Thinking of taking up model aircraft flying as a hobby?
Assuming you are local, the best approach is to pop down to the flying field and have a chat. Provided it isn’t raining or blowing a gale, you are likely to find flyers at the site on Saturday or Wednesday mornings and they are usually happy to talk to you about the hobby and answer any questions you might have. Don’t forget to bring along a pencil and paper and make a few notes.
Can you afford it?
Model aircraft flying is not the cheapest of hobbies, but as with all sports/hobbies, there is range of equipment and models and that includes entry-level kits that do not break the bank and will last for years. The choice is either internal combustion (i.c) powered or electric motor but neither is particularly cheap with model, motor, second hand transmitter and all the other bits and pieces you will need costing around £400. Shop around and you can find model shops offering package deals with all you need to get airborne, or look at eBay (Search toys & games – Radio controlled) but be wary of what you are buying. We suggest that before you buy you come and talk to us to get advice on the various items you need to buy and what models we have experience of training on.
Which model aircraft should you buy?
You may want to fly a Spitfire but this is not the type of model to learn with so look for beginners models, usually described as ‘trainers’.
Before battery and electric motor technology developed and electric models came on the scene, i.c. powered models were standard but choice is now becoming more limited as manufacturers move towards electric power. Although there are a few trainers designed to be powered by internal combustion (glow) engines (i.c.) we find that electric models work better for beginners as they are simpler to build and operate, easier to fly, and usually easier to repair after a bad landing/crash. If you are still keen on i.c., you can always convert after learning on electric.
The club training aims to get a new flier their BMFA achievement scheme ‘A’ certificate which shows you to be a safe flier and permits you to fly at our site without direct supervision. This depends on a lot of variables but will probably take at least 6 months In order to take the ‘A’ flying test the model must weigh at least 1Kg and be capable of taking off from the ground. Many of the smaller electric model trainers are too light for this but suitable models are the Wot4 Foam-E, E-Flite Timber, Durafly Tundra, FMS Super EZ and FMS Kingfisher. The choice is yours but before you buy an unsuitable model, please come and talk to us about our recommendations from past experience with trainees.
Visit any flying club and you will see a variety of different radio control transmitters in use. In common with most clubs, we train beginners via a ‘buddy lead’. This involves two transmitters connected together via a ‘buddy lead’, one for the trainer and one for the trainee, so that control can be instantly switched between the two. This provides a ‘safety net’ for the model in that when you get into difficulty (as you will) the trainer can take back control of the model. This can save a lot of money in crashed models! At Reading club we mostly operate Futaba and Spektrum radio gear so we advise buying a radio from one of these manufacturers to ensure that we can support you. Please talk to us to get further advice before you purchase as this is a complex area for beginners and you can easily waste your money buying a radio that we cannot train you on.
Joining a flying club such as ours, where you have somewhere to fly safely and legally and where tuition is provided, will help you learn more quickly and the chance of crashing is lessened so it should save you money in the long term – see the Membership page