Working with your R/C flight instructor

All through this series of entries on getting started in flying radio controlled model airplanes, I have been emphasizing the benefits of having an experienced flight instructor’s help.  You should be able to do a search on the AMA website for sanctioned flying clubs in your area and find a qualified instructor.  You may also need to purchase a liability insurance, available from AMA.   Some instructors are permitted to train new pilots and have them covered under their insurance for a period of 30 days.  But, since AMA sanctioned clubs require members to have the insurance, you may as well get it right away.

The instructor will want to go over his and your responsibilities within your relationship.  One thing is a verbal or written agreement on what happens in the event of an accident.   The instructor will do everything possible to help you learn safely and as quickly as possible.   However, you need to have the understanding that unexpected things do happen and he may not always be able to avoid disaster.

Before he will start your training, he will discuss the terms of your training and the rules that are in effect at their club.  The instructor will work with you as long as you need assistance and he will advance you through your lessons as he sees how you are progressing.

Some instructors will use only your transmitter and the two of you will share it to fly the same airplane.  This method can sometimes lead to problems in that the student will be reluctant to pass the transmitter to the instructor when asked to.  The student may feel that he still has the plane under control and the instructor (having more experience) can see the plane getting into a situation that can quickly turn bad.  This is one of the things that can cause the student to go looking for another instructor.  It is imperative that the student trusts the instructor and respects his judgment.  There is simply no room for argument when that model is heading for trouble.  The students reluctance or hesitation in handing the control back to the instructor may not leave enough time for the instructor to regain control and prevent an accident.

Another method that allows the instructor to have total control of the model at all times is to use a training system (buddy box).  This is to use two same brand transmitters connected by a cable.  One transmitter will be the master and it is set up to send the signals to the receiver(this one is for the instructor) and the other one is just used for the joysticks( the student uses this one).  The instructor will take control of the plane and get it airborne and after he has adjusted the trim controls for each function and has the plane set up for straight and level flight with throttle set at some point between full and 1/2 throttle, he will press and hold a button on his transmitter which gives control to the student.  If the instructor sees the plane getting out of control he just releases the button and has immediate control until the plane is back on a straight and level path.  Control of the airplane is passed back and forth until the instructor decides the student has advanced to the point where he is landing and taking off on his own and has demonstrated his ability to handle emergency situations.

Having a qualified instructor to train you and to keep you on the right path helps avoid costly and dangerous accidents.  So check out the AMA, get your membership and insurance and their free magazine for one year.  The AMA is a good place to get started with and they will even assign you some cool numbers to put on your models.  Have fun and we will talk again next time.  Please respond in the comments link with any questions or suggestions that you may have.