LVMAC :: Starting out
starting out in aero modelling

Thankyou for taking an interest in our Sport. To some, Model Aviation is a Hobby and to others it is a Sport. Whichever way you look at it, there is fun and good times to be had by all, if you put the effort in.


Model Aircraft may be flown in Australia in accordance with Civil Aviation Order Part 101. Basically these orders lay out instructions for the use of Radio Controlled Model Aircraft in Australia.

The main concerns of CAO 101 to the average modeller are that you cannot fly within 4km of an aerodrome, within 30 metres horizontally from, or at any height over people, houses, vehicles, etc, you cannot fly over 400ft above the ground unless you have authorisation from CASA to do so. You cannot hold a public display unless you have a permit to do so and you cannot fly a model weighing more than 7kg or a Turbine powered model, unless you have a permit to do so.

NOTE : These Rules are currently being revised so link to CASA for the updates

CAO 95.21 is LAW. Link to CASA for more info: (download required here)

The Model Aeronautical Association of Australia (MAAA) is the parent body in Australia for Model Aviation and then, affiliated with the MAAA, the States have their own governing bodies which is the Victorian Model Aeronautical Association (VMAA), for us, here in Victoria.

Link to MAAA for more info. MAAA


...There are many traps for the beginner in AeroModelling and we advise you to talk to someone who knows the common pitfalls BEFORE you waste your money on gear that is unsuitable for flying models. Certain R/C gear is suited to cars and boats and unless you talk to someone first you may make a costly error. REMEMBER...Talk to club members is in YOUR interest.

There are approximately 70 Model Aero Clubs in Victoria with around 2500 members, so if you live in Victoria there will be a club somewhere near you.

Link to the VMAA page for clubs list and contacts VMAAA

THE MODEL AIRCRAFT WE FLY:There are literally hundreds of different types of models available these days in Kit form, ARF(almost ready to fly), or you can build from Plans. The choice is may even buy second hand but be careful here. Our club also has a plans library if you like to build and as a club member, you can hire the plans for $2.00 per month.

LEARNING TO FLY: it is almost impossible to teach yourself to fly Model Aeroplanes. It may look easy but it isn't. The best way to learn is to join your local club and be taught by an experienced flier at no cost. You will still crash your model but it should last you a lot longer than it would without instruction. Being a club member also gives you insurance cover on other people and property should the unforeseeable accident happen. Radio failure or interference can happen at any time or anywhere so our out of town fields are the places to fly. Noise can also be a problem and this is another reason to fly at our fields. "Gone are the days when you could fly a model at your local football ground."

COSTS: it will cost between $300.00 and $1000.00 to get yourself set up to fly R/C, depending on what you want and are prepared to spend. From here it really depends on you and your wants and aeromodelling can become very expensive. It can also be an inexpensive hobby if you are easily pleased. As well as your Model and Radio set you may need a flight box, fuel, starter panel, electric starter, 12v battery, various tools, spare glo plugs and spare propellers. Also don't forget those all important "Club Fees". Remember you have Insurance when you join a club and this is an essential part of Model Aviation.

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO FLY ON MY OWN?: it takes around 3 months or 8 hours of "hands on time" for a young person to fly learn to fly solo with confidence and maybe up to 2 years for the older generation. Everyone is different and some pick it up quicker than others. A lot also depends on the type of model you learn on. Fast is usually ok for the young and slow is definitely best for the older learners. I have actually had 2 teenagers who went solo on their second day out but this is a very, very rare scenario. I have also had older members who have taken over 3 years and several models before going solo!

STARTING OUT: You have to start somewhere and a learner that has been properly advised will start with a TRAINER Model. This will be a high wing model probably with a flat bottom and may be 3 or 4 channel. It will probably be powered with a .25 or .40 size engine and it will take from 3 months to 2 years for you to learn to fly on our own.(the older you are, the longer it takes to learn.) My suggestion is a .40 size trainer with a tail wheel....not a nose wheel. I also suggest a semi symmetrical wing shape if you are under 50 years of age. We fly a lot in the wind and flat bottom wings, which I recommend for over 50 years of age, can be a little difficult in windy conditions. It is much harder to learn to fly in windy conditions.

The types of models are many and varied and there are several different area's of this sport such as Control Line, Sports Models, Scale Models, Gliders, Old Timers, Pylon Racing, jets, Helicopters and more. A TRAINER is required before you get into flying anything else. “You need to fly your Trainer to death”. Too many people go solo and immediately get a new model, which doesn’t last very long so be patient and keep flying your trainer until you can do multiple touch & goes without a problem.

