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My Best Beginner RC Plane Advice

Old 01-01-2022, 11:43 PM
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GBLynden
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Default My Best Beginner RC Plane Advice

Your First RC Plane

This thread contains the Best RC Plane Beginner Advice I can offer someone looking to get into flying RC Planes safely and with the highest probably of success. While there are many different schools of thought on how to approach this, listed below are the planes and tips I offer folks asking questions in the comments sections of my YouTube videos, which have helped 100ís of people worldwide achieve success in this hobby.

Before you can rip at 100MPH with that cool looking EDF Jet that flies with a 6S brick for a battery, you need to develop the muscle memory to handle split second decision making. That often will make a difference between a pile of foam on the ground or getting your plane safely back on the ground in one piece.

I have found that the best way to get there is select what is best described as an RC Trainer Plane as your first plane. This is generally one that has a high wing placement on the body of the plane and some up angle called dihedral. What that does it is make the plane more stable and easier to fly. They also tend to be less frill oriented meaning they do not have flaps or retracts. For the beginner, those are just an added layer of scale complication that is not needed at the beginning of your RC Journey.

A very common type of Beginner RC Plane are known as a Ready To Fly (RTF) RC Planes. I show and describe a few common offerings below:

Arrows Pioneer - This is currently the best trainer plane for less than $160 IMHO

Unboxing:

Maiden Flight:


WL Toys Cessna 182 - Price and durability are its biggest selling points, but you should be in high rates for success.

Unboxing & Maiden Flights:


FMS Ranger with GPS - This is more complicated than most trainer planes, but it flies great.

Unboxing:

Maiden Flight:


Apprentice STS 1.5M RTF - This is the Gold Standard for RC Trainer Planes, but it is a lot of money for most beginners to invest before they are ready to fully commit to the hobby.


Possible Second Planes

These are often High-Wing RC Planes, RC Gliders, and some other slow flyers like the UMX Night Vapor shown:

E-flite UMX Night Vapor

Unboxing:

Shop Flight:


E-flite UMX Timber

Unboxing:

Maiden Flight:


Durafly Ugly Stick

Unboxing:

Maiden Flight:


E-flite UMX Radian

Unboxing:


Flight Video With Bugs:


Arrows SZD-54 Glider

Unboxing:

Maiden Flight:


E-flite Night Radian

Bill's Maiden Flight:


Night Flight:


Possible Third Planes

Once you master flying the 4-channel planes in the second plane list, you may be able to consider the planes listed below as a third plane.

E-flite Turbo Timber Evolution

Maiden Flight:


Durafly Tundra


E-flite T-28 Trojan - A great beginner warbird

Unboxing:


Second Flight:


E-flite Carbon-Z Cessna

Second Flight:

Maiden Float Flight:


Possible Fourth Planes

RC Warbirds

The best first RC Warbird is a mid-winged plane like a T-28. It generally does not matter which brand, though some come with some excellent features such as gyros.

Arrows T-28 Trojan - Tim modified this for way more speed than stock.

Demo Flight After Upgrades:


H-King Moonbeam McSwine

Unboxing:

Maiden Flight:


H-King A-1 Skyraider

Maiden Flight:


E-flite P-51 Mustang - This is the most advanced option on this list and the most expensive.

Flight Demo:


RC Twins

E-flite Twin Otter

Billís Maiden Flight:


Avios King Twin

Maiden Flight:


Avios Albatross HU-16 V2

Maiden Flight:


FMS Tigercat

Tigercat Demo:


RC Biplanes

E-flite Ultimate 3D

Billís Maiden Flight:


E-flite Pitts 850

Unboxing:


Maiden Flight:


FMS 1400mm V2 - This requires 6S batteries, so this is not for beginners to bipes

Unboxing:

Maiden Flight:


Best First EDF Jets

Arrows Viper

Unboxing:

Maiden Flight:


E-flite UMX Citation

Unboxing:

Maiden Flight:


E-flite F-15 64mm EDF

Unboxing:

Maiden Flight:


E-flite UMX A-10 - The CG can be tricky to dial in, but once it is, what a great RC Jet!

