Rudder Trimming

Jan 28, 2014 6 Comments by


There is a certain order to trimming a plane and that can vary a little from pilot to pilot. Most pilots will concentrate on the elevator trimming first to keep the plane flying a level path. This is especially important if the plane wants to dive, then elevator trimming becomes the primary important trim for the pilot. In most cases you will be trimming the ailerons along with the elevator to keep the wings level. Once both these control surfaces are trimmed to a comfortable standard you can begin trimming out the rudder.

Now some pilots will not even bother going past the elevator/aileron trimming step, and never bother to trim the rudder at all. But it is very important to trim out the rudder for nice straight and level flight. Rudder trimming starts by performing figure eights in the sky and watching to see how the plane reacts. If you are making a left turn and the plane wants to climb during that turn you will need to add left rudder. If the plane wants to dive then you will have to add right rudder. Now when you are turning the plane to the right if the plane wants to climb you will have to add in right rudder, likewise if it tends to dive trim in left rudder. Continue flying the figure-8’s until your plane performs nice smooth turns through the right and left banking.

Keep in mind that throughout this whole process you will most likely have to add in small increments of both elevator and aileron trim. Generally when you are trimming out one control surface it will affect the others. So just take your time and realize that trimming out a plane can be an ongoing project. This can be especially true if your first flight is on somewhat of a windy day. Always take wind into consideration when trimming your plane that is not to say you shouldn’t trim out your airplane on a windy day.  But just understand that it may need some slight tweaks the next time you fly on a calm day.

Try trimming out your planes following these suggestions and I am sure that you will find your plane flying a little better. A properly trimmed out plane is always fun to fly and is always worth the time invested to get it right. Enjoy.






John Reid

About the author

West Coast senior editor About me: I’ve been involved with RC aircraft since high school and have flown just about everything. I started my RC career with scratch-building, but now like many pilots I rely on ARFs to get me in the air. My main focus is on pylon racing, aerobats, combat and scale warbirds.

6 Responses to “Rudder Trimming”

  1. Gabriel Staples says:

    This is a great little article. Nice, concise tips. Trimming the rudder is something I need to get better at myself, so this was helpful. Thanks!


  2. Bob Dible says:

    Complete waste of time reading this article. One of the reasons I stopped taking MAN was that most of the authors seem to have little to no experience. I have no interest in watching the blind lead the blind.

  3. Murray says:

    Are you talking about a fixed trim adjustment or a mix?

  4. Skyking says:

    The easiest way to trim rudder is to do a level wing loop and see if the plane works in the vertical axis of the loop. If you find the plane falling off to one side to the other, trim it out with the rudder.

  5. Wallace Tharp says:

    In full scale, (I now a lot of people don’t want to hear this), you make coordinated turns, ball in the center. I the pilot does not, the plane will not stall wings level straight ahead, or to wings level out of a stall done in a turn. If U are unfamiliar with this concept, just think of a carpenters level on the dash, instrument panel, placed level on the ground before flight. What the ball indicates is if skidding to the outside or slipping to the inside of the turn is taking place. What does this mean to R/C pilots? Planes are meant to fly most efficiently, and comfortable to the passengers, that is, not being tossed around in the cabin because of sloppy uncoordinated turns. Our day will come when we can see the ball, (turn coordinator) in our R/C planes. All U would need is a cockpit camera and a read out deviece. So, first, the plane is not flying as efficiently as possible if not coordinated in turns and, in the extreme, enough right rudder in a left turn in a Cessna 172 or Cub type airplane will cause a snap and spin if held fully in place to the opposite direction. I ruder trim my R/C planes at idle power at altitude, (three mistakes high), by applying increasing up elevator pressure slowly with no other control input until I observe a clean breaking stall. I then observe which if any wing dropped and make a slight trim correction before trying it again until I get to a clean no wing drop stall. Left wing drip, add right rudder. It may not be perfect, but it is always close and helps prevent the old (wing tip stall) on landing. I also trim for vertical line if needed in Top Hat or similar maneuvers. wallace.tharp

  6. Ray says:

    Thanks for this tip.!

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