A Model Flying Simulator may be of some assistance to many students, but there is nothing like the real thing. You cannot learn on a simulator and just go out and fly. Most young people can take off, fly around and land after 15 minutes on a simulator. You just can’t do that with a real model!

trainera Basic trainer


"SCRATCH BUILT" means you build it all from a plan and this can take a lot of time but you get the satisfaction of doing it all yourself. Scratch Building is usually cheaper that buying a Kit but a lot more time is required to complete the model.

"ARF" means Almost Ready to Fly. These models come in a Kit Box and the fuselage, wings and tail are all pre built. You have to join the wing halves, glue the tail on and install your engine & radio gear. The box may say that you can be flying in 4 hours.........don't you believe it. It will probably take 4 hours to install your Radio Gear and it is better if the glue has longer too fully cure. It usually takes a few days to put one of these together properly. ARF models look good and fly well and are very popular at present and reasonably cheap, however they do have their problems. You can't see what's under the covering and the covering is not a heat shrink and it doesn't take much to tear it or put a hole in it. From my experience, ARF models are too fast for the older generation and I have not yet come across an ARF that is slow enough.

"BUILD FROM A KIT" means you buy a Kit Box with the bits and pieces usually pre cut and you have to assemble it all. Some kits have the model plus wheels, fuel tank and all sorts of bits and pieces and some kits don't have much more than the model itself. What you pay for is usually what you get. So you will need to buy covering, paint, etc to finish off a Kit Model which adds extra to the cost of the model.

My personal recommendations...

If you are over 50 years of age, build a Red Zephyr or similar Old Timer and put an OS40LA engine in it.

If you are young, any of the current ARF trainers with an OS46LA or OS46AX engine are ok.

CONTROL LINE: this is a good cheap way to be introduced to flying models and has several areas such as Sports Models, Scale Models, Speed Models, Combat and more. The LVMAC doesn’t have room for Control Line Flying and all members are into Radio Controlled Flying. There is however a Control Line Group the fly in the area called Control Line Aeromodellers of Gippsland (CLAG) that fly at the Moe Racecourse every 2 months.

control lineControl Line Model taking off.

R/C SPORTS MODELS: you have probably seen all those guys carving up the sky with fast aerobatic models, so once you have learnt to fly on a trainer you will be keen to progress to something fast and aerobatic so you too can become one of those guys and carve up the sky and most sports models are suitable for this category. The Sports or Funfly type Model is the most common model to be seen on the flying fields and is usually 4 channel control,(ailerons, rudder, elevator, throttle.) fast and fully aerobatic, with a symmetrical wing shape.

Sports modelLow wing Sports Model.

SCALE MODELS: The Scale Model is the ultimate of both craftsmanship and flying skills combined. They are what the name suggests...Scale Models...which makes them identical to real aircraft except for their size. Outline, Paint Schemes, Decals, Markings and other special features of the real aircraft must be on the Scale Model. Pilots must be able to fly their scale model just as the real aircraft would fly and perform manoeuvres that the real aircraft would be able to do. A lot of Scale Models are of WW1 & WW2 aircraft. Some of these Scale Models of today have Wingspans of around 3 & 4 metre and are called Mammoth Scale.

Scale modelScale model Corsair F4u

Link for scale info

GLIDERS: may be flown in either Thermals or off a Windy Slope. The Thermal Glider is normally very light and may have a large wingspan and is winched, towed, Bungee launched or motored with either fuel or electric motor, into the sky and then stays up by finding thermal air currents. The Slope Soaring Glider is usually smaller, heavier and faster than a Thermal Glider. Some Gliders can be used for both types of gliding for the average person. The Slope Soarer is just hand launched of a hill into the wind. The catch here is that you need wind coming up the hill to create the lift needed to fly.

GlidersR/C Glider

Link to VARMS for more info

OLD TIMERS: Old Timer Model Aircraft are aircraft built from plans that are pre 1940's and are normally 2 or 3 channel and complete in endurance and duration competitions. The basic idea is to use a measured time or fuel quantity to get height and when the engine stops the Old Timer becomes a Glider and finds thermals to stay up for as long as possible.

Old timerOld Timer Model

Link to SAM600 for more info

HELICOPTERS: Relatively new to the world of R/C the Model Helicopter has a firm footing in the sport. They are always the centre of attention and can be Scale Models or Sports Models that are fully aerobatic. Helicopters are best flown in their own area, away from fast sports models.

HelicopterR/C Helicopter

Link to Melbourne R/C Helicopter Club

ELECTRIC FLIGHT: is another new area in R/C modelling and is good in area's where noise is a problem. The main thing here is not to buy cheap electric gear and the rechargeable batteries are quite expensive. Some gliders have electric motors to get them airborne.

Electric gliderelectric glider

Link to AEFA for more info

PYLON RACING: Pylon racing is an exciting side of aeromodelling and really only for the very experienced. The models fly around a triangular circuit, very fast, usually 3 or 4 at a time, for a set number of circuits. The winners go on to fly against the winners of other rounds until the final round decides the winner.

