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Frequently Asked Questions for Beginners

How do I learn to fly?

Flight training is offered free of charge to any SMRCF member. Instructors are at the SMRCF field regularly and are available to assist you if you request it. For your safety and that of others, new students and non-soloed pilots are required to fly with an instructor until you have been Soloed through the training program.

To arrange a time with an instructor, go to Home Page, click on "Contact Us", then select "New Pilot Trainers" 

What are some good websites to learn about RC?

  • RC Universe: an excellent bulletin board
  • RC Groups: Another, competing bulletin board
  • Sport Aviator: produced by the AMA, great site for the new model airplane pilot
  • Easy RC: Tower Hobbies' site for the beginning pilot

What do I need to get started?

Check out this list of 'must haves' and 'nice to haves' we put together.

I have a plane but I am not an AMA or SMRCF member - can I still fly?

Yes, however you must fly with one of our designated AMA Intro Pilots. This special program offered by the AMA allows a non-member to fly with a designated pilot for a period of 60 days. This allows the student to determine RC is really for them and provide time to apply for their AMA card.

The intro pilots for SMRCF are: Ralph Knight, Brad Royal, Damian Finch, Ken Lightner, Mike Schiavoni, Will Schiavoni, Travis Reynolds, Marc Shepard. You will most likely find one of them at the field most any day. If you do not see them, feel free to contact us to arrange a time.

What is a good trainer airplane?

Many great trainers are currently on the market - both in ARF and kit form. Some of them even come ready to fly (RTF) - complete with the engine and radio installed for you. We recommend an electric plane to start out, but we've included some classic nitro planes for your consideration as well.  Excellent ARF trainers include:


Electric or Nitro:



An inexpensive ultra micro aircraft makes another alternative trainer.  These don't fly as well as their larger cousins, but their extreme light weight makes them very forgiving to new pilots.  These are all three channel, so you may still need one of the planes listed above before you move onto to a more scale plane.  However, their low cost makes them a great entry point into the hobby. 

Ultra Micros:


What is a good nitro engine?

Today's RC engines are very reliable and dependable if treated well. For most trainer aircraft, a 40 sized two-stroke is required. Most 40 sized aircraft will take a 10-6 propeller but consult the manual or an experienced flyer final selection. Good power choices include:

  • OS 46 LA: basic & reliable 40 sized engine, good starter engine
  • OS 46 AX: a very popular advanced ball bearing (BB) engine with a lot of flexibility for future aircraft
  • Evolution 46 NT: designed for the beginner from the ground up!


What is a good radio system or brand?

Technological advances have greatly benefited the radio control industry. The three main brands (Futaba, JR, and Hitec) are all very common at the flying field. If you desire to use a buddy-box system, you want to make sure you get the same brand as your instructor. All a trainer requires is a basic 4 channel transmitter. However, because prices for multi-channel systems not much more, you may want to purchase a higher end radio if you intend to stay in the hobby. You may not use all the features right away but they will be there for you when you need them (without having to buy a new radio).  This is just a partial list, any of the 2.4GHz radios from any of these manufacturers will work very well.  If you can afford it, a computer radio with model memory is far easier to extend to the next plane.

Basic 4 & 5 channel radios