Greensboro Radio Aeromodelers
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Getting Started in RC

Getting Started In RC
Wow, where to begin? If you are asking, "Hey, how can I get started in radio control (RC)?", the GRAMS Club can help.
There are so many sources for advice—hobby shops, flying clubs, magazines, internet, friends or neighbors, public events or displays. These sources will likely have a few pieces of advice in common. You need a flight instructor, a trainer aircraft, and a plan!

An Instructor—Your New Best Friend!
Using an instructor makes your introduction to RC more successful, more fun, and hopefully less expensive! While it is possible for you to buy an aircraft and teach yourself, it is rare. Even if you get one hour with an experienced pilot, you will increase your rate of success by a huge factor. No matter how well a model is marketed "ready to fly" or "flight tested" out of the box, you need a pilot to check it out so at least you know it flies. Otherwise, you may not know that the reason you are constantly fighting the controls is because of a warped wing, a loose motor mount, or just a model that is poorly trimmed for level, hands-off flight. So, get help. One hour is better than nothing, but extended instruction is the best. And, you'll have a flying buddy, too!

Speaking of buddies, the greatest tool ever for teaching a new pilot is called the Buddy Box. The Buddy Box is a transmitter system that allows the student pilot's transmitter to be connected to the instructor's transmitter. If the student gets disoriented, the instructor can release the Trainer Switch and take control of the plane to save the day. It's like Driver's Ed for RC!

A Trainer —The Right Stuff!
Nearly as important as an instructor is the correct choice of aircraft. This is the fun part; that is, until you are standing in front of a wall of cool airplane or helicopter kits all screaming "pick me, pick me". Or, you are surfing the web and they are popping up on every click of the mouse. Take a deep breath and step away from the mouse! You need to think about this.

People who learn to fly full-scale "real" airplanes start with aircraft designated as trainers. Typically, the best trainers have their wings above the cockpit. Think of a Cessna 150 or Piper Cub J-3. These are high wing planes. The weight is suspended under those big wings. The weight tries to stay centered under the wing which makes the plane fly level. You want a plane that will try to stay level on its own because you are going to be busy trying to fly! It's kind of like training wheels on a bike. They let you get the hang of steering and balance without letting you spin out and fall. A high wing stable trainer does the same thing.  

A Plan—Have You Filed Your Flight Plan?
Once you get an instructor and a trainer, you need a plan for learning. The GRAMS Club has dedicated Flight Instructors that use a proven Flight Training Manual (FTM). This manual is a great learning tool that allows you to progress at a comfortable pace with clear goals. There is a lot of info about engines, electric motors, and other equipment-related processes. Using this plan gives the student complete and robust instruction on how to fly and maintain their aircraft.

Who Do I Call?
The GRAMS Club Flight Instructors are dedicated modelers. They have many years of experience in building and flying. Whether you start with an Almost-Ready-to-Fly (ARF) model or one that you have built from a kit, you will be in good hands. Their job is to help you prepare, preserve and protect your plane. Let's face it; if you are working on your plane after every flight, you really aren't learning to fly are you?


    The great thing about being in a club is being close to such a huge resource—the members. We have members that have been building and flying models since the days where radio control was, well—subject to change without notice! Never has it been so easy to get into this great hobby/sport. Never have we had such reliable, powerful and accessible equipment. So, don't wait any longer. Get started today!

A Word About Helicopters…
Helicopters are a different animal. There really is no such thing as a trainer helicopter. Sure, there are these little electric indoor coaxial-rotored models that are incredibly stable and easy to fly. 
They will teach you how to hover and are great fun. But, for the larger glow-engined or more powerful small electric models flown at the field, they all have the same inherent instability that make collective-pitch helicopters a challenge to fly. We have several heli pilots at GRAMS. Contact any of the Club Flight Instructors and they will point you to those that can help you.

For more information on Getting Started in RC, take a look at the links below.

The AMA and RCUniverse are great resources for model aviation. 

Model Airplane News is a great magazine and another great source of information.

The Trainers available will overwhelm you! Here are few links to some of the more popular choices. For glow-powered trainers, consider in no particular order:
Sig Kadet (Look for Kadet LT 40 & Kadet Senior)

For Electric-Powered Trainers, check out:
Hobbico SuperStar Select (Convert to Electric)
Sig Kadet (Look for Kadet Seniorita EP & Kadet EP-42B)
Hobby-Lobby Telemasters (Look for "Electro" Versions)

For a good start in Helicopters, browse:


If you really want to maximize learning and practice 24/7, you should add a Flight Simulator to your training program. If you are leaning toward helicopters, a flight sim is highly recommended. Consider that the initial cost of a sim is less than the cost of a really bad crash of a 30-sized glow-powered heli.

Blue Sky & Calm Winds Await !



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