The simple loop is the most basic of all RC aerobatic maneuvers and it is part of many of the other aerobatics included in the AMA pattern. The AMA provides the standard for competition pattern flying and to see more on the regulations of the AMA pattern check it out here.
Meanwhile, since this series on radio controlled model airplane aerobatic maneuvers is designed for beginners, I would suggest that you work your way through the short series of basic maneuvers that I will be discussing throughout the next several blog posts before starting to think about any serious competition. And as always, I recommend that you work with an experienced trainer to help you avoid problems and frustrations.
Now, let’s get started making loops. First, you need to make sure that your model aircraft engine is properly tuned and all of the control surfaces are trimmed so that straight and level flight is just exactly that. Then you should do some practicing of inverted flight so that you can become familiar with how the controls function while the plane is inverted.
In one of my earlier blog entries, I talked a little bit about what to expect when your model is flying towards you as opposed to how it works when it is flying away from you. A new theory on how to explain how the plane will react at any given time is to consider how the controls will respond as if you were sitting in the cockpit at all times. I have conditioned myself to use view from the rear of the plane and I can now administer the proper control adjustments without thinking about whether the plane is approaching me or flying away from me.
A similar thing happens when flying the model plane inverted. The difference that you will experience when flying inverted is that down elevator control will make the plane climb and up elevator control will cause the plane to descend. You should practice flying towards your position as well as away from your position both inverted and non-inverted until your reaction to the plane’s control needs becomes instantanteous without having to think about what you need to do at any given time. Then you are ready to begin trying the loop.
You will enter the loop from straight and level flight at or near full throttle. As you gain experience, you will determine how your particular RC model airplane will perform at different speeds. To start the loop apply up elevator and hold enough up elevator to pull the airplane up and around a full 360 degree circle. As you reach the top of the circle, begin to reduce the air speed in order to avoid excessive speed at the bottom of the loop when you are ready to level out and return to straight and level flight. The reason you need to reduce the throttle setting and slow a little bit is to reduce the G forces and stress on the model’s wing. I have seen many accidents caused by snapping the wing in half at the bottom of the loop and the fuselage continuing out of control to the ground. That’s not pretty.
So, at first, until you learn the limitations and capabilities of your model, take it easy and just strive to get perfectly round circles starting from straight and level flight at the bottom of the circle and following through to complete the circle and exit the loop straight and level at the point where you began the loop. Watch out for stall conditions, fly safely , and have fun practicing. Next time we will expand on what was covered so far and gradually advance on to doing figure eights and long ovals, and if that goes well, we’ll progress into doing the Immelman turn. Lots of more fun coming, please come back and keep reading.
As I have stated before, I am not a competition flier and if anyone reading this has any information to offer that would benefit my readers, please feel free to comment. Just follow the comment link at the end of this entry and let me know what you are thinking. This is the OldManFlier and I’ll see you next time.