Don’t have a perfectly manicured runway? Don’t sweat it, you can easily hand launch your plane to get it airborne. Here are five easy steps to perfecting this handy technique.
Remember to always launch your model while facing straight into the wind. Don’t throw your model downwind (with wind at your back), this will cause the model to stall, lose lift possibly striking 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 some sport or scale designs, because of landing gear placement or scale accessories, the single-handed “overhand” pitch is difficult. 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.
With micro RC planes, you don’t even have to move or step forward. Just toss the model level with the ground and add power after it leaves your hand.
When it comes to smaller, electric powered ducted-fan jet models, a safe and easy way to launch is using a bungee assist. With a buddy taking care of the model release, you will have both your hands on the radio and you won’t be distracted and can deal with the controls to keep the model flying straight and true until you get up on step and have enough airspeed for a safe climb out.
You need to be especially aware when launching pusher-type model airplanes. With the prop in the tail, there is increase changes that the propeller can hit your launch hand. Always apply power to the motor after the pusher plane is safely free of your launch hand.
Another technique is to hold the model from above with you hand just forward of the balance point. You can then use an upward underhand motion to launch the plane.
Learning to hand launch RC planes will serve you very well and taking some basic precautions will allow you to do it safely! Have fun!