Further beginners' notes can be found here

Please note; there is no separate charge for teaching you how to fly up to BMFA 'A' test ability.
Be cautious as we have come across several beginners who have been charged large sums of money (by shops and individuals) to be taught to fly. Most bona fide clubs will provide this as a free service. All you have to do is join the club and provide your own equipment (or most of it anyway).
Don't forget ... you may like to come to our field and have one or two trial flights with our senior trainer, Brian, before joining our club.

Beginners are not allowed to fly without supervision until they have passed the BMFA 'A' test.
It is highly unlikely that you will teach yourself to fly in a field (or worse still, in a public park). Support and encouragement from the trainers and members at your club will be invaluable and make the whole experience safe, enjoyable and satisfying.

Our senior trainer, Brian Gascoigne, is down at the field nearly every Saturday and Sunday from approximately 1:00pm (weather and holidays permitting). Other experienced club members may make themselves available for training from time to time. We are also pleased to inform you that we have several certified examiners available from within our membership list so, when it's time to take your achievement examination, it can all be done 'inhouse'.

Trainer with Pupil

Your first lesson

Get your instructor to check out your model and installation. Tell him of any alterations you have made on your own. The first lesson will include the site layout, where to park, where and how to place your model in the pits, and most importantly, how to use the peg board system if required.

Site Layout

Make sure you understand the site layout in terms of parking, pits, pilot flying area etc.

Flying Area

The flying area will be explained to you, make sure you understand the areas to fly in. See the site layout picture found on the peg board.

Always Remember

Your instructor is only human; he can make mistakes like you and me. Don’t blame him for any mishap, which might occur during your tuition (in fact, he is not responsible for any damage to your model whilst you are training). He will teach you to the best of his ability. Always remember he is there to enjoy our hobby just like you. Make sure you and your model are ready for the days flying.

The skill of flying radio-controlled models is not easily acquired, and you the beginner, need all the help you can get. Joining our club and getting the help and support of experienced model flyers is the quickest road to success, and the cheapest! This document is designed to introduce the novice to a programme of learning, by which you can avoid pitfalls, acquire good habits, and check your progress. Your success in the sport depends on you.

Look at learning to flying radio models with the same respect you would give full size aircraft. Model aircraft can be just as challenging. Without the proper training this hobby will not only be expensive but also frustrating. Worst of all, if you ‘go it alone’, you may end up flying dangerously, a 3kg model moving at moderate speed can do serious damage to property and health.

Get The Proper Training

The length of time-spent learning depends on the individual. Some people learn faster than others. Don’t worry it will all click into place eventually. Of course you will not achieve the necessary flying skills by reading about it, use these notes only as a guide. Your instructor is the most important road to success.

Choosing a Trainer

There is a bewildering variety of trainer kits, plans and ready-built models (Almost Ready To Fly) on the market, most of them good, practical designs, easy to build and to fly. “Which is the best?” is a meaningless question, rather you must ask, “Which will be most suitable to my temperament, requirements and circumstances?”

What has attracted you into the sport? Do you like excitement, or do you prefer quiet satisfaction? Are you going to be a meticulous builder who also likes to fly, or an ace pilot who puts his models together as quickly as possible? Are you extravagant or do you take pleasure in economy? The modeller will find the balance of activity, which suits his personality.

Ideally it’s better to get advice from instructors and club members rather than the local model shop.

We recommend a high wing 40/50 powered, four-channel trainer. It may be built from a kit, or an ARTF model. The latter is the way most beginners are going to get started. ARTF models are very well designed and proven flyers. They alone are responsible for the huge increase in interest in our hobby.

Come along to one of our flying sessions and get all the advice you require!

Size, Weight and Power

Most of us feel that a bigger model will be easier and more satisfying to fly. But the bigger it is the more expensive it will be to build, the more care needed in building, the more liable to serious damage in a crash, and to failure of components due to greater stressing; in short it will need more frequent and regular care and maintenance. It will need a larger engine and propeller and will use more fuel

The Super 60 (Ben Buckle Kits) is an example of a trainer kit (built up from balsa and lite ply etc.) we know that is a very stable flyer. There are a good number of similar ones in your local model shop or available via the Internet. Remember these have to be built up and take time so it may be that a similar ARTF would be more suitable to you.

