Beginners Hints and Tips
This page contains a flight tutorial and a basic introduction to aeromodelling, discussing engines, radio and aircraft.
Flight training and instructors.
With the flying season about to start, let's not forget about the new members and beginners who may need help in 'getting off the ground' and would benefit from some flight training. Teaching people to fly is incredibly rewarding and enjoyable and the fact that the 'cause' is utterly worthy, particularly when you consider the importance of new pilots to the wealth and health of the hobby and to the strength of the club. Few of us will never forget our driving instructor, given the magnitude of the new found freedom we enjoyed on passing our driving test. Similarly, so great is the challenge of learning to fly an R/C model, you'll always remember who taught you to fly, and from an instructors point of view that makes the task a huge responsibility but also a great privilege. Contrary to the beliefs of some, instructing is anything but dull, in fact it really can be challenging and rewarding and the skill is in realising the strengths and weaknesses of your pupil and being able to work with the former to overcome the latter. The club is always looking for new instructors and helpers, so if you are a competent flyer and would like to give something back to the hobby by assisting others then please contact any member of the committee and give details when and how much time you are able to give over to training and mentoring others.
If you do need any help with building, setting up your plane or flight training then please contact any member of the committee or any one of our flying instructors listed under the heading 'Members List' and explain the type of assistance you require and an appropriate person will be assigned to help you. If you do need help with flying then please do not just arrive at the flying site expecting help to be at hand. It is vitally important that you make contact with a recognised club instructor and agree a suitable and convenient time for you both. Although most members at the field are pleased to offer help and advice if asked, but not everyone wants the responsibility of flying another person plane or offer training without essential buddy box equipment which most instructors can supply.
Flight Tutorial for Beginners
Purpose of this tutorial
A raw novice can get his first plane into the air quite easily just by placing it on the ground and opening the throttle. What happens after that is largely down to luck, but the chances of an unaided safe return to earth are quite low.
Prior to his first flight the novice will have spent much time thinking about flying his new pride and joy. Logic tells him that the elevator makes the plane go up and down, the ailerons make it bank and the rudder, well it sort of steers it, doesn't it ? The throttle, of course, makes it go faster or slower. Reality is a bit more complex than this but an explanation of how the basic controls really work, plus demonstrations on the simulator, will, hopefully, help soften the novice's undeniably difficult learning curve.
Before discussing control inputs it's helpful to understand what we're trying to control, and why, so let's start by talking about the plane itself.
It is important to stress that a lot of development work has gone into aircraft design over the last century or so to enable aeroplanes to fly themselves successfully in spite of a pilot's attempts to persuade them to do otherwise.
One built-in property they have is Natural Stability, which continually attempts to restore the plane to a stable flight path following a disturbance. Flying a model aircraft is a continuous battle between the natural stability of the aeroplane and the pilot's attempts to overcome this using the controls. It's no coincidence that there is a mode of stability corresponding to each of the four transmitter stick movements.
The easiest stability to understand is yaw stability, that is the response to a sideways movement of the aircraft tail. This is exactly the same as an arrow, or a dart. The fin is the "flight". In a similar manner, the tailplane acts as the flight in the pitch direction, controlling the nose up/down attitude of the plane. The fin and tailplane will always try to align themselves with the airflow over them and they have lots of leverage to help them do this.
A little more difficult to grasp is roll stability i.e. what makes a plane try to level its wings if disturbed. Two primary factors influencing roll stability are dihedral and the position of the wing i.e. high or low. We'll come back to this later.
Finally, there's speed stability. If a plane, for whatever reason, is traveling too slow to support itself, we don't want it to stall and fall out of the sky. Rather, it is desirable that it speeds itself up. It does this by dropping its nose as it slows, thus converting energy from height lost into forward speed. One of the important factors here is something you may have heard of Centre of Gravity position. It really is important in making a model behave in a "friendly" fashion.