Complete Unboxing & Maiden Flights:

Fun Flight:


Freewing Lippisch P.15 64mm - A launch switch and fabric grip tap help with launch success

Unboxing:

Fun Flight:

Please ask any reasonable question below and I will do my best to answer them. For those of you with your own strong opinions regarding a recommended path to success with RC Flight, please be civil as we help those that need our guidance to enjoy this wonderful hobby
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Tphage (04-02-2022)
Old 04-02-2022, 09:30 PM
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Thanks for putting that together. I'm glad you think highly of the Apprentice STS 1.5 as that's what I bought a while back. Going to fly it in a few weeks, maybe with a friend watching, but this will be my first ever flight. Lots of RF 7.5 experience so I hope it's very similar to fly in real life as on the screen !
Old 04-03-2022, 12:18 PM
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GBLynden
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Originally Posted by Tphage View Post
Thanks for putting that together. I'm glad you think highly of the Apprentice STS 1.5 as that's what I bought a while back. Going to fly it in a few weeks, maybe with a friend watching, but this will be my first ever flight. Lots of RF 7.5 experience so I hope it's very similar to fly in real life as on the screen !
You are very welcome and thank you for the kind comment. Flight sim experience like you are getting is very very valuable, but flying in the real world is different. In some ways it is harder and some ways it is easier.

My strong recommendation is to do the following when you attempt your maiden:
  • Be sure your battery is positioned for the best possible center of gravity. If you have to error on the side of slightly nose heavy or tail heavy, choose slightly nose heavy.
  • Pick a day that has calm winds (Mornings and evenings are normally best for calmer air)
  • Always take off and land into the wind (Too many noobs make this mistake)
  • Fly in a very wide open, now traffic place free of trees and other obstacles. That is includes cars, foot traffic, and dogs (Dogs and planes don't mix).
  • Take a deep breath and have fun letting all of your preparation pay off.
Note: If you are able to have your friend with flight experience there to ensure your plane is properly trimmed and CG'd, then I would do that too. A properly tuned plane is half of the battle in RC Flight.

GB
Old 04-03-2022, 05:18 PM
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Great tips. I have some control line experience so am aware of the importance of CG and what happens when you get that wrong - I had a Flite Streak that I could barely control on it's maiden flight a few years ago...

And yes I will make sure wind and all the other factors you mention are favorable before I fly.

Unfortunately my friend has no modelling experience at all but I have lots of RF 7.5 experience and already have a fair bit of that muscle memory you talk about above e.g. responding correctly when the aircraft is approaching me vs. flying away.

Can I ask a few questions, all about the very first flight :

1) When I am airborne, what should my intended ( as opposed to my actual ) flight path be ? I am presuming a simple pattern that I should attempt to stick to throughout the whole flight.

2) What general sort of altitude should I aim for once climb is over - I feel comfortable ( on flight sim. ) flying low but imagine that may not be a good idea when flying the actual model. If it's of any relevance, I very very rarely crash on the sim. now.

3) Do you have any tips for working out which way the model is flying should I get too far away for comfort ?




Old 04-03-2022, 06:00 PM
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GBLynden
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Originally Posted by Tphage View Post
Great tips. I have some control line experience so am aware of the importance of CG and what happens when you get that wrong - I had a Flite Streak that I could barely control on it's maiden flight a few years ago...

And yes I will make sure wind and all the other factors you mention are favorable before I fly.

Unfortunately my friend has no modelling experience at all but I have lots of RF 7.5 experience and already have a fair bit of that muscle memory you talk about above e.g. responding correctly when the aircraft is approaching me vs. flying away.

Can I ask a few questions, all about the very first flight :

1) When I am airborne, what should my intended ( as opposed to my actual ) flight path be ? I am presuming a simple pattern that I should attempt to stick to throughout the whole flight.

