Tips on Getting Your Radio Control Airplane Ready

For successful and safe flight.  A successful flight, and a safe one, for a radio control electric airplane will require your doing the kind of pre-flight inspection that veteran pilots always do.  For your first rc airplane flights with an instructior, she will spend time showing you what to look for and how to correct any flaws before they become problems for you, your plane or for people around you.

Preflight Check
Start by looking inside the plane for loose wiring or mechanical connections and then on the outside for control surfaces that may have come loose (or too tight!), proper security of the antenna, wheels, propeller, motor and batteries.  With the plane assembled, turn on the power to the radio receiver and walk 100’+ away from the plane, and with the antenna on the transmitter pushed down, make sure that the radio operates the control properly, with no undue buzzing or vibrating coming from the plane.  If the test fails, do NOT fly until the cause of the problem is found.  At the best you might crash your plane through loss of control, at worst, someone (even you) could be injured by a runaway plane.  (Even a small radio control electric airplane has a rotating knife blade – called a propeller – that can severely hurt someone).

Weight and Balance
If you haven’t done this earlier, then hold the rc airplane up and balance it with a finger under each wing tip, at about 1/3 of the way back along the width of the wing.  The radio control electric airplane should hang with its’ nose slight tilted downward.  If it hangs with the tail low, flying it will show you what it’s like to have a tiger by the tail – uncontrollable!  A tail-low condition usually can be remedied by just moving the battery a bit forward inside the plane and then you’re good to go!  Assuming your battery is fully charged, either take off from the ground or have an experienced pilot help you with a level or slightly nose-up straight-ahead  throw into the air.  Give yourself plenty of room, away from the trees, pets and spectators, keeping in mind that if you take off from the middle of the runway, you’ve wasted all that space behind you.  And that might just be how much you need should the motor fail you!

In the Air
With a first flight for the radio control electric airplane, get some altitude and try some turns; fast and slow, tight ones and big lazy ones, left and right, then climbs and glides similar to landing and taking off – all to sense how the plane reacts to your inputs. Even if all is well, a short first flight is best so that you can land to check if everything is still tight and safe.  Lots of times, a few minutes in the air will magically loosen all sorts of connections and better to find them now (on the ground) and be able to go fly your rc airplane some more, rather than the other way around!