All aircraft possess natural stability to a degree. Passenger aircraft and trainer models have high natural stability whilst aerobatic aircraft and full-size fighters have low natural stability. We'll talk about whether stability is "good" or "bad", later.
Disturbances may occur for many reasons, including natural inputs such as wind gusts, but we'll be concentrating here on the most significant, and unpredictable, cause of disturbance known to man: the novice pilot. Many older and experienced modellers will have done their apprenticeships on "Free-flight" models, which have high stability and are capable, when properly trimmed, of take-off, flight and landing all by themselves. The problems only arise when we install radio control, so make sure this is switched off for your first flight ! (only joking !!).
The concept of learning to fly a model being a "battle" is not too far from the truth, as most slightly experienced novices will confirm. The fastest learning novice pilots are those that recognise the models flight characteristics and make use of, or work with, them. If you fight the model it often wins.
So let's get going with the interesting bit, what do the controls really do.
We've talked briefly about the four primary controls, and how they relate to model movement, so let's look at them in a bit more detail and see exactly how they control the model.
The four primary controls (using ‘control_demo_1')
Demo 1 Movements about the plane axes
Demo 2 Movement of control surfaces
Demo 3 Effect of controls on plane
The rudder is relatively straightforward ; it simply moves the tail to the left or right. Note that this, on its own, does not cause the plane to turn, just ‘crab' sideways. Remember, the fin/rudder assembly always aligns itself with the airflow.
The ailerons are the wiggly bits on the wings; when one goes up the other goes down. When the aileron goes down the effective angle of the wing to the airflow increases so this wing generates more lift and rises, and vice versa. Worth remembering when you're installing and setting up your servos : aileron down = wing up. Note that the ailerons themselves, do not cause the model to turn.
The next two controls, elevator and throttle, we'll consider jointly since they tend to work together to make the plane go faster and slower, and up and down, both fairly important in keeping the plane off the ground. However, things are not as straightforward as they appear and this area is one of the main causes of grief to the novice pilot. It's worth spending a bit of time.
Throttle demo :
Fly straight and level at part throttle, note speed.
Open throttle a bit, note speed. Note altitude.
Close throttle a bit, note speed. Note altitude.
Conclusion : stable condition is throttle controls rate of climb, not speed.
Sounds odd, but actually, this is quite logical. As mentioned previously, if the plane is flying too slowly its natural stability causes the nose to drop and the plane to lose height to maintain flying speed. Here, we're seeing the opposite effect : if we try to force the plane to fly faster, the nose lifts and the plane climbs to prevent speed rising.
Elevator demo :
Repeat above, having trimmed to a higher speed in level flight.
Same happens in response to throttle, but speeds are higher in all cases.
Conclusion : overall, elevator controls speed, not rate of climb.
Again, although not obvious this is logical. Lift generated is related to both wing "angle of attack" and airspeed. Elevator, like the rudder, behaves like an arrow flight and alters the pitch angle of the whole plane relative to the airflow. Reducing the wing angle of attack by means of down elevator means it must fly faster to maintain lift. Conversely, if we increase the angle of attack using up elevator it need not fly so fast.
So, we've discovered so far that, in the main, the throttle does not make it go faster or slower, the elevator does not make it go up or down, and the rudder and ailerons do not make the plane turn. Thank heavens birds aren't as clever as us.
In order to execute even the most basic manoeuvres, the control inputs required are a combination of the above primary inputs. Let's move on to look at these.
The level turn
Probably the most important manoeuvre since it needs to be carried out every few seconds and it is probably the first manoeuvre the novice will encounter (assuming the tutor has taken off. It actually involves three main control inputs.
i) The plane needs to be banked using the ailerons to a suitable angle.
ii) This is followed by some up elevator and the plane will then start the turn
iii) Finally, the elevator input is removed and some opposite aileron is applied to
level the wings and complete the turn
Demo 4 The level turn
What is a "suitable" bank angle is determined solely by how tight the turn needs to be and this is entirely at the pilots discretion. When banked, the elevator is now acting partly as elevator, to raise or lower the nose, and partly as rudder to turn the plane into the turn. There is only one correct elevator input for any model particular speed; too much and the plane will climb as it turns, too little and the nose will drop. Don't worry if you don't get this right, it's not a problem. It just looks untidy. Practice will soon sort this out.