Pylon racingAbout to start a Pylon Racing Model

Link to the AMPRA for more info

PATTERN MODELS: are models that are quite fast and very well trimmed and they fly a pattern of 23 aerobatics in competition. They usually have a 10cc(.60) 2stroke engine or 20cc(.120) 4stroke engine. Modern Pattern Models are very quiet and extra points are awarded for quietness at their competitions.

Pattern modelsCarrera Pattern Model

Link to the APA for more info

MODEL JET AIRCRAFT: Increasing in popularity are model Jet Aircraft. Some absolutely beautiful scale model jets are to be seen around the clubs. Jets can be powered by a ducted fan unit (which is basically an engine running an impeller instead of a propeller) or a real jet engine which runs on propane gas. Rules and regulations are currently being made to control the use of these jet engines. There are no jets in our club. Ideally jet models prefer a concrete, tar or well prepared grass runway and are not suited to paddocks where there is livestock roaming around.

F-15F-15 Eagle

Link to more info on Model Jet Aircraft

ENGINES: The GLO-PLUG 2 stroke engine is the most common motor these days. Ranging from .049ci up to around 3000ci the 2 and 4 stroke model motors run on a mixture of Methanol & Caster Oil and may have other additives such as Nitro to help with engine reliability. The most common motor sizes for starting out are .25ci(2.5cc) and .40ci(6.5cc). Larger Models of today are running 2 stroke chainsaw or whipper snipper petrol engines, some at 60cc. Diesel engines are not very common these days and are mainly used in special events. It is a club rule that all engines must have a silencer fitted when flying at our club sites to avoid problems with our neighbours who may find the noise distressing, even with a silencer fitted. All new engines come with a muffler these days.

EngineTypical R/C Engine

TRANSMITTERS: The transmitter is the unit that is actually held in your hands and can have from 2 to 12 functions. The most common is the 4 channel set and is all that is required in general funflying. Transmitters come in 2 modes...Mode 1 with the throttle on the right stick and Mode 2 with the throttle on the left stick. Both modes are common in the world but not so in individual clubs. Check with your instructor before buying so that you can buy one on the appropriate mode. You may also like to buy a transmitter that is capable of using the Buddy Box training cable. Learning with the Buddy Box system is quite a good way to learn but not essential. The LVMAC has a rule that transmitters must be certified every 2 years as do many clubs these days. The Transmitter is usually powered by a pack of 8 AA batteries and Rechargeable Nicad packs are recommended. Never switch on a transmitter, at any flying site, without first putting a key in the Frequency keyboard.

In Australia we have been allocated some of the 27MHz, 29MHz, 36MHz & 40MHz frequencies.

In the 29MHz Band, frequencies 29.725(channel 10) to 29.985 (channel 36) may be used for the Radio Control of any type of model, ie Cars, Boats & Aircraft.

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. The 36 MHz channels are from 36.010 (601) to 36.590 (659) in 10KHz increments.

The 27MHz & 40 MHz 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 use of 27MHz is not recommended. NOTE : The VMAA have advised all Victorian clubs that 27MHZ sets cannot be used at Club Flying Sites as our insurance does not coverthem.

There are only 2 frequencies available for use in 40MHz and are not common. They are 40.665 (Channel 50) & 40.995 (Channel 53)

You can only use these approved frequencies in Australia and fines and or 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.

TransmitterTypical Transmitter

All clubs should have a frequency keyboard for use by all fliers.

If you dont know how to use the frequency board, then ASK SOMEONE !

RECEIVER: This unit is fitted into the aircraft and receives the radio signal messages sent from the Transmitter and relay's those messages onto the servo's. This unit is powered by 4 AA batteries and Rechargeable Nicad packs are also recommended here.

SERVO: This is the unit that actually does the work, after receiving a message from the receiver. The servo's make the model go up, down, left, right, etc. The servo is connected to the receiver with electric wires and then to the control surfaces by pushrods.

MY RECOMMENDATIONS for people that I teach :

1 Always visit your local club before buying anything. The advice you receive will help you immensely.

2 Buy a .40 size model with a tail wheel if possible. (It is a lot easier to learn to take off & land with a tail dragger at our flying fields, which are rough grass)

3 If you are young, have a model with a fully symmetrical wing. If you are over 50, have a model with a semi symmetrical or flat bottom wing that is not too fast. (you may have to build it yourself – all of the ARF Trainers that I have seen are much too fast for anyone over 60 years of age)

4 Do not buy second hand models or a second hand Radio unless you know something about what you are buying. There are many traps in second hand gear ! A test flight from the seller would be an advantage if possible!

5 Do not build a Scale Model type that you have not seen fly. You may be very disappointed in the performance.