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.
The use of a Buddy Box system makes pilot training easy. These are considered the muscles in our airplanes, as they convert the radio signals into mechanical power to move the model’s control surfaces. A servo is basically a self-contained gearbox that has inside it a motor, a gear train, electronic control circuitry and a feedback potentiometer (pot.). All you have to do is plug the servo’s lead into one of the channel ports in the receiver, and you’re good to go. Servos supply proportional control with their output arms. When you move your transmitter’s control stick a little bit, the servo arm moves in that direction a little bit. If you move the stick a lot in the other direction, the servo arm matches it and moves a lot in the other direction.
FLYING MADE EASY
To learn how to fly, it is best to have an experienced friend act as your flight instructor. You can learn a lot with computer RC flight simulator programs, but nothing beats the one-on-one experience of teacher-student flight instruction. The big thing to remember is to be smooth, and think before you react. Think ahead of the plane and have a plan to follow.
When it comes to controlling your model in the air, up and down commands are easy; regardless of the direction your model is flying, up means sky and down means ground. When you turn your model around, however, that left-and-right thing becomes another matter altogether. When you and your model are both facing the same direction (model flying away from you), moving the stick left makes the model turn left. Likewise, moving the stick to the right commands the model to turn right. But here’s the rub; when your model is flying toward you, its reaction to your stick command will feel backward. Move the stick to the left, and the model turns to your right! This condition is called “control reversal,” and if you don’t practice giving the proper corrections, this confusion can cause you to lose control. The best way to correct a model flying back toward you is to move your stick toward the lower wingtip. This will lift it up and return the model to level flight.
With a little practice and patience, you will find learning how to fly is both fun and very rewarding. RC modelers are a great bunch, and the hobby has a lot to offer. If you haven’t already done so, give it a try, and see if you too can become an accomplished RC pilot.
5 TIPS FOR ENDING A SUCCESSFUL FLIGHT
It has been said that takeoffs are optional, but landings are always mandatory! The secret to consistent landings is practice, lots of practice. To quickly learn how to land, always fly the same rectangular pattern. It consists of the upward leg, the crosswind leg, the down-wind leg, the base leg and the final approach leg. You should make 90-degree-turns between each leg of the landing traffic pattern.
Step 1: Enter the landing pattern at about 100 feet altitude on the upwind leg parallel to the runway. Fly the leg to the end of the runway; there make a shallow 90-degree to the crosswind leg.
Step 2: Make your crosswind leg short, so when you make your 90-degree turn on to the downwind leg you are at the far side of the flying field. During the downwind leg reduce throttle and begin a shallow descent.
Step 3: When you make the next 90-degree turn onto the base leg, your model should be about 50 feet above the ground. Keep the model’s nose down to maintain airspeed. Make the base leg shorter than your crosswind leg, so when you turn onto the final approach, you can line the model up with the center of the runway. Keep the wings level.
Step 4: During the final approach, maintain a constant descent rate. If your model is descending too quickly, and you see you will be short of the runway, apply a little power. If your model starts to lose airspeed and begins to feel mushy on the controls, lower the nose more to increase airspeed.
Step 5: As you cross the threshold of the runway, you should be 3 to 5 feet above the ground with about a quarter-throttle power. Start to bring the power to idle, and apply more and more up-elevator to flare the plane. Keep the wings level, and try to hold the plane off the ground for as long as you can. Done properly, the wing should fully stall just as the model settles in on its landing gear. Use rudder to keep the landing run out straight until the model comes to a stop.