This article is from the Radio Control (R/C) Flying FAQ, by Shamim Mohamed email@example.com with numerous contributions by others.
The most important point, one which cannot be overstressed:
Here's what one beginner had to say:
> I just started doing RC planes myself. In fact, yesterday I flew my
> plane for the first time (with an instructor). He took off for me,
> got the plane at a real high altitude and then gave me the controls.
> I did OK (in my opinion) but did have to give him the controls twice
> in order to get the plane into stable flight again. I figured the
> controls would be sensitive but I did not realize HOW SENSITIVE. I
> only had to move them about 1/8 of an inch to turn.
> There is no way I could have landed the thing without crashing.
> By the way I am a full scale pilot. That did not help me at all.
> In fact I think it hurt. I didn't realize how much I use the "feel
> of the plane" when flying a real one. Obviously you have no feel
> whatsoever with RC planes.
You probably won't have any really bad (i.e. irreparable) crashes. (Of
course, you'll still crash.) Also make _sure_ you have your instructor
check your plane thoroughly _before_ the first flight---as someone said,
"it is much better to go home with no flights and one airplane than go
home with one half a flight and many little pieces." This is really,
--- Pre-flight Checklist ---
When your model is ready to fly, make sure it is thouroghly checked over by
someone who has done alot of building and flying. When I say thouroughly,
I don't mean just picking it up and checking the balance and thumping the
tires a few times. Every detail of setup and connection should be gone over
in detail. If your instructor doesn't want to spend this much time
checking your plane, find a new instructor.
The importance of this pre-flight check cannot be overemphasized! Many planes
are lost due to a simple oversight that could have been caught by a pre-flight!
Here's a checklist:
---is the model too heavy?
---Is the center of gravity (fore and aft) within the range shown
on the plans?
---Is the model balanced side to side? (right and left wings of
---Are all flying surfaces at the proper angle relative to each other?
---Are there any twists in the wings? (other than designed-in washin
4) Control surfaces
---Are they all *securely* attached? (i.e. hinges glued, not just
---Are the control throws in the proper direction *and* amount?
(usually indicated in the plans)
5) Control linkage
---Have all linkages been checked to make sure they are secure?
---Are all snap-links closed?
---Have snap-links been used on the servo end? (They are
more likely to come loose when used on the servo)
---Have all screws been attached to servo horns?
6) Engine and fuel (if applicable)
---Has the engine been thoroughly tested?
---Are all engine screws tight?
---Has the engine been run up at full throttle with
the plane's nose straight up in the air? (To make sure it
won't stall when full power is applied on climbout)
---Is the fuel tank level with the flying attitude of the plane?
---Is the carburetor at the same height (not above) as the fuel tank?
---Is the fuel tank klunk in the proper position and moving freely?
---Has a full range check been performed?
---Has the flight pack charge been checked with a voltmeter?
---Have the receiver and battery been protected from vibration
---Is the receiver's antenna fully extended and not placed within a
fuselage with any sort of metallic covering?
The checklist should be gone through again, with particular attention to
the areas that were worked on or repaired.
1) Start the engine (if applicable) and test the entire throttle range. Run
it at full throttle with its nose in the air for 15 seconds or so.
2) Check the receiver flight pack with a voltmeter to ensure enough charge.
3) Check the control throw direction for all surfaces. It's very easy to
do a repair or radio adjustment and forget to switch these.
If you can't find an expert that is willing to teach you, it is best to
start with a 2-3 channel model with a long wingspan and alot of dihedral.
The ideal thing to start with here would be a 2 channel glider. If you
MUST start with a powered plane, a 6' foot powered glider, like the Piece
O' Cake from Dynaflite is a good way to go.