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                                                           Getting Started



Are you new to the hobby of RC model flying and wondering how to get started?


Are you unsure what type of model to get or how much it will cost?


If the answer to these questions is “YES” than this page is for you!


Learning to fly a model aircraft of any type is a rewarding experience but it can be very frustrating if you try to go it alone.  

By far the best way to start is to visit a local club to get a better idea of how model flying works.  Based on the type of  

flying you want to do they will be able to recommend suitable models and radio equipment to give you best chance of



Below we give you an idea of what types of models are suitable for training and a rough guide to costs.  However, the  

most important advice we can give is DO NOT BUY ANYTHING until you have joined a club where you will get valuable  

advice and support, including training.  We hope that you will choose our club.


 Types of Model


Model aircraft fall into three main categories:


 Fixed Wing Aircraft

This includes models designed for training, sports and aerobatic models and scale models. It also  

includes gliders which these days are often equipped with a small electric motor to get them airborne without the need for  

a tow line.



These range from small twin rotor models designed for indoor flying through to large and powerful highly aerobatic models  

and scale models.


 Multi-Rotor Aircraft (Also known as drones)

This is a new category that has become popular recently.  It includes tiny toy models the size of your hand that can only

be flown indoors, larger models designed for racing, and very large models, often with up to eight rotors designed for  

carrying large cameras for professional photography.  


 Power Source

Traditionally, radio controlled model aircraft have always been powered by miniature piston engines, initially diesel but  

more recently glow plug engines. Large models can also use petrol engines. However, in the last 10 years or so, electric

power has become a viable alternative thanks to dramatic developments in battery and motor technology.  Multi-rotor

models are only possible thanks to these developments so electric power is the only option for these models.  


For someone starting out in the hobby now, and wanting to fly a fixed wing model or a helicopter you will need to choose

whether to start with electric or glow engine power.  There are pros and cons for each option:


 Electric power is cleaner and quieter, and is easier for a beginner – the engine always starts – but flight times are more

limited and, for each flight, you need a fully charged battery. This limits the amount of flying you can get in one day

unless you buy a lot of batteries.


A glow engine powered model is likely to have longer flight times, refuelling only takes a minute or two and you can do

this as many times as you like. However, they need additional supporting equipment (fuel pump, starter, glow plug power

source) and you would need training in starting and adjusting the engine.


In the end the choice is yours. Some people like the simplicity of electric, others are fascinated by operating a miniature

engine and see this as part of the model flying experience.  But, whatever you choose to get started, remember you can

always move onto the other option later. Many members in our club fly a mixture of electric and glow powered models.


 Types of model to get you started and a rough guide to costs:


 Fixed Wing

You need to choose an aeroplane that is stable and easy to fly.  Don’t pick a low-wing, aerobatic aeroplane, or a war bird;

you can move on to one of them later. The best choice is a high wing model, with traditional wooden construction, with a

wing span of at least 1.3m. These models are more stable in flight, are less inclined to stall, and are more forgiving for a

beginner. The best training models will also have the potential to move on to more advanced flying once you have learned  

the basics.  


 The costs and the build: 

For a beginner we suggest an ARTF (Almost Ready to Fly) model. These are pre-built and covered models that require

minimum build skills and come with a comprehensive hardware pack.  You will also need a radio set (transmitter, receiver

and servos).


 Typical costs are:

ARTF model                                                                        £100

6 channel radio Transmitter, receiver and servos                   £170

Power system – glow option 

Glow engine and propeller                                                   £65

Flight battery (to power radio in model)                                £15

Starting equipment                                                             £85

One gallon of fuel (enough for around 20 flights)                   £20


                                                                                Total £180 (glow power)

 Power system – electric option

Motor, speed controller and propeller                                    £70

3 batteries (the minimum number we recommend)                £100

Charger                                                                              £30


                                                                                 Total £200 (electric power)


Note that the costs for the electric or glow powered version is almost the same.

