New Flyers

Here we provide some advice on how to get started flying radio control model, and provide some information on the equipment you need to purchase. ORCA provides lots of help for people getting started in our hobby, but sometimes it is hard to know who to talk with and what questions to ask. Here, we hope to provide enough guidance to get you started on the right foot

We start with a list of things you need to do or buy.

  1. You need an model. Read Paul B.'s advice article called Geting Started. I tried a Champ first. It comes with the equipment you need to fly and it works out of the box. If you have a place to fly that is protected from the wind, then it is an excellent choice. However, a plane with a little more power and mass is a better choice for use at our flying field. I am working with an Slow Stick now. You want something that is easy to fix, because you will probably crash a time or two while you are learning to fly. Start with 3 channels (speed, rudder and elevator) for your model airplane. Hook the rudder up to the aileron channel on the receiver in the model so you control speed with your left hand and both elevation and direction with your right hand.
  2. Be sure you have a tag on the model which provides your identification and AMA Member Number. There are usually blank forms outside the storage shed to use for model identification.
  3. You need a controller. This is a radio transmitter and receiver. There are two basic choices for transmitter, a 72 MHz FM Transmitter and a 2.4 GHz transmitter. If you choose to use the 72 MHz type, then when you get to the flying field, you need to pick a frequency that others are not using. We maintain a frequency board for this purpose. See the club rules. With a 2.4 GHz transmitter, the transmitter will find a clear frequency for you. The receiver needs to be bound to your transmitter and installed in the airplane. You can get a transmitter/receiver combination that has a lot of control channels, but to start you only need a 4 channels system. When you first fly, you should only be using 3 channels but it wont take long for you skill level to improve and you will want to add aileron control
  4. You need a battery and charger. The model you choose will have a recommended battery. Start with the recommended battery, but get a versitle charger so you can deal with more sizes and type of battery without needing another charger. The Thunder AC6 Dual Power Charger is a good choice.
  5. You need to read the AMA National Model Aircraft Safety Code and heed it. Our liability insurance is through the AMA and we are expected to be in compliance with the safety code. You also need to read and heed the ORCA Club Rules. In order to fly at Castleman Field, you need to be a member of both the AMA and the ORCA Club.
  6. We have a log book at the field and you should sign in so that there is a record of what days you were at the field to fly,
  7. You need to arrange for an experienced pilot to work with you on your first few flights. Bill K. is our Safety Officer, and he will either provide instruction or help you find someone to work with you. We have buddy transmitters so that the instructor can take control of the model and prevent crashes.

Club members are always willing to help you. Show up at meetings (2nd Wednesday at 7 PM in the meeting room at the Poulsbo Fire Station) or check the flying field. You will frequently find other flyers at the field who will be glad to provide advice.

Consider a flight training setup for your computer. I use a program called Phoenix RC. This lets you hook your transmitter up to your computer, choose a model and then control the model as if you were flying at the field. This makes mistakes a lot less expensive. The flight trainer is not required, just fun and helpful.

Most of our club members will gladly help or provide advice, but you need to ask. Lots of additional help is available on the Web, Be sure to check out the Academy of Model Aeronautics website.


Created on February 05, 2012, updated December 20, 2013.