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Tips for Flying and Flight Adjustment of Model Aircraft

May 05, 2015

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Airfield Models ( and Flight Adjustment Tips

  • It is commonly said that a nose-heavy plane is better than a tail-heavy plane.  For whatever reason, a lot of flyers take that to mean that nose-heaviness is a good thing.  It is not.

    A nose heavy airplane will not trim properly and tends to run out of elevator on landing.  This means either the plane stalls in or a higher than necessary landing speed is maintained to keep the elevator effective.

    The best thing to do is balance the plane so that it is neither nose heavy nor tail heavy.  I usually start at around 33% Mean Aerodynamic Chord MAC and adjust from there until I achieve the best balance point.  I use stick on weights temporarily and once the balance point is located, I use lead shot mixed with epoxy glued inside the airframe to make it permanent.

  • The night before you go flying, do a pre-pre-flight inspection of your models at home.  You will not be distracted by your friends talking to you and you may find a problem that needs to be fixed at home or remember something you planned to change or adjust before you took the model again.

    Your time at the field should not be consumed by tinkering with your model other than to make trim adjustments between flights.  When you get to the field, you should be able to assemble your plane, do a pre-flight and then fly.

  • Whenever you crash a plane and think it is totaled, do not get so upset that you do not think clearly.  Nothing is more annoying than having someone else show up at the field a few weeks later with a plane you threw away and seeing them have a lot of fun with it.

    At the very least, take the plane home and wipe the oil from it.  Then set it aside until you are able to look it over objectively.  If you still decide to toss it then salvage any useable hardware from it before putting it by the curb.

    Do not keep any of the hardware that may be questionable though.  It is not worth saving a dollar or two and losing another plane because a critical piece of hardware failed.

  • Any time you go to the field, try to take at least two planes.  Especially if you are taking a finicky airplane or a new one.  Make sure one of the planes is a reliable every-day type.  If one of the planes has problems, you will not be as tempted to fly when its flight worthiness is questionable because you will have another plane to put in the air.

    In the same vein, if the plane has a problem, such as intermittent radio problems, do not fly until you find out what is going on.  "Well, I guess the problem is gone now," is the wrong answer.

  • One way to have good public relations is to have an easy flying model with you that you can let visitors try when they come to the field.  Not long before losing her, I let a dozen or so Boy Scouts try their hand with Great Gonzo.  None of them had ever flown R/C before and all did a fair job of steering her around the sky.

    Beware of the adult who says he flies full scale aircraft.  I have had several instances where these guys tried to impress their buddies by attempting to perform stunts with my planes even though they had never flown an R/C aircraft before.



Tips for Preparing to Finish a Flying Model Aircraft
Miscellaneous Tips

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Copyright 2002 Paul K. Johnson