NEWBIE

Information for Newbies


This page will attempt to offer those new to the hobby, and those newly returning, recommendations on airplanes, engines, and electronics to make their first choices much easier. There are many, many options available to the hobbyist on planes (ARF, RTF, Kits, etc.), types of power sources (electric, gas, glow, etc.), motors/engines (brushless outrunners and inrunners, 2 stroke, 4 stroke, etc.), types of transmitters (72 MHz, 2.4 GHz), and field equipment (types of fuels, fuel pumps, chargers, batteries, etc.). The following recommendations are not the only good options available to you, but they are excellent recommendations based on our trainer’s experiences. Again, these recommendations are given to you to help reduce the stress from trying to sort through the mind boggling array of equipment choices. All the recommendations herein are very good ones.

Radio Control Sport Flyers is dedicated to the training of new pilots. RCSF strongly advises new pilots to seek training from experienced trainers. Tips on maintenance, safety, and etiquette, not to mention keeping your plane in the air, will significantly increase your success in, and therefore your enjoyment of, this hobby.

This page will be quite long and therefore divided in several sections for your convenience:
GLOW vs. ELECTRIC

There seems to be a war raging between diehard electric and glow pilots over which is better. Recently electrics have been increasing in popularity. As one who flies both wet fuels (gas and glow) and electric (I trained on an electric), I am puzzled by this war. In my opinion, neither is inherently overall better. However, one may better suit you nore than another. This section will give you a very brief overview of these two most popular power choices.

Glow fuel, most commonly known as “gas”, is actually a blend of alcohol, nitro, and caster oil (There are engines that do run on gasoline, but they have large displacements, are more expensive and as such are used mainly by the experienced pilot to power very large aircraft). Glow engines will more easily and cheaply power large planes than electrics currently can. Glow trainers are approximately 4 – 6 lbs in weight, have a 5 – 6 foot wing span with a high wing designed for stability, and most are built to be more stable in flight. This does not mean that a trainer cannot do aerobatic maneuvers. Glow engines are quite reliable and require a moderate amount of maintenance. The castor oil does leave a residue on the plane which needs to be cleaned off with a Windex type cleaner. Militant electric flyers tend to think of their glow compadres as noisy and slimy. In fact, glow planes are often called “slimers,” even by glow pilots.

Electric trainers are generally smaller than glow trainers — about 15 – 32 oz with a 3 foot to 4 foot wing span — and like their glow counterpart they are designed for stability and forgiveness. Because they are lighter than their glow counterparts they tend to be more susceptible to windy conditions (especially so for a trainee), but are less likely to sustain damage in moderate to light crashes. Electrics are generally easier to transport (most easily fitting into an average trunk even with the wing attached), and can be as responsive and effective as a glow plane. Since electric planes are generally smaller and often slower than glow planes, they can be flown in smaller spaces than the larger glow trainers. Indeed, there are numerous small, slow flying electric trainers designed to be flown in a typical household yard or a park. Care should be taken on choosing motor types, and batteries as this willgreatly effect performance. Choosing an electric motor for someone new to electric flight (even an experienced glow pilot) can be much more confusing than choosing a glow engine. Hopefully, the recommendations in the engine/motor section of this page will be clear enough to make your electric motor choices much easier. Electric motors produce no waste so there is usually no need to clean the plane after flight (grass clippings being the most common spoilage). Militant glow fliers tend to think of electrics as toys.

Even though RCSF strongly advocates for the use of a training instructor there are circumstances that may lead a person to choose to learn to fly by themselves. Fortunately for these folk, there are some electric planes that can be used to learn to fly without an instructor. New pilots should who decide to take this route should take time to carefully research RC flying safety and etiquette procedures.

Either glow or electric work well as trainers. Those with strong opinions on this topic tend to support the power choice they trained on. After reading the following recommendations you should have a better feel on which power choice you may prefer. If this page does not help you, come to Stamm Field (or a club near you) and talk to club members. Many of our members who fly regularly fly electrics as well as their glow or gas planes.

COSTS

As with any dynamic hobby, your investment can have a direct impact on your enjoyment. This is not to say that if you spend huge amounts of money you are guaranteed success or ecstatic joy. Rather, we caution you to consider buying good, appropriate, reliable, quality equipment vs. always getting the cheapest. Fortunately, parts of this hobby are getting less expensive as time passes; this is not to say it is cheap. For those in the hobby, it is well worth the money.

