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Don’t have a perfectly manicured runway for your backyard flyer? Don’t sweat it, you can easily hand launch your plane to get it in the air. Here are five easy steps to perfecting the technique. Remember to always launch your model straight into the wind. Don’t throw your model downwind (with wind at your back) at a high nose-up angle; this will cause the model to stall, lose lift and hit the ground.

Step 1: Turn on your transmitter and receiver and add a few clicks of up-elevator trim.

Step 2: Grasp the model in your strong hand, and hold the transmitter with the other so you can advance the throttle with your thumb as soon as the model is in the air.

Step 3: Take a step or two forward, and toss the model forward and slightly upward with its wings and nose up or level.

Step 4: As soon as the model is clear of your launch hand, smoothly bring your hand down, and grasp the control stick.

Step 5: Never take your eyes off the model. If the model starts to climb excessively, add a touch of down-elevator. If it banks sharply and begins to veer off course, use some rudder and aileron input to keep it on a straight climb with wings level. Don’t begin a turn until your model is at a safe altitude of 50 to 75 feet.

For low-wing, sport or scale designs, the single-handed “overhand” pitch won’t really do. You either have to grasp the plane’s fuselage behind the wing (which is often too far aft of the balance point), or you can hold the plane from above the wing and launch it underhand in a nose-high altitude at a 20-degree angle. Holding the fuselage too far aft usually causes the model to pivot nose down during the launch. A far better and safer way is to have a friend hold the plane with two hands (one in front of the wing and one aft), so it can be launched sidewinder style, not exactly overhead.



Updated: February 1, 2017 — 10:15 AM
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Add a Comment
  1. is it correct with a outlaw or any delta type to launch a little to the left of the wind direction to stop it flipping over ?

    1. no, this article describes traditional cabin, high wing planes. The safest way to hand launch an outlaw type flying delta wing is overhand overhead if you have a bottm skid to grasp. If you don’t, then have a friend hold the plane from the wingtips (two hands one on each tip,) and launch forward in an underhand fashion.

  2. Can I ask a sad question please.
    I like the look of the EPP model in the photo, can you give model details?



  3. how to land? I find it take way more ground to land than launch..

  4. I fly mostly 3D profiles. Many don’t even have wheels that roll (like twisted hobbys mini yak). My technique that works very reliably is a gentle underhand toss at 45 degrees above the horizon at about 2/3 throttle.

    Works very well for me – though wouldn’t want to try it with anything bigger than 16 oz.

    Agree with all other advice – especially “launch into the wind”

  5. I’ve seen a lot of hand launches over the last 50 years go splat because the launcher starts trying to set a new record for a hundred yard dash, and while off balance, tries to throw the model upwards at a 30 to 45 degree angle. The plane then pivots in his hand so that not only is it climbing at a high angle for it’s forward speed, but also is now at an angle of attack beyond the stall angle for it’s airfoil.
    Most of the planes I’ve launched, I’ve done so by taking maybe a step or two forward while holding the plane level and aiming at a point on the ground maybe 100′ ahead.
    Only plane I can remember that had to be thrown from a run was an early 1960’s kit design called the Wasp, very high wing loading back in the days when receiver, 4 servos, and battery pack weighed at least a pound and a half, and a .60 had less power than today’s .45s.
    Oh, and always as close to dead into the wind as is safe to do so.

  6. Sounds good, although in step 2 I advance the throttle (using my chin) so when the model is thrown it’s under full power.

  7. Most computer transmitters will let you assign a mix to a switch for the hand launch. For example on my 70mm EDF F18 Hornet foam jet I have two mixes on the Launch switch. The 1st puts in a little up elevator to insure it will climb. The 2nd is a little right aileron to offset torque roll as I throw it at full throttle. I also have the ailerons on two servos so I can have flaperons down for more lift on hand launch. This also lets me have spoilerons to slow the fast jet down on approach. This setup works well on all my fast planes including my FunJet that has severe torque roll at launch.

  8. The best advice to hand launching a model is to have the transmitter in the hand that controls you steering, that is ailerons and elevator. Then use your lip to advance the throttle and throw into the wind. Obviously the prop must stay clear of body parts. This technique feels awkward at first but is the best safest way to hand launc, period. This nonsence of using your strong hand to launch is just plain stupid.

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