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RC Airplane for a Beginner?

Old 04-11-2016, 10:26 PM
  #1  
AMPFlyer
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Default RC Airplane for a Beginner?

Hello, WattFlyer members. I'm new to this hobby and searching for my first remote control airplane.

I found this website on google http://www.swellrc.com/easy-to-fly-r...for-beginners/ which suggests 5 airplanes.

I'm looking at "The Champ". Would it be great for a beginner like me?

What would you suggest?
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Old 04-11-2016, 11:31 PM
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Something with the basic configuration of the Champ is great.

But that is a SMALL plane... which is highly sensitive to wind. That limits your flight opportunities more than lack of space for a larger plane.

Look for something closer to 1200mm to 1500 mm wingspan.

Also 4 channels would be better than 3 channels.

Look at motionrc.com at their Dynam Piper Cub. Looks almost the same as the champ, just a lot bigger.
Motion doesn't sell the RTF packages by Dynam, just the RX ready, so it would need a TX, RX, battery and charger.
If you find the Dynam RTF package, use caution about their dial for "dual rate". It can dial the control to NONE.
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Old 04-11-2016, 11:43 PM
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What's your budget ? Looking for the cheapest point of entry? Field conditions.? Paved or Grass? Anybody available to help you get started? IE Buddy box? an AMA sanctioned club? Are you looking to simply dip your toe in the water or are you thinking you may be going to be at this hobby for a while? Makes a world of difference in what you end up buying.

First off, get your AMA card. A must have no matter what. Plus, you'll have to register with the FAA.

For a starter plane I would recommend the Apprentice S. It's a high wing trainer with a built-in 3 axis stabilizer that will keep you out of trouble for the most part. Has different flight modes that can limit the bank angle, etc. Downside is I see a lot of new pilots getting too cozy with this feature.

http://www.motionrc.com/e-flite-apprentice-s-15e-with-safe-1500mm-59-wingspan-bnf/

The bind and fly version (BNF) comes with the receiver , the Ready to Fly(RTF) comes with a very basic Spektrum Transmitter. The Transmitter or TX abbreviated is okay and will buddy box to more advanced Spektrum TX's but it's also limited for future growth.

That's why I asked the question about how you feel you about sticking with this hobby or just giving it a try. If it were me starting today, I'd pop for the BNF and then get a Spektrum DX6 or DX9. A real TX you can grow with.

The next thing is lipos and a decent Lipo charger. I believe the Apprentice may come with one eflight 11.1v 3cell lipo. I'm not a big fan of eflight lipos as they are uber expensive for what they are. I'd look at hobby king ( Zippy, Turnigy, etc) , Motionrc ( Admiral) ChinaHobbyline, Jetwerks.com and a few others.

The lipo chargers that come with the RTF's are basically the same as cell phone chargers. You'll be waiting for the cows to come home to charge up a battery. When I started back 5 years ago, I was told to get the best charger I could afford. A lot of good ones out there bt I ended up choosing the ICharger 208B w/350Watt PS, available at BuddyRC or ProgressiveRC. I can charge anything up to 6 cell relatively fast.

I also highly recommend reading through AEAJR's manifesto on electric flight: "Everything you wanted to know about electric flight" Will explain a lot. http://www.wattflyer.com/forums/show...light=Beginner

Main thing is to have fun. Lots of folks here with a lot of expertise willing to answer any question you may have. And you'll have many. But don't worry about being a "newbie". We all have started where you are now. There are no dumb questions, just questions.

Enjoy and welcome to the addiction !

Hawk
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Old 04-11-2016, 11:59 PM
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Ahh, the old HZ Supercub will always hold a spot in my heart. <3 Howver I think it has been discontinued and the Apprentice has now taken over.

http://www.motionrc.com/hobbyzone-su...-wingspan-bnf/
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Old 04-14-2016, 04:10 AM
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I believe that it has been replaced by the Super Cub S. It is currently on my short list, along with the Bixler 3, the Durafly Tundra, and the Conscendo S. I'm working with a local club who are willing to let me try a few more planes out, and I'll make up my mind in the next couple of months.

I'm currently leaning towards the Bixler 3, because it can be flown with or without the wheels. I'd fly it without wheels and make grass landings until I can do so smoothly and consistently. After that, I will put the wheels on and learn to takeoff and land from the pavement. This is a tentative idea and may change with more information.
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Old 04-14-2016, 04:38 AM
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hand launch introduces issues which are better avoided.