If you are on a tight budget, you can go for a light weight electric powered model made of foam. These usually come

complete with an installed power system and servos, so require only batteries and a radio system to complete them. This

option will save you quite a bit of money but you must be aware of the limitations. The model will be much lighter and you

will only be able to fly in fairly calm conditions. Once you have learnt to fly you will have reached the limit of what the

model can do and you will want to upgrade.  Nevertheless, if you do decide to go down this route we can recommend a

suitable model. Above all do not be tempted by adverts for surprisingly cheap and attractive looking ready to fly foam

models advertised as ideal for learning. In our experience most are far from suitable and can be challenging even for

experienced fliers.




Helicopters tend to be expensive to buy, maintain and repair. Additionally, it takes a lot of practise and time to become

competent to fly them. However, the range of manoeuvres available may make up for these.



There are two types of Helicopters ; Fixed Pitch and Cyclic Pitch.


 Fixed Pitch

Fixed pitch is mostly used for Training and limits the aerobatic capability of the helicopter. More suited to Indoor flight.


 Cyclic Pitch

Cyclic pitch is necessary for aerobatics and 3D, allowing inverted flight manoeuvres. Indoor or Outdoor flight.



Can be Electric or Glow. Smaller helicopters tend to be electric with a limited flight time and small rotor size. Glow tend to  

be larger in rotor size and heavier,  



In general, the larger the rotor, the more stable the helicopter.



Setup is crucial to getting the machine to fly properly and tends to be complex. It won’t fly if it’s not setup, and conversely

if it’s not setup, it won’t fly. Unfortunately, each design is different in this regard.



Club Member

The first suggestion is to talk to a Member who flies them for advice. HWDMAC can advise on the right member.

Specialised Heli. Club

Having been through the Training Heli. stage, if you are serious about Heli. 3D and aerobatics, then the best place to learn

quickly is a specialised Heli. Club.


Typical costs and examples are (2017) :


 Indoor Electric BNF (bind and fly) model (fixed pitch)

Typical Model - (ideal introduction to Helis and 4 channel controls are as per the larger machines)


LIPO Batteries (2 included)

LIPO Charger & Balancer (included)

4 channel (minimum) (Spectrum or similar) radio Transmitter Required                £60-70


 Outdoor Electric BNF model (cyclic)

Typical Smaller Heli.  (Fully aerobatic and reasonable in light winds)

(as fixed pitch)


 Outdoor Glow or Electric 50 size 3D Kit


Typical 50 size ARF                                                                                                      £800

(Does not include starting equipment)



Typical 50 size                                                                                                              £860

(Does not include Batteries or charger)



There are too many choices and possible setups to recommend anything specific here. Above all, DO NOT  

jump on to EBay  

and buy something that looks good on paper for £30-70. Generally, it will be a “toy”, you won’t be able to get

spares for it  

and it’s flight performance will be poor. You should consult with a Club Member who flies Multi-Rotor before

buying anything, because so much depends on the type of flying you wish to do. Things to look out for :

1) How big is it ? 450mm is a good size to start with (or 250mm for a racing quad)

2) Does it have brushless motors ? If not – stay away from it – it’s a toy !

3) Are there lots of spares for it ? (motors, flight controller, frame parts, props etc.) If not , then it’s still a  


4) Google the product : is there a support Forum or a Facebook Group to support it ? If not, then how are you  

going to fix t after you crash it ?


Once you have found your chosen multi-rotor you’ll need to buy some spares for it at the time of purchase :


A bucket of spare props. Ie) bulk packs. Get at least 10Cw and 10CCW rotating props. (You’ll be breaking

several a day when you start)


A spare pair of motors (one CCW and the other CCW rotation) – sooner or later you will bend one of them, so

you’ll need a spare.


At least two or three extra flight batteries (Flyers in our Club typically keep at least six of each type, but

three is a good starting point). There is no point in going to the field if you only get one or two flights.


Bottom Line – Seek a recommendation from a Multi-Rotor Flyer before you buy anything, otherwise you could  

spend a lot of money on something that just does’nt work for you.


V3 - 06/05/2017