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  GETTING STARTED              
 

What to consider?
We strongly advise that you come along and meet us 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.

Airplanes
We fly in a big open space so something that is too small to see when a few hundred feet up, or too light to cope with a mild gust of wind might be something to avoid. You might not want anything much 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 will most likely be made from a type of expanded foam (foamies) which are particularly easy to repair with glue.

Balsa wood models can handle windy conditions a little better but they might be a little more difficult to repair. Foamies generally come equiped with electric motors. A balsa model may be equiped with either electric or an IC (internal combustion) 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.

Often the leading edges of the wings on 'pusher' trainers are curved upwards which enhances the aircraft's stability. You may need a friend to assist you with hand launches though.

There are other aircraft which also have the propeller mounted at the back of the aircraft like 'wings'. Whilst these aircraft may look quite basic and be cheap to buy they might be a handful for a novice pilot to fly as they can be quite 'twitchy' in flight.

You may also have difficulties in recognising its orientation due to its simplistic shape and lack of contrasting details on its top and underside.

Flight Assistance
Some trainer planes have flight- assisted stability modes built into them which give beginner pilots flight assistance via sensors in the model. These systems will try to prevent you from loosing control of your aircraft by reducing the input from your transmitter.

They can be useful but 'safe' modes may restrict your growth as a pilot if you rely too much on these systems.

A well handling trainer plane without these features should be enough should you be tutored correctly.

 

Transmitters
If you are a novice and in need of training then please try not to buy a transmitter (TX) that we are not familiar with.

We like to assist new flyers using dual TXs (the buddy box system) but if we cannot connect you up to one of our instructors TXs we may not be able to help you.

You may have bought an aircraft and TX in an all-inclusive package in which case we will do our best to figure out how to connect you up.
if you decide to buy a TX separately there are a few things to consider.

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 aileron 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 is no point buying anything more basic than that. If you stay with the hobby you will probably want a few more channels later on.

You should try to get something with a good display screen as that will help you set up your aircraft control settings more easily.

Most current TXs are specified as 2.4GHz which is the radio frequency they use to transmit the signal to the aircraft.

Transmitter modes
A TX 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 and what our members generally use but it might be worth finding out which set-up you are most comfortable with.

More expensive TXs 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.

Receivers
A TX needs to be paired with a compatible receiver in the aircraft. Choosing which receiver to pair with your TX is vital. Do not choose it on cost alone. If a receiver fails your plane will crash.

 

Training
We have skilled members who are happy to assist new pilots. Training will include teaching you about safety, site rules, general flying rules and the basics of RC flying, taking off and landing, flying circuits and accurate control of your aircraft.

Members who help with tuition will be giving up their own time and most likely sharing their equipment with you so you will need to check their availability and not assume they can help at short notice. We also ask that if a member offers to help you that you do turn up for training sessions and notify us in good time if you have to cancel.

The buddy box
This is an important tool we use for training and consists of an instructor linking their TX to yours via its trainer port (or wirelessly). 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.

Simulators
Pilots traditionally have learnt to fly by going to a flying site and putting in a lot of practise. There is nothing that can replace real flying experience but a simulator can be a useful additional tool to have.

It should help familiarise you with your TX controls and encourage you become more relaxed and confident using it. It may help you become more accustomed to controlling the aircraft when its orientation changes.

Try to practice the flight routines you might try at the flying field. Fly clockwise and anti-clockwise circuits, learn how to control your speed and altitude and perfect your take-offs and landings. You might also be able to set different wind conditions so you can get some idea of the hazards you may face flying for real.

The software can be a little expensive but might save you money in the long run with fewer repair bills.

PCs are well catered for with RealFlight. Phoenix RC has now been discontinued but is very good and can still be found on Ebay. AeroflyRC and AccuRC are available for PC and Mac and there is free software available too.

Multi rotors - drones & helicopters
These are allowed at our sites but to provide simple advice is a little more difficult. If you are an experienced flyer we should be able to accommodate you but currently we do not have much capacity for training a novice.

Contact us and let us know what exactly what you wish to fly and what if anything you have flown to date and we will see how we can help you.

 

Miscellaneous
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's been put together correctly by the manufacturer. Check there is nothing loose and components are all screwed or glued in place securely. Pay special attention to controls arms and servos. Does the battery hatch look secure? If things come loose in flight your aircraft will come down rapidly.

The airplane's manual should indicate where it's centre of gravity is. This is an important measurement and influences how controllable your aircraft will be in flight. Changing to a heavier battery for instance could alter your aircraft's balance. It might be an idea to mark on the wings where the balance point is with a marker pen 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 when not in use.

A Digital Battery Capacity Tester is a cheap but essential gadget. It will allow you to check your batteries charge at the field and save you flying with a battery nearing exhaustion. It will help you to maintain them in an optimal working condition. Don't forget the batteries in your TX also need to be checked and fully charged.

Get some spares
Extra batteries (you will run out of them quickly) a spare propeller or two, spare screws (like the ones securing your undercarriage), clevis pins etc.

Always take some tools with you like screwdrivers, pliars, tape, and glue. The ground can sometimes be muddy so a protective sheet/mat can be useful to lay out your equipment on.

Wear sunglasses!
They don't need to be expensive or fashionable but must offer good UV protection. Staring into the sun even on a dull day can be damaging to the eyes.

RC glasses can be bought with interchangeable lenses to cope with a variety of circumstances including bright and low light conditions.

Make a Checklist
There is a lot for a new flyer to remember so it might help to make a checklist of items you should always take with you and key things to do before you take flight.

 

 


   
   
 

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

 

Bixler 1 is a pusher prop and has no undercarriage. No need to worry about landing it on its wheels. You may need help launching it though.

 

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

 

The round hole on the back of the transmitter is a trainer port which allows it to be connected by wire to another transmitter for dual control.

 
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