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John's R/C Flying Pages


R/C flying models can be listed under 3 main types;

  1. Gliders
  2. Helicopters
  3. Fixed-wing powered planes

Gliders have no engine and must fly in air that is rising faster than they are sinking in order to remain aloft. This means flying on a hillside with the wind blowing up the hill (slope soaring) or on flat ground by finding thermals - pockets of warmer rising air.

Helicopters fly by the rotor generating sufficient lift to balance the weight of the model. These and gliders are a specialism that I shall not (at least not yet) deal with any further in these pages.

Fixed-wing powered planes are what I, and probably the majority of UK flyers fly. Broadly speaking they can be further categorised as follows;


As a beginner you'll need a trainer. Yes it is possible to learn to fly on a model that's not a trainer, but you'll need a very patient instructor. Ideally a trainer should be reasonably large and slow flying. It should have safe flight characteristics and have positive stability.

As a beginner you have to learn to recognise which way to move the control sticks to make the model fly where you want it to. You're operating in 3 dimensions, and when the plane's flying towards you a right turn is acheived by turning left. Initially you'll need all the help you can get! The last thing you want is a tiny model cavorting around the sky like a demented bee, so a large plane that's easy to see and flying relatively slowly will make life somewhat easier.

Positive stability means that the plane will try to fly straight and level unless a control input is held in. So when you panic (and you will) and let go of the sticks with the plane flying at some weird angle, then given a little height the plane will sort itself out and return to level flight. Almost all trainers are high-wing models (ie. the wing is above the fuselage) and have some dihedral in the wing - the tips are raised, so when viewed from the front (or back!) the wing forms a shallow v-shape. Both these features give stability. Many trainers today are ARTF models - Almost Ready To Fly.They are largely already built and covered, typically you only need to join the wing halves, attach the tail surfaces, install your engine and radio - and you're ready to fly. One advantage of ARTFs is that you are less likely to make errors in constructing the plane that will cause problems flying it.

Sports Models

Your next model after you've mastered the trainer is likely to be a low-wing sports model like the Jr. Tiger shown above. Whilst retaining some of the stability of the trainer it allows you to develop your flying and is suitable for general use. A sports model like this will allow you to learn basic aerobatics. Whilst a typical trainer should loop without difficulty, inverted flight and rolls are easier with a model like this.

Pattern ships

As you progress further you'll gradually find the stability thats helped you in the past begins to be a nuisance as you want more control of the plane. Aerobatic 'pattern ships' are designed as far as possible to be 'neutrally stable'. Let go of the controls on one of these and it will continue in the same direction until eventually gravity exerts it's influence - or you regain control!

Scale Models

This is the model that everyone wants to fly at some time in their flying-life. Sadly, this is the only photograph on this page that is not of one of my planes. One day, one day.....

Scale models are miniature replicas of full-size planes. A scale model of a full-size aircraft will generally have similar flying characteristics to the original. However aerodynamic effects do not scale down exactly, so the model may be rather trickier to fly than a similar sized 'sports' model. Semi-scale models which retain the overall appearance of the original without faithfully copying exact shapes and proportions provide a compromise for many flyers.


Aren't all models supposed to be fun to fly you may ask. Well yes of course. Fun-fly models are built for competing in fun-fly competitions - where a set of tasks have to be flown against the clock. These may include;

and possibly others. The typical fun-fly plane has evolved as a light-weight plane, with a thick wing section, plenty of wing-area and outrageously-large control surfaces. It is capable of slow flight and is very manoeuverable. Oh, and great fun to fly!

Pylon Racers

(Sorry, no picture yet.)

Pylon racers are models designed with only one aim - to fly a set number of laps around a triangular course in as short a time as possible. There are several classes of model, the rules of each class dictate the engines that may be used and the dimensions of the model.