Getting Started in Radio Control (RC)

Talk to us before you buy a model aircraft!

Before buying anything from either of the local hobby shops or online, PLEASE meet and talk to at least one of the club officers. We have a lot of experience and can help you make the best decision with regard to aircraft and equipment!!

Question: Can I try RC flying?

Answer: YES!, if you would like to get an introduction to flying a model, the Skyhawks RC Group will be happy to let you have a sample flight with the help of our club trainer and buddy box system. Please send us an email (link on HOME page) so we can agree on a place/time to meet.

Question: How much does it cost to get started? What beginner aircraft do you recommend?

Answer: The answer depends on your goals and budget. What is your budget? How committed are you to learning the skill to SOLO an RC aircraft. SOLO means you can take off and land unassisted and do so with reasonable assurance your flight will not result in a crash. We highly recommend (insist) that you start with a Ready To Fly (RTF) plane which includes all of your basic equipment (plane, transmitter, battery, charger).

Here some that we recommend and one of these "Horizon Flight School qualified aircraft:

  1. Apprentice STS 1.5m RTF Smart Trainer with SAFE ($350) - OUR TOP RECOMMENDATION. The gold standard of trainer planes. Relatively "large" but extremely stable and almost glider like flying characteristics. Fantastic flight control integration to assist beginner pilots. We have this plane as a club trainer and we LOVE it! Batteries for this aircraft will be about $45 each. You may want to budget $500 total for this aircraft as you'll likely want a couple additional batteries. Fight times per battery are > 10 - 15 minutes.

  2. AeroScout S 2 1.1m RTF ($200) - Cool looking aircraft with all the latest technology to make learning to fly easy and enjoyable. Uses the popular 2200 mAh battery size. Has all the flight training modes of the Apprentice series. Very good price point for a complete Ready-to-Fly setup!

  3. Apprentice S 2 1.2m RTF with SAFE ($260) - A great choice and smaller size makes this aircraft easy to store and transport. Uses the economical 1300 mAh size batteries. All the great flying qualities and features of our #1 choice above. You cannot go wrong with this selection.

  4. Sport Cub S 2 RTF with SAFE ($140): Plusses: Small size/weight, easy to store/transport, inexpensive batteries, easy to repair, inexpensive replacement parts. Minuses: Sensitive to the wind (needs a calm day, <5mph wind), limited range transmitter. Best for: folks who want limited assistance and aren't afraid to try flying on their own. It is not practical to buddy box with this aircraft.

IMPORTANT: If you are planning to fly a model aircraft weighing more than 240 grams (items 1 - 3 above), then you are required by law to complete the following two steps prior to flying the aircraft:

  1. Register as a recreational pilot operator with the FAA: FAA Registration

  2. Complete a TRUST certification exam (simple, easy, online) and SAVE your certificate of proof of completion: TRUST - The Recreational UAS Safety Test

Question: Can I learn on my own or do I have to have someone teach me?

Answer: We strongly recommend you seek an instructor to provide at least one session of flight instruction. Depending on your skill level, with today’s technology, you can learn build confidence very quickly.

Question: What RC flight simulator do you recommend?

Answer: One thing that can help you learn is the use of a flight simulator. The only one we recommend is Horizon Hobby REAL Flight. Any version greater than G6.5 will do. Check eBay, RC Groups, or Craigslist.

Flying an RC Aircraft REQUIRES recreational pilot registration with the FAA before you take off. It's the LAW. Visit FAA Drone Zone to learn more.