Novices often initially run into trouble by holding on aileron for too long on entering the turn The plane banks very steeply and loses height, and the natural (i.e. panic) reaction is to give "up" which simply tightens the turn into a spiral dive, or worse, which could be terminal.
Once banked into the turn, a small amount of aileron may still be needed to maintain the bank. This is actually required to counteract the planes natural stability which is trying to right itself, as it should. How much sustained aileron is required is dependent on the individual plane's design.
At this stage, the use of rudder and throttle in the turn can be ignored completely. The novice will have quite enough to concentrate on with just aileron and elevator controls. In fact, virtually all early flying can be done using these two controls plus a little throttle input.
Just remember the three main inputs : i) bank ii) apply up elevator iii) "unbank"
Demo 5 The take off
Probably the second important manoeuvre encountered. Fortunately, planes are quite good at taking off. If full throttle is applied, and the plane stays straight, then the natural state of the plane is a steep climb - the pilot needs only to make sure the plane does not climb too steeply by using the elevator.
Note : Ailerons do little when the plane is on the ground (since it can't bank) and the main steering input is rudder or steerable nosewheel. At least one of these is desirable.
Important tip : do not try to gently "ease" the plane off the ground using small throttle openings. As it lifts off it is at its most vulnerable to stalling and safe flying speed must be attained as quickly as possible. In this condition "power is good".
Demo 6 Landing
The only compulsory manoeuvre. It's difficult because there are so many model control inputs to get right, in addition to assessing both the height off the ground and the position of the model in the air with respect to the runway. Likely to be the most unnerving manoeuvre for the novice; fortunately the tutor and his buddy box is available for initial attempts.
Landings are always carried out into wind or as close to this as possible. If your tutor is unhappy with wind strength or direction, i.e. is it across the runway, then this does probably mean that conditions are not right for tuition.
A landing actually starts very early, with the model traveling into wind at about 100ft right above the landing strip. It executes a large circuit, left or right as appropriate, in front of the pilot and finishes up once again in line with the runway at a lower altitude. Such a circuit allows the plane to settle into a smooth descent with the wings level and at a steady speed. It also allows the pilot time to gather his thoughts and, if he, or the tutor, is not happy with the circuit, they can abort it at any point. If the model is not stable, or in the correct position, during this circuit don't try and recover, just start again.
The main control of rate of descent is throttle. If the plane seems too high, or is not descending fast enough, close the throttle a bit. The circuit describe above should bring the model to within approximately 5m off the ground, lined up with the centre of the runway about 50m or so away on the approach side, and with the wings level.
Even at this point the pilot, or tutor, can still abort the landing by opening the throttle.
On the final approach the throttle should be almost closed and the model slowed down as it approaches the ground by application of up elevator (remember throttle = climb/descend, elevator = speed). The pilot should aim to touch down in right front of himself.
Common problems with initial unassisted landings include
i) Plane not lined up with runway. Finishes up in field.
ii) Plane veers off to side when approaching ground. Pilot tries to correct with aileron,. Plane stalls and cartwheels in. Often caused by landing too slowly. Landing a bit too fast is more preferable than landing too slowly.
iii) Pilot "landing" several feet above ground level. Everything has gone perfectly and the model flares out right in front of the pilot, but at a height of several feet (or more), stalls and falls to the ground.
iv) Similar to the above but misjudging the ground position and flying "into" the ground at a relatively high speed. Usually followed by an equally high rebound.
v) Forgetting that throttle = height and elevator = speed. Pilot approaches runway and attempts to lose height by just giving down elevator on the approach. Plane absolutely refuses to descend, accelerates and passes pilot at a high rate of knots
The experienced tutor should pick up and correct any of the above before they happen. The likelihood of any of them happening to a novice should be very small.
