Beginners Guide

 

First, let me say that you have made a good choice of hobby. There are many different sides to the hobby from free-flight, gliders, power, helicopters etc. so take time to decide which one suits you best before taking the plunge and don't hesitate to ask if you have any questions.

 

Brochure.jpg

 

Getting Started

The first thing is to find a club, so please take a look here https://www.saaweb.uk/clubs_in_scotland.html and find the ones closest to you. It is worth visiting a few clubs to see what each has to offer both in terms of facilities and training. Most clubs much prefer to give advice and guidance before you buy rather than after as that way they can advise on a suitable model and the modifications that are best made during the construction stage. They can also ensure you get equipment compatible with the instructors so as to minimise delays through training.

 

Training

Most clubs have a number of instructors who are prepared to give up their free time to help train beginners. Pupils are advised to contact an instructor to arrange lessons and this way they do not turn up when there is no-one there to teach them.

 

Buddy-box

Some clubs may have a dual-control “buddy box” pair of transmitters for general use, but you might prefer to purchase your own. That way it is set once for your model and does not need re-setting each time a different pupil is flying, and you are not tied to the owner of the buddy box. These are a tremendous saving in valuable time and cuts the risk of a novice wrecking a model to almost zero. Remember that you can always sell it on to the next beginner when you have finished with it.

SIMULATORS

If you are a computer owner you might want to get one of the simulators to practice with. These really are worth the money but again, don't buy one until you have spoken to the club. Phoenix and Reflex are available second-hand, and Aerofly and Realflight are available to buy new. Again, talk to the club for advice. Remember these are tools and not toys so focus on the basics:

https://youtu.be/pWByFDJdNWQ

 

Which Model?

When starting out you should be looking at one of the high-wing trainers on the market. Browse the various web sites to find reviews before buying. The Arising Star and Seagull Boomerang are typical trainer models. However it is best to speak to a club committee member to get the latest views on the current ARTF models as there are new ones appearing all the time.

 

Glow or Electric?

The BIG question for beginners is whether to go electric or glow. The 3-year cost is roughly the same because of the higher initial investment for the batteries and charger for going electric rather than the distributed cost for fuel. Both have their advantages and disadvantages:

Glow

Electric

Engine

Motor

Fuel

Batteries (at least 4)

Starter motor

Speed Controller

Starter Battery

Battery Charger

Glow plugs

Power Supply

 

Batteries need recharged (1 hour per week)

Messy, noisy (but we love them), temperamental engines.

Clean & quiet. Starts every time.

Lower entry cost but ongoing fuel purchase required.

Higher entry cost but no ongoing costs apart from the electricity to re-charge the batteries, until the batteries need replacing.

 

COLOUR SCHEMES

 

Think very carefully about this. You will be flying against a grey sky, or a blue sky, or a blue sky with white clouds. The top and bottom of your model should be very distinctly different, and both must stand out against the various backdrops.

 

A good colour scheme would be all-red underneath with possibly white on top, with 300mm wide red wing tips. It is a bad idea to have the same colour top and bottom. If you have white underneath, try adding some 200mm wide black invasion stripes on the underside of the wing. Fluorescent pink wings and metallic blue fuselage make a good combo. Self-adhesive Solartrim can be purchased in most hobby shops to add visibility bars.

 ENGINES

It is best to buy a 2 stroke engine rather than a 4-stroke to start with as they are easier for beginners. Most of the cheaper engines have plain bearings whereas the more powerful ones have roller bearings.

 

TRANSMITTERS

Technology advances without respite so talk to the clubs for the latest information on transmitters before buying. Remember that both the transmitter and receiver battery need to be re-charged before going flying even if the model has not flown since the last charge. All new transmitters operate on the 2.4GHz frequency.

 

DO NOT BUY 27MHz radio sets. That band is used by R/C cars and CB radio therefore the chance of interference is too high. 35MHz and 2.4GHz are the bands for RC aircraft. You will not be allowed to fly on 27MHz on most sites.

 

Crystals (only for 35MHz) (Almost impossible to buy new, and beware of 2nd hand radio equipment)

A 35MHz transmitter's frequency is set by its crystal. Each crystal has a frequency and a channel number on it. Check with the club to see which channels are free before buying the crystals as only one person can fly on one channel at a time, otherwise interference occurs and the model will crash. The offending person pays for the repair or replacement to the damaged plane. You can tell which channels are currently flying by checking with the peg-board in use at the flying site. If the frequency peg is not on the board then someone I using it.  (Note this system is not universal over all the clubs so check to see which system is in use before flying at other clubs)

 

Transmitter Setup

There are 2 modes for transmitter setups. Most clubs have the throttle and rudder on the left stick and aileron and elevator on the right stick.

