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Have you ever wanted to fly RC airplanes?
Flying rc airplanes and helicopters has become a hugely popular pastime in recent years, and more and more people are discovering the hobby all around the world.
The letters RC stand for radio control, and refer to anything that is controlled by radio signals that are sent out from a transmitter to a receiver located inside the model.
You'll often see rc referred to as 'remote control' but this is technically incorrect. Radio control is the correct term.
In past years, RC airplanes and helicopters have been relatively expensive to buy, and you had to have a fair amount of model building knowledge to know how to assemble a kit from plans, not to mention knowing how to install and set up the radio control gear and motor properly.
But all that has changed and, while kits are still available of course, many airplanes and helicopters now can be bought as RTF models, which stands for Ready To Fly.
This basically means what it says; the model is assembled at the factory, the rc gear and motor have been installed and set up and there is nothing for you, the consumer, to do other than install the radio control gear batteries, do some very basic final assembly work such as attaching the wing to the fuselage, and taking to the skies!
RTF airplanes and helicopters can be powered by either electric or glow plug motors.
The latter is often referred to as 'nitro' or 'gas' because the fuel that a glow plug motor runs on contains nitro methane.
Nitro planes need extra accessories than electric ones do, simply because of the motor. Also, nitro planes are generally bigger and have a steeper learning curve.
Electric rc airplanes are far more common for people entering the hobby, simply because they are clean, quiet and simple.
The very popular 'Park Flyer' style electric planes are bringing thousands of new rc pilots into the hobby because of these reasons. Also, they are cheap to buy; a simple 1 or 2 channel RTF model can be bought for well under $100!
Because they are quiet and small, they can be flown in any good-size open area, hence the name Park Flyer. Public parks, sports fields or empty parking lots can all be used as flying space, provided that flying rc airplanes there is allowed in the first place, which is an important thing to find out before you fly your model!
The best type of airplane to buy if you're first starting out is a high wing trainer type. Airplanes with the wing on top of the fuselage are much more stable than ones with the wing underneath.
Another important point to look for is the amount of dihedral the model has. Dihedral is the upward angle of the wings when looking at the model from the front.
The more dihedral an airplane has, the more stable it will be in the air, and hence easier to fly.
The majority of electric RTF rc airplanes are high wing, and are designed for beginners into the hobby.
The same rule applies to nitro airplanes. High wing trainers with plenty of dihedral always make good beginner planes.
The big difference between nitro and electric airplanes is where you can fly them. Electric ones can be flown in public places, but nitro planes can really only be flown at a model flying club, or on private land with the owner's permission.
This is simply because they are bigger, noisier and faster than their electric cousins. These factors are what makes nitro airplanes harder to learn to fly, although ultimately more rewarding.
So if you want to get into the hobby of radio control flying and jump straight in at the deep end with a nitro model, seeking out your local model flying club is the best thing that you can do as a first step toward your new pastime.
The above information goes for rc helicopters too.
In fact, electric rc helicopters have really changed the hobby, because they have become so much cheaper to buy than they ever have been, and many nowadays are designed for the complete beginner, which just a few years ago was an unthinkable idea!
So even if you've never held a rc helicopter before, you can very quickly be mastering the controls of an electric model heli without too much trouble.
Many even come with their own flight simulation software - just load it onto your home computer and practice first, without running the risk of crashing your model!
There are literally hundreds of models to choose from these days (airplanes and helicopters), but always be sure of what you're buying first.
Check out reviews if you can find some, and be happy that the model is suitable for a beginner.
If you have a flying club nearby, get yourself along to that and chat to fellow modelers. Any advice that you can pick up from a club will prove to be invaluable in your early flying days.
The good thing is that with the models that are on offer now, getting into the hobby of radio control flying has never been easier or cheaper!
If you'd like to read a lot more about many aspects of this addictive pastime, http://www.rc-airplane-world.com is a comprehensive 'Getting Started' Guide to the hobby, with information such as how to choose a suitable model, how to have a successful first flight and how radio control systems work.
The site also includes a large radio control club directory, so you may be able to find a club close to home.
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