Generally, a beginner can expect to pay about $450+ for a complete glow setup (plane, engine, transmitter, receiver, batteries, charger, fuel, starter, etc.). An electric setup (plane, motor, gearbox, transmitter, receiver, speed controller, servos, battery, charger, etc.) can be significantly cheaper (less than half) but you do need to be concerned about the reusability of your equipment when you move to your second plane. Reusability is much more a concern with electric setups (especially the ready-to-fly setups) than with glow setups. We will discuss this later in this page.

 

FLIGHT SIMULATORS

RC flight simulators are strongly recommended do much to enhance the quality and speed of learning to fly RC airplanes. There are many to choose from, but for the beginner you do not need to spend much or any money to get a helpful and fun simulator. For the newbie, getting a feel for the plane’s orientation and a general feel for landings are the most important issues. There are many free simulators on the internet and many inexpensive one on the market. The following list are recommendations of very cheap or free simulators.

Pre-Flight: $38 (as of Nov. ’06) http://www.preflightsim.com/preflight001.htm
FMS: Free (as of Nov. ’06) http://n.ethz.ch/student/mmoeller/fms/index_e.html

The following are recommendations if high end simulators

AeroFly Pro: w/ simulator “transmitter” $208; w/o “transmitter” $180
Hanger 9 FS One: w/ Mode 2 controller $210; w/o Mode 2 controller $180

ARF, RTF, KIT

OK, ok! You want to know what to get. We are very close to giving you that information. First, some basic background information.

RTF. Ready-To-Fly setups are nearly fully assembled airframes with all electronics in place, a transmitter, batteries, and charger. You will still need to supply the fuel and glow igniter for glow planes. Most RTF’s are ready to fly when the batteries are charged (overnight in some cases, a few hours to a few minutes in others). Advantages to RTFs is that all the equipment is packaged and chosen for you and, for those who do not like to build or do not have time or space for building, your construction time is nil to extremely minimal. Negative: you have no flexibility in equipment choices, color schemes, etc.

ARF (or ARTF): Almost-Ready-to-Fly setups are approximately 90% pre-built airframes only (airframe only: no electronics, engine, etc). These plane are framed and completely covered. You will have to join some large parts (i.e. wing halves, rudder and stabilizer), install the electronics (servos, receiver, battery), and you will mount the engine. Most people, even those with little building experience, can complete the construction in a long weekend. If you have no building experience it is recommended you visit your local club or hobby store and seek some advice and tips. The building instructions are generally clear and with careful attention to detail, these aircraft can be very successfully built by a novice. Advantages: fairly short construction time, and you may choose equipment for the plane. Disadvantages: building time for those who do not like to build or do not have time or space for building, you have almost no flexibility in color schemes, and you have to make decisions about equipment.

Kits: Kits are totally unassembled airframes. They come with plans, wood, instructions, and in most cases, hardware (landing gear, pushrods, etc). Kits can take from a several hours to several months to complete depending on the complexity of the airframe, experience of the builder and free time for building. A novice can expect to spend three or four weekends building a introductory kit. Access to experienced builders can reduce building time and frustrations significantly. Advantages: you are in control of all aspects of your plane (building care, modifications, color schemes, equipment, etc.). Negative: building time for those who do not like to build or do not have time or space for building

 

RECOMMENDED GLOW TRAINERS1ST NEWBIE

RTF:     
Hobbico Avistar Select

Specifications:

Wingspan: 59 in
Wing Area: 602 sq in
Wing Loading:  19 oz/sq ft
Weight: 5 lb
Includes: O.S. .40 LA, Futaba 4VF radio

Features:

* NO PAINTING, NO SANDING, NO GLUING and NO DRILLING
* O.S. .40 LA Engine & Futaba Radio Pre-installed
* 20 minute assembly time
* Fuselage: Pre-Covered in MonoKote & Pre-Assembled Sheeted Box Style.
* Wing: Pre-Covered in MonoKote w/Ribbed Balsa
* Semi-Symmetrical Airfoil That Joins Together with a Metal Dowel Rod and Nylon Straps
* Tail Sections are Solid Balsa and are Pre-Covered in MonoKote.
* 90% Pre-Assembled, All Wood, Ready-To-Fly Kit.