2) What general sort of altitude should I aim for once climb is over - I feel comfortable ( on flight sim. ) flying low but imagine that may not be a good idea when flying the actual model. If it's of any relevance, I very very rarely crash on the sim. now.

3) Do you have any tips for working out which way the model is flying should I get too far away for comfort ?
Great questions!

1) It can be whatever you want, but keep your maiden flight as simple as possible. Your goal should be to get it up safely, do some circles using mostly rudder, and get it back down as cleanly as possible.

2) The rule of thumb I was taught was three mistakes high, so about 30 feet in the air, but it also depends on your vision, plane size, and landscape..

3) Always keep in it close, but DO NOT over control the plane. That is why most people do nice controlled circles, so they can be gentle in the turns. You will have plenty of time to explore the visual range you are comfortable with and patterns. Keep the maiden simple for the fastest possible chance to fly in real life like you do on the sim

GB
Old 04-04-2022, 06:17 PM
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Thanks and a follow up question if I may.

Are turns mainly done by aileron or rudder ?

( I thought it was aileron. )
Old 04-06-2022, 06:53 AM
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The plane will tend to dive a little in the turn if you just use aileron. So you will need to use the elevator too. You can "bank and yank" using aileron and elevator but, the turn is smoother if you perform a coordinated turn using Rudder, elevator, and aileron together. On your sim you can try it. Give a little bit each complete the turn and then use just aileron and elevator on the next turn to see the difference. If you desire to fly scale planes like warbirds coordinated turns are a must since those models will have a lot of roll coupling.

Last edited by N8theSk8; 04-06-2022 at 07:01 AM.
Old 04-06-2022, 03:31 PM
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Thanks. That pretty much summarises ( Aust. spelling ) exactly what I have been reading over the last day or so. I have been doing the bank and yank for a long time on the sim. but have only just heard of that term. And it seems it is quite aircraft dependent as you say because turning the Nextstar ( high wing trainer ) seems very different to turning the Extra 300. I have tried adding a bit of rudder in the turns ( I'm focusing on the Nextstar due to my beginner status ). It's not easy to co-ordinate with an additional control input ! Thank goodness for sims.
Old 04-09-2022, 12:40 PM
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Originally Posted by N8theSk8 View Post
The plane will tend to dive a little in the turn if you just use aileron. So you will need to use the elevator too. You can "bank and yank" using aileron and elevator but, the turn is smoother if you perform a coordinated turn using Rudder, elevator, and aileron together. On your sim you can try it. Give a little bit each complete the turn and then use just aileron and elevator on the next turn to see the difference. If you desire to fly scale planes like warbirds coordinated turns are a must since those models will have a lot of roll coupling.
Perfectly stated!

Originally Posted by Tphage View Post
Thanks. That pretty much summarises ( Aust. spelling ) exactly what I have been reading over the last day or so. I have been doing the bank and yank for a long time on the sim. but have only just heard of that term. And it seems it is quite aircraft dependent as you say because turning the Nextstar ( high wing trainer ) seems very different to turning the Extra 300. I have tried adding a bit of rudder in the turns ( I'm focusing on the Nextstar due to my beginner status ). It's not easy to co-ordinate with an additional control input ! Thank goodness for sims.
Sims are extremely valuable for sure! The deeper you get into the hobby, the more you will realize that different airframe have different tendencies. Some you will like and some you will dislike.

GB
Old 05-05-2022, 11:09 PM
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My best beginners RC plane advice? Ignore this thread, join a club and take their advice.
Old 05-06-2022, 05:52 PM
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The best advise is to turn off SAFE
Old 05-06-2022, 07:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Desertlakesflying View Post
The best advise is to turn off SAFE
SAFE can hurt more than it helps for sure! Just like any tool, it can be misused.
Old 05-08-2022, 07:13 AM
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Originally Posted by Smokeyr67 View Post
My best beginners RC plane advice? Ignore this thread, join a club and take their advice.

