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Learning to fly alone

can it be done?

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Going it alone

Going it alone

can you really teach yourself to fly?

Ernie10/06/2008 16:34:00
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2482 forum posts
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Hi Guys,

I've been following the thread re. young Chris Chapmans query about a suitable glider to learn to fly on, and wonder what the general feeling about learning to fly alone is.

About a zillion years ago, I nearly cracked it...I built a 36 inch balsa and tissue glider from a plan ( I can't swear it was RCM&E) It had a pod over the wing with a wee PAW diesel in it. The only controls were rudder and elevator, so it was not that far away from freeflight, so all I had to do was interupt  things from time to time....I was daft enough to fly it in quite a strong Scottish wind, and with not that much power available, it flew off downwind never to be seen again. Its probably still languishing on some remote grouse moor.

rnie

Marc Humphries10/06/2008 16:59:00
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210 forum posts
14 photos

I learned to fly on my own.

After an apprenticeship of free flight models, then control line - it was a trouble free affair.  You had all the ingredients. 

  1. You could build straight and light
  2. You could trim a model to fly well
  3. You could start and tune an engine
  4. You had an understanding of control and the principles of flight

First RC model was an Orange Box glider.  Learned first on a tow line (just like a bigger, heavier FF model). As Ernie says - just interrupt things now and again. Then took it on the slope.  Landings were always tricky at first...

First power models were actually electric - way back in 1982.  Anyone remember the Acoms Cessna? First IC power was a Cambria Instructor.  No problem at all.

But as I say - I served a very good apprenticeship.

260 Flyer10/06/2008 22:02:00
523 forum posts
1 photos

Like Marc I am self taught though not really by choice. Bought my first R/C set- up MacGreggor DigiMac, Cambria Instructor (best looking trainer by far!) and OS Max 25 and then joined my local club. It was still SMAE in those days so there was no A cert training. I was not allowed to fly until signed off by the club Safety Officer , who was just too busy or just not there. After about a month I had done little more than a few circuits and as the club as a whole seemed to resent newcomers I called it a day. I put the trainer into mothballs and built a slope soarer. After a few minor prangs I could fly!

The Cambria Instructor did get a few outings and survived until It was shot down by a 40 powered ballistic missile. The slope was my first love and it would be some years later that my next powered plane would take to the skies. A 60 powered WOT 4 and for a few brief minutes flew great until it spun in at full power and vapourised itself. My third and final i.c. powered plane was an Acrowot with a Laser 60 on the front which I'm sure would have made a good trainer. Still have the airframe waiting for suitable electric conversion.

The point of this ramble is; if you can find a suitable slope near you it is a good confidence builder as the wind will keep the model near you, just so long as you can keep it in the air

GrumpyGnome11/06/2008 06:36:00
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489 forum posts
145 photos

I sort of learnt to fly on my own.  Built a series of single channel, two channel and three channel jobbies and eventually managed to keep something in the air for what may loosely count as 'flying' - and almost under control !

When I learnt to drive and managed to afford a car, I joined a slope soaring club (on the Gower Peninsular in South Wales - gorgeous!) and got taught properly.  Heaps of difference between my 'keeping things in the air' and flying with a fair degree of control.

I guess it's easier nowadays as pretty much all the ARF's or RTF's will be built straight and true and balanced properly so the absolute beginner has a fair chance of success.

Still think joining a club and being taught properly is a better bet.  If nothing else, you'll learn about flying field safety and etiquette..........

 GG

Tim Mackey11/06/2008 07:57:00
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20930 forum posts
304 photos
15 articles
Yes its possible.
Marc Humphries11/06/2008 12:59:00
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210 forum posts
14 photos

These days I am not a member of a club.  The thought of having a 30 mile round trip to fly at my "local field" doesn't appeal.  Also - I tend to find clubs a bit "cliquey".  Probably my paranoia from years ago when my C/L combat friends and I were always under attack from the RC boys for flying with un-silenced Super Tigre G20/15s running at 20,000 rpm.... I guess they had a point.

Also, as a green bean 14 year old I once took my built but uncovered RC model to a club night.  Apart from the legendary Howard Boys taking a keen interest and making a cardboard template for the windshield for me - many of the RC regulars were quite dismissive and one was just plain rude - saying my model was "a load of rubbish!" No wonder I turned my back on RC and went down the C/L route for a few years.

I still get to fly with a small group of friends now and again - but to me flying is a respite from working, socialising and being around people.  It's a bit of an escape. 

Electric power has tranformed flying.  Within reason you can fly much closer to home with much less hassle - at a place and a time that suits me. No club required!