A bad hand launch can put the plane in a condition where its impossible to recover.

You either have a helper do the launch or you have one hand off the sticks.

People have launched their TX and held onto the plane...
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Old 04-14-2016, 05:02 AM
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Originally Posted by fhhuber View Post
hand launch introduces issues which are better avoided.

A bad hand launch can put the plane in a condition where its impossible to recover.

You either have a helper do the launch or you have one hand off the sticks.

People have launched their TX and held onto the plane...
If you are using the SAFE in beginner mode. , is having one hand off the sticks that big a deal, considering how quickly one can get the hand back on the sticks?

I hand launched many free flight gliders in my youth and quickly learned how NOT to (nose high, stall -- thud). The Bixler appears to be basically just a powered version of my larger gliders insofar as the launch. If I'm wrong, please tell me. It's far cheaper and less damaging to my ego to learn here than in front of witnesses.
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Old 04-14-2016, 06:59 AM
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Originally Posted by Old Desert Rat View Post
If you are using the SAFE in beginner mode. , is having one hand off the sticks that big a deal, considering how quickly one can get the hand back on the sticks?

I hand launched many free flight gliders in my youth and quickly learned how NOT to (nose high, stall -- thud). The Bixler appears to be basically just a powered version of my larger gliders insofar as the launch. If I'm wrong, please tell me. It's far cheaper and less damaging to my ego to learn here than in front of witnesses.
If you are confident in hand launching free flight models then you should be ok. Only difference is the typical RC model is a bit heavier and faster flying so needs a bit more 'oomph' but the technique is the same.

Personally the Bixler wouldn't be my first recommendation to a beginner, (though i know lots of people have used them to learn on). The high pylon motor mount gives the plane some unusual handling characteristics which could be a real problem for a beginner. I've been flying for well over 40 years and I found it quite 'quirky' to fly and it needed a lot of correction especially during launch when the high motor mount has greatest impact.
Sailplane type designs are also not easy to land accurately because they drift on and on and dont want to come down. Something more draggy that has a higher rate of vertical descent is much easier to land in a limited space. Spoilers or flaps can help greatly with this issue on sailplanes, but they are just more complexity that you dont need when you are learning.

A conventional tractor prop layout such as the aforementioned Super Cub or Apprentice would be my recommendation.
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Old 04-14-2016, 07:45 AM
  #9  
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The only plane that I have flown thus far has been the Bixler 1. The thing that most impressed me about it was how much time that I had to think about what I had to do. Of course I didn't land it or take it off, so that may have been an illusion. However, if I got my orientation confused and rolled or turned the wrong way, I could realize my error and correct it before things got out of hand. At the moment, I'm wondering if a more conventional plane like a cub would give me that extra slice of time. Hopefully, I can answer that question with a little more hands-on experience.
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Old 04-14-2016, 08:05 AM
  #10  
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Its more a matter of wing loading and airspeed.

Light wing loading you can fly slowly enough to have the time to think.

But the plane will almost always have the power to fly much faster. You do not have to keep the throttle at full power. Most will cruise along fine at about 50%.

But as I sort of pointed at before.... Light can cause issues too. A light plane is easily bounced around by minor wind gusts or turbulence.

Everything about an airplane is a compromise.
Structure adds weight, Adding power or duration adds weight. Adding power might increase weight so much that the necessary increased angle of attack creates so much drag that you go slower. Eventually weight exceeds the ability to fly at all...
Too little structure and the plane can't survive even level flight.
Too little weight and you are kind of like a feather being blown around in the sky...
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Old 04-14-2016, 01:47 PM
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Originally Posted by fhhuber View Post
People have launched their TX and held onto the plane...
I'll have whatever they're drinking.

I'm more of the school that the bigger they are the harder they fall.
You will crash. Something like a UMX Radian or Champ will survive many crashes and usually will not end your day.
They will teach you orientation and the effects of stalling.
The batteries are cheap so you can have 6 of them and fly until you've had enough.
Yes, you will be limited to almost windless days but you should start that way regardless of what plane you choose.