Plenty of practice is required here; one good landing does not make you an expert !
Trainer types 3 or 4 channel
Demo 7 3-channel trainer (‘control_demo_2')
The above discussion has concentrated on the 4-channel trainer (aileron, elevator, rudder and throttle). Some models, particularly vintage and powered gliders, do not have ailerons. How do these manage to turn ?
Three-channel, or "rudder" models all have one feature not strictly required by aileron equipped models (although most have some to a degree) and that is dihedral. That is the angle each wing is tilted above the horizontal.
As demonstrated before the rudder simply slews the tail of the plane left or right. Viewing the model from the front it's clear how slewing the tail sideways increases the angle of attack of one wing and reduces that of the other, forcing the wings to behave just as if they had ailerons. Here, rudder input is equivalent to aileron.
So which is better as a first model, 3- or 4-channel ? Dihedral is a very effective stabiliser, making the model right itself quickly, and the models with rudder only, and dihedral, tend by their nature to be very stable and forgiving aircraft. On the other hand, rudder only as a means of turn is not as precise or responsive as aileron. Overall, if you stay out of trouble the 3-channel model is very relaxing, but if you get into trouble then the response given by ailerons may get you out of it better. On the other hand, ailerons, themselves, can get you into trouble if over-applied at low speeds, i.e. when landing. Yes, you've guess it, there's no straight answer. However, both will do the job if you've got a good tutor, (and both will can you into trouble).
You're possibly trying to reconcile my previous advice that elevator controls speed when you may have seen the club experts carrying out repeated loops or bunts using elevator - where elevator's definitely making the model go up or down (or round).
Well, I have said that flying is always a "battle" between stability and disturbance which, in this case is the pilot's control input. A trainer will have high stability (lots of dihedral, high wing position) and control input will be low (small surfaces, small movement). In this case gravity is a significant input, pilot input is relatively mild and stability tends to dominate, with the model flying mainly according to its inbuilt features. For obvious reasons I have concentrated on describing this type of model in these notes.
An aerobatic model, on the other hand, has low, or zero, built-in stability and large control inputs, and relatively high power, enough to make gravity relatively unimportant. Here, power and disturbance, or pilot input, dominate. This is an obvious design feature, since the pilot does not want the plane fighting, or resisting, him when he is trying to carry out precision manoeuvres. These types of planes do behave differently to trainers.
Final point to novices : Spitfires tend be towards the latter category.
Introduction to Aeromodelling. Whats Involved?
There are 2 main types of engine.
Glow engines which use a glow plug to ignite a methanol, and oil based model fuel. The fuel is bought ready mixed and often contains Nitro, usually of around 5% or 10% to give more power. There are lots of type to choose from.
Petrol engines which use a spark to ignite a petrol and oil mix. This fuel is mixed by using normal high octane unleaded petrol and a good quality 2 stroke motorbike oil.
Glow engines are generally 2 stoke, or 4 stroke.
2 stroke engines are very basic engines and are used mostly in sport models.
They are the cheapest engine available and are the sort of engine you would use in your first model.
4 stroke engines are generally used in scale models, as the noise more realistic.
These engines generally cost a little more than 2 stroke and give slightly less power.
There are many manufacturers and hundreds of engines to choose from.
Examples of 2 stroke engines are Irvine, ASP, OS, Thunder Tiger, Super Tigre, SC. Examples of 4 stroke engines are Saito, ASP, OS, SC, Magnum, Laser
For your first model you will use around a 40 to 46 size engine.
What does that mean?
