This article is from the Radio Control (R/C) Flying FAQ, by Shamim Mohamed email@example.com with numerous contributions by others.
>Should I start with plans and build my own plane from scratch, buy a kit
>plane with wood and plans included, or go with one of those everything
>included ready to fly planes.
There are a few good trainers that are ready to fly (or almost ready to
fly, aka ARF). ARF planes are usually heavy and hard to repair. The new
generation of ARF kits is all wood and better built but more expensive.
The better kits have parts that are machine cut, the somewhat cheaper
ones are die-cut. You'll probably have to so a little more work with a
die-cut kit, mostly in separating parts and sanding them.
ARFs vs. kits: this is a matter of opinion, but more people seem to think
that kits are a better idea for beginners. Pro kits: you get valuable
building experience and are able to do repairs. Moreover trainers are
good planes to learn to build as well as to fly, and most of them are
cheaper than most ARFs. Pro ARFs: you can be flying sooner, and you have
less emotional investment in the plane so when you crash you don't feel
However: regardless of what you chose, your chances of a painless
education are greatly improved if you have an instructor---both for
building and for flying.
Remember, the plane you buy doesn't have to be good looking, it just has
to teach you to fly! Many pilots after building a beautiful model are so
afraid to crash that they never fly. Far better to have a scummy looking
plane that you don't mind crashing again and again and learning to fly
than to have a slick model that you can only mount on a stand! After you
are proficient you'll have plenty of time to build good-looking planes.
It seems to be the general consensus that there are enough decent kits
around that building from scratch is not really worth the effort unless
you are into design or obscure scale models. If this is what you really
want, you may find the "plotfoil" program (available from the
rec.models.rc ftp site and from comp.sources.misc archives) useful.
The most important thing you can do while building is to make sure that
everything is straight and square. This will result in a plane that flies
consistently, predictably, and according to what you do at the transmitter
instead of constantly trying to turn! This means: make sure the fin and
the stabilizer are at right angles; make sure the wing and stabilizer are
at right angles to the fuselage (viewed from above); looking at the side
view, the wing, stabiliser and engine (if any) are all at the angles
specified on the plans; and that the wing is built on an absolutely *flat*
surface, to make sure it doesn't have any warps or bends.
Covering: for now, stay with Monokote. It's reasonably easy to apply, not
too heavy, and fuelproof. (The label gives directions.) Also, if you screw
up a bit and find that the wing is warped, sometimes you can fix it by
twisting it and re-shrinking the covering to hold it in place.
Hinges: There seem to be as many opinions on this as there ways of
hinging! The important thing to watch out for - they should be strong
enough so they won't pull out, and the gap between the surfaces should be
as small as possible. This is yet another place that an instructor is