Originally Posted by Old Desert Rat View Post
If you are using the SAFE in beginner mode. , is having one hand off the sticks that big a deal, considering how quickly one can get the hand back on the sticks?
SAFE can't help you if the wing has stalled (due to a bad toss or whatever).
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Old 04-14-2016, 03:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Brian VT View Post
Yes, you will be limited to almost windless days but you should start that way regardless of what plane you choose.
Around here, that would limit me to three or four days per year. You've heard of Mark Twain's fabled Washoe Zephyr that blew rocks rather than sand? I live in the exhaust vent.

SAFE can't help you if the wing has stalled (due to a bad toss or whatever).
Understood. There are no absolute guarantees in this life. However, I take every advantage that I can get. I will be joining a club that has a pretty good training program, and it appears that they bring you along at your own pace, and that a refresher course in hand launching will be part of the curriculum.
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Old 04-14-2016, 03:39 PM
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There is no better starter plane than a Horizon Hobby Apprentice S. It is so good you do not even need anyone to train you, although I DO NOT recommend it. That does make me a bit hypocritical because I did not use anyone to train me on my Apprentice. I still have it.
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Old 04-14-2016, 04:39 PM
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Everyone thinks the plane they learned on is the best....

Maybe the best for them. Maybe it just worked.

There's a kid out there (well... he's about 25 now) who thinks a Fokker Dr1 makes a fine trainer... because I buddy boxed him on mine and he soloed on it.
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Old 04-14-2016, 08:34 PM
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I'm surprised no-one has mentioned a slow stick yet.
In particular the hobbyking slow stick.
It's got a great flight envelope. Can handle breezes better than the gws. I would recommend it to any beginner.
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Old 04-14-2016, 08:56 PM
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Originally Posted by dereckbc View Post
There is no better starter plane than a Horizon Hobby Apprentice S.
Yeah, the SAFE system is a game changer for sure. I've seen a couple of beginners with the Apprentice S and after trimming their planes they both safely 'maidened' on their first day! That's hard to conceive of on any normal trainer.

Of course the question would be did they really maiden or was the SAFE system doing the flying? But it's really a moot point, SAFE does get beginners into the air quickly and makes them less reliant on an instructor. The hardest part is weaning them off it.
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Old 04-14-2016, 09:06 PM
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Good posts and comments here. I will share my thoughts. I started on the Hobbyzone Champ and I can definitely say it's a fantastic beginner plane. I succeeded very well with this model (I never did crash it) and it will always hold a special place in my heart. It cannot be flown in any wind though and it's only a 3 channel plane. The Champ is really good for beginners for so many reasons; 1. it's a cheap entry into the hobby, 2. parts are readily available and easy to find, 3. it's a forgiving high wing design with lots of dihedral, 4. batteries are dirt cheap, 5. it can be repaired easily, and 6. it can be flown safely in small parks/ball fields/parking lots or pretty much anywhere.

My personal opinion is that the Hobbyzone Sport Cub S is actually a better plane to start with compared to the Champ. It's 4 channel, it has SAFE technology built in (good for beginners if they get in trouble), and I believe it has 3 different skill modes to choose from. Again though, it's a micro like the Champ and cannot be flown in any wind, so it's limited in that regard. Another awesome thing about the Champ and the Sport Cub S is that they don't need to be registered with the FAA since they weigh practically nothing. They are very safe planes.

The E-Flite Apprentice is a very good starter plane as well. It was my brother's first plane. It has all the features a beginner needs, gentle handling characteristics, SAFE technology, tricycle landing gear, etc. However, it costs a lot more than the Champ or Sport Cub S, requires a much larger area or field to fly in, and you must register/get an FAA number for it before you fly since it's a larger/more powerful plane with some heft.

Another one to look at is the Hobbyzone Sportsman S+. I don't know much about this one, but it's pretty new to the market and it has some advanced features. It's gotten good reviews and it seems to be a good one for starters.