260 Flyer11/06/2008 13:18:00
523 forum posts
1 photos
Lately I am beginning to covet my local clubs "bowling green" like strip, I just might put aside my prejudice and join them. Assuming I can pass my A cert
Marc Humphries11/06/2008 13:55:00
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210 forum posts
14 photos
Rob - resist - keep the faith!
260 Flyer11/06/2008 14:06:00
523 forum posts
1 photos

I'd rather keep me wheels on!

The cows have really beggered my strip in the wet weather!

Marc Humphries11/06/2008 14:17:00
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210 forum posts
14 photos

If you join, you know what will happen:

  1. You'll buy an anorak
  2. You'll start wearing a cowboy hat
  3. You'll start shopping in Wilkinson's for "a bargain"
  4. Caravans will suddenly be seen as "a cost effective way of having a holiday".

You have been warned

260 Flyer11/06/2008 14:21:00
523 forum posts
1 photos
Caravans! Hmmmmm...
260 Flyer11/06/2008 14:49:00
523 forum posts
1 photos

That's it, I'm off home to grab me anorak and cowboy hat to drain a few packs before the rain gets here!

Rob

P.S. Wilkinson's do their own brand microporous tape that is supposed to be better and cheaper than Blenderm tape!

Marc Humphries11/06/2008 15:38:00
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210 forum posts
14 photos
See - it's happening already...
Andy Harris15/06/2008 22:59:00
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464 forum posts
30 photos

Process:

  a) get about 100hrs on a simulator with proper TX attached (G2,3.5,4)

  b) get smaller model, Precision Aerobatics Electric Shock (Addiction is actually easier) [High wing IC trainers need a lot of space, a long strip to land on because they seem to float for ever, trainers react to stick inputs slowly so its not the same 'feel' as the simulator]

*don't get a cheap £100 'all-in' foamy, they don't behave well enough for a novice - you'll have flights measured in seconds, you really have to get a proper model with carbon fibre stiffness and draggy 3D aerofoils to slow everything down.  

  c) get BMFA membership, read stuff about TX and work out if you have a local club that you might clash with.

  d) [KEY BIT] -- set dual rates to about 30% or travel and 70% expo, make sure trims are geometrically perfect, you don't want to stuggle with excessive trim issues.

  e) on a very calm day, fly, get head round trims, you'll realise that space perception is a real issue going from simulator to real world, fly circuits, avoid flying over your head, try not to fly inverted, loops are safe, rolls can be tricky, leave these for the moment.

  f) adjust rates progressively after each bunch of 10 flights

  g) by 60 flights you'll be near full rates and able to keep in a good circuit and to an imaginary flight line

  h)  join club - they have good runways and people that know about stuff you didn't even know was stuff in the first place.

3D electric park flyers are great fun for a grabbed solo session but a good club shows you what can really be done and effectively lifts your game. 

Regards

Andy 

Tim Mackey15/06/2008 23:32:00
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20930 forum posts
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15 articles
Not sure who your post is aimed at Andy - but have to disagree with some of it if its aimed at a beginner!
Andy Harris16/06/2008 08:20:00
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464 forum posts
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Timbo

My post would be aimed at those who are attracted to model flying but who are uneasy about joining a club. 

-- I can see that it flies in the face of accepted wisdom, however it is roughly the process that I followed.

-- One of my most difficult flying moments was flying the IC powered club trainer, it took several minutes to work out how different everything was, they don't go where you put them, they are fast in a straight line and *heavy*.

-- As a confession, I did buy a £99 'all-in' Protech Extra 330, just about managed two flights and comprehensively crashed on the third, it was too slippery, too chaotic.

-- In comparision, the Electric Shock is a very simple, very stable accurate model that goes where your thumbs send it. The big wing section means that it is slow, and the AUW is 390g.

-- I started about 3 months (real world) ago, for something to clear the head in an empty field behind my house, I've had G2 and a JR transmitter for 5 years, and used it for about 15mins every night between 'work' and 'home' time.

-- It is easier to fly sections of the 'B' on a PA Addiction than it is to do the 'A' on a trainer, I know this, I'm going through the process now.  Into wind, the 'Add'  will  land at a standstill, the trainer can float and bounce for 50 metres.

Maybe the flying world has changed, maybe simulators are a good basis for initial training, maybe mid-top price ARTF models are made straight and true.

Timbo, you have a grillion hours stick time, I have real, here and now novice experience, which might be valuable as an addition to the opening notes that you've made for beginners.

Regards

Andy

PS, the parts from the Protech 330 went into a Kyosho Spree Sports, which is an absolute pleasure in comparison. 

I'll probably agree with everything you say as I become subsumed in club culture.  