Requires:

* Field Equipment
* Misc. Items: Glow Fuel, Phillips Head Screwdriver, Pliers
* 5/64″ allen wrench to tighten various screws

Price:

Almost anywhere this set up can be purchased for $279.99 as of November 2006

 

ARF:2ND NEWBIE
Hobbico Avistar 40 II

Specifications:

Wingspan: 59 in
Wing Area: 602 sq in
Weight: 5 lb
Wing loading: 19.1 oz/sq ft
Fuselage Length: 44.8 in
Features:

* Sturdy, all wood, 90% pre-built and pre-covered wing, fuselage, and tail assemblies
* Easy-to-follow, step-by-step instruction manual.
* Semi-symmetrical airfoil provides stability & aerobatics capabilities
* Pre-Covered in Top Flite MonoKote Covering.

Includes:

* Wing, Fuselage & Tail Assemblies
* 2-1/4″ Spinner (White)
* 10-1/2 oz Fuel Tank
* Metal Engine Mount
* 1/8″ diameter Wire Landing Gear
* 2-3/8″ Rubber Treaded Wheels
* Dowel Pushrods
* Hardware
* Illustrated Instruction Book

Requires:

Engine:          .40-.46 (2-stroke)
Radio:             4 Channel
Misc. Items:  Building and Field Equipment.

Price:

Almost anywhere it can be found for $99.99 as of November 2006

 

KIT:3 NEWBIE
Sig LT-40

Wingspan: 70 in
Wing Area: 900 sq in
Weight: 5.5 lbs
Wing loading: 14.8 oz/sq ft
Fuselage Length:
56 in

Features:

* Lazer-cut, die-cut and saw-cut wood parts
* Easy to follow plans and instructions
* Flat bottom wing

Includes:

* All the Wood to build kit
* Dubro Treaded Wheels (2/34″ & 3″)
* Dubro 8oz. Fuel Tank
* Dubro 2″ Spinner (black)
* Sig Easy Hinges
* Sig Nylon, Adjustable Engine Mount
* 1/8″Diameter Wire Landing Gear
* Decal Sheet
* Folded Plans & Building Instruction Book.

Requires:

* .30-.40 2-stroke or .40-.50 4-stroke Engine
* 4 Channel Radio
* 3 Rolls of Covering Building
* Field Equipment
* #67 rubber bands

Price:

Almost anywhere it can be found for $99.99 as of November 2006

 

RECOMMENDED ELECTRIC TRAINERS4 NEWBIE

RTF
Hobbico’s SuperStar EP Select with Ailerons

Specifications

Wingspan: 48.75 in
Wing Area:
402 sq in
Weight: 3.1 lb ready to fly
Wing Loading: 18 oz/sq ft
Fuselage Length: 36.1 in
Channels:
4 (ailerons, throttle, rudder, elevator)
Motor: ElectriFly T-601
Battery:
7-cell 8.4V 2100mAh
Flight Time w/ Recommended Battery: 6 – 10 min.

Features:

* Balsa and plywood construction
* Precovered in a durable plastic film.
* Ready to fly in just 3-5 hours.
* Easy installation of standard-sized onboard electronics
* One piece wing with ailerons and metal joiner rod
* Flat-bottom airfoil supplies excellent lift at slow speeds
* Two piece pre-bent wire landinggear
* Two 1-3/4″ (45mm) diameter foam construction wheels
* 9×5.5 composite construction propeller
* Warranty: Ninety day limited

Includes:

* Pushrods
* Instruction manual
* Futaba 4YF radio system
* 7-cell 8.4V 2100mAh (w/standard Tamiya connector) battery
* Electronic Speed Control with metal heat sink
* BEC (Battery Eliminator Circuitry) and Kyosho type connector
* ElectriFly T-601 motor preinstalled with leads

Requires:

* Charger: Timed or peak for included battery
* Additional batteries recommended (7-cell 8.4V 2100mAh)

Price:

Prices hung around the $234.95 – $249.99 range as of November 2006.

RTF (Self Training Capable) 5 NEWBIE
Multiplex Easy Star RTF

Specifications:

Wingspan: 54 in
Wing Area: 390 sq in
Weight: 24 oz
Wing loading: 9 oz/sq ft
Fuselage Length:
36 in
Channels: 3 (rudder, elevator, throttle)
Motor: Speed 400
Battery: 7-8 cell 500-1050 mah NiCd or NiMh

Features:

* Designed for first time pilots in mind
* Incredibly stable flight characteristics and durability
* Powered by a powerful Speed 400 motor
* Motor is mounted on the top so hard landings won’t break the prop or hurt the motor.
* Made from Multiplex’s durable “Elapor” foam
* Easy Star will take a tremendous amount of abuse without breaking
* Easily repaired at the flying site with CA (super) glue
* Even after many crashes, the Easy Star will be ready for more
* This is a great plane to teach someone to fly where other trainers would be ready for the trash can
* Motor, speed control are installed and wired, the receiver and servos are installed and connected.
* All connectors are installed; control rods and control horns are installed