Whatever you choose, stick with high wing trainers until you get proficient with taking off, keeping orientation, keeping the plane straight and level, flying normal circuits in both directions, and landing. It's very important to get these fundamentals down before jumping into a more advanced plane. I would highly recommend a PC simulator like Phoenix 5 or RealFlight if you don't have one already. This will save you a lot of money in the long run and will help you lean flight controls/orientation without the worry of damaging your model. Some things can only be learned once you actually start flying for real though, so keep that in mind. And as always, HAVE FUN! That's the most important thing in this hobby!
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Old 04-14-2016, 09:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Wrongway-Feldman View Post
I'm surprised no-one has mentioned a slow stick yet.
In particular the hobbyking slow stick.
It's got a great flight envelope. Can handle breezes better than the gws. I would recommend it to any beginner.
Concur......both are great learning/training craft.......This, after I jumped from heli's into fixed wing on 4ch Piper Cubs (recommended by club guys that swear by them)...........after many dumb thumb and set-up errors on Pipers, dropping down to a Slow Stick really increased my stick confidence, mechanical awareness and reduced the fear of crashes and repair.........In so much that I was able to quickly enjoy command of almost any high wing trainer from those Stick experiences and still enjoy hopping-up a Stick and having a good time putting them back together at little expense..........
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Old 04-14-2016, 09:33 PM
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or jus about any EPP plane. Granted most do not handle wind as well but they are extremely crashworthy with little repair required if at all which is a major plus for beginners...my 0.02. I actually learned on a CTH Assassin and I can say that I beat the holy #@%& out of that thing with minimal repairs.
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Old 04-15-2016, 01:55 PM
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I don't know why I didn't mention the Slow Stick either.
I've been flying for a few years and have many intermediate/advanced planes now but I just now got a Slow Stick and they're a blast! I don't know why I didn't get one sooner. I think everyone should have one in their hangar. Not the sexiest plane out there but pure flying fun.
A beginner can start with a fixed wing with lots of dihedral and change to an aileron wing when ready.
They have a big wing that is easy to see at a distance but they can be flown at a walking pace on a small baseball diamond.

Last edited by Brian VT; 04-15-2016 at 02:16 PM.
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Old 04-15-2016, 09:46 PM
  #21  
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Originally Posted by JetPlaneFlyer View Post
The hardest part is weaning them off it.
I notice that even seasoned flyers are using flight stabilisation units (e.g. Eagletree Guardian) and I don't blame them, because flying a foamie in choppy wind is no fun at all.
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Old 04-15-2016, 11:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Swiss Flyer View Post
I notice that even seasoned flyers are using flight stabilisation units (e.g. Eagletree Guardian) and I don't blame them, because flying a foamie in choppy wind is no fun at all.
Yes, i use stabilisation systems myself. SAFE is different though. SAFE limits the bank and pitch angles of the plane and makes it quickly 'self level' when you take your hands off. With SAFE all you really have to do is steer the plane to stop it flying away, it's pretty much an 'auto-pilot'.

Great for getting beginners in the air but it does allow you to get away with very bad habits that can get you into big trouble when you try flying without it.
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Old 04-16-2016, 03:51 AM
  #23  
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Jet,

I could not agree more. We're seeing more and more Apprentice's show up at our field. Very nice high wing foamy.

Two bad things usually happen with SAFE. 1). In the beginners mode of SAFE, you need "big air" to make big sweeping turns. One guy flew right over the pit area the other day as he couldn't turn any sharper. I think it limits the bank angle to 20 deg?

2) Like you mentioned, when the new pilot who has been trained using SAFE gets his first plane without SAFE, it's suddenly a completely different experience. He usually over-controls , tucks the plane into a death spiral and ka-boom !

But SAFE will save the first plane which for some is their last plane anyway.

Hawk
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Old 04-16-2016, 08:17 PM
  #24  
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Well worth consideration is a plane that has half the minimum flying speed of a Champ, twice the top end of a Champ, self-corrects better than a Champ, handles wind better than any Bixler, is more rugged than any trainer by a mile. That's the Crashtesthobby.com Albatross. If it were an RTF nobody would know what a Champ, Super Cub or SAFE is.

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Old 04-25-2016, 05:27 AM
  #25  
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Well, I got some more flights under my belt, and have become a convert to the Apprentice S. Besides the better software on the Apprentice, it came down to economics. If I wanted to use the buddy system in my club, I would have to swap out the tx/rx on the bixler. I also was reminded that the Bixler I was flying has a stabilizer, and after playing with a simulator for a while, I consider a stabilizer a must. By the time that I got a pnp bixler, a tx/rx combo, and the stabilizer, I would be within about $30 of the Apprentice RTF. It's a no brainer for me.
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