Setup:

Left stick pushed away from your body - throttle increase

Left stick pulled towards your body - throttle decreases

Left stick moved to the left - rudder points to left looking from behind the model

Left stick moved to the right - rudder points to right looking from behind the model

Right stick pushed away from your body - elevator goes down (model goes down)

Right stick pulled towards your body - elevator goes up (model goes up)

Right stick move to the left - left aileron goes up, right aileron goes down looking from behind the model

Right stick move to the right - right aileron goes up, left aileron goes down looking from behind the model

 

HOW LONG?

Do not buy anything until you have decided on which club to join since they will have their own preferences for beginners. When finding a club, ask about their training set up i.e.

 

  1. How many instructors do they have and what are their qualifications (Bronze, silver, gold, and examiner)?
  2. Does the club have a trainer aircraft?
  3. How many buddy boxes do they have?
  4. How many other novices are getting instruction?
  5. Is an instructor available and when are you able to get instruction?

 

Getting to the stage where you can fly solo is purely dependant on how much flying time you can commit to. If you aim for 30 flights at 3 to 4 flights a day and you won’t go far wrong. It is worth arranging to spend 1 day for 8 to 10 consecutive weeks for training as you really need consistency to begin with.

 

There are 3 levels of proficiency within the SAA:

Bronze - able to fly solo at your own club and any other club

Silver - can apply to fly at public (model) events

Gold - personal achievement

 

For people who are far from clubs (and for everyone else) the SAA run training weekends. Check out the Events page on the SAA web site.

 

Once you have a Bronze you can visit other clubs and fly without supervision, although if you are not known you may be asked to do a demo flight.

 

There is a good competition environment covering  precision aerobatics, Scale, IMAC & Freestyle, slope soaring gliders, thermal gliders, as well as a large water-plane following. The "Events" page on the SAA website has all the details: http://www.saaweb.uk/events.html

 

INSURANCE

We recommend joining the Scottish Aeromodellers Association. The benefits of joining are:-

Low cost 3rd party insurance

Access to a structured training and safety environment

Access to the SAA training weekends

Members can visit any other club and fly, as well as take part in competitions without insurance problems

https://www.saaweb.uk/membership.html

 

A Family Membership is available to family members only and will provide for 1 Full Membership and any number of Junior Memberships residing at the same address and joining through the same club. Each family member so covered will be deemed to have conditions applicable as per individual membership. Family Membership fees will be 125% of the Membership fees for the time being. Each family member covered by SAA membership should be registered with the SAA as individual members. In applying for a family membership, the Full Member should submit separate application forms for themselves and each family member along with the appropriate fee (Existing members can submit Renewal Notices where appropriate. At any time additional junior family members can be registered at no charge by submitting an application and quoting the Full Member's membership number. Remember, only Junior members (under 18 on 1st January of membership year) can be covered under a family membership.

 

You do not need insurance until you start flying regularly, so you can try out flying using a buddy box at the club without any expense. You are allowed 3 supervised training flights before requiring your own insurance.

 

KIDS AND AEROMODELLING.

 

Please note that most clubs will not be used as a baby-sitting service, and expect 1 parent or Guardian to be in attendance at all times. The child protection act is in place to protect both adults and children, and members could put themselves at risk if left alone at a flying site with a junior member. Even when they are aged 16 there could be problems. I have seen the site go from very busy to empty in half an hour when the rain sets in. It would not be fair on our members if they had to wait with your son /daughter for 2 or 3 hours until they were collected. Neither would it be acceptable for us to go and leave them alone at the site. It is also recommended that a junior member does not visit the workshop or garage of a club member unless accompanied by a parent.

 

CAA Drone Registration and Education System (DRES)

The government require all pilots and models to be registered through the Civil Aviation Authority’s DRES scheme. Full information can be found here: https://www.saaweb.uk/register_drones_and_model_aircraft_caa.html

 

WARNING & DISCLAIMER

You are hereby advised that aeromodelling is a sport which contains risks. You enter a model aircraft flying site your own risk. Neither an individual, nor a club, nor the national body will be held responsible for any injury or damage to visitors or their property as a result of failing to seek safety related advice before visiting the flying site, or for failing to adhere to that advice when at the flying site. To make your visit to a flying site as pleasant as possible I would advise that you:

  • Contact the secretary of the club to arrange a visit.
  • Remain in the car park area until your designated host meets you.
  • Ask for a safety briefing
  • Act on your host’s instructions at all times.
  • Do not approach any model which has the engine running.
  • Do not stand in front of or in line with a rotating propeller.
  • Do not stand behind a jet or ducted fan engine
  • Do not engage anyone in discussion who is preparing a model. Wait until they acknowledge your presence.
  • Do not engage anyone in discussion if they are flying. Wait until they land.