My History of R/C Endeavors
First, let me say I have always loved planes. I couldn't wait until I could fly control-line planes. I began flying these when I was 10, I guess. I continued to do this with my friends for several years. This was great fun and I had always wanted to fly radio control planes. Someday I knew I would.
I am self-taught in the ability to fly radio controlled airplanes. I accomplished this the hard way. As many newcomers to this hobby, I wandered into a hobby shop (in 1978) and bought a "trainer" plane. I was told this plane was very stable & easy to fly. This was true for someone with experience, but it could not be flown successfully alone without experience. I did however, put together one heck of a nice plane, if I do say so myself (partly due to the experience gained when I built several control-line planes).
I was at the mercy of my instructor who was difficult to meet with at the flying field. I wanted to learn how to fly when it was convenient for ME to be at the flying field. I also did not like the hassle & expense of (1) joining AMA and (2) having to join a local club and (3) having to pay for an instructor. I also did not like flying my plane so high it seemed difficult to see what was going on. Learning how to fly at the flying field where several other R/C pilots were buzzing around fast made me nervous. This was a ridiculous situation and left me very frustrated as a result. I decided to fly the plane by myself.
The day was beautiful. My friend accompanied me to the field. The plane took off & somehow, I made a normal looking flight around the flying field, then - quickly - something happened and the next thing I knew, the plane nose-dived into the mud. The engine was totally covered in mud. The plane was seriously damaged.
I am not a quitter and I was confident I could master this talent given the right circumstances. So, I began an intensive study into an alternative approach. My goal was to become proficient at flying radio controlled planes without anyone's help. Was this possible? Absolutely!
I purchased a trainer with a six-foot wingspan and it used a tiny engine on it. The wing was solid balsa and the fuselage was just a box. The plane went together quickly and it flew on two channels: rudder & elevator. Upon completion of this plane, I took it to a pasture which had tall grass and a gentle slope. I went to the top of the slope, cranked up the engine, gave it a toss & VIOLA!!! - I was flying!!! I flew this plane for many hours before I moved onto my next plane.
Flying this trainer taught me the basics of radio controlled flight which were and still are important to me, now 22 years later. My next plane had a 54" under-cambered wing with a throttle-controlled engine. With this plane, I was able to take off from the grass and also throttle down for beautiful touch-n-goes which enabled me to perfect my landing technique. This plane could fly so slow, that I actually flew it backwards into the wind several times. Many of the regular flyers at the R/C flying field were surprised by my abilities to fly so well - it wasn't difficult - with the right plane and the right conditions, it was easy!
My next plane was a biplane - I really loved that plane and flew it to death! It was a blast. I continued to fly R/C planes for a few years until I went to college and left the hobby. While into my 3rd year of college, I got back into R/C and re-discovered the wonderful hobby I had neglected years before. I found a wonderful place to fly, which is one of the reasons I really enjoy this hobby - it gets me outside among wonderful scenery.
I flew for about two years during college, then lost interest again when I graduated. By this time, I had a real job - and a real wife and two real children to support. I didn't make much money and I worked a lot and was really enjoying my little family.
Nine years went by very quickly and finally I had to get back into flying again. In 1995 I bought my first electric R/C plane. It was similar to the 6 foot wingspan trainer I originally learned on - at least, this was what I thought. As it turns out, the plane was extremely under-powered and it wasn't really worth flying. I could not re-learn how to fly using that plane. Rather than improve the drive system with a better motor & gear drive (partly because the wing was in three pieces) I bought another electric plane instead.
I was quite happy with this plane - it flew with authority, though not too fast. After a few flights I was "back in the saddle", so to speak. I found this plane was very easy to fly, and since it was electric, and because it was small & slow, I was flying more & more. I could go to the park at the end of my street & fly it very early in the morning - none of the neighbors were disturbed by noise. I didn't need to join any R/C clubs, or wonder if the engine would start, or deal with the messy exhaust residue left on the plane after flying. I didn't need to join AMA or hire an instructor. I was totally satisfied with this plane - it gave me everything I wanted except for two things - it wasn't very durable, and its performance was somewhat disappointing.
The next plane I bought was a JK Aerotech T-52. I purchased this plane in December of 1998. I didn't build it until a year later. This plane has got to be the most perfect plane I've ever flown. First of all, the plane is constructed from EPS foam (expanded polystyrene) and is covered with packing tape. This combination of materials yeilds one very durable, light, inexpensive and quick-building aircraft! The flight characteristics of the T-52 are phenomenal - it was designed to be a trainer, or slow flier, and it is!!! But, using 8 cells with a 6V motor, I can loop repeatedly from level flight, yet slow it down so much as to almost a walking pace when landing or doing touch-n-goes.
This plane, the JK Aerotech T-52, in my opinion, is the ultimate trainer. If trimmed & balanced properly, it flies itself! At the time this text was written, I have flown well over 100 flights on this plane and I've enjoyed this plane immensely. With all of this said, let's get on with the recipe for successful R/C flying (click on the link below):