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New to RC flying? This is a hugely enjoyable hobby but can also be a little confusing. There are lots of different planes out there, a variety of engines types, transmitters and batteries and a host of other things to get your head around.

Most of these issues are easily clarified if you come along and talk to us but here are some general pointers that might guide you as to what you might need.


What to consider?
We strongly advise that you come along and meet us first before buying a model aircraft. Getting advice from club members might save you from chosing something unsuitable for your skill level or for the places we fly at. Additionally, if you haven't flown before and are in need of training then try not to buy a transmitter that we are not familiar with. We like to assist new flyers using dual transmitters (the buddy box system) and if we cannot connect you up to our transmitters we may not be able to help you.

We fly in a big open space so something too small to see when a few hundred feet up, or too light to cope with a brisk wind might be best avoided. You might not want anything smaller than a 1000mm wingspan.

A high wing trainer is usually considered a good starter plane.
They are designed to cope with the bumps and bruises of some less than perfect landings. They might break but are not too costly to patch up. They will most likely be made from balsa or a type of expanded foam (foamies) and powered by an IC (internal combustion) or electric engine.

A 'pusher' trainer plane has the propeller mounted above the body facing backwards. These often dispense with an undercarriage and can be landed on their belly. Easily damaged bits like engine and propeller are out of harms way should you not land perfectly. You may need a friend to assist you with hand launches though.

There are other aircraft which have the propeller mounted at the back of the aircraft like 'wings' but these aircraft would be quite a handful for a novice pilot.

Flight Assistance
Some trainer planes have flight- assisted-stability modes built into them like SAFE & WISE which give a beginner assistance via sensors in the model. These systems will try to prevent you putting the model into an unstable flight mode. Theyare very useful but may restrict your growth as a pilot if you rely too much on these systems. Geofencing is a sometimes offered feature and will set up a perimeter to fly in and stop the airplane flying away from you.



You may get a transmitter included with your model. It might be a little basic but should be sufficient to get you started.

If you decide to buy a transmitter separately then there are a few things to consder. You may see a reference to how many channels they have. This relates to how many different aspects of your model you can control with your transmitter, so to control throttle, elevator and rudder requires 3 channels. If you want to add elevator control that would make 4 channels. You might later want to add controls for as flaps, retractable landing gear which would require additional channels.

Decent six channel transmitters are available quite cheaply so there may not be much point buying anything more basic than that. Most current transmitters are specified as 2.4GHz which is the radio frequency they use to transmit the signal to the aircraft.

Transmitter modes
A transmitter might be specified as having a particular mode - Mode 1,2,3 or 4). This relates to what the control sticks do.

Mode 1 has elevator and ruddder controls on the left stick and throttle and ailerons on the right stick.

Mode 2 has throttle and rudder on the left stick and elevator and eilerons on the right stick.

Modes 3 & 4 are fairly rare so I will not delve into them here.

You could simply choose the most popular standard which is Mode 2 but it might be worth finding out which set-up you are most comfortable with.

More expensive transmitters allow you to store flight settings for a larger number of models and enable you to get more involved in the set up of your models flight dynamics.

A transmitter also needs to be paired with a compatible receiver in the model. A Futaba transmitter will not connect to a Spectrum receiver.



The buddy box
A SAFE equiped plane isn't the only way to get a bit of help whilst flying. An instructor can guide you by linking their transmitter to yours via its trainer port. They can take charge of the more complicated aspects of your aircraft's flight so you can familiarise yourself with the controls and get valuable flying time. The instructor can catch you should you have any 'wobbles'.

Members who help with tuition will be giving up their own time and possibly the use of their equipment so you will need to check their availability and shouldn't assume they can help you at short notice.

There is no replacement for getting out into a field and flying but a simulator is a very useful tool to have and will help you familiarise yourself with your transmitter controls. The first time you fly you will probably find your finger movements quite twitchy. Having some simulator time should help you become more relaxed and confident with your controls.

The simulator should help you master the basics of flying and become accustomed to the orientation of the plane when it is flying fowards you. There will be a temptation to fly the jets and warbirds and see what you can get away with before crashing. Probably the best thing you can do though is to pick a similar model to the one you own and practice the flight routines you intend to fly at the flying field. Fly clockwise and anti-clockwise circuits, learn to keep your altitude consistant and perfect your take-offs and landings. The software can be a little expensive but most popular programs have a cheaper entry level option available. They should save you money in the long run on fewer repair bills.

PCs are well catered for with RealFlight and Phoenix RC.
AeroflyRC is available for both Mac and PC.

You want to fly a helicopter or drone?
These are allowed at our sites but to provide simple advice is a little more difficult due to the wide range of model options available. If you are an experienced flyer we should be able to accomodate you. If you are a novice and require training we will need to have a discussion about which members we have available to assist you.


Check your plane! Your instructor will talk you through the pre-flight checks you should make at the flying field but if you buy a ready made plane don't assume it has been put together correctly by the manufacturer. Check that there aren't any screws loose and that components that are screwed or glued securely. Pay special attention to things like controls arms and servos. If they come loose in flight your aircraft will go down rapidly.

The airplane's instructions should indicate where it's centre of gravity is. This is an important measurement and influences how controllable your aircraft will be in flight. It might be an idea to mark on the wings where this is - maybe with a marker pen or tape so you know how to get it all to balance correctly at the field.

Battery Chargers
If you choose to fly electric you will be using multi cell Lipo batteries. They should not be a problem if treated carefully but can be a fire risk if abused. Buy a good quality charger with functions for balance and storage charging. Don't leave batteries unmonitored when charging and store them in a fireproof container.

A Digital Battery Capacity Tester is a cheap gadget but an essential one. It will allow you to check the charge of your batteries at the field. It will save you flying with a battery nearing exhaustion and help keep them in their best working condition.

Get some spares
Extra batteries (you will run out of them quickly) all those bits that are likely to break on a hard landing - propellers, clevis pins, tape, glue etc.

Wear sunglasses!
Staring up into the sun even on a dull day can be damaging to the eyes, protect yourself!

high wing trainer   pusher prop   tricycle undercarriage   the club

Mini Apprentice is a high wing trainer. It has SAFE technology and a tricycle style undercarriage.


AXN Clouds Fly is a pusher prop powered glider with no undercarriage at all so need to worry about landing it on its wheels.


Tail dragger undercarriage can be prone to being dragged sideways a little on take-off due to torque effect.


The small round hole on the back of the transmitter is a trainer port and allows it to be connected to another transmitter. Different transmitters may have different port configurations.

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