Genesee Valley Aero Modelers
This is the manual that has been developed by the Genesee Valley Aero Modelers to aid new R/C pilots
Genesee Valley Aero Modelers
Flight Instruction Manual
This manual has been assembled to assist the new flyer in the selection,
building, preflight inspection and successful flight of an R/C airplane. It
provides tips and general guidelines. However like many things in life, there is
no one right way to do everything involved in the building and flying of your
new aircraft. Rule #1 is to get help from an experienced pilot if at all
possible. This assistance should apply to all phases of your modeling
experience, from the selection and building of your first trainer to solo
flight. In the following pages we will try to cover some of the basics:
This booklet has been written with the input of many members of the GVAM. Special thanks to:
Angle of incidence- the angle at which the wing is set with reference to the lengthwise axis of the airplane.
Air speed- the speed at which the airplane’s wing is moving through the air (not to be confused with ground speed!)
Overshoot- going beyond the desired point of landing touchdown. This is usually caused by excess airspeed or poor judgment when determining the start of the glide path. The best thing to do if you overshoot the runway is to throttle up the engine and go around. If this is not possible (engine dead) you need to make a judgment call whether you can still land safely if you con- tinue going straight ahead (this is probably the best plan of
attack for the beginner as you remain in control and do not risk stalling the aircraft in a low altitude tight turn).
Pitch- rotation about the horizontal axis
Roll- the movement of the airplane about its longitudinal axis.
Stall- when the wing meets the air at too great an angle of attack and no longer is capable of providing enough lift to support the air craft.
Undershoot- falling short of the desired landing point. This is caused by poor judgment on where to start the glide path or holding the nose of the aircraft too high causing a steeper than normal de- scent thereby reaching the ground sooner than planned. Care must be exercised not to use the elevator to draw out the glide when you undershoot the runway. Use of the elevator will tem- porarily cause the airplane to balloon up but this will only serve to slow the airplane down and possibly cause a stall. The proper method to draw the glide out a little is to apply a little throttle control, thereby delaying the descent, then reducing the throttle back to the original engine speed during the glide.
Yaw- rotation about the vertical axis
Basic forces exerted on the aircraft
Aircraft control surfaces and their functions
Basic concepts to successful flight
There are some concepts that will be useful to grasp for
successful operation of your aircraft. Basically we are all out to pilot our
aircraft under reasonable control and be able to bring it back to earth with
little or o damage. The key concept to get across is control. If we are
able to maintain control of our aircraft then keeping our aircraft from being
damaged should not be a problem. It is when we lose control of our aircraft that
The next concept that I would like to get across is the control of airspeed.
From the glossary of terms you may see that the elevator is really the airspeed
control. This may not seem correct because everybody uses the elevator to cause
the aircraft to climb. Although this is what everyone does consider how much the
aircraft would climb without the throttle set to the highest speed. Also
consider the case of the glider in a glide. By pulling back on the elevator you
will cause a glider’s airspeed to decrease, conversely if you push forward on
the elevator you will cause the glider’s airspeed to increase quite
dramatically. Yes, it is true that if you pull back on the elevator control the
aircraft will climb, but this will only occur until the aircraft slows down;
without the proper throttle setting the climb will be only momentary. This
concept is very important for the student to understand when aborting a landing.
Without increasing the throttle setting the climb that occurs when the pilot
pulls back on the stick will be very short lived, followed by a very quick
descent as the aircraft loses its airspeed and the wing stalls, causing the
aircraft to come to the ground in a very uncontrollable manner. I cannot
emphasize this idea enough.
The next concept that I would like to explain is that of loss of control
due to the aircraft stalling. The thing that usually occurs when an aircraft
stalls is that only one part of the wing will stall. Consider what would happen
if only the right half of the wing were to stall. This seems like an unlikely
occurrence but it can and does happen. I think you would have to agree that if
the right side of the wing stalled and that the left half of the wing was still
providing lift that the aircraft would start to roll off to the right. This is
what usually happens when the airspeed is very low and something happens to
cause the aircraft to yaw or for some reason the air is disturbed to one half of
the wing. The something that can happen to cause the aircraft to yaw is improper
control of the rudder or adverse yaw caused by the ailerons. Adverse yaw is
particularly confusing because it gives a reaction exactly opposite of what is
expected. Adverse yaw must be compensated for by the application of rudder in
the direction of the turn/bank desired.
tips are still flying.
