The REALLY Big RC Airplanes!
Giant scale RC airplanes can be absolutely humongous, just like this 1/8" Scale B1 Bomber below. Many RC pilots build and fly these large scale RC airplanes just because it's awesome to fly a huge airplane!
Other RC pilots spend thousands of dollars and countless hours preparing for scale competitions that emulate full scale aerobatic airplane competitions.
Whether you're flying for pure fun or for competition, you'd better be a darn good pilot before getting behind the sticks of one of these giant airplanes!
Giant Scale Aircraft require larger engines, stronger and more servos, and are over all much more expensive than the average RC airplane.
Until recently most RC airplanes this large were either built from a kit or set of plans. Now there are a variety of high quality Giant Scale ARF's for those of us that lack the time or patience to build such a beast from the ground up!
There are two AMA recognized organizations in the US that are dedicated to Giant Scale Aircraft. These organizations are the International Miniature Aircraft Association (IMAA), and the International Miniature Aerobatic Club (IMAC).
With the IMAA, the size of the airplane is really all that matters. IMAC is geared towards performance and competitions.
International Miniature Aircraft Association
The International Miniature Aircraft Association (IMAA) promotes the operation of large scale RC airplanes in a safe and informal manner.
Each flying season, the calendar is packed with non-competitive IMAA sponsored flying events across the country. These events provide a safe and fun atmosphere for RC pilots to show off their giant scale airplanes.
The size of your aircraft is really the only requirement for participating in IMAA events. In other words, your RC airplane doesn't have to be a "true scale" airplane. It just has to meet the following requirements.
If you see an airplane being advertised as "IMAA Legal", then it meets the above criteria and can be flown in IMAA events.
IMAA's largest event of the year is the "Rally of the Giants". But there are plenty of other events around the country throughout the entire flying season.
A good set of plans to follow makes it fairly easy to build a giant scale airplane of your own, if you have the room to keep it!
Although if your new to the hobby, you really need to learn how to fly smaller planes first before attempting to fly one of these bad boys!
Flying Scale Models is a bi-monthly publication geared exclusively towards scalemodel aviation. This includes radio control, control line, and free flight planes ranging from tiny indoor birds to gigantic ships!
This model airplane magazine will give you tips and techniques to build your very own scale version of just about any type of airplane imaginable! The fully colored pages throughout shows you crisp images of the mind-boggling detail that goes into spectacular scale airplanes!
The International Miniature Aerobatic Club (IMAC) promotes and sponsors scale aerobatic competitions. If fact, IMAC tries to replicate what the IAC does with full scale aircraft.
The International Aerobatic Club (IAC) is the world's largest aerobatic organization. If you've never watched a full scale aerobatic airplane in action, you really are missing out. Some of the maneuvers they perform are mind blowing.
IMAC competitions are very much the same as IAC competitions, except IMAC pilots fly Giant Scale RC Airplanes instead of full scale aerobatic airplanes.
These competitions are broken up into four classes which are Basic, Sportsman, Advanced, and Unlimited. The sequence of maneuvers for each very closely resembles that of the IAC sequences. Each year IMAC gets a copy of IAC sequences and tweaks them to make them better suited for RC aircraft.
An airplane must be a "true Scale" model of a full scale airplane in order to participate in IAC competitions. Some of the more popular models are Extras, Sukhois, and CAPs.
As a general rule, larger airplanes fly better than smaller airplanes. This is why IMAC pilots generally gravitate towards Giant scale RC airplanes. The AMA limits the weight of an RC airplane to 55lbs. So it's the weight that ultimately limits the size of these large scale RC airplanes.
Giant scale aircraft are usually powered by gasoline engines as opposed to glow engines. There are large high torque servos available that are specifically designed for large scale RC airplanes. Many large scale radio control airplanes have redundant receivers and servos.
You will find that most giant scale planes are powered by gasoline engines as opposed to the nitro engine used by most "normal" size RC airplanes.
Gasoline engines are more fuel efficient than nitro engines. Since glow fuel costs nearly three times as much as gasoline, it becomes more economical to utilize a gasoline engine for RC airplanes that weigh around 10lbs or more.
The engine above is a Zenoah GT-80 Twin Cylinder Engine. is one of the most popular brand of engines designed for giant scale aircraft.
Here's a more in depth discussion of gasoline engines vs. nitro engines.
Because of the shear size, high torque servos are required on every control surface in order to withstand the huge loads incurred by the extra weight and size of these large scale radio control airplanes.
Some of these Giant Scale aircraft cost upwards of $10,000 when it's all said and done, engine and electronics included. Large Scale RC airplanes also pose a great danger should they crash.
Every precaution is taken to avoid a costly and dangerous crash. Many of these airplanes have redundant systems, just like the Space Shuttles at NASA!
It is very common for large scale RC airplanes to have two receivers, two batteries, and multiple servos on every control surface. This way the RC airplane can be landed safely should one of these components fail.
Other than the larger servos and redundant systems, Giant scale RC airplanes have the same electronics as a micro airplane!
Giant scale RC airplanes are very expensive. But keep in mind that a lot of these guys, especially IMAC pilots, have sponsors such as Futaba, JR, etc. These pilots enjoy some of the same treatment as NASCAR drivers when it comes to sponsorship.
If you've never witnessed a 3D Giant Scale RC Airplane doing its magic you are in for a treat! A 3D plane is basically an airplane that has very high thrust to weight ratio. This allows the airplane to hang its prop and hover much like a helicopter!
It is definitely exciting to see a 40% giant scale airplane touching its tail on the ground while hovering. Especially when you know that one slip of the thumb can set the pilot back thousands of dollars!
Giant Scale RC Warbirds are a great way to sort of recreate history. Many hobbyists go to great lengths to recreate every detail of military fighters of our past.
Many people build their giant scale warbirds from scratch by using plans. If you don't like building from scratch you can always build from a kit such as the above Top Flite's F4u Corsair kit .
Most giant scale warbirds have working retractable landing gear, just like the full scale versions.
Some pilots get very creative by designing working machine guns (they sound real at least). Some drop their bombs. Others have smoke. The sky is literally the limit when it comes to how creative you want to get.
I bet you've seen giant scale RC warbirds in movies before without even realizing! Have you seen the movie The Aviator? All the planes that Howard Hughes flies in that movie are actually RC airplanes. Check it out !
As I mentioned above, the AMA limits the weight of an RC airplane to 55lbs. The AMA rules are not actually law. They are just the rules you must follow to participate in one of their events, or if you expect their insurance to cover any mishaps. It is clear from the photos below that some people aren't concerned about following AMA rules!
The above monstrosity has a 20 foot wingspan and weighs over 300lbs when fueled!
This Giant Scale RC Airplane has a 22 foot wingspan and weighs around 265lbs when fueled! The 8 turbine engines cost a couple grand a piece!
As you can see in the video below, this airplane does NOT have a happy ending! Ouch...