Agreed, I see some piloting advise here that compensates for a lack of airplane setup. No mention of airplane setup at all which IMO is just as important to teach a new guy as it is the actual pilot instruction.
Old 05-08-2022, 12:43 PM
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Originally Posted by speedracerntrixie View Post
Agreed, I see some piloting advise here that compensates for a lack of airplane setup. No mention of airplane setup at all which IMO is just as important to teach a new guy as it is the actual pilot instruction.
I agree that airplane setup is very important, so feel free to share your advice on how folks should approach airplane setup at a granular level. However, I am curious as to what specifically I posted compensates for lack of airplane setup?

For reference, this thread was created as a general backbone to be fleshed out more with details over time. The target is those that do not have access to a local club but still want to be able to learn to fly, which includes a large number of people. The other target is those folks that have the misfortune of having a bad local club full of people crusty old people with big egos putting more effort into flexing their knowledge than trying to actually help. I have heard from 100's, if not 1000's of people over the years tell me about how those kinds of folks nearly ran them out of the hobby before they even got started. Luckily for them, they found my YouTube channel and I was able to help them answer specific questions well enough to get them into the air.

Another point to consider is how planes are marketed by companies these days with all kinds of features that make "Cool Planes" into "Beginner Planes". That is dangerous IMO and why noobs need some sort of reference point like this thread to get off on the right path.

GB
Old 05-08-2022, 01:01 PM
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The one thing that stood out to me was the topic of coordinating turns with rudder. While I don’t disagree with that statement, not setting aileron differential up on the airplane makes that issue worse. In many cases the differential takes care of the adverse yaw that makes the turns look un coordinated. Having an airplane nose down sharply after establishing a bank angle could be a CG too far forward. Of course these things need to be evaluated on a case by case basis. The general comment about warbirds having a roll couple may or may not effect every warbird. A P-51 with scale dihedral does in fact have a roll couple with rudder application. Reduce the dihedral and set up a small amount of rudder to aileron mix and it can be all but eliminated.
Old 05-10-2022, 11:20 AM
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Agreed on aileron differential. Having more up than down can make the plane neutral or even have proverse yaw, making the trainer a lot easier to fly for beginner pilots. For the life of me, I can't understand why someone would intentionally fly a plane that has such an annoying quirk when it is so easy to fix.
Old 05-10-2022, 05:08 PM
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Originally Posted by GBLynden View Post
I agree that airplane setup is very important, so feel free to share your advice on how folks should approach airplane setup at a granular level. However, I am curious as to what specifically I posted compensates for lack of airplane setup?

For reference, this thread was created as a general backbone to be fleshed out more with details over time. The target is those that do not have access to a local club but still want to be able to learn to fly, which includes a large number of people. The other target is those folks that have the misfortune of having a bad local club full of people crusty old people with big egos putting more effort into flexing their knowledge than trying to actually help. I have heard from 100's, if not 1000's of people over the years tell me about how those kinds of folks nearly ran them out of the hobby before they even got started. Luckily for them, they found my YouTube channel and I was able to help them answer specific questions well enough to get them into the air.

Another point to consider is how planes are marketed by companies these days with all kinds of features that make "Cool Planes" into "Beginner Planes". That is dangerous IMO and why noobs need some sort of reference point like this thread to get off on the right path.

GB
I am one of those people who due to present life circumstances cannot attend a club. By the time I am free enough to attend a club, I may be too old to fly besides who knows what awaits any of us right around the corner. If I am going to take up this hobby, after years of procrastination, I need to make it happen now.

Although I have some control line modelling background, reasonable electronics knowledge and a fair understanding of aerodynamics, I have still found the learning curve over the last month to be almost vertical. This has been primarily due to two things : 1) Buying a BNF Apprentice STS 1.5, instead of the RTF version and 2 ) having my head start spinning when I turned on my radio Tx for the first time, scrolling through the screens and wondering how the heck I am going to put those two things together to get a working model. To experienced rc-ers, terms like expo, absolute travel, trim, sub-trim, channel assign, channel input configuration, etc. etc. as well as wondering about setting up things like failsafes and telemetry, may be simple, but to me they were almost overwhelming.