¨Size- The plane should be large enough to see it’s attitude when flown at altitudes which provide enough time to recover from mistakes.
¨High Wing- A high wing aircraft with some dihedral tends to be a naturally stable aircraft.
¨Light wing loading- The lighter the wing loading the slower the plane will fly, land and take off, allowing the new pilot more time to make control inputs.
¨Landing Gear- In general, planes with a steerable nose wheel are easier to land and take off although there are some tail draggers that are acceptable. In either case the plane should have a steerable nose or tail wheel.
There are several ways to buy your first plane. There are basically three types of kits. A "bare bones" kit, an ARC, and an ARF.
¨Bare bones is a kit which contains plans, wood, and most of the other parts needed to build the model.
¨ARC is an "Almost ready to cover" kit. Most of the building is done; you complete the assembly, apply the covering, install the radio and the engine.
¨ARF indicates an "Almost ready to Fly" aircraft. Most of the building and covering is already done. You need to glue together a few parts and install the radio and engine.
In addition, kits that have been built by other modelers are often available at local hobby shops and club auctions. You should be aware that when you buy a plane that has been pre-built whether by another modeler, or an ARC or ARF, the quality can vary depending on the company or ability of the modeler. it is recommended that you get advice from an experienced modeler before purchasing from any of these sources.
A number of planes that have proven to be excellent trainers are:
The "Tower Trainer" series from Tower Hobbies.
Again, this list by no means covers all of the models on the market. However
a number of us have had experience with these planes and have found them to be
¨Reliability- There are several popular sport engines which are reliable and easy to set up. As a general rule two strokes require the least maintenance and are the least expensive. Four strokes are quieter and are an excellent choice for larger planes and scale aircraft.
¨Size- Most trainers have a recommended range of engine sizes. It is not a good idea to significantly overpower an airplane. However an engine at the upper end of the range is recommended for flying off a grass runway. Take-offs from grass strips tend to require more power especially when the grass is wet or long.
A number of excellent first engines are the:
OS 40FP and 60 FP- Very dependable and reasonably priced.
All planes flown at the GVAM field must have mufflers on 2 cycle engines above .15 c.i. and 4 cycle engines above .60 c.i..
When buying your engine it is a good idea to pick up a couple of spare glow
¨At least four channels- Even if training on a two channel aircraft such as a glider buy a four channel radio. The radio can be used in your next plane which is likely to require three or more channels. Many two channel radios do not come with rechargeable batteries which is very expensive over the long run. Most importantly with a two channel radio the elevator has to be on the left stick which is the opposite of most four channel setups. In addition to making your transition to a four channel radio more difficult, it will be difficult or impossible to find an instructor who can comfortably fly your plane.
¨A trainer cord- If you know who your instructor is going to be find out if he wants to use a trainer cord, and purchase a radio that will be compatible with the equipment he will be using.
Radios from Futaba, Airtronics, JR, and HiTec/ RCD are all good choices. In the Genesee Valley Aero Modelers Futabas tend to be the radio of choice.
The Futaba Conquest FM 4 channel is an excellent first radio. Our club has a radio and trainer cord available to any of our instructors that will work with this model. The Futaba Attack AM 4 channel is also a good choice but not available with a trainer cord. Again, if possible, check with your instructor for his recommendations.
Glues: Aliphatic Glues (Carpenters' type, Tight Bond, Sig Bond)
CA Glues (Tower, Satellite City, Goldberg, etc.)
Epoxies (Devcon, Tower, Sig, etc.)
R/C 56 (Wilhold) - for windshields
Coverings: Monokote (Top Flite)
Ultracoat (Carl Goldberg)
Century 21 (Coverite)
Oracover ( Hobby Lobby)
Before the first test flight of a new model check the following. Your instructor should check each of these areas with you. It is a good idea for all pilots to have another pilot check over any new plane before its first flight.
