Q1. How much does it cost to get up & flying in R/C?
A1. It will cost between $100 and $900 to get yourself started, depending on the brands and quality that you buy and whether you go electric or nitro. What you pay for is what you get and some of the cheaper electric plug & play stuff is nothing more than TOYS. A decent nitro Trainer is around $120, engine $180, R/C set $350, and some extra's like Club Fees $220, a starter $50, fuel, a Flight Box and some tools will be needed. Club Fees are an important and necessary part of flying because that's where your insurance is paid from and insurance is a "must have" these days. Many clubs require certification of R/C sets other than 2.4GHz so this is also an expense (around $20.00 )and in our case we need to send or take it to Melbourne to be done. To join my Club the fees are $220.00 for a Senior Member.(2014-2015)
Q2. Should I buy an Electric or Nitro Model ?
A2. It is personal choice but Electrics are becoming very popular because they are quite often cheaper and they are much cleaner than models that use an oily fuel. The main thing against electrics is the time you can fly for which is governed by the battery capacity and if you are not carefull and the battery runs down too far the model may fall out of the sky. You usually only get one chance at landing. I always time my electrics and 6 minutes is all I get on my main models using G46 motors. The same model with a nitro .46 engine would probably get 15 minutes of flying time although I teach people to fly for 10 minutes and land with the engine running. If the landing is not loking good they can go around for a second try ! Electric is clean and easy to get into the air where as nitro can be messy with oily fuel and engines can give lots of trouble starting and running. I walk out to the strip and back once with my electric models and some of the nitro guys walk out to the strip and and back several times due to how often the nitro engines cut out.
Q3. How long does it take to learn to fly R/C?
A3. If you are young it should take up to 3 months or 8 hours of "hands on time "of regular flying to become confident to fly yourself. If you are over 50 it will take longer and if you are over 65 it may take over 3 years. You need to fly regularly (at least once a week) when learning so that you keep progressing forward otherwise it will take longer. I have had students that went solo after 3 flights but this scenario is quite rare and these students had slow, forgiving models and experience with r/c cars and boats.
Q4. Will I crash my Model when learning?
A4. I don't want to turn people away from this hobby but my estimate on this question is that there is only a 10% chance that you will still be flying your first model undamaged, when you go solo, there is a 80% chance that you will still go solo with your first model but you will have had to make some repairs (maybe minor or major) to it and there is a 10% chance that you will need a second model to go solo. This is with the assistance of an instructor so if you go it alone you probably won’t make it!
If you try to fly unassisted there is a 95% chance that the model will not survive day 1 without major repairs required.
Q5. Why do I need to join a club?
A5. By joining a club you can usually find someone to teach you to fly - free of charge. More important is that you are covered by insurance should something go wrong and believe me, things do go wrong. Clubs also provide a safe place to fly, companionship, competition for those who want it, and some good friendly advice from other fliers. (those who do know)
Q6. What sort of Trainer should I buy?
A6. There are a lot of Trainers on the market in ARF and Kit form and most of them are quite satisfactory to learn with. Young people learn fast and are suited to faster trainer types. Older people need trainers that are slow and forgiving. Unfortunately I haven't yet found an ARF that was slow enough for the older generation. Something like a Red Zephyr is an excellent trainer for anyone over 60yrs old but has to be built, either from plans or a Kit. Some of the smaller electric gliders would also make a good, cheap trainer, just to get you started but my advice is to talk to your local club before you buy anything.
Q7. What sort of Engine will I need?
A7. When you buy your Trainer it will have on the box the size engine that it needs. If you are young, it probably won't matter if you overpower the model but if you are old don't overpower the model too much, because it will be too fast for you.
Q8. Tailwheel or Tricycle undercarriage?
A8. This is a hard one to answer ! Personally I recommend a Tail Dragger to my students because we fly on rough grass that is sometimes a little long, but I think the best answer here is to talk to people at your local club before you buy anything and they can advise you what is best for their particular flying site. Whatever way you go, do not have too much steering control or you will be zig zagging all over the strip with over control. I recommend no more than 10mm rudder throw each way and a flexible, steerable tailwheel.
Q9. What should I buy for my 2nd model?
A9. I firmly believe that you need to fly your trainer to absolute death. It may look scruffy and get heavier but I have seen many people go from a Trainer to something that is totally different and before long it is a pile of bits & pieces, purely because they haven't the experience to fly such a model. Until you can fly touch & go's without a problem in any conditions you should not progress beyond a Trainer.
When you do go for your 2nd model, buy something that you have seen fly and know that you will be able to handle it. An Extra 300, a Mustang, an Ultimate Bipe are not good choices for 2nd models. A low wing Trainer, another type of trainer or a Stik type model may be the go ! Be guided by your instructor or club members.
