Basics of Flight Tutorial
|THIS IS ONLY A GUIDELINE FOR THE INTRODUCTION OF
TECHNIQUE TO THE NOVICE. THEREFORE I CAN NOT BE HELD RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY DOOMED FLIGHTS
YOU MAY ATTEMPT FROM THESE INSTRUCTIONS. HOWEVER,WITH BASIC KNOWLEDGE, A FLIGHT CAN BE
PERFORMED FOLLOWING THESE INSTRUCTIONS
To begin to comprehend flight, you need to know the basic physics of aeronautics. The most important part of the airframe is the wing, which produces lift via the airfoil. The airfoil simply directs airflow. The length of the top of the wing in relation to the bottom is longer , making the air flow faster over the top to catch up to the air coming from the bottom. This action reduces pressure on the top, providing lift. This lift is utilized by the engine, which spins a propeller to pull the aircraft through the air. Being pulled through the air, the wing receives a constant airflow, keeping the plane aloft. Controlling your plane is done with three control surfaces- elevator, aileron, and rudder. These surfaces cause the craft to: pitch (up or down), roll (left or right), and yaw (left or right), respectively. With this in mind, you can understand the principles of a typical flight profile.
To start off, you need to familiarize yourself with the controls. On a standard four-channel radio, the left stick is throttle (up and down), and rudder (left and right). On the other side there's the ailerons (left and right) and elevator (up and down). As a student, half to three quarter throttle is plenty for stable flight. The most important thing to keep in mind is not to over-steer. It only takes minimal stick movement to get maximum plane movement, and over-steering is the leading cause of first time crashes. The more you fly, the better you'll be with the sticks, and it's time to fly.
Practice Makes Perfect...
Once on the runway, it is a good idea to taxi ("drive") the plane on the ground to get a feel for its ground handling characteristics. A common practice for this is to advance the throttle and try to taxi straight down the runway for one hundred feet. After a good straight run, close the throttle and bring the plane back around. Do this until you are comfortable on the ground! Once you feel comfortable with this skill, it's time to take off. The most important part of takeoff is starting off straight down the runway. This eliminates the need for much of the usual steering. Take off only takes five to ten seconds, so you need to be alert and anticipate every move.
First, advance the throttle to full speed. The plane will start off slowly, and will gather speed. As it reaches full speed, start to ease the elevator back. Keep applying elevator until the nose lifts. When the nose lifts, keep the elevator in the attitude, applying more if needed. This will set your craft into a shallow climb to allow for acceleration. This first climb needs to be shallow, because a low speed stall (which is hard to correct) may occur in a steep low speed climb. Now the fun begins!
Once airborne, you need to establish a pattern (left or right turns). Reason for this is that you need to fly the plane; you can't let it fly you. Make all of your turns deliberate, creating wide ovals with round corners. The key to turning is the proper mix of aileron and elevator. Begin a corner with minimal aileron and slowly add elevator in. Using the elevator in this manner maintains altitude while making the turn look smooth. As you come out of the corner into the straight corridor, the wings need to be leveled out. This is accomplished by banking opposite the corner very slightly. To gain altitude, use up elevator; to lose altitude and gain speed, use down elevator. As you fly around and get comfortable, aerobatics become possible. The five basic aerobatic maneuvers are as follows: slow rolls, snap (fast) rolls, stalls (vertical flight to apogee), inverted flight (flying while upside down), and vertical flight (tricks performed while going straight up). Certain elements of the aforementioned can be combined to execute such maneuver as the Immelmann and the Split-S (vertical turnarounds), Tailslides and Hammerheads (stall maneuvers), Cuban-Eights, and Lomcevaks, to name a few.
Perhaps the hardest element to master quickly is landing. The most important component to consider is the approach. Your approach should be very shallow, and centered over the runway. As you bank the final corner, level the wings and close the throttle. As the engine idles, the plane will begin to lose altitude. This is good and your job is to keep the wings level while maintaining a shallow glide. If the plane doesn't maintain a proper descent, trouble will occur. This is why you need to "mind the nose". The nose tells the story- too high will cause a stall; too low increases speed and cause a dive. The final hundred feet of the approach are vital. Once over the runway, with an altitude of about five feet, the angle needs to be very shallow. Within thirty feet, your altitude will be two feet or less. Now is the time to "flair". Flairing is the use of up elevator to raise the nose so that the main gear will touch down first (to absorb impact). As the nose gear settles down, it becomes a ground steered model again. Guide the plane back to you, and this completes your flight.
Congratulations! You are now a pilot. Accomplishing your first solo flight is a memorable achievement that any seasoned flyer remembers as though it was yesterday. As sure as you were nervous in the beginning, you'll become a better pilot with every flight. Once you're comfortable with flying (taking off, flying controlled patterns, and taking off) let loose- have a ball! Try different tricks, landing techniques, or maneuvers. Just remember that what makes R/C a hobby is your enjoyment of it. Have fun!