ERIC CLAPHAM16/06/2008 08:50:00
71 forum posts
5 photos
I LEARNT TO FLY COMPLETELY ON MY OWN DUE TO THE FACT THAT THERE WERE NO CLUBS ONLY A FEW VERY ENTHUSIASTIC WOULD BE RCERS. I WOULD NOT RECOMMEND THIS ROUTE TO ANY WAANABESS. THE AMOUNT OF CRUNSHED BALSA WAS IMMENSE!!!!  HOWEVER ONCE THE LEARNING CURVE (EXTREMLY SHARP) WAS OVERCOME THE PLEASURE OF RC FLYING WAS HUGE. SO IF YOU REALLY WANT TO DO IT JOIN A CLUB AND BEND THAT INSTRUCTORS EAR -BIG TIME. MY SET UP AT THAT TIME-CIRCA EARLY SEVENTIES -WAS AN RCM TRAINER POWERED BY A BURFORD GLOW .19 ENGINE AND CONTROL WAS VIA WORLD ENGINES CONTROLAIRE SINGLE STICK BOUGHT FROM AN AMERICAN WORKING IN WOOMERA. IN THE TIME FROM NOT BRINGING BIN BAGS OF CRAFT I WENT ONTO PARTICULARLY SLOPE SOARING- MAN AGAINST NATURE AND ALL THAT-AND 1/2 A MODELS WITH 0.8/.049 ENGINES  WITH TWO CHANNELS. MINIMUM OUTLAY MAXIMUM FUN. DIESELS BEING MY THING. I HAVE QUITE  A FEW  FREEPLANS FROM YESTERYEAR SO ANYONE OUT THERE PLEASE ASK
David Ashby - Moderator16/06/2008 08:58:00
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Hi Eric and welcome to the forum

This is an interesting thread not least because with simulators and smaller park-fly electric models there would seem to be a route into RC flying for those wishing to go it alone these days - however I often wonder if the reality and the 'ease' isn't as great as it should be?   

Tim Mackey16/06/2008 09:18:00
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20930 forum posts
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15 articles

Hi Andy, I don't disagree with much of your reasoning, and of course you are very welcome to contribute, as a relative newcomer - that is what makes the forum such a useful exchange of views and information

My main argument would be regarding durability. I know the PA Addiction, and as we both know, this and other similar lightweight 3D style models are built extremely light and consequently fragile. It is simply not possible to achieve the flying characteristics it is designed for without a this compromise, on any model. Now unless you are a lot more gifted or lucky, or indeed both, crashing is very much a part of the learning process, and I suggest in the hands of a beginner the Addiction will crash. Once. Add in the complex internal structures, together with the inexperience in buildiong / reparing, plus the fact that ARTFs have no plans to follow, and it will likely never fly again.

Granted, I did not learn on a simulator as you seem to be suggesting one should / could.... ( simply not invented in my days - even buddy leads were not around then ) but there is much debate about the probability of being able to "learn to fly" on them anyway - I certainly find them a lot different to the real thing.

The two statements you made in particular that I would disagree with are...

1) Don't get a cheap £100 'all-in' foamy, they don't behave well enough for a novice - you'll have flights measured in seconds, you really have to get a proper model with carbon fibre stiffness and draggy 3D aerofoils to slow everything down.

Some of them behave perfectly well for a novice. Flights are often into 15-20 minutes duration, which is PLENTY for a newcomer. Proper flying tuition, correct use of the controls, and flying style slows things down - not carbon fibre and drag. 3D aerofoils dont always equate to good lift and stability or self correction in times of trouble.

2) Get a smaller model, Precision Aerobatics Electric Shock (Addiction is actually easier) [High wing IC trainers need a lot of space, a long strip to land on because they seem to float for ever, trainers react to stick inputs slowly so its not the same 'feel' as the simulator]

Bigger the better for beginners IMO. Bigger models fly smoother, are much easier to see if it is allowed to get a little too far away, handle inclement weather better, and fly slower with less pilot input and worry than lightweight fragile 3D machines. A good, properly flown IC trainer does not need a huge lot of space, or even a long strip to land on - have you ever seen a well flown and setup WOT4 on finals - drop 'em in on a sixpence you can! Besides, I would never advocate anyone learning to fly in a space that wasnt both LARGE and FREE from public distraction such as dogs, pedestrians, cows or whatever. I have yet to find ANY model that has the same stick reaction as a simulator.

I appreciate that some people have the luxury of their own private flying field, but most do not, and I would never want to be seen to encourage raw beginners to fly a potentially dangerous missile without supervision, and I still believe that when that inevitable first crash happens, he / she will be more inclined to "get back on the horse" if it is able to be repaired simply and cheaply...which a foamy trainer can be, and an Addiction can certainly not.

Tim Mackey16/06/2008 09:19:00
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20930 forum posts
304 photos
15 articles
Eric, hi and welcome aboard - please dont type in CAPITALS - this is considered SHOUTING

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