Model aircraft engines are measured in cubic inches. There are 16cc (cubic centimetres) to the cubic inch. So, a 40 size engine is actually 0.40 of 16cc which equates to 6.4cc. So, a large engine, a Saito 125 for example is a 1.25 engine, therefore is 1.25 x 16cc which is 20cc.
Petrol engines are generally used for bigger models, which require engines of more than 20cc. Examples include Zenoah, Fuji, Moki, RCGF, CCRC
There are 5 basic elements to a radio system:
· Transmitter or tranny/TX: The box with the sticks and an aerial
· Receiver or RX: The black box in the aircraft
· Servos: The motors that plug into the receiver and are connected via pushrods to the control surface
· Battery: To provide power
· Switch: To get things going.
There are two types of radio that are available for model aircraft use.
The first and more traditional is 35mhz, this is a very reliable system that has been around for many years.
35MHZ SHOULD ONLY BE USED FOR MODEL AIRCRAFT.
The second is 2.4ghz, this by far the best way to go and if starting out, will be the way to go.
Both systems use the above components. The difference between them is the frequency band.
35mhz: Within the 35mhz FM band there are 36 separate channels numbered 55-90, in theory each channel is capable of being used at the same time at the same site. There can however, be some clashes on adjacent channels.
HOWEVER; if a 37th operator tries to switch their transmitter on, they will be interfering with an existing user, causing a frequency clash which could result in a crash. The range of a transmitter is about 2 miles.
FREQUENCY CONTROL. At our flying site, like many others, a peg board is used to ensure that people operating on the same channel, do not switch on their transmitters at the same time and cause a crash. The process is very simple.
If you wish to fly, place a peg on the channel you wish to use on the peg board.
If there is already a peg there, then that channel is in use and you MUST NOT switch your transmitter on.
ALWAYS CHECK with fellow modellers at the field before you fly, to ensure that the risk of any clash is reduced. Do not just rely on the peg board.
Most 35mhz radios now use a synthesised channel selection method, rather than the old way of fitting channel specific crystals into the RX and TX. The synthesised method involves you selecting the channel you want to use on the TX and then activating that channel on the RX.
ALWAYS USE THE SAME FREQUENCY AS THIS REDUCES THE RISK OF HUMAN ERROR AND CLASHES WITH OTHER USERS.
You can only fly one model at a time.
2.4GHZ is now by far the best option. All the major manufacturers produce a 2.4ghz, Spektrum is the most popular, there is also Futaba, Hitec, JR and Multiplex.
2.4ghz operates in a different way. When you switch your transmitter on it scans for a free channel within that band, and therefore locks that channel out of the reach of other transmitters, this elevates the risk of a "shoot down".
The peg board system is therefore Semi-redundant, other than to place a peg on the top of the board to indicate you will be flying.
There are many different types of radio, receivers and servos that you can use.
For your first model, you are likely to be using 4 or 5 servos, of around 3 to 5 kg/cm torque. (The larger and more high-performance the aircraft the more force needed to move the control surfaces and therefore the larger and more powerful the servo needs to be)
Standard servos of around 3 to 5kg will be the sort you will use for your first few models. Typically they will be priced at around £8 to £10 each.
Popular types are Hitec HS322, HS485, HS81, JR 591, Futaba 3001.
All are perfect for general training and sport models.
Transmitters vary in the number of functions. A 6 channel transmitter is perfect for most people. 6 channels means that the transmitter is capable of operating 6 functions on the aircraft. 4 of these functions will be the basic flying controls; which is all you will need to begin with. The remaining functions can operate auxiliary functions such as retracting undercarriage, landing lights or a pilots arm waving.
All transmitters now have model memories. This is effectively a hard disk that stores the setting for each model.
So when you have more than one aircraft, you don't have to change the settings, you just switch on and select the model you want to fly.
Spektrum DX6 is a very popular transmitter. However there are many others to choose from.
Similar to that of transmitters, receivers vary in the numbers of channels they will handle. You can use a receiver with less or more channels than your transmitter. There are a huge number of receivers available.
