Flight School: Let's get ready to FLY!
Like everything else, today's radio controlled (RC) airplanes have evolved. You are starting to explore a wonderful array of easily set up, easy to fly, very stable and forgiving aircraft that bring joy and amazement to everyone. It is a sport. Everyone knows you "start out" in a sport with a path to progress and eventual greatness. Let's get started!
This sport is grounded in a rich history of hand crafted kits, model aircraft builders who invested countless hours in a labor of love, looking forward to the "flying season" when they would see for themselves how their airplane would perform. Fast-forward to this moment, when the beginner and first-time flyer is opening a box filled with flight tested, ready-to-fly technology. New materials and designs make this flying experience easy. Modern radio controlled aircraft can be smaller, lighter and quieter, with powerful electric motors that eliminate messy and loud glow engines and practically spring out of the box, ready to fly. With slower top speeds and more forgiving flight dynamics, recreational pilots and their families have fun in local parks and smaller areas like baseball diamonds and football fields. Called "park flyers" these sport pilots can fly in any open space like a pasture, field, or school playground. RC is finally for everyone.
The designated RC aircraft flying field is where an organized Flight Club and more experienced pilots gather. Anyone is welcome, and Club members want to include you in their passion. Here you find the large scale RC aircraft, which because of their size, complexity, and speed can test your talent and create quite a show. These beautiful scale models give you a vision for just how far you can go in this hobby.
But today, you're a beginner, about to have a great experience and enjoy the thrill of flight for many years. With safety as a priority, our Flight Advisor Notes are designed to expose you to simple secrets that will open the potential of this sport to you and your family.
Flight Advisor Notes:
Picking the best plane to start with - so many choices!
When shopping for RC aircraft, keep this in mind: if it looks fast, slick, and sporty, it probably is. Like an untamed horse, it will have lots of spirit and be harder to control. New pilots should be focused on developing a new set of reflexes, which requires experience, and experience is a function of time. First time flyers invest time to learn what the aircraft is doing, time to respond with the correct input into the transmitter, and time at the controls to hone their skills.
For your first RC airplane, don't buy a scale model war plane, skip the aerobatic "foamie" and ignore that RC Jet, because they fly like they look (fast, slick & sporty) and they don't know that you are NEW to the sport! Many of these sleek and aerodynamic models can be purchased Ready To Fly (RTF). Getting them into the air is easy, but controlling them is a challenge without prior flight experience and those all-important reflexes.
Your first RC airplane needs to be a flight friendly trainer. An aircraft that will give you time to react, time to learn and lots of time at the controls. It's so much fun! Consider these important aspects when choosing your first RC plane.
Can You Fix It?
We learn when we crash and we all crash, at least for a while, then experience kicks in. The question is, how fast and how inexpensively will you get flying again? You learned to ride a bicycle. You know that it took some bumps and bruises to get good at it. Your training airplane will get damaged at some point. Pilots don't get frustrated, they become modelers.
Check out our answer to that "Crash Anxiety" that keeps some from starting in RC. "Fear of making mistakes" is experienced by everyone new to RC flight. The Hobby Lobby Always Flying™ Guarantee means you can just get out there and fly! NO FEAR!
The best choice for trainer aircraft share these attributes: a lighter aircraft means less damage in a crash, go for the fewest parts possible, something made of durable materials that are quick and easy to mend or replace - and, you need easy access to spare parts to get your airplane back in the air.
Flight Advisor Review: Choose a plane to learn with that meets these requirements:
Fewer Parts - Less to go wrong or get broken while learning to fly.
Durable/Repairable Materials - Survive crashes better with tough materials and in the case of damage, return to flying with a little glue.
Lighter/Less Mass - Big aircraft and large mass means higher impact. Learn to fly on something lightweight.
Parts Availability - It is likely that at some point a part will not be repairable and will require replacement. That needs to be easy to do. A spare wing, landing gear, or wheels will keep you flying. No need to replace your whole plane - just the parts!
Safety - Make sure that you have a battery safety bag for transportation and storage if the plane you are flying uses LiPo batteries.
Based on the fundamental design of a plane, some fly easily and others don't. If you know other RC pilots, you can ask their opinion based on their experience, but if you don't have access to experienced model pilots, you can still make very good assessments of the stability of a model based on your own examination. Just look at the main wing and the length to the tail: if the wing angles up from center (where the wing meets the fuselage) to tip off at 5 degrees or more AND the length to the tail is good and long, you can be confident you are looking at a solid candidate for your trainer. Higher performance aircraft have more control options and that means more control surfaces, which might make you think it will be easier to fly, but it usually adds complexity. Keep it simple. Learn to fly.
Control Configuration And Setup
The ability to control and direct your trainer plane depends on throttle control and the angles that the control surfaces can make (called control "throws") at the elevator and rudder. If the surfaces of the elevator and rudder are small or they don't pivot very far, then they will make the trainer aircraft less responsive and more difficult to control. Choose a model that has competent control angles as a first priority. If you are considering aircraft that have the added aileron control, know that, while not a bad thing at all, aileron controls add complexity to the learning experience. On the positive side, they can help prepare you for the more sophisticated airplanes you will fly in the future.