A major part of the confusion at the time was not realising that many of these things were not even necessary to program but the issue was not knowing what items needed attention and what could be left alone.

In hindsight, as a beginner who was always going to have to be self-taught, it would have been best to buy the RTF version, but on the other hand, I have learned an encyclopedia or two over the last month !

I thank everyone for their contributions to help us beginners get a start in what is increasingly looking like an amazing hobby.



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GBLynden (05-22-2022)
Old 05-22-2022, 05:35 PM
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Originally Posted by speedracerntrixie View Post
The one thing that stood out to me was the topic of coordinating turns with rudder. While I don’t disagree with that statement, not setting aileron differential up on the airplane makes that issue worse. In many cases the differential takes care of the adverse yaw that makes the turns look un coordinated. Having an airplane nose down sharply after establishing a bank angle could be a CG too far forward. Of course these things need to be evaluated on a case by case basis. The general comment about warbirds having a roll couple may or may not effect every warbird. A P-51 with scale dihedral does in fact have a roll couple with rudder application. Reduce the dihedral and set up a small amount of rudder to aileron mix and it can be all but eliminated.
Thank you for that explanation. What I have found is that most new pilots completely ignore the rudder, so that information was to get the new pilot to build that muscle memory from the start. If most beginners rarely use the rudder, talking about mixes out of the gate is pointless, but adding it to the conversation is welcomed.

I am not sure which P-51's you have flown, but all of mine (6) have needed at least some right rudder input on take-off to offset the torque from P-factor for arrow straight take-offs. My other warbirds have generally been even worse. Regardless, making new folks aware of the potential need to right rudder input is harmless.

Originally Posted by jester_s1 View Post
Agreed on aileron differential. Having more up than down can make the plane neutral or even have proverse yaw, making the trainer a lot easier to fly for beginner pilots. For the life of me, I can't understand why someone would intentionally fly a plane that has such an annoying quirk when it is so easy to fix.
I have never had that issue on the nearly 100 planes I have flown over the years. Are you seeing that on retail kits like I show above or planes you made yourself?

Originally Posted by Tphage View Post
I am one of those people who due to present life circumstances cannot attend a club. By the time I am free enough to attend a club, I may be too old to fly besides who knows what awaits any of us right around the corner. If I am going to take up this hobby, after years of procrastination, I need to make it happen now.

Although I have some control line modelling background, reasonable electronics knowledge and a fair understanding of aerodynamics, I have still found the learning curve over the last month to be almost vertical. This has been primarily due to two things : 1) Buying a BNF Apprentice STS 1.5, instead of the RTF version and 2 ) having my head start spinning when I turned on my radio Tx for the first time, scrolling through the screens and wondering how the heck I am going to put those two things together to get a working model. To experienced rc-ers, terms like expo, absolute travel, trim, sub-trim, channel assign, channel input configuration, etc. etc. as well as wondering about setting up things like failsafes and telemetry, may be simple, but to me they were almost overwhelming.

A major part of the confusion at the time was not realising that many of these things were not even necessary to program but the issue was not knowing what items needed attention and what could be left alone.

In hindsight, as a beginner who was always going to have to be self-taught, it would have been best to buy the RTF version, but on the other hand, I have learned an encyclopedia or two over the last month !

I thank everyone for their contributions to help us beginners get a start in what is increasingly looking like an amazing hobby.
Folks like you my friend are exactly why I made this thread and have been building out info like this on my website, though both have been slowed down a lot by the birth of my new baby girl. You highlight some of by thinking as I replied to the folks above regarding differential mixes and such. Sometimes people are too experienced to remember how difficult it is to get started with the basics in this hobby and just end of confusing folks.