There is a vast array of batteries available. Receivers run on a voltage of 4.8v and 6v. The difference is purely to do with the torque and speed of the servos.
For your first few models you will only need to use 4.8v batteries.
These will generally be Nickel Metal Hydrides (NIMH) and will be AA size.
They will be a sealed pack with a lead and plug pre-fitted. Capacities vary, but for an aircraft with 5 standard servos ideally you should use a battery of between 1100 and 1800mah. For aircraft with lots of servos, or high power servos, you should ideally use a SUB C pack, either 4.8v, or 6v with a capacity of around 3000mah.
The higher the capacity the less quick the battery will drain and the more current can be drawn.
There are a variety of other batteries you can use, but they should be suitable for model use.
It is always recommend you fit a battery checker to your aircraft. These have a row of red, yellow and green led's and monitor the condition of the battery. When you switch on, one single green led should stay lit, and when you work the servos, therefore putting them under load, you should see only green lights and not yellow or red. If you don't see green you shouldn't fly.
First and foremost, your first, second and probably third model will not be a Spitfire!!!
Your first model will be a basic training aircraft. Typically it will have banded on wings, tricycle undercarriage and be high wing. Examples include the Ripmax Trainer, and the excellent Irvine Tutor 40 II
Many people have been taught to fly on aircraft like these as well as a very popular aircraft called a WOT 4. This is slightly different, in that it is a tail dragger, and is therefore slightly more difficult to handle on the ground. However it is a very capable trainer and all round general sport aircraft.
There are several ways of getting an aircraft:
Plans: You buy the plans and then separately buy the wood and parts. You need some experience of building and interpreting drawings.
Semi-Kit: You buy some wooden and pre-formed parts, plans and drawings and then prefabricate much of the aircraft yourself.
Kit: You buy a big box with everything you will need to complete the basic wooden airframe, including instructions, plans and photos.
ARTF: By far the most common method, Almost Ready to Fly aircraft have been around for 10 years or so. They are mass produced to a high quality and require minimal assembly of wings, hinges, control surfaces and undercarriage etc. They are pre-covered, and all you then need to do is select and fit your radio and engine.
Second Hand: Often a cheap and easy way to get in the air, used models are often sold complete. BE VERY CAREFUL, when buying used aircraft.
You don't know the aircrafts HISTORY, ask a more experienced modeller to assist as they will know the sorts of things to look for when buying a second hand model.
There are 3 basic components:
Speed Controller: this acts as the throttle/motor control and is plugged into the RX. It is given an AMP rating. So if a motor with a given size prop draws 50amps from the battery, then the controller should be a minimum of 50 amps. A 30 amp controller would probably melt due to the current draw.
Lipo Battery: powers the motor and radio system. It needs to be charged and discharged carefully with specific chargers.
It is highly recommended that you charge a lipo in an environment free from combustibles, ideally on your drive/garden slabs etc. There have been several cases of lipos exploding, so care and advice should be taken.
Servos and receivers are the same as for glow models.
Please note: Generally modern electric aircraft don't have safety switches, KEEP CLEAR OF A LIVE PROP.
This is a self adhesive film or fabric which when ironed shrinks to form a drum tight covering over the aircraft.
Plugs and sockets
Make sure that plugs and sockets will not come apart. There are several ways to do this. Tape, cotton bound or preparatory fittings that you slide the connected joint into and it locks the assembly into place. You remove it by unclipping tongues.
Always ensure you propeller is balanced. Buy a prop balancer and check the balance of the prop in all directions.
Using a scalpel blade, shave the leading edges of the heavy side until it balances. NEVER add weight to a prop. In extreme cases you may need to shorten the TIP of the prop in order to balance.
Always fully charge a new battery (not lipo) for around 24hrs using the standard wall charger that comes with your radio set (see later).If you fly on a weekly basis a charge of about 4 hours is sufficient. If it hasn't been charged for a while, then extend that time to accordingly. Periodically it's worth cycling the battery to keep its performance.
