WHAT MODELS ARE AVAILABLE FOR ME TO FLY?
There are very small planes and helicopters that are suitable for flying indoors. Outdoor models tend to be larger and fly faster.
The size of outdoor models can vary from those with 15 inch wingspans to 120 inch wingspans. Engines can be very small electric motors powered by a single cell Lithium Polymer battery up to planes with 5 cylinder radial engines with displacements of 250cc.
Helicopters come with electric motors, or small engines that run on methanol, or large engines that run on gasoline.
Gliders vary from scale models that can be launched by hand, or discus thrown to ones that are launched by a rubber bungee or towed up by a large gas powered tug, just like the real ones. There are also many scale and high performance gliders that have electric motors.
There are also jets that run on turbines just like the real ones. These fly very fast and require considerable experience to fly successfully.
Some models come as ARF “almost ready to fly”, and can be assembled in as little as a few hours. Others come as kits that require many hours to complete. Ambitious builders can “scratch build” a model from a simple 3 view drawing.
There are many choices available to power a model.
Smaller planes tend to be powered by electric motors and Lithium Polymer batteries.
Brushless motors are a better choice than brushed motors as they are much more efficient.
Mid-sized planes tend to use “glow” engines powered by a mixture of Methanol, Nitro Methane and Oil. Larger aircraft tend to use gasoline powered motors.
HOW CAN I LEARN TO FLY?
Chatham Aeronauts offers free flight instruction from May to September. Instructors are qualified expert pilots who volunteer their time, however, there is no guarantee that an instructor will be available. The best way to learn to fly is to visit the field as often as possible.
On any given day there may be many students, or none at all, and one or more instructors. On a bad day you may not be able to fly, but on a good day you may get many flights. It all depends on supply and demand, weather, luck, etc…
WHAT KIND OF PLANE SHOULD I BUY?
Go to a good hobby shop that specializes in RC flying and listen to their advice. Start with a high-wing, tricycle landing gear, 40 to 60 size trainer (or comparable electric model). You can build your first model from a kit but many students start with an ARF (almost ready to fly) plane.
Keep in mind that the heavier glow powered trainers are better able to cope in windy conditions than a light weight electric model made from EPP foam.
Trainers range in price from $200 to $600. The local hobby shop can help you get started.
HOW LONG IS AN AVERAGE FLIGHT AND HOW FAR CAN I FLY MY PLANE?
Flight time varies with engine size and size of your fuel tank. A 40 size engine will run for about 15 minutes on an 8 ounce tank. You should normally fly for about 10 minutes to be sure you don’t run out of fuel in flight (called a dead stick). Your transmitter can control the plane for a distance of about one mile. However, the limiting factor is how far you can clearly see the plane and judge its altitude and direction.
WHAT ABOUT THE RADIO?
Radios can be simple 3 channel models (which are often supplied as a package with small planes and helicopters), or up to 18 channel models. Most of the newer radios use Spread Spektrum technology and run on the same frequency as wifi ( 2.4 Gigahertz ).
The more advanced radios have the ability to remember settings for many aircraft and include advanced features like exponential control, channel assignment, mixing and telemetry. Some radios will even “talk” to you through headphones or speakers, telling you the altitude and speed of your plane, if the gear is up or down, etc.
Others offer graphic displays of every imaginable parameter.
There are even systems called “First Person Video” where you wear video goggles and fly the plane as if you were a pilot sitting in the cockpit.
WHAT IS A BUDDY BOX AND DO I NEED ONE?
A buddy box is a second transmitter box (without the electronics) connected to the live transmitter with an umbilical cord. When you are training, your instructor uses the master transmitter while you use the buddy box. The instructor can give you control and take it away the moment you get into trouble (and you will) to save your plane so you can fly again another day. The club has a buddy box available at the field.
HOW DO I KNOW IF MY PLANE IS BUILT CORRECTLY?
When you buy or build a new plane you must bring it to the field and have it safety checked by an experienced pilot before an instructor will fly with you. Beginner built planes will usually have several deficiencies that need to be corrected. We have seen planes with 25 things wrong, just based on lack of building experience. But, that’s what the club is for – to help you build correctly and fly safely. Beginners that are building their own planes are encouraged to bring their planes to a club meeting during the winter to get advice from experienced builders.
HOW CAN I LEARN MORE QUICKLY?
Your learning rate will depend on your inherent eye-hand coordination and the amount of time you have available to spend at the field. The best thing to do is go to the field as often as you can and ask lots of questions. Bring your plane and ask for advice. Advice is free and there is lots of it at the field.
IS A COMPUTER FLIGHT SIMULATOR A GOOD INVESTMENT?
If you can afford it, a simulator is a great learning aid. Simulators today are very realistic and will give you a big head start on flying skills. They are also great later on for comparing flight characteristics of different planes, or trying a new maneuver on the simulator before trying it in the air.
Flight simulators vary in price from those that you can download from the internet for free, to ones with many advanced features that sell for around $200.
DO I HAVE TO BE A MEMBER OF MAAC?
YES! You can contact the Model Aeronautics Association of Canada at www.maac.ca or at 905-632-9808 or 1-855-359-6222.
You can apply for MAAC membership online. MAAC works on behalf of all modellers. They help clubs to organize events and provide members with liability insurance. They are also our spokesperson at both the national and international level on matters that will affect our hobby.
CAN I FLY MY PLANE BY MYSELF?
Not at the Chatham Aeronauts field until you have been cleared to fly solo by your instructor. There is no law which states that you must fly with an instructor, however, MAAC safety rules state that you will not be covered by insurance if you fly on your own before you are trained by a qualified pilot. Therefore, even if you belong to MAAC, you will not be covered by liability insurance if you fly without being trained by a qualified instructor. The reality is that if you try to fly on your own, without expert assistance, you will likely crash your plane within seconds of takeoff. Please govern yourself accordingly.
HOW DO I JOIN?
Download an application form from our website, or come to one of our meetings. Mail the completed application form and cheque to the address provided. The treasurer will then mail you a membership card.
More information can be found at these sites