Accessories (Bundles, Kits, and Bargains)
Before you buy, look for the bundles, combo-packs, or kits for the aircraft you like best. When you can get everything you need in one package, it gets you flying sooner and costs less overall. You will find that many trainer airplanes include:
Basic 3 or 4 channel radio control transmitter
Forgiving flight requires the correct pitch propeller
Electronic Speed Control (ESC)
Servos (they move the elevator, rudder, and ailerons)
Switch harness (On/Off switch for the radio system)
Battery Safety Bag
Learn To Fly! Don't waste time and money on silly toy store "kid safe" RC-For-Tots. Get your first REAL RC plane with the Always Flying™ Guarantee exclusively from Hobby Lobby - the leader in Radio Control Sports!
Flight Advisor: On your flight day, check to make sure your transmitter and receiver batteries are charged up (top-em-off!). The transmitter has an indicator light confirming that your radio controls are flight ready and it should show ready. Be sure to perform a Range Check on the radio system before your first flight, by turning on the transmitter and turning on the plane. Collapse the antenna and walk away from the plane (about 25 yards), moving the sticks as you walk away (except for the throttle stick!). You are making sure that you are not getting any interference in the signal. Have fun.
Well, that's what you need to know to make your decision on trainer airplanes. Our commitment to your success shows in our Always Flying™ First Year Guarantee. For the first year of flight, Hobby Lobby International will give you any part you break on your Always Flying™ set up, free of charge. Of course, there is a catch! We want a photo and the story behind your crash. We want to be there with you. We want to experience that first crater job. That means your Flight Advisor approved story is good for some FREE parts! You pay only for shipping WHEN you tell us the story of the wreck, the wind gust, moving tree or rapidly rising ground surface that broke your aircraft (we know it's not your fault!). Visit our Crash Photos and Details Section below (coming soon!) to send a photo and your interesting sob story. If you have video of the crash, you get FREE SHIPPING! To get your replacement parts, all you have to do is tell everyone how it happened.
We are your Wing Man. We are in it for your success and enjoyment. Nothing is as thrilling as your first sweet 3 point landing after a dizzying flight. We are committed to your continued growth in this sport and enjoy welcoming you to the flight line.
For the first year of flight, Hobby Lobby International will give you any part you break on your Always Flying™ Airplane, free of charge. Of course, there is a catch! We want a photo and the story behind your crash. We want to be there with you. We want to experience that first crater job. That means your Flight Advisor approved story is good for some FREE parts! * You pay only for shipping WHEN you tell us the story of the wreck, the wind gust, moving tree or rapidly rising ground surface that broke your aircraft (we know it's not your fault). Visit our Always Flying™ Section to send a photo and your interesting sob story. If you have video of the wreck, you get FREE SHIPPING! To get your replacement parts, all you have to do is tell everyone how it happened, call us to order your parts and email photos of the crash. Standard shipping charges apply unless you have video!
Thank you for your service
I'm deployed to Afghanistan with the U.S. Army. I ordered a Wing Dragon HL from you only 10 days ago and I already received and have flown it. When I'm not on a combat patrol, being able to escape to my hobby is a really good way to feel like I'm at home. Thank you for the great and prompt service. I fully intend to continue shopping with you as my hobby progresses. Thanks again.
Aloha from Hawaii
I entered this hobby on a whim when I saw an ad for the HL WingDragon trainer. I happened to pick up a copy of FlyRC magazine at my local WalMart almost 4 years ago and was amazed at the technology of RC aircraft. I decided to try to teach myself to fly. So I picked up the phone and ordered my first RC airplane ever! The gentleman from HL assured me that the WingDragon was a smart choice to learn on. Well, as I didn’t have a single clue as to how to actually fly, even the WingDragon was tough. My first flight lasted a whole 8 seconds. I kept trying and got the thing to do 2 complete circuits around the park. As expected, I beat this thing so badly it would not fly anymore. I had damaged a servo beyond repair. I called HL to inquire about a replacement servo. The same gentleman said he’d send out what I needed to get back in training. Well, 3 days later the box shows up... This amazing customer support for a brand new flier not only happened once but twice. Yes, twice I received the parts I needed to get back in the air... Not only that, I made countless calls to tech support and their encouragement and technical advice kept me from giving up from my frustration to teach myself how to fly. Now here I am 4 years later and I’m a certified RC nut. I’ve built my own foamies, and flown many HL aircraft including helicopters (that’s a completely different story in itself)... Hobby Lobby continues to amaze me with the extent they are willing to go to satisfy the customer. If Hobby Lobby has an item I need or want, they will always have my business first. Occasionally I may find a similar item cheaper elsewhere, but I never had the same level of satisfaction from anyone else. In the end, I’m still in this hobby because of Hobby Lobby. Exceptional customer service, you can never place a price tag on that. Thank you Hobby Lobby, definitely the “best stuff for over 40 years”.
Happy 13th Birthday
I wanted to thank you for your help and focus in getting the WingDragon sent out and delivered to me... It was my son's 13th birthday present, and it arrived literally right after dinner on his birthday. We cut it so close, and he is completely thrilled and can't wait to go out together with me and learn to fly.
I very much appreciate it.