Always use a battery checker and check each flight that the green lights are showing when the servos are all under load.
Always use a minimum of 3 hinges per surface, that way if 1 fails the control surface will continue to operate.
There are 5 types of hinge that can be used
Split pin: These are very popular and consist of two pieces of plastic with a pin down the centre. They are fitted using epoxy glue.
Robart: These are barbed hinges and circular in shape, they are also glued using epoxy.
Hairy hinge: These are thin strips of plastic with a hairy film which when glued with super glue assist with helping to wick the glue deep into the hinge
Film hinge: This is less common but is used to hinge the top half of a control surface as part of the covering on the aircraft.
Mylar Strip: This is a mylar strip that is cut to size and glued in place.
Take care with mylar or hairy hinges as they can fracture with vibration. Most ARTF models come with these type of hinges.
Always pin the hinge from the underside; this adds extra security should the glue fail. Use small map/dress maker's pins.
When building a model most people use PVA wood glue.
For certain high stress applications such as wing joining, engine bulkhead and tail fitting, 2 pack epoxy glue is used. This comes in a variety of drying times. 5min, 30min, 1/2hr, 1hr, 2hr, 12hr and 24hr.
For all high stress joints always use 24hr epoxy.
Generally a glue is stronger the longer it takes to dry.
Super Glue or (Cyano) sets quickly and is generally used for minor repairs, and construction in low stress areas.
What do you need to get started?
Firstly you will need to get talking to people and visit the field.
See what others do and how they do it.
Then you will need to join the British Model Flying Association (BMFA).
They will then provide you with the relevant third party insurance, help, information and magazines to get you on your way.
Buy some magazines. RCME, Radio Controlled Model World, Aviation Modeller International.
Have a read. Use the internet, visit websites and get used to terms and phrases.
Then you will need to make further important choices.
You will need to choose and aircraft, the Ripmax trainer, Irvine tutor 40 and WOT 4 are all very good.
You will need to choose a radio and assoication equipment. JR, Futaba and Hitec are very popular, as are Spektrum 2.4 and Multiplex.
You will need to choose an engine. Irvine, SC, OS, Thunder Tiger and ASP are all good makes. It should be suitable for the aircraft you have chosen.
You will then need a variety of other bits and bobs for use in the field and at home.
Home: Glues, spanners, nuts, bolts, clevises, horns, wood, spare covering etc
Field: You will need a toolbox with basic tools such as spanners, screw drivers, allen keys etc.
Spare and balanced propellers,
A starter motor and 12v battery to power the starter.
A 2v battery, for providing power to your glow plug.
A fuel pump, either electric or hand powered
Most people use flight boxes. These are designed to hold a 12v battery, power panel (with integral pump, and glow driver) and a gallon of fuel, plus tools etc.
This is by far the best option.
Most model shops (both local and nationwide) will sell everything you need to get going.
Most will offer deal packages, which will include engine, RC, aircraft tools and even fuel. A price of around £300 should be more than enough to get you in the air.
Ask for advice from fellow club mates first.
How long does it take?
It will take as long as it takes.
Most people will take between 4 and 8 months to learn to fly solo.
But everyone is different. It all depends on the time you can give to it.
The more you fly, the better you'll become.
It's exactly like learning to drive. Some weeks good, some weeks bad, but overall with regular (once, twice a week) practice, you'll become more proficient.
The longer the gaps between flying, the more you'll forget and the longer it will take.
Never switch on your transmitter until you have checked for definite that the channel is free!
Never take your eyes off the plane!
If in doubt keep the aircraft straight and level and with some forward speed!
Always balance the prop either electric or IC using a prop balancer
Gently shave the tip using a scalpel until balanced.
You fly the plane, don't let the plane fly you!
Useful article for beginners