The complete radio control model airplane FAQ.  


Should I get a flight simulator? Are they worth it? Will they help me learn to fly my radio controlled model airplane?

How do I hold my radio control model airplane transmitter sticks? Should I use just my thumb, or my thumb and forefinger?


How do I hold my radio control model airplane transmitter sticks? Should I use just my thumb, or my thumb and forefinger?


There were a lot of answers Here's my brief one, followed by a good in-depth answer by Ed Forsythe:


    I started out with thumbs only, and after a half year or so, I switched to thumb and finger. I feel I have greater control over the sticks, although it was weird feeling at first. I use a neck strap, although I'm sure a tray would be more convenient. (Click here and here to see links to trays.) rcfaq


    I'm going to stick my neck out and say that the answer to your question is that there is no *best* method. Use that which is more comfortable for you. Years ago I started flying RC with a Kraft single stick box (circa 1970). Of course single stick is thumb and forefinger. I progressed to the point that I was one of the club members who helped the newbies check out.
    A variety of factors caused a 25 year hiatus and just recently I decided I wanted to crank up again. I joined a local club and one of the members shoved his transmitter in my trembling hands and let me fly his Spirit glider. I had no trouble flying but the left/right thingy was there again <s>. Anyway he noticed I was flying the right stick with thumb and forefinger and he told me that was *not* correct because it was more difficult to hit the corners with the stick. Since he was a pretty good flyer, I started to practice (using the Real Flight Sim) with thumb only. It was not comfortable, and I just didn't have the feel for very small incremental stick movements.
    Well, to make a long story short, another of our club members is a past Nationals champ and I asked him which was the best style. He replied that the *best* style was that with which you feel most comfortable. I immediately stopped trying to change my style to the *thumbs* type and reverted to the thumbs and forefinger. 
    Try this for a sure fire test. Close your eyes and try to move the stick in the smallest perceptible amount, using each method (I'm not talking about actual flying. This is am xmtr only test). You will find that your sensitivity to extremely small stick movements will be greater using one of the methods. *That* is the method you should adopt and stick with it no matter what anyone says <s>. I'm a mode 2 type and I feel most comfortable with my thumb on the left stick (throttle, rudder) and thumb and forefinger on the right.
    Years ago in my USAF days (flying F-86s) my squadron C.O. was a former Thunderbirds type. Flying his wing was incredible because he was so smooth. One day I mustered the courage to ask him for his secret and he told me that he flew with *both* hands on the stick! SACRILEGE, because in training, we were always taught the the left hand lived on the throttle and the right hand's home was the stick .
    The bottom line is choose the method most comfortable for you and stick with it! That's my story and I'm stickin' with it! <bg>. Ed Forsythe




Should I get a flight simulator? Are they worth it? Will they help me learn to fly my radio controlled model airplane?

(There's a list of sims at the bottom.)

    Radio controlled model airplane flight simulators (like RealFlight, Dave Brown's RCFS, Aerochopper, and a few others) make learning less expensive or stressful. The flight simulators are realistic in some ways, but not in others. Where they really shine is in helping you learn stick movements, and quick responses--without the expense of a crash. A lot of the guys who learned to do tricky maneuvers, like rolling circles and hovering, started out by practicing on a flight simulator.

    One of the weaknesses of the flight sims is the limited view. You are restricted to a viewport the size of your computer monitor. I heard of one guy who hooked up his projection screen TV, and that sounds about as realistic as you can get. For those of you with a little 14-15" monitor (I have a 19") you may have trouble seeing the detail of the plane, unless you enlarge its scale and fly close. 

    The limited view also makes it difficult to land, because often you can't see the ground. Final approach is usually the most difficult for me, because unless you have some mountains in the background for orientation, you may not know which direction the runway is in. The simple answer to this is to just not worry about it. Afterall, you can land on any flat ground in the sim (with RealFlight, anyway) so just pick a place to land once you see the ground. At least then you can practice the straight & level approach, and if you want to land in a particular place, just fly over to it with a low altitude.




Here's a comment from an anonymous user on the rec.models.rc.air newsgroup:

    Buy Realflight - you won't regret it. It will save you hundreds of
dollars in airplanes and quite a bit of frustration. It is HARDLY a
computer game - it is indeed a simulator. If you treat it seriously
and practice, you will get to solo very very quickly.
    I just taught my girlfriend to fly with it. She crashed approximately
400 times but that is now totally in the past. She is now enjoying a
series of touch and go landings that I am envious of, with loops and
rolls in between.
    Make sure you get the new G2 version.
-Plane Guy


RC Flight Simulators:

Dave Brown Products RCFS 2001

Great Planes RealFlight



PiccoFly--the Picco Heli sim

FMS flight sim--free shareware download










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