ARTF models are the favourite of most beginners. The Boomerang trainer from Seagull Models and Arising Star, also from Seagull are to be recommended. They are probably cheaper than a built up model, and they save a lot of valuable time, time that is better spent on the flying field learning to fly. Building skills can come later. These aircraft are proven performers and show the beginner how a model is put together. They come in the box with all the major parts built and covered. Assembly is all that is required and can take 3 to 4 evenings work.

But Beware! The ARTF model airframe should be checked for structural strength. Make sure you check all glued joints especially around the firewall, and if in doubt strengthen the stress areas with extra balsa or ply. You may be glad you did sooner than later.

There is a bewildering choice; It's up to you but most ARTF Trainers are acceptable. As a club, we would recommend around 60 to 63 inch wingspan. A high wing design (the wings sit on top of the fuselage) and with a slight dihedral (the tips of both wings are slightly higher than where they join the fuselage)

Kits and Plans

If you have a lot of time on your hands, this is the most satisfying way to come into the sport. The draw back is the time it takes to build and finish the model. And if you have a mishap early in your training, it could put you off a little seeing your hard work broken at your feet.

Your instructor or any of the experienced club members will give you good advice.


As with aircraft kits, there are a large variety of engines to choose from, some very good and some not so good.

Enya, ASP, SC, Thunder Tiger, Super Tigre, O.S. and Irvine all make very competent engines. We suggest that you start with a 40-53 two stroke engine of medium price range £50 - £65.

However, recent years have seen the advent of electric power. A modern brushless motor, along with a suitable speed controller and LiPo battery can provide a very suitable power plant. You will of course have to consider multiple batteries and/or field charging so you make 3 or 4 flights per visit. With IC engines all you need is more glow fuel.

Again ask your instructor for advice on the best power plant for your chosen plane. Experience with petrol and larger type engines can come later!

Other Field Equipment

Flight box, with starting equipment, such as fuel, glow plug connector and power panel etc.

Remember if you borrow anything from fellow modellers, return the item as soon as you finish with it, if you don’t, you may find it difficult to borrow anything else later.

The Guidance System

You don’t have to be an electronic wizard! Installation at the plane end is quite straight forward and members will help if need be.

Radio control equipment such as Futaba, Sanwa, and JR, are extremely high quality and will give you trouble free flying. The equipment must be installed as per the manufacturer’s instructions. Your Instructor will check your installation before the aircraft flies.

Always tell him if you have changed or altered anything!

Futaba is one of the most common radios used in the club, but any of the popular makes will give just as good service. We tend not to use what is known as the ‘buddy box system’ at the Mansfield Club. Don’t let this put you off, our instructors can let the complete beginner fly, confident he can regain immediate control if things go wrong. A crash of a trainee’s plane is an extremely rare event.

Nowadays, if you're starting from scratch you may as well buy into the new 2.4GHz radio equipment. A good starter choice would be a Futaba 6J or JR XG6 or Spektrum DX6i. These are computerised systems which allow you to adjust functions (such as trimming, servo throws etc.) directly from the transmitter and have a wide range of lower cost receivers. Better for the future could be the Spektrum DX7 or perhaps a Futaba 7 or 8ch 2.4GHz system. These have more channels and facilities and may save you from ‘trading up’ quickly if you get hooked and require more channels etc.

Whilst members still use 35MHz transmitters, we would not recommend starting off that way nowadays. In fact, you would find it hard to purchase a new 35MHz transmitter and we would not recommend purchasing a second hand 35MHz transmitter.

Any of the standard radio sets will give you all the controls you require and they are very affordable at around £125 includeing 1 receiver. It’s up to the individual how much they want to spend.

Remember, ask your instructor about anything of which you are not sure.

Get advice from the club, rather than the local model shop.


Learning to fly a model aircraft safely and proficiently takes an awful lot of dedication from you. The instructor’s word is final on all matters; you should ask him about everything of which you are not sure. If he doesn’t have the answer at hand he will find out for you. Also, remember the Instructor is a modeller - he wants to enjoy our sport like you. Always make sure you are ready for the lesson, there is nothing more frustrating than having to abandon a flight due to poor preparation or a forgotten item.

You will almost certainly not be the only pupil so don’t waste your tutor’s time. If he is busy, he will get to you as soon as he can in order. His services are voluntary and he will do the best he can to maximise all his pupils stick time; however, he may like to make the occasional flight on his own using his own equipment.

Further information for beginners can be found in the BMFA guide "Flying Start" which can be viewed here.

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