Friday, November 5, 2010

RC Model Aviation Clubs

If you're looking to fly RC airplanes and/or helicopters as a hobby, as opposed to an occasional diversion, working with and learning from seasoned pilots is absolutely the best way for beginners to get started. And the best way to hook-up with experienced fliers is through your local flying clubs. The Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) maintains a directory of flying clubs, searchable by zip code or city/state, on its website at, and another way to find clubs and RC enthusiasts is through your local hobby stores. It is certainly possible to learn to fly on your own; many excellent RC pilots have taken that route, but many more who tried self-instruction found it so difficult and had so little to show for their efforts besides damaged or destroyed aircraft, that they gave up in frustration. With RC clubs within driving distance in most communities across the country, there is just no reason not to take advantage of the assistance that membership in one (or more) can offer.

Some, if not most, flying clubs have a designated instructor(s), many of whom will have been certified by AMA to teach novice pilots. Most clubs also have club trainers, planes designed for beginners which the instructor and new pilot will use while training. Working with a certified instructor will significantly shorten the beginner's learning curve, while modeling the right way to safely operate and, in the case of glow-powered planes, maintain an RC aircraft. Instructors typically use the Buddy Box system for teaching; this involves the use of two transmitters (TX), a master and slave, linked by a cable. The novice holds the slave and the instructor the master, and transfer of control of the aircraft from one to the other is effected by depressing or releasing a switch on the master box. Buddy boxing eliminates any delay in passing a single TX and allows the instructor to take control at once if trouble looms. This takes pressure off the novice aviator and boosts confidence, and also serves to avert many beginner-error induced crashes.

Club or side-by-side instruction is the easiest and safest way to lean to fly and the buddy box is the preferred method of club instruction. If you are thinking about taking up flying RC airplanes or helicopters and ready to get started, do yourself a favor and check out a club or 2 in your area. You will not only learn everything you need to know to be successful in the hobby, you also will have the opportunity to make new friends with folks who share your interest in RC aviation.    

Academy of Model Aeronautics

RC Airplanes

RC Helicopters


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