“Landing Your Radio Controlled Plane Can Be A Graceful, Eye-Pleasing Manuever”

I know that I said in the last blog entry that we would start talking about doing the simple loop, which is a basic part of most other RC aerobatic maneuvers.  I looked back in the archives of previous blog posts and realized that I haven’t yet talked much about landing.  So, I decided to point out a few things about this all important part of RC flying before moving into more advanced maneuvers.

After all, remember that someone once said, “takeoffs are optional – landings are mandatory.”  I guess what they were really saying is that you need to know how to safely land your radio controlled model airplane.

Let’s start by talking about wind direction with respect to the direction or heading of the landing strip.  It is advisable to always take off and land into the wind.  However, that is not always possible.  So, what do we have to do to get our RC aircraft back on the ground all in one piece if the wind is blowing across the runway?

Let’s back up to the basic “into the wind” landing.  Your flying field or local club may have some specific rules regarding any emergency situations including the infamous “dead stick” landing.  A dead stick landing is one in which the model’s engine or electric motor has stopped running and you are forced to land as quickly as possible to avoid crashing your RC airplane or worse yet, injuring someone if you lose control of your aircraft.

Given enough altitude and and enough room to land in, most of the time landing a RC model airplane without power can be done successfully.

Let’s start with you standing along the side of the landing strip facing away from the parking, spectator and flight preparation areas.  As always, we are going to keep the model out in front of ourselves to avoid any dangerous problems.  In other words we should never fly our radio controlled models over the “safe” area.

When you decide to land, two things have to start happening together.  First, you need to reduce the air speed and start descending into the down wind side of the landing approach.   If you think about it, meeting these two objectives at the same time can be a little difficult, because as the aircraft begins to descend, it will gain some air speed.

Assuming that your engine is running and your aircraft is heading toward the far side and at the  up wind end of the landing strip.  Begin the first leg of your descent with a 90 degree right turn and begin  descending and reducing  the airspeed gradually .  It is important to not descend too fast over the distance of the downwind side of the runway, but make a gradual descent until the aircraft reaches  a point just far enough beyond the downwind end of the runway to allow for two consecutive 90 degree right turns.

After completing the two right turns, make sure your model airplane is heading straight into the wind and straight down the center of the runway.  Continue the gradual descent and further decrease speed until the airplane settles gently to the ground about directly ahead of where you are standing and allow it to slow even more until it reaches a speed that will allow a safe left turn and taxi directly off the landing strip.

Practice your landings until you have learned exactly  what the rate of descent and speed reduction rate work best for your particular aircraft.  As always I highly recommend that you learn and practice landings with a qualified instructor at your side.

As your landing skills improve and you gain more confidence, you can also practice “touch and go’s” which will give you almost simultaneous take off and landing practice.  One last piece of advice… you should master each maneuver as you go before starting to learn the next.  The more you practice the basic maneuvers, the easier it will be to learn the more complicated stunts and maneuvers.

This is the OldManFlier and I will see you next time.