The single most defining moment in determining anyone's initial success or failure when starting out in the RC aircraft hobby is discovering which proper tools and aircraft give you the best chances for success, sooner rather than later.
The hobby is littered with gruesome tales of horror and shame as shiny new airplanes turn into flying bits of foam and/or plastic from an epic crash due to newcomers choosing aircraft far above their skill level. Luckily, we are here to help you avoid that dark and scary path. As a company entirely comprised of seasoned RC pilots, our passion is not just to sell fantastic RC aircraft product, but to keep our customers happy by offering advice to help those who are new to the hobby.
We don't just want one-time customers. We want happy return customers and flyers for life!
Luckily, there are many different ways to get started down a successful path. We won't cover every product and path but offer the main tools that will allow you to learn how to fly in a safe and fun manner. So let's begin with a great starting tool that has single-handedly saved RC pilots unlimited amounts of money collectively:
The RC Flight Simulator
Purchasing an RC Flight Simulator is quite simply one of the best investments you will ever make in the hobby. You can learn how to fly all types of aircraft safely, in the comfort of your own home. In recent years, advancements in software have advanced in their flight physics and dynamics that have evolved into spectacular levels of realism. There is this blissful little button called the "reset button" that affords you endless opportunities to start your flight over after crashing.
Unfortunately, as we all know, there is no "reset button" in real life. If you crash, you crash, and it can be quite costly (and really ruin your day)! On the simulator, crashing is expected and a normal part of the learning process which doesn't cost you those real pieces of plastic and foam we mentioned earlier!
In no time, you will find yourself hitting the reset button a little less, and enjoying successful takeoffs, flights and landings without having to hit the reset button (as often). Since the latest software allows you to use your own transmitter (or depending on the version, the simulator's transmitter), you learn to develop that essential muscle memory that is key to any RC pilot's success without putting a single dent into your shiny new airplane that awaits its first maiden voyage.
How quickly one develops the "stick time" necessary to become a proficient flyer is completely relative to the amount of time spent in the simulator. The good news is that learning to fly in the simulator is incredibly fun and rewarding! That learning and muscle memory developed directly translates to the real flight experience.
Another great feature of the RC simulator is that you can fly in glorious blue skies even if it's pouring rain, blowing high winds or snowing outside. Now that's pretty cool. There are also plenty of fun tutorials by RC expert pilots to help you learn more and more exciting new techniques and tricks.
We are happy to offer Real Flight and Phoenix as our RC Flight Simulators of choice. To check out these simulators go to our RC Flight Simulator section.
These two simulators are compatible with PC computers. For use on a Mac computer, you will need emulation software like VM Fusion or Parallels.
Join Your Local AMA Flying Club
Another outstanding way to learn how to fly is to find a local AMA flying club near you and join. Many members are happy to teach newcomers how to fly. We've all been there, and we all had to start somewhere.
Contemporary transmitters (or "radios" as they are commonly referred as) have a "Buddy Box" feature that allows you to connect to the instructor's radio. When he or she feels you are ready to take the controls, a switch or button on their radio is activated and the controls are now yours. When you get into trouble, the switch or button on their radio is activated once again and the instructor regains control.
This is a very effective and "hands on" approach to learning how to fly. Not unlike the simulator, once you have had enough practice at the sticks, you will be flying the entire flight envelope from takeoff to landing, in no time.
To find an AMA flying club near you, go to the AMA website and search for a local club in your area. The AMA (Academy of Model Aeronautics) is a club comprised of members who love RC flying. They have assisted members in education, the creation and maintaining fields to fly and have been an advocate for best safety practices, a national community passionate about the hobby for several generations. It would be a great idea to apply for membership while you are on their website. The benefits are numerous including insurance coverage in the event of an RC flying-related accident.
What is the Best Type of Airplane To Learn To Fly?
The very best airplane to learn how to fly with is a high-wing trainer. The reason is because a high wing aircraft is inherently more stable than a low wing aircraft, they tend to fly slower as well. Stable and slow are good attributes when first learning how to fly. Often times, trainers simply have elevator (pitch or up/down) and rudder (yaw or side-to-side) control which are all you need in the beginning to fly. Eventually you can add ailerons (roll or wing left/right bank) to your skill set.
We offer a wide selection of various trainers to get you started. Some are Ready To Fly (RTF) which simply means the plane includes a transmitter, battery and charger to get you in the air right out of the box.
To view our selection of beginner and trainer planes, go here.
Looking for a recommendation? We think the HobbyZone Champ or the Parkzone Ember are great starters. Lightweight, durable and not too large, you can learn to fly with confidence. Remember, the larger the aircraft, the harder the crash, so keep that in mind if you are wanting to "go big or go home" when first starting out. Don't worry, in no time you will be able to move up into the larger sized trainers and aircraft.
Eflite and Parkzone aircraft these days are often bundled with a "SAFE" Technology receiver. This technology stabilizes an aircraft and helps it to fly more stably, like a larger airplane. Any of the aircraft we sell as an RTF package with a SAFE receiver in it should also be considered as a potential first aircraft.
Well we hope this has given you a good starting foundation. Of course, if you ever have any questions about the product we sell, our excellent customer service staff are a phone call away - 224-633-9090 - Monday through Friday, 9am to 6pm Central time.
May your hobby be filled with years full of fun, rewarding flights and happy landings!