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RC Planes

Today`s Radio Controlled Planes are not the same remote control car toys we played with as a child. Today R/C vehicles can be extremely powerful and come anywhere from built and ready to race to completely unassembled. Depending on what you are looking for the prices range from $50 for a starter plane to over $500 for a powerful and fast plane.

Below is a terrific introductory article where you can learn the basics and how to get started. You can help grow our learning community by contributing your knowledge to the article. Just click on the edit tab in the wiki article below.

Use the white subtabs above to navigate the other R/C Plane resources. We have a R/C Plane forum where you can get your questions & doubts answered, a page with R/C Plane how-to videos, a page with the best handpicked links to other sites, and a page with the best R/C Plane books and products.

Good Luck and Have Fun!
Duncan Davis

 

Introduction


There are a number of different RC planes from which you can choose, as well as a horde of equipment and accessory possibilities. The first thing you need to do is decide exactly what you are looking for in a radio-controlled airplane. It is important to understand all of the options that are available to you.




A radio-controlled aircraft (often called RC aircraft or RC plane) is a model aircraft that is controlled remotely, typically with a hand-held transmitter and a receiver within the craft.




Piloting a RC plane is like controlling your own air strike force. You are in complete control and awaiting commands. If you are interested in electronics or mechanical devices, the advanced designs and components of RC planes will fascinate you.




Flying radio-controlled planes is actually quite an exhilarating hobby. RC planes encompass a number of different areas of excitement, both technical and artistic. No other hobby allows you to become involved in so many diverse skills and topics, such as woodworking, electronics, small motors, aerodynamics and the great outdoors.




History of RC Planes


Today, it is common for many people to purchase and build RC planes. With patience, discipline and lots of practice, just about anyone can learn to fly a radio-controlled airplane. This hobby has been around since the 1800s, but it has come a long way from the experimental, rudimentary designs of yesteryear.




In the early 1870s, Alphose Penaud was known as the father of flying models. When he first launched his Planophere in Paris at the Tileries, he brought a fascination to life. On its initial flight, the Planophere flew for one hundred thirty-one feet. Many people became inspired, believing in the potential of powered flight.




Even though Alphose Penaud initially worked with model helicopters, the Planophere was designed as a model airplane that was powered by winding up a rubber band. The design featured the first cruciform tail, which is the typical design that is often used today with a tail that resembles a cross when you look at it from behind.




RC hobbyists were the first to build remote controlled planes using materials like balsa wood and building the crafts by hand. The process took an extended amount of time and required great patience. In the beginning, creative hobbyists who wanted to enhance the designs were limited because there were not any customizable parts available. However, all homemade RC planes have a certain uniqueness because they are made by hand.


 




With the early seventies came an increase in the production of low cost, rechargeable batteries, causing a revolution in the world of RC planes. Affordable, convenient, quiet motors that were capable of running on rechargeable batteries were the power source for these RC planes. In combination with the newly available materials such as foam, plastic and fiber glass resin, these motors opened the door for the sale of ready-to-fly RC planes and those that are almost ready-to-fly. These types of planes are the RC planes that many people today have come to know and love.




Types of RC Planes


You can get RC planes that are designed to fly indoors, or you can get an RC plane that is almost as big as your house. RC planes and kits are available that will fit into any budget no matter how great or small. Some RC planes are so simple that anyone can fly them, while others are so complex that it takes years of experience to learn how to pilot such machines properly. You can fly some RC planes right in your backyard, while other radio-controlled airplanes are best flown in large open spaces. No matter how much experience you have flying or how much money you are willing to spend, there is a RC plane out there for you.


 



Radio Control Scale Aircraft Modeling


Perhaps the most realistic form of aeromodeling, in its main purpose to replicate full-scale aircraft designs from aviation history, for testing of future aviation designs, or even to realize never-built "proposed" aircraft, is that of radio control scale aeromodeling. RC Scale model aircraft can be of any type of steerable airship lighter-than-air (LTA) aviation craft, or more normally, of the heavier-than-air fixed wing glider/sailplane, fixed-wing single or multi-engine aircraft, or rotary-wing aircraft such as autogyros or helicopters.


 



Gliders


The simplest form of RC planes comes in the shape of radio-controlled gliders. This type of RC plane is a great way to enjoy the peace and relaxation that comes with the hobby of piloting RC planes.




Most radio-controlled gliders have two channels, controlling either elevator and aileron or elevator and rudder. The elevator and rudder control option is by far the most popular among RC plane pilots. However, combat gliders and aerobatic gliders require quality maneuverability, so in such as case ailerons are preferred.




Radio-controlled gliders, such as the Thunder Tiger Windstar, are incredibly stable when they are in the air. In addition, RC gliders are actually quite simple to fly. This type of radio-controlled airplane can be flown from flat land or from a slope using some kind of system for launching, such as a bungee/high-start system.




Flying RC planes of this type, especially the Windstar, is an amazingly peaceful experience. The typical flying speeds of radio-controlled glider planes are much, much slower than the speeds of the powered planes, giving the pilot ample time to react. The high polyhedral wing that is featured on RC glider planes like the Windstar provides exceptional stability. This type of RC glider is very forgiving in flight because it naturally wants to level itself back out following every turn.




The large wing section on these planes generates great amounts of lift. This means that with air conditions that are favorable, you will be able to keep your plane aloft for quite a while after all your pilot buddies are stopping to refuel and recharge their powered airplanes.




In addition, RC gliders of this type require few, if any, accessories. If you are looking for a quiet plane to pilot this particular plane type is ideal. The only question on your mind as you are enjoying hours and hours of flying is whether the batteries in your radio gear are going to hold up for the entire time of your flight.




