Akkana and Dave Crash Electric Planes

I'd been eyeing the electric radio controlled planes at Rancho San Antonio for years, whenever I hike there.  I flew powered R/C planes years ago, but gave it up because I didn't like the noise, the mess, or the hassle of finding a place to fly.  Now I'm back into flying, with electric planes, which are quiet, small and fun.  My husband couldn't resist the lure, so he decided to learn to fly as well.  We crashed a lot while learning, and we cast about trying to find the right plane to learn on.  So we've been through quite a few planes. Later on this page I have a bit of of advice for beginners.

Some Planes I've Flown:

[Wild Wing Combat Wing] [Skunk planes] [Ultra micro 2-Site]
Combat Wings Skunk Planes Ultra Micro 4-Site
Tough, acrobatic, fast or slow, but mainly: Too much fun! Graceful aerial ballet or hovering, whatever you want. Indoor aerobatic biplane -- set it up right and it's a pussycat.
[ Flipper ] [Mini IFO, flying] [Edge-2 Xtreme]
Flipper Mini IFO Edge-2 Xtreme
Wild 3D street flyer Weirdo slow-flyer, highly portable. The most aerobatic $25 sheet of foam you'll ever see.
[Split] [mini Weasel] [Pocket Combat Wing]
Split Tweety Mini Weasel and
Tips for Slope Soaring
Pocket Combat Wing
It does everything!  Boink-Zoom. Fantastic fun.  Fast and cute! Intense dogfights!
[Pico Stick] Lil' Hornet [GWS tiger moth]
Pico Stick Lil' Hornet Tiger Moth
Simple, cheap.  Great small-park flyer.  Dogfights, too! Strong and competent; a fully aerobatic slow flyer. Slow, graceful, and pretty.  Nuff said.
[Crazy Stick] [Wind Buster] [Triangle]
Crazy Stick Wind Buster Triangle
Amazingly precise for a $30 bunch o' spare parts. Teeny.  Cute. Tip-stall demon. Lightweight, wild, fun, fragile.
[Sporty] [Formosa] [Blucore Foam Bipe]
Sporty Formosa 23" Foam Bipe
Tip-stall demon.  But pretty. Big porky aerobat with not enough motor. Fun experiment, but an IPS wasn't enough.

Advice for Beginners

For beginners thinking about trying electric R/C flying: I hesitate to suggest any particular model, since individual tastes and abilities vary greatly (though if you have plenty of space, you can't go too wrong with a T-Hawk). Do get something fairly rugged, or else cheap and easy to fix. You will crash.

If you don't have an instructor, if you just take off and try to fly around then land, you'll probably crash a lot and get frustrated. One suggestion that helps with this: try launching the plane away from you, with the motor either off or going very slow, and just try to glide it in to a smooth landing. Do that a bunch of times. Get the transmitter trimmed so the plane can glide straight with your hands off the sticks.

When your landings are pretty smooth, then you can start adding some up elevator to fly a little higher before coming down, and you can try making a gentle turn to the left or right to make sure you can still land. Keep the motor off or very slow and the flight times and distances super short through all of this. Landings are what you need to practice; everything else is much easier. You also need to get the airplane and transmitter trimmed so that it flies straight and level and doesn't react too violently to stick input, and that's hard to do when you're just learning. This technique will get the hard parts -- the trimming and learning to land -- out of the way while the plane is going low and slow, so any crashes (yes, you'll still have crashes) will be relatively gentle.

I do have a couple of suggestions about the other equipment.

On batteries: Lithium Polymer batteries have completely revolutionized electric flying. If there's any chance that you might become seriously interested in flying, you will use li-po batteries eventually. So don't invest much money in a charger that only handles Ni-Cad and NiMH. Starting with NiMH is fine (especially if you buy a plane that comes with them, like a T-Hawk), just don't buy an expensive charger. You may even want to consider starting with li-po (though the batteries are a more dangerous and the chargers more expensive). Dave and I both were very frustrated as beginners because our underpowered, heavy planes kept losing power and crashing; the switch to li-po, for us, was a switch from frustration to fun.

On transmitters: I expected I'd want several planes, so I bought a general 4-channel transmitter rather than a plane that came with its own dedicated transmitter. But I soon found out that with several planes, you really want a transmitter that can store different settings for each plane. So I ended up having to buy a new transmitter anyway. But then I wanted to try combat wings and other elevon planes, and the second transmitter didn't have proper elevon mixing, and it didn't have settings for enough planes, so I had to upgrade yet again. (Fortunately transmitters sell pretty well on ebay.) So don't worry too much about whether your first transmitter will meet all your future needs. It won't, so go ahead and start with something cheap, and if you get deeply into flying, you can upgrade later. (If you're curious, I ended up with a JR 6102, which stores settings for ten planes including their trim settings, and I was happy with it for years and still have it. But that was in the days of 72 Mhz radios; nowadays you want to get a spread-spectrum 2.4 GHz radios, which are much more reliable. Dave uses a Spektrum DX6i which seems to work very well.)

Dave's Early Planes

Dave has
his own plane page now, but most of these planes aren't on it yet.

[Slow Stick] [Baby Bee]
Slow Stick Baby Bee T-Hawk
Blue Maxi Stick
[E-Starter] [GWS flying fish]
Maxi Stick (Mini Blue Max)
E-Starter Flying Fish

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