Suitable RC Planes For Beginners
Over the years I have seen so many newcomers to the hobby appear at a flying site carrying Spitfires, Mustangs, and other totally unsuitable RC planes for beginners. I have never understood what logic makes people think they can fly such planes without previous experience and tuition on more suitable types of trainer rc airplanes!
Let me ask you; Would you put a learner driver in charge of a high performance rally car or a racing car? I think not!
If you visit any model shop or consult with a reputable supplier of model equipment you will discover that there are a range of specially designed training types. My advice to anyone approaching the hobby for the first time would be to forget about scale or aerobatic types and concentrate on selecting a purpose designed trainer. These planes are relatively easy to fly and demonstrate characteristics that minimise the effects of the inevitable mistakes you will make as a rookie.
Trainers come in various guises and configurations. The control choices available will generally be:-
a) 3 Channel – Rudder, Elevator & Motor
b) 4 Channel – Ailerons, Elevator, Rudder & Motor
Three channel types are generally easier to learn on but eventually you will need to progress to a Four Channel plane as a natural progression to more advanced types. I would suggest, therefore, that if you can afford it, a Four Channel plane will eliminate the need to invest in intermediate trainer type at a later stage in order to advance your progress.
The combination of materials used in a trainer will generally be one of the following:-
a) Traditional open structure using mainly Balsa & Ply.
b) One of the many varieties of Expanded Foam.
c) A combination of the two.
Occasionally you will encounter planes featuring moulded Fibreglass components or Vacuum Formed Plastic but they are generally more expensive.
All have their pro’s & con’s. The final choice is yours but before choosing I suggest you read the following.
If you decide to join your local club there will be a concensus of opinion as to which trainers are favourites with the club tutors. This is invaluable information for you to base your choice on. The models popular with the people who do the training will give both you and them confidence in your ability to progress.
Attributes of a Good Trainer
The following design features are what we are looking for in the ideal trainer:-
Self correcting hands off flight characteristics
Slow speed flight capability
Readily available replacement parts
Ease of repair
To name but a few.
Most good trainer planes will offer most, if not all, of the above and include the following design characteristics. Lets take a look at some of the features that facilitate the stability aspect.
1. High Wing
If the plane’s wing is positioned on top of the fuselage or at least where the majority of fuselage weight is below the wing there is a natural pendulum effect that acts to stabilise the plane in flight. Following a turn the plane will naturally want to level itself because it is ‘bottom heavy’. Planes featuring this design characteristic are therefore perfect for the rookie radio control pilot.
2. Flat Bottomed Wing
Flat bottomed wings develop the most lift at the slowest airspeed. This is obviously good for the beginner and the reason why many trainers feature this airfoil shape.
This is where there is an upward ‘V’ angle of the wings starting at the fuselage when viewing the wings from the front. Within practical limitations, the greater the dihedral angle, the greater the plane’s stability. The plane will naturally want to centre itself to its lowest point. Except for a few rare exceptions, RC airplanes that are designed to be trainers will normally have noticeable dihedral.
4. Landing gear (undercarriage) layout
The Tricycle (trike) undercarriage plane is, generally speaking, easier to manoeuvre on the ground, making it better suited to beginners. This arrangement features two main wheels beneath the cockpit area plus a nose wheel. This may be linked to the rudder servo to give accurate steering control on the ground.
The alternative arrangement is the Taildragger. This can be harder to manoeuvre on the ground but the lack of nose wheel means slightly less weight and drag in the air. A taildragger has two main wheels but instead of a nose wheel, has a much smaller wheel located beneath the fin which may or may not be steerable.
It is essential that you at least consider a plane having most, if not all, of the above attributes. Don’t rush out and buy something totally unsuitable to learn on. (It’s your money, spend it wisely!)
Let’s take a look at some of the more popular trainers on the market. (If you decide to purchase a trainer plane and would like to buy on line, just click here on Resources and Links where you will find reputable on-line retailers capable of supplying these or suitable alternatives.
Irvine -Tutor 40 11 ARTF
Seagull Arising Star V2 40
Great Planes PT-40
Goldberg Eagle 2 Trainer
Hobbico NexSTAR .46 Trainer ARF