Q10 Should I build from Magazine Plans?
A10. Personally, until you are a very competent flier and builder, I would say DO NOT BUILD FROM MAGAZINE PLANS, unless you have seen the model fly successfully and have some building experience. Many of the plans in magazines are quite tricky to fly and you can be very disappointed with the result. Having failures in your early days can set you back a lot and destroy your confidence.
Q11. What sort of glue do I use?
A11. Your KIT instructions will probably suggest the type of glue to use but basically as far as I am concerned you always use Apoxy for the firewall and undercarriage mount (usually places where you may have ply wood joining balsa wood) and Supa Glue, fast (5sec) and slow (30sec) for the rest ( balsa wood to balsa wood). Modern Supa glue for modelling is great stuff but be careful with fumes and always treat all glues with care and respect. The use of white wood glue, Alphetic glue and Balsa glue is also ok but it usually takes time(sometimes overnight)to dry and may be heavier when dry.
Q12. Can I fly my New Trainer in my local park?
A12. Local council by laws in your area will determine whether you can fly in your local park but if you want some real good advice "don't even think of it". The facts are that model aircraft do crash and flying in an unsafe place like your local park is asking for disaster. Your local Club Field is the place to fly because it should be a safe environment and away from the interference that may come from a populated area. Insurance will not cover you if you are flying in your local park and of course as soon as you start the nitro engine, kids will come from everywhere. How would you feel if you crashed into a kid and caused a permanent injury? How would you pay for that injury when sued ? Don't risk it ! Join a club and fly at the Club flying site.
Noise is also a problem with Model Aircraft in built up area's and this is another reason to do the right thing and fly at club flying sites. Most engines these days have mufflers but some are still very noisy.
Q132. What would be a good type of Floatplane to start with?
A13. If you just want to have a go you can make or buy some floats for your Trainer or any model. If you specifically want to have a Floatplane the Seamaster, Neptune, Sea Monster type models are the go. Because they have a fuselage in the water they handle most conditions pretty well. The problem for floatplanes is wind which whips up the waves and those models that are up on floats tip over pretty easily in rough conditions. In calm conditions, most Floatplanes fly off the water with ease, but the C of G and the step must be in the right place.
Q14. I have some R/C gear on 72 MHz. Can I use it in Australia?
A14. No you cannot use 72MHz for R/C in Australia. In Australia we have been allocated some of the 27MHz, 29MHz, 36MHz, 40MHz & 2.4 GHz frequencies. In 2007 the 2.4Ghz sets became available and these sets do not have crystals and do not interfere with each other so they are now very popular. 2.4Ghz is the way to go however, battery voltage is more critical and on nitro models 5 cell (6V) NiMh packs should be used as receiver packs.
The 27MHz Bands are designated for industrial, scientific or medical and may also be used however, 27MHz sets must only have a 10kHz bandwidth so as not to interfere with CB radios.
The 29MHz Band may be used for the Radio Control of any type of model, ie Cars, Boats & Aircraft. Channels 10 to 36.
The 36MHz Band may be used for Radio Control of model Aircraft and model Boats with the even numbered channels being exclusively for model Aircraft use. The odd numbered channels are shared by model Boats and Aircraft. 36 MHz channels are from 36.010 (601) to 36.590 (659)
The 40 MHz Bands are designated for industrial, scientific or medical and may also be used however there are only 2 frequencies available for use in 40MHz and the use of this frequency is not common. They are 40.665 (Channel 50) & 40.695 (Channel 53)
2.4 GHz is the latest frequency to become available for use in Australia and throughout the world. This frequency is available world wide but information that is around has indicated that in some of the overseas countries, cheaper parts may be used and it is for this reason that 2.4 ghz sets used in Australia, should be purchased in Australia and must have the Australian approved tick attached. One of the good things is that these 2.4 GHz sets do not need to be certified. The MAAA has indicated the only 10 of the 2.4GHz should be in use at the one time and although the chance of interference from other sets is almost impossible, 2.4GHz users should still use a key on the frequency control board.
You can only use these approved frequencies in Australia and fines and confiscation do apply for illegal use of frequencies. From a safety point of view it would be highly dangerous to use an inappropriate frequency because the chance of interference causing a model to crash would be rather high.
I would recommend that 2nd hand Radio Control gear is not a good buy unless you know the owner and the history of the gear.
I would also recommend that any second hand Models / gear be looked at very closely or you could be wasting your money.
When buying second hand you should see the model flying and the radio set working ok, before you buy.
If you have any questions that you would like answered please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org