¨General construction is straight and solid without warps.
¨Balance point is per the plans or slightly ahead of that indicated on plans.
¨All clevises should have retainers or keepers installed.
¨All electrical connections are firmly locked.
¨Wing hold down dowels are solid.
¨Reinforcement around wing dowels or hold down bolts.
¨Antenna stretched out full length, not coiled up in the plane.
¨Sharp edges on the prop should be smoothed off.
¨All wheels turn freely.
¨Make sure you have the proper frequency pin before making radio checks.
¨Check all controls for proper direction of travel.
¨Range check the radio.
¨Check that all Batteries are fully charged.
¨Check all controls for proper direction of travel, again.
¨It is best to fly with at least one other person present.
¨Have a hold down to secure the airplane while the engine is being started.
¨Do not have any loose clothing or jewelry hanging, that might get caught in the prop.
¨Start your engine on low throttle.
¨Get behind the airplane to make all adjustments.
¨Do not reach across the propeller.
¨Remove the glow plug battery as soon as the engine is running.
¨Do not stand in line with the propeller arc, and make sure bystanders are also away from the propeller arc.
¨Do not smoke around any glow fuel, diesel fuel, or gasoline. Do not smoke in the pit area.
¨Make sure you have the proper frequency pin before turning on your radio.
¨Turn on the transmitter first, then the receiver.
¨Move all controls to verify equipment is operating as it should.
¨Make sure the engine will idle slow enough to land.
New or inexperienced pilots should always have an experienced pilot make the first flight on any new plane. Even the most docile trainer or glider can do something unexpected before it is properly trimmed. With a more experienced pilot at the controls, odds are better that the plane will survive its first flight.
¨The first step after performing all safety checks and preflight inspection should be a taxi test to see how the plane tracks on the ground.
¨Smoothly ease the throttle forward until flying speed is reached and gently ease the plane off the ground. Climb out slowly until adequate altitude is gained.
¨At this point begin to check and adjust trims for level flight.
¨Once the plane is trimmed, if it seems to be flying well, some basic maneuvers can be performed to check response and control of the model.
1. Always take off into the wind. If others are flying check to see flight pattern.
2. Always stand in designated pilot spots before taking off. Maximum number is three flyers at a time, or four with tow-line gliders.
3. Advance throttle gently to full power, keeping model straight into the wind.
4. Climb out and gain altitude slowly. Do not climb out steep because plane will stall and crash.
5. Don't fly too far out. Stay away from buildings in the east. Do most of your maneuvers upwind. In case of trouble, plane will tend to drift closer.
6. Fly in big circles and stay high so plane can be recovered by instructor in case of problems.
7. Practice right and left turns. Try to fly figure eights.
8. Practice tight turns where it is necessary to feed in up elevator to keep plane from losing altitude.
9. Practice recovering from stalls with low engine speeds.
10. Practice flying over landing strip as if you were going to land, only 25 or 50 feet above the ground.
11. Always land into the wind or the same direction as everyone else.
12. When flying the plane toward you, you can level the wings by swinging your rudder or aileron stick toward the wing that is low.
13. Try to avoid flying into the sun. If it happens, use your transmitter for a sunshade. Usually if the plane is flying straight and level when passing through the sun, just hold everything in neutral until it comes out the other side.
14. When landing, make a slow approach parallel to the strip at a fairly low altitude, probably 300 to 500 feet out. Make a 90 degree turn cross wind toward landing strip. Make another 90 degree turn trying to line up with the landing strip. Cut power down and adjust power so plane will not touch down until it is on the runway. If plane drops too fast, just open throttle to maintain altitude until over strip. Then land.
15. Just before plane sets on ground, give enough up elevator (on a tricycle landing gear) that the rear wheels touch first and then nose gear.
16. Taxi to pit area and stop engine before entering. Turn off receiver, then
transmitter, and replace frequency pin.
Always charge batteries the night before flying. When the radio is new,
range check your equipment at the field with the antenna collapsed.
When finished flying, stop engine by pulling off fuel line.