Common Flying Mistakes and how to Avoid Them

by Skyler
(Utah)

Constructing Model Aircraft

It’s not easy to build or construct model aircraft- especially if you do it from scratch with your own electronics and know-how like I do. There’s all sorts of stuff that can go wrong- maybe the electronics are all switched up or the angle of the wing doesn’t meet up with the fuselage. This article is designed to help you avoid those mistakes- and hopefully help you create amazing, airworthy aircraft.

Problem #1- the parts don’t line up

This is a super easy fix- take your time. Yes, it’s fun to go and take your new plane out for its first flight and you’re anxious to do so. However, many novice pilots try to rush the construction of the aircraft, and as a result pieces don’t line up quite right, or maybe that one little screw won’t fit into the motor mount.

They’re stupid, tiny mistakes that can screw your plane over and they’re usually a total pain in the butt to fix. These simple mistakes can be fixed by taking your time- don’t rush it. Make the plane look good, test the electronics, and try a sample fit before you tape/glue/weld the parts together. You’ll save yourself a whole lot of time on repairs.



Problem #2- I can’t get the electronics to sync

I’m not an expert here, but again- take your time. Use other sources (Youtube is great here) to try and figure out how to program your electronics. There’s a pretty good chance someone else has tried to make something similar to what you are constructing, and they probably made the same mistakes you did. If, for some reason you can’t find a video, try a forum with a simplified version of what you want to do.

If you can’t get elevons to work, try searching for elevons. If you can’t get the elevator and the ailerons to sync, search for elevator and aileron troubleshooting. Also, make dang sure that the electronics are moving in the way they are supposed to- if you pull down on the stick (the plane should travel up if you’ve done it right) make sure that the elevator is moving upwards.

If you try to put the plane into a right turn, the right aileron should go upwards, and the left should go downwards the same distance. Just makes sure it’s not reversed- I made that mistake with my first plane and the thing crashed and burned. Horribly.



Problem #3- I can’t tell which way the plane is facing in the air

This is probably the most simple fix you can do: paint the plane. Unless your craft is an ounce or two and running off a tiny prop, the plane will be able to support paint or other decals to make it easily identifiable.

Try to put an identifiable logo on one side of the plane so as to help you spot it. Don’t think it’ll work? Think again. I built a white prop-driven plane and took it out on a crystal clear day at high noon. Bad idea. The sun blinded me as it came overhead, and I couldn’t see the plane as it flew right over my head only ten feet above me. It wasn’t the white nose or fuselage I saw first- it was the United States Marine Corps logo on the fuselage that I saw and let me catch my bearings.

If you have something that’s easy to see from far away, you can orient yourself off of that. Also, the more you fly, the better a pilot you’ll become- and it will be second instinct as to which way the plane is facing.

Just remember that if the plane is coming towards you, the left and right controls are reversed. So if you want the plane to bank to your left, you have to push the stick to your right.



Problem #4- My flight battery keeps dying, and I don’t know why.

Oh boy. This is something I struggled with for a very long time. Flight batteries are odd in the fact that if the voltage of the battery drops below a certain point, it won’t charge safely ever again- and you have to get a new one.

So, to solve this, immediately remove the battery once you’re done flying. This will keep it from dropping past the point of no return. These batteries also lose their charge over time, so recharge them if they have been dormant for a while.

IF, however, the battery appears to be bloated or corroded in any way, DO NOT charge the battery. It’s unsafe and can even cause the battery or charger to explode.



Problem #5- I stink at flying, and I’m worried about crashing the plane

There’s not much you can do here. If you really want to improve, take the plane out and fly it. That’s the only way to train your fingers to move the plane how you want- practice. However, if it’s that big of an issue, you can find simulators for your computer that allow you to plug in your transmitter and fly from a fixed point of view.

Some transmitters have training plugs on the back- they allow you to sync with another experience pilot, and at the flick of a switch he or she can take control of the plane or turn the plane over to you. However, I’m still going to stick with what I said before- you just have to get out there and do it. That’s the best way to improve. Sure, it sucks when it crashes.

All five of the planes I’ve had (and the drones and helicopters) have had a couple of good crashes. Sometimes they can only withstand one. And that’s okay. RC is usually a hobby, and if it’s not working out, keep trying.

Things will get better, you’ll become more familiar with the aircraft, and your overall flying will improve. By the time you’re using hundred dollar aircraft, you should be good enough to know what you’re doing. Fly small, crash small. Fly big, crash big.

Here's a personal story:

I built my first plane from plans designed by Mr. Lucas Weakly. The plane looked good, and I was super pumped to have this plane ready to go. When I took it out, it was then that I found out that the controls were reversed- so when I pulled up the plane crashed straight into the ground. After a year of being untouched, the flight battery bloated and I had to throw it away and use another one.

My second plane was an F22 raptor- and the thing looked beast. The elevons worked properly (I double and triple checked that) The motor was strong enough, and it was ready to go. When I took it out, I launched the plane improperly- it was stalling by the time it left my hand. This one, too, crashed into the ground. The flight battery was left plugged in for twenty four hours, and it killed that battery, too. (Are you getting something from this repetitive act of clumsiness? Good.)

My third plane was another F22, and I put my heart and soul into this one. One of my close friends had their name stenciled under the cockpit. The paint and decals looked great, and the electronics all worked. I took it out for its first flight, and found out that I needed to reinforce the motor mount and put power into the turns. Okay. The same held true for the second flight right after the first one.
For the third flight, I took it off correctly, put power into the turns, and it was like watching an angel fly. It was beautiful. However, the plane faced away from me at one point; I couldn’t tell which way it was facing and it crashed several hundred yards away from me. Ugh.

The reason I tell you the problems and how to fix them is because I’ve experienced each of them- and I learned how to overcome them. I hope you are able to take this advice into your RC lives and be able to build incredible planes, helicopters, drones, etc. with it. Good luck, and happy flying!

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