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John's R/C Flying Pages


Beginners start here!

So, you've seen models flying over Epsom Downs - or somewhere else - and you think want to take up the hobby yourself? Where do you start?

First of all, put your cheque book and credit cards away for a little while! Visit and maybe join a club, or visit the Downs to see what's involved. Have a chat with us (though not whilst we're actually flying please!) Read the magazines and web pages and have a chat with your local model shop proprietor. OK, now you've gathered loads of advice and information - possibly conflicting advice! - at least you're in a better position to make up your own mind what to do.

You'll need three things initially
  1. A model to fly
  2. Somewhere to fly it
  3. Help in learning to fly

If you've joined a club then item 2 has been provided. Most clubs should have a training programme of some sort so item 3 will have been taken care of and maybe item 1 if the club has it's own training model. If you need information on local clubs in the UK, then the British Model Flying Association (BMFA) or your local model shop will point you in the right direction. Many clubs have exclusive access to their flying site although there are some public sites where club membership is not essential or where there is no club. Join a club if you can, as a beginner you will need either a fair bit of help or an enormous amount of luck to get started.

If you decide not to join a club then you'll need to find somewhere to fly. If you find a 'suitable' site but nobody else flys there, ask yourself why this is. Is the site really suitable? Do local bye-laws prohibit flying here? It's very likely that you'll select a 'public' established site where others already fly. PLEASE introduce yourself to these people and enlist their help in learning to fly. You may decide that it can't be all that difficult and sneak out on a quiet day to fly when nobody's around. Probably not a good idea! You may have made mistakes in building your plane that would cause problems (or disaster!) on the first flight. An experienced flyer should be able to spot these. Even if the plane is perfect (unlikely!) then your ability to fly it will not be.

As an absolute minimum, I'd advise getting an experienced pilot to test fly your plane. If it's 'out of trim' then an experienced pilot will be able to 'trim' it for you and give you a better chance of flying it yourself.

However I'd STRONGLY advise getting someone to teach you initially. Whilst it's not impossible to teach yourself you'll save yourself a lot of time and crashed planes if you get help!

Wherever and whatever you decide to fly, one final thing you really should have is insurance. Whilst it won't pay for the models that you crash whilst learning, third-party insurance will cover you in the unlikely event that you cause damage or injury to somebody, or to their property. It is most unlikely that you will ever need to make a claim, consequently the premiums are very low. However the consequences of not being insured, and thus being personally liable for any damage that you could cause do not bear thinking about. Membership of the BMFA includes insurance in the annual premium of a little over twenty pounds.

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