Feel free to ask any additional questions in this thread, that is what is designed for

GB
Old 05-27-2022, 07:04 PM
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Folks like you my friend are exactly why I made this thread and have been building out info like this on my website, though both have been slowed down a lot by the birth of my new baby girl. You highlight some of by thinking as I replied to the folks above regarding differential mixes and such. Sometimes people are too experienced to remember how difficult it is to get started with the basics in this hobby and just end of confusing folks.

Feel free to ask any additional questions in this thread, that is what is designed for


GB[/QUOTE]

Thanks GB ! ( And congratulations on the baby ! )

My first ever ( radio control ) flight is approaching. I have the plane and Tx programming pretty much sorted now and am just polishing up my ( computer... ) flying skills with RF 7.5 ( using the Nexstar ( electric powered ) trainer ).

Can I ask if you think this plan is about right for my first flight ( Apprentice STS 1.5 ) ?

1) Attach wing, etc. at field and check all controls move as intended.

2) Range test Tx.

3) Face model into wind.

4) Launch and try to fly a defined pattern ( probably rectangular circuits at maybe 50 m / 150 feet altitude ( high enough for 1 mistake ).

5) On long part of circuit, trim model.

6 ) Land after maybe 5 minutes and check battery state of charge ( have field cell checker ). Note for future flight duration.

7) Note control surface positions with Tx sticks at neutral. One control surface at a time, reset Tx trim back to zero and then adjust clevises to return control surface back to original noted position.

Is there anything amiss with any of this or anything I have left out ?

And one thing I have not decided on is whether to use Beginner Safe mode or just turn it off. Have heard conflicting accounts of whether it actually makes it easier or harder for the beginner whose on his own. I don't believe I am going to be prone to over-controlling due to control line experience and RF training.

Last edited by Tphage; 05-27-2022 at 07:08 PM.
Old 06-09-2022, 06:03 AM
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When I was a kid, I had one just like it, but without the wing and the winding
Old 06-09-2022, 07:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Tphage View Post
Folks like you my friend are exactly why I made this thread and have been building out info like this on my website, though both have been slowed down a lot by the birth of my new baby girl. You highlight some of by thinking as I replied to the folks above regarding differential mixes and such. Sometimes people are too experienced to remember how difficult it is to get started with the basics in this hobby and just end of confusing folks.

Feel free to ask any additional questions in this thread, that is what is designed for


GB

Thanks GB ! ( And congratulations on the baby ! )

My first ever ( radio control ) flight is approaching. I have the plane and Tx programming pretty much sorted now and am just polishing up my ( computer... ) flying skills with RF 7.5 ( using the Nexstar ( electric powered ) trainer ).

Can I ask if you think this plan is about right for my first flight ( Apprentice STS 1.5 ) ?

1) Attach wing, etc. at field and check all controls move as intended.

2) Range test Tx.

3) Face model into wind.

4) Launch and try to fly a defined pattern ( probably rectangular circuits at maybe 50 m / 150 feet altitude ( high enough for 1 mistake ).

5) On long part of circuit, trim model.

6 ) Land after maybe 5 minutes and check battery state of charge ( have field cell checker ). Note for future flight duration.

7) Note control surface positions with Tx sticks at neutral. One control surface at a time, reset Tx trim back to zero and then adjust clevises to return control surface back to original noted position.

Is there anything amiss with any of this or anything I have left out ?

And one thing I have not decided on is whether to use Beginner Safe mode or just turn it off. Have heard conflicting accounts of whether it actually makes it easier or harder for the beginner whose on his own. I don't believe I am going to be prone to over-controlling due to control line experience and RF training.
Thank you!

It sounds like you have it down perfectly! My recommendation is to do the first flight with the Beginner Safe mode on, but only if you are flying in a very wide open space where a nice scale take-off can safely happen.

If you do start out like that, be sure your finger is able to quickly flip that other switch, provided you need more response to your inputs on the sticks.

Good luck and let me know if I can help in any other way

GB

Last edited by GBLynden; 06-09-2022 at 07:08 PM.
Old 06-13-2022, 03:45 AM
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Much appreciated GB.

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