RC Planes for Beginners – Introduction to Aeromodeling as a Hobby

Sep 14

RC Planes for Beginners – Introduction to Aeromodeling as a Hobby

My fascination with the world of aeromodelling led me to do a Google search for “RC Planes for Beginners”, and I was surprised to find a bulk of information that was disorganized and confusing. I started this blog for people like myself, who want to build and fly model aircraft, but are not sure how to get started. This first article will give you an introduction to the world of “aeromodelling” or “model aviation”.

“Aeromodelling” or “model aviation” refers to the building and flying of model aircraft. Model Aircraft are often scaled-down versions of full size planes, and are either flying or non-flying models of existing aircraft. They are made using materials such as polysterene, balsa wood, foam and fibreglass. The models are either static non-flying models, or flying models, and both have different construction techniques. 

Static Model Aircraft

Static model aircraft are scale models that are not intended to fly. They are built using plastic, wood, metal or paper. Collectors buy models that have already been built and painted, models that require construction, painting and gluing, or models that have been painted but need to be snapped together. Static model aircraft are most popularly used by the world’s airlines to publicize their fleet aircraft. Some examples of static models are below:

boeing747 RC Planes for Beginners   Introduction to Aeromodeling as a Hobby        RC Planes for Beginners   Introduction to Aeromodeling as a Hobby       RC Planes for Beginners   Introduction to Aeromodeling as a Hobby


Flying Model Aircraft

When we use the term “aeromodelling”, we are usually referring to the building of flying models. All flying models belong to one of the three categories below:

  1. Free Flight model aircraft are those that fly without any external control from the ground. They are usually simple “gliders” made of balsa wood, that are simply “chucked” or “catapulted” into the air. This is a great plane to build once, and get an idea about how model airplanes are built and fly. This is usually the first aircraft that I usually teach beginners.
  2. Control Line model aircraft have cables (usually two) that lead from the wing to the flyer. The airplane flies around in circles and the flyer can control the elevation. The plane moves very fast and in circles, and the user can do a variety of “aerobatics”. Due to the nature of the flight, this is a very exciting type of aircraft for all ages, and there are various kinds of competitions around it worldwide.
  3. Radio Controlled (RC) aircraft are those that are operated by the user on the ground using a “transmitter”. The transmitter sends signals to a receiver in the craft and the user can control a variety of parts on the airplane, depending on the construction of the plane and the expertise of the flyer. 

chuckglider RC Planes for Beginners   Introduction to Aeromodeling as a Hobby

Free Flight Model: Simple chuck glider: The “Kadet”

 RC Planes for Beginners   Introduction to Aeromodeling as a Hobby  Control Line Model Airplane

 RC Planes for Beginners   Introduction to Aeromodeling as a Hobby Radio Controlled (RC) Aircraft

The construction of flying models are based on techniques that are used to build full-sized aircraft. Flying models can be built from scratch using published plans, or assembled from kits. Plans are intended for the more experienced modeller, since all parts must be sourced separately. The kit contains most of the raw material for an unassembled plane, a set of assembly instructions, and a few spare parts to allow for builder error. Assembling a model from plans or a kit can be very labour-intensive. In order to complete the construction of a model, the builder assembles the frame, covers it, and aligns the control surfaces.

To increase the hobby’s accessibility to the inexperienced, vendors of model aircraft have introduced Almost Ready to Fly (ARF) designs. Compared to a traditional kit design, an ARF design reduces the amount of time, skill, and tooling required for assembly. The average ARF aircraft can be built with less than 4 hours of labor, versus 10-20+ for a traditional kit aircraft. More recently, Ready to Fly (RTF) radio control aircraft have all but eliminated assembly time (at the expense of the model’s configuration options.) 

In my next article, we will discuss the other aspects of aeromodelling, and talk about the technical aspects of aeromodelling as a hobby. While the focus will primarily be on Radio Controlled models, I will talk about other types of model aircraft as well, as and when necessary .

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75 comments

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