Frequentily asked questions about flying and building model aircraft.


This hobby can be as cheap or as expensive as you want to make it. As with everything else, you have to balance quality and effort with cost. This page will give first-time buyers some initial guidance on what is suitable for a beginner, and what aspects of the hobby are on offer.

Where Is My Nearest Model Club ?

As you will be new to the hobby, go along to your local model shop or use the Web site of your regional association. In Scotland it is the SAA and in the rest of the UK it is generally the BMFA. Find out where your nearest model clubs are and pay them a visit. All clubs are different, offering varying abilities in their training and flying skills. You need to be sure that the club is right for you. Some clubs have limits on membership numbers, noise restrictions so check to see if this would be a problem for you. Also, watch the flight line to see how well controlled it is.

What Is The Correct Model ?

The right choose before you commit yourself to the hobby can make the difference between you staying with the hobby or not. You've probably scanned the pages of a model mag, been to a local club and fallen deeply in love with a Spitfire, Tiger Moth, F-16 or similar. Don't even think about one of these YET. Talk to the sales assistant at the shop or the club members and see what they recommend.
Basically, there are three types of model you can buy:

A Basic Kit

Here you get a plan and the wood, and you have to add all the hinges, covering, glue, wheels etc. You build it yourself and get to know it, but it adds quite a bit of time before you actually get to do some flying.

An A.R.T.F. Model.

This is an Almost Ready To Fly kit, where all you (normally) have to do is join the wings to the body, and install the engine, receiver, servos, and the links to the control surfaces. These cost a bit more but all the hard work is done for you, and you get to go flying much sooner. The down side is that the individual components might not be the ones you would pick if you were buying them separately, and you do not know how well the model has been built.

2nd Hand.

Second Hand models are also an option but I would seek the advice of an experienced modeller who can cast an eye over the model and check for repairs, fuel soaked wood, etc. The more complete it is, the more you pay. It might be complete and ready to fly, but you do not know what is lurking below the covering. Take someone with you who knows what they are talking about. If the wood is damp, it is "fuel-soaked" walk away and buy something else. Good places to buy are bring and buy sales.

Thunder Tiger Trainer: An excellent first trainer. An ARTF that has no vices and is easy to control at slow speeds.
Ripmax Trainer An ideal .40 size ARTF trainer.
Irvine Tutor Another good .40 size ARTF trainer.
All the above planes retail for around £70 - £80

Training models may be of different control functions. These are:- 3 channel you have control over elevator, rudder, and throttle or 4 channel you have control over elevator, aileron, rudder and throttle.
It is well recommend that you get your self a 4 channel trainer to start with, you will be limited with 3 channel and will need to "re-learn" 4 channel later on.

What Radio Gear Should I use ?

The frequency band for model flying in the UK is 35 MHz and has channel numbers ranging from 55 to 90 in single number steps. Find out if your local model club has any spare or low usage slots. This will help you get a frequency that may give you more flying time. You will not be aloud to switch on your transmitter if someone else is already using your frequency. There are many manufacturers. In the UK, the main available sets are Futaba, Sanwa, JR and Hitec. Go along to your local model shop for advice as to which range of sets they stock is the most popular and the availability of spare servos etc. If possible purchase 6 channel gear, it will give you greater longevity providing support for flaps or retracts etc. as your flying and model ling skills grow, and most 6 channel sets provide "dual rates" for training and "End Point Adjustment" for setting up your servos.

Building Advice ?

Take your time.
Read the instructions or RTM (Read The Manual) as they say, then read them again. Rush it, make a mistake and you could well end up taking home a bag of bits. If you have any problems SEEK ADVICE. Use the recommended glues, if your not sure, get some scraps of the bits to be glued and test them first.
Cyano, polyester resins and glues like Evo-Stik can attack / eat some plastics & foams.
Before you glue, dry assemble the parts to check that they will really go together. Better to find out now than when the glue is on the wood..... If your already a confident builder and/or good with your hands, then I would agree with cyano for general jobs. If your not, then use some of the other glues such as PVA, Wood Glues (Waterproof), epoxies and general purpose model ling glues. Do NOT use the Heat Gun Glues. They generally don't have enough strength to be of use.
These take time to dry and don't "grab" reducing the potential to end up with badly aligned components.

Installing Radio gear

When installing radio gear, you should do a few important things.

Wrap the receiver in foam to stop engine, airframe and flight shocks being transferred to the sensitive electronics.

Install the receiver behind the battery. This minimizes impact damage due to the battery moving forward and hitting the receiver during heavy landings/arrivals.

Fit the small brass bushes into the rubber grommets. These help stop you tightening the screws too much.

Use screws that are long enough for the job

Use screws not glue to hold servos in place.

Protect the aerial with a small length of silicon fuel tube where it exits the fuselage.

Install the switch in such a position that it doesn't get swabbed in the exhaust gunk and cannot be switched on / off accidentally whilst carrying the model

Check that the servos are not stalling whist in use and have full travel without obstruction from other nearby items. a Stalled servo - A Throttle servo stalled near to full travel for instance, can flatten a fully charged receiver pack in mi


What Equipment Should I use ?

There are some basic items you will need, irrespective of the type of flying you intend doing. These are:

Insurance£24e.g. SAA
Club Membership£20e.g. ADMF Model Club
Transmitter £50e.g. Futaba Skysport 6A
Transmitter battery pack £20
Receiver e.g. £35Futaba R116F 6 channel
Receiver battery pack £12
Servos £10 each( x4 = £40)
Battery charger approx £15
4channel trainer aircraft £75i.e. Thunder Tiger Trainer (ARTF)
.40 size engine £60i.e. Irvine.40
(get a couple to start with)
£2 - £3 eachAPC props recommended
Fuel £12 per gallon (varies with type) Look to see what your engine manufacturer recommends for oil content etc.
Fuel tubing
(Get 2 meters)
Fuel pump £10
12v battery £20
Glow plugs £3 each
Plug Spanner £3
Starter motor £25Not 100% necessary when you are starting out as the other pilots will probably help you.
And a box to put it all in. £20Some use a plastic tool box some a purpose built "flight" box