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Learn To Fly A Remote Control Helicopter: Guide For Beginner RC Chopper Pilots

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 0 0

It's actually very easy to learn to fly a remote control helicopter once you break it down to a maneuver-by-maneuver basis. Just like a real pilot would learn each skill one at a time, so too should a RC pilot, as each "basic" skill sets the framework for the ones that follow. Plus, once you master these, you'll find that more acrobatic tricks are a breeze.

Please know that flying a RC helicopter is harder than it looks. So don't get discouraged if you take a while to master these. Rome wasn't built in a day, and professional helicopter pilots didn't get their licenses the day they showed up at the airport for their first lesson.

Also, think safety first. Always give yourself plenty of space to work in. Outdoors is best, in a big yard or park - just make sure there isn't any wind.

Okay, let's get started.

Lesson 1: How To Hover A Remote Control Helicopter

It seems so simple, right? Wrong. This is actually one of the hardest skills to master. I'm talking about keeping the remote control helicopter perfectly still in the air.

I find it easiest to stand directly behind it so that I can make any direction adjustments from a first-person perspective.

To start, set all trim controls to their neutral positions and gradually increase the power until the helicopter begins lifting off the ground. Don't use too much too fast! The aircraft should gradually start lifting itself off the ground. Use the direction controls to keep it from drifting or turning in any direction, just a little at a time should do the trick.

Once the chopper gets just a foot or so off the ground, gradually reduce the power. You'll need to do this so that it doesn't continue climbing. It can get pretty tricky balancing four controls at once, which is why this is such a hard exercise.

This is a good time to practice your first landings: As you gradually bring the copter off the ground, practice setting it back down nice and easy. Do this several times until you get the hang of it - don't let the aircraft get more than a foot or so off the ground at this stage.

Then we can move on the actual hover.

You'll quickly find that maintaining a perfect hover isn't a "set-and-forget" operation, and that you'll be making constant adjustments in all directions: Power, Yaw, Pitch, Cyclic. And each adjustment seems to affect the others, for instance, more power will torque the body left or right (depending on the rotation that the motor spins the blades).

If you notice that you're "riding" a certain control, you can use the trim to take the pressure off. That's the whole purpose of trim anyway, to set a new "zero" point so that you don't have to lean in to a control. For instance, if you're keeping constant back pressure on the pitch control so that it doesn't nose forward, adjust the pitch trim back until your inputs aren't needed (except minor ones, which are expected - there is no such thing as "perfect trim").

See, harder than it looks!

Lesson 2: The "Hover Spin"

Now that you're doing great at hovering, let's make this baby spin! From the hover position, you'll be spinning your bird in a perfect circle, either clockwise or counterclockwise. The trick is maintaining constant altitude and positioning the entire time.

Lesson 3. Straight And Level Flight

From the hover, gradually push the pitch control forward, thus making it nose down and move forward. You'll instantly notice that doing so requires makes the helicopter descend, as the aerodynamics have changed (translation: You'll need more power).

Start nice and slow, staying in control at all times. Keep the nose pointed forward and don't allow the helicopter to "drift" left or right. You want it to fly like an arrow: straight and true.

If it starts getting too fast, ease back on the pitch control, thus gradually returning to a hover. As this happens you'll notice it will want to climb thanks to the increased power, so be ready to throttle back.

Ultimately, you want to travel forward in a straight line while also keeping constant altitude. From there you'll want to master keeping the helicopter level as it goes out of and back into the hover position from this forward flight.

Once you've got the hang of that, try it backwards!

Lesson 4: Crabbing

Now that you can travel forwards and backwards in a coordinated fashion, let's test your metal on the next step: Traveling sideways while keeping the nose facing forwards the entire time.

You'll want to keep constant altitude and direction the entire time. This is especially hard going into and coming out of this manuever.

Lesson 5: Climbing And Descending

Technically this is probably easier than some of the other skills I've already listed, but the reason I put it here is that I think it's important to learn the other moves at a relatively low altitude so that any accidents will be minimal.

But I digress. Climbing and descending is, technically, a matter of applying more or less power from a hover. Of course it's never this easy and you'll find yourself constantly making adjustments to keep everything straight.

You'll want to practice this until you can climb relatively high without the chopper rotating or moving forwards, backwards or side to side, then "top off" into a hover. Then descend in the same fashion before ending at a low hover.

Advanced RC Helicopter Manuevers

Now that you've got these basics down, try mixing them together. For instance, try straight forward flight with increasing power so that you'll climb as you move forward. Or turn to the left by "leaning as you rotate" so that you'll end up with the helicopter facing the left by the end of the turn.

Just keep it safe and work into these gradually. There really shouldn't be any rush; learning to fly takes time, patience and practice. But with these you'll be amazed at how good of a RC pilot you'll quickly become.

And once you learn how to fly remote control helicopters, you'll be inventing reasons to go flying on the weekends and evenings with your friends and family to show off your pilot skills.


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