Includes:

* Hitec Focus 3 Radio
* (2) Tiny-S Servos
* X-08 Speed Control
* Motor
* Battery and charger

Requires:

* Nothing

Price:

Prices were most commonly between $159.99 – $199.99 as of November 2006

 

ARF  (Self Training Capable)6 NEWBIE
Multiplex Easy Star ARF

Specifications:

Wingspan: 54 in
Wing Area: 390 sq in
Weight: 24 oz
Wing loading: 9 oz/sq ft
Fuselage Length:
36 in
Channels: 3 (rudder, elevator, throttle)
Motor: Speed 400
Battery: 7-8 cell 500-1050 mah NiCd or NiMh

Features:

* Designed for first time pilots in mind
* Incredibly stable flight characteristics and durability
* Powered by a powerful Speed 400 motor
* Motor is mounted on the top so hard landings won’t break the prop or hurt the motor.
* Made from Multiplex’s durable “Elapor” foam
* Easy Star will take a tremendous amount of abuse without breaking
* Easily repaired at the flying site with CA (super) glue
* Even after many crashes, the Easy Star will be ready for more
* This is a great plane to teach someone to fly where other trainers would be ready for the trash can
* No landing gear, model lands on its belly
* Ready to fly in two to six hours

Includes:

* Foam fuselage, wings, and tail section
* 400 size motor (direct drive) with connector and lead (must be soldered to motor)
* illustrated instructions.
* Pushrods and other hardware included
* 5″ diameter pusher prop with black spinner
* Colorful Easy Star logo decals

Requires:

* Minimum 3-channel radio (throttle, rudder, and elevator control)
* 2 micro servos
* 12 amp speed control and connector
* 6 or 7 cell battery from 500 to 1500mAh
* Charger for the battery with proper connector
* Miscellaneous building equipment

Price:

Prices were most commonly between 57.99 – 59.99 as of November 2006

 

ARF8 NEWBIE
Modeltech Fledgling EP ARF 4-Ch Trainer

Specifications:

Wing Span: 55.5 inches
Wing Area: 495 sq. in.
Weight:
2.75-3.1 pounds
Wing Loading:
12.8 to 14.5 oz/sq.in.
Length: 41 inches
Cannels: 4 (Aileron, Elevator, Rudder, Throttle)
Motor: Speed 600
Battery: 7 cell 2400mah or greater NiMh or 2 cell 2000mah or greater LiPo

Features:

* Includes 600 size electric brushed motor
* Propeller designed for the Fledgling
* All-wood airframe
* 4 Channel Function for superior control
* Complete hardware included
* Finished with premium covering

Required:

* 4 channel radio system
* 4 channel (minimum) reciever
* 3 servos
* 35 amp motor ESC
* 7 cell 2400mah or greater sub-c battery pack (alternative: 2 cell 2000mah or greater li-po battery pack)
* Charger for battery
* Basic tools and finishing supplies

Price:

Ranged from $90 – $100

 

KIT:9 NEWBIE
Stevens AeroModel SQuiRT Trainer w/ Ailerons

Specifications

Wingspan: 38 in
Wing Area: 260 sq in
Weight: 15 oz
Wing loading: 8.3 oz/sq ft
Fuselage Length:
26 in
Channels: 4 (ailerons, rudder, elevator, throttle)
Motor: Speed 400
Battery: 1000mAh 7.4 volt (2 cell) LiPo

Features:

* Innovative shock absorbing gear and wing mounting system
* Out performs any foamy in it’s class in terms of flight performance and ruggedness
* Laser cut tab and notch construction makes building a straight and true wing and fuselage as easy as gluing your fingers together!
* 2 – 3 evening building time

Includes:

* Stick mount for the GWS Speed 300/350 power system
* Full hardware pack loaded with high quality Du-Bro hardware
* Pre-Bent Landing gear and wheels
* Full-Size Plan Sheet
* Detailed step by step photo illustrated instruction manual

Requires:

* GWS EDP400 6V direct drive motor system and mount
* 7×3.5 propellor
* 3 each sub-micro servos 8-10g (Hitec HS-55)
* One 4ch (minimum) receiver
* 4 Channel (minimum) transmitter
* 10 amp Speed controller with BEC
* 1000mAh 7.4 volt (2 cell) LiPo

Price:

$49.95 directly from Stevens AeroModel

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