Another option that you have if you are interested in piloting RC gliders is the powered glider. Powered RC gliders are simply a standard radio-controlled glider that features a small electric motor that is fitted with a folding propeller. An example of this type of RC glider is the Radian RTF from ParkZone.




When you turn the power on with this type of glider and perform a normal hand launch, you can fly your powered glider all the way up to a height that suits you, and then you can turn the motor off and continue to fly. When you stop the motor on a powered RC glider, the wind that goes over the glider will push the propeller blades back, thus reducing the drag with the blades sitting tight up against the side of the plane nose. If your RC glider begins to lose altitude, all you have to do is simply turn the power back on for the motor. The blades on the propeller will return to the normal position, allowing you to climb up, up and away once more.




To RC plane purists, powered gliders may seem like cheating, but they are gliders all the same. The most obvious advantage to flying powered gliders over the usual RC glider planes is that you do not need to find a cliff or hilltop, nor do you have to search for a space that is large enough to use a bungee system. Powered RC glider planes are easily launched from flat ground. In addition, these RC planes can be flown in spaces that are too small to allow the use of a bungee system.




Piloting a powered RC glider plane, such as the Radian RTF, is a fantastic way for you to experience a relaxing gentle radio-controlled flight. With the powered glider, you get the best of both worlds because you get the tranquility of flying a glider with the option for power.




Hand launched RC glider planes are specifically designed to throw upwards. These RC gliders are typically smaller than other RC planes, making them easier to manage. An example of a simple two-channel hand launch glider is the Fling from Great Planes. The Fling features an easy high-start system for launching. This means that if your throws are not very strong, you will still be able to get your RC plane airborne. Once you launch your glider, it relies on thermals to remain in the air.




From Great Planes also comes another type of RC glider, the Fling DL. The Fling DL is a recently available type of radio-controlled glider plane that is quickly gaining popularity known as a discus launch glider. The discus launch glider features a special design that allows it to be launched by holding the wingtip, spinning around three hundred sixty degrees and then flinging it into the air. The launching motion is similar to that which an athlete would use to throw a discus into the air, hence the name.




The greatest advantage of the discus launch RC glider is that you do not have to be on a hilltop, nor do you have to be in a wide-open space. You can launch your discus launch glider from a relatively small space, just as long as you have room for it to go into the air vertically.




Finally, you have combat gliders. Combat gliders a fairly new to the RC plane market. This type of glider is typically smaller than the traditional gliders. In addition, these planes are made out of EPP foam, which is incredibly resilient to damage. This type of RC glider is used to attempt to knock an opponent’s plane out of the air. Since these planes are not damaged easily, you can have hours of fun flying into one another at full speed.


 



Jets


Jets tend to be very expensive and commonly use a micro turbine or ducted fan to power them. Most airframes are constructed from fiber glass and carbon fiber. Inside the aircraft, wooden spars reinforce the body to make a rigid airframe . They also have kevlar fuel tanks for the Jet A fuel that they run on. Most micro turbines start with propane, burn for a few seconds before introducing the jet fuel by solenoid. These aircraft can often reach speeds in excess of 320 km/h (200 mph).


 



Toy RC Planes


The number of toy RC planes that have showed up on store shelves over the past few years is astounding. There was a time when it was close to impossible, partially due to the expense, to find anything other than a large multi-channel RC plane kit that you needed plans to build. These days, due to the advances in technology, miniature radio control components are being used to produce toy RC planes at a price anyone can afford.


 



Pylon racers


Racers are small propeller aircraft that race around a 2, 3, or 4 pylon track. They tend to be hard to see and can often go over 240 km/h (150 mph), though some people do pylon races with much slower aircraft. Although several different types of aircraft are raced across the world, those flown primarily in the US are; Q500 (424 or ARPRA, and 428), and Q40. 424 is designed as a starting point into the world of pylon racing.




RC Plane Kits


As more and more interchangeable parts became available from manufacturers on the retail market, RC plane kits quickly became popular. Anyone who was able to follow instructions could build an RC plane. With this, the hobby of piloting radio-controlled airplanes expanded dramatically. The first RC plane kits were powered by wound rubber bands and gas engines, or they were launched into the air with a winch. The required field tromping and elbow grease are the only things that still limited the hobby.




RC Plane Frequencies and Channels


A specific number of radio frequencies are lawfully designated for the use of radio-controlled airplanes and other aircrafts that are controlled by an FM RC system. These frequencies fall into a 72 MHz band. Every individual frequency is designated a unique channel number.




The channel number has nothing to do with the amount of channels that the RC plane has, it is simple the same word with a separate meaning. For example, if an RC plane is a four-channel plane, it means that the plane features four controllable functions, including ailerons, elevator, rudder and throttle. This does not mean that the plane is being flown on channel four.




Military Usage of RC Planes


The military has been using PC planes for a number of different missions since as far back as the start of the twentieth century. These planes are the ideal way for the armed forces to practice and develop various maneuvers and strategies without risking harm to soldiers.




Conclusion


If you are interested in flying, there is no better way to get your fix than by piloting one of the many radio-controlled airplanes that are currently available on the market. No matter if you have been flying before of if it is your first time, you are sure to love the feeling of excitement that comes from flying RC planes. There is nothing better than the rush that comes from launching a plane that you built with your very own hands into the air, except maybe the amazing feeling of maneuvering a powerful machine that you saved for and honed your skills to be able to fly.




The greatest thing about radio-controlled airplanes is the fact that they can be enjoyed by anyone, no matter how young or old, and no matter how skilled or experienced they may be.