing when your plane is in the air. Typically 3 channels are all you need to get a good idea of how to safely and effectively operate your RC plane. Look for a plane that gives you control of the motor, rudder and elevator.
Kit, an ARF or an RTF? – Depending upon your mechanical inclinations you’ll want to get either a kit that needs assembling or an ARF (Almost Ready to Fly) or RTF (Ready to Fly) plane.
- People who love rolling up their sleeves will want to consider a kit. Although most novices will prefer and ARF or RTF plane for their first go-round.
- With the ARF about 90% of the assembly has already been done, Just a buy a motor, battery pack and transmitter and set the plane up. It’s easier than it sounds.
- By far most novices prefer the Ready to Fly or RTF for their first RC plane. With an RTF the most you’ll likely need to do is install the battery pack and perhaps (not always) attach the wings. That’s it! You’re ready to fly your RC plane.
For the Record – You’re going to crash. That’s life when you’re a novice RC plane Make sure than that the brand you purchase has plenty of spare parts that are easily available either through your local hobby center or online. As a general rule RTF parts are fairly cheap and easy to swap out should something happen. So don’t get bent out of shape if your RC plane crashes and you break something. Just replace it with a spare and get back to flying.
Electric RC planes have become wildly popular in the past 20 years or so and the best remote control plane today is light years ahead of its predecessors from the 20th century. With the market overflowing with everything from cheap RC planes to large, beautifully designed and built RC planes with large wingspans and powerful motors you’re sure to find the remote control airplane of your dreams without having to look too hard. Enjoy, and always fly safely.