So I just flew (sort of) my first mini radio control plane...

I´m a bit nutters about model planes, but so far I had limited myself to only Free Flight (read: unguided) models.

After moving to Bangkok I decided to start from scratch and for once try this new flanged, shiny, sort of exciting thing of mini/micro planes.I´m game I said and ordered the radio gear and in the meanwhile I set to build the Whimsy, a plane I built as a Free Flight model some years ago.

So, after many delays today I went out to fly the plane, I took a taxi to a park some 15 km from home before coming to work, I had only made a few flight attempts when the guard said “no, no”; I really don´t have a strong grasp of Thai to get into an argument so I left and took another taxi to the office…

*What follows is something I posted on another board dedicated to model planes: *

Against all rules of common sense and propriety I just went to the back of the office to fly the plane…

Now, on the back there´s a field about 200 meters wide by at least 600 meters long, covered with grass; the problem, you see, is that the grass is taller than me (and I´m not a short fellow at all) and inhabited by swarms of mosquitos, frogs, snakes and friggin´ huge monitor lizards. Not the kind of place you want to loose a plane in…

No, I actually didn´t loose the plane there, but I´ve been reminded of the No1 rule of model plane flying (specially Free Flight), always, but always wear full lenght trousers. Gee, do my legs itch or what?, I think I´ve fed a complete ecosystem of blood sucking bugs back there.

So, the plane still wants to turn left, right aileron actually seems to counter that a bit, but I wanted to turn left very much indeed to avoid the swamp (yes, the field is also semi-flooded) Elevator is very, VERY responsive, I may have to change the control horn attachments or something. It can also be my first R/C experience butter fingers showing too.
The aileron control actually is good, left aileron command gives a nice twitch as long as the airspeed is a tad over stall speed, however is not enough to cancell the leftist leaning of this plane; seriously, this is the Karl Marx of model planes.

I don´t know where I went wrong, the model looks reasonably straight built so I guess is the torque, or maybe I´m trying to fly too slow and then the torque becomes a bigger issue than it should.

Anyway, I think the longest flight I did was less than 10 seconds; it´s not so bad all things considered.


  1. This model likes to turn left.
  2. Elevator is very… ejem, effective, much more than I can handle with subtlety.
  3. Mosquitos (oh gosh, I hope they are only mosquitos) are eating me alive standing here.
  4. By all that´s good and sacred don´t crash the plane on the Swamp of Icky Creatures, honest, it´s bloody Nam in there, I think I´d need Chuck Norris to get the plane out.
  5. Try to avoid the boss`s car too, if possible.
  6. Read my lips: this plane really likes them left turns.
  7. I think there´s something funky with the CG.
  8. The motor mount is rather sloppy and the prop swivels by a few degrees.
  9. On landing try to aim for that patch of grass between the hard road, the Swamp of Oblivion, boss´s car, the pile of plane-grinding rocky rubble, the brick wall under the tree and the picket fence around the car park… also keep an eye on that pack of stray dogs that seem to be on the look for a snack.
  10. Oh yes, let´s try to bring this thing back home in the same amount of parts as it came.

If it wouldn´t be such a relaxing hobby I´d keel over from a massive aneurism before the plane comes down. :wink:

I wonder, if by design it is made to go into a turn. That would be nice if it got out of control range.

Well, you are unto something there.

This plane is based on a Free Flight model, and as I said, those are the kind that you launch and go up (hopefully) on their own merry way. Since this things can fly considerable distances they are adjusted to fly in circles and again, hopefully, stay close to where they where released. All fine and dandy but I´ve had to traverse as much as 3 Km of uneven terrain to recover a particularly high spirited model.
So you are right that if I had built this model as the plans show it would have had a tendency to turn… to the right, not the left; that´s because propellers normally turn clockwise looking from the cockpit, so the torque (the motor turns the prop one way and the action-reaction thingy says the fuselage turns the other) tends to roll the plane to the left, that´s why you trim for a right turn, if you trim for a left turn when the prop stops you no longer have the torque working on the plane so the left turn is greatly reduced, and you may end up with a plane flying away in a straight line. If you trim for right turn the lose of torque tightens the curve, you have to be carefull or the plane may end up corckscrewing all the way to Mother Earth.

Now that´s about 5% of all the trimming stuff that goes on a Free Flight model, but we are getting away from the actual matter at hand at an alarming rate.
I didn´t build this one to turn left, not intentionally at least.
There´s always some twisting here and there, after all this is a lightweight balsa wood structure covered in japanese tissue that it´s shrunk after being glued in place, so it puts quite a bit of strain on the flimsy structure. I had to correct a big warping on the rudder for example.

So my bet is on the propeller thrust line, I should modify the motor mounts so it points right to counter the torque of the prop. I should also make the prop point down (downthrust) so that when the power is increased the plane doesn´t nose up.

Let me ask a question about the RC plane hobby. How realistic a goal is taking low-altitude aerial photos from such a plane?

I survey an old historic area as a hobby (and, believe me, I have all the hobby I need already). I use aerial photos from a variety of online and offline sources, but they all have resolutions of a foot or more. There are many places that I wish I could get much smaller aerials of. I think if I could be 50 or 100 or 200 or 500 feet high and take a photo, I’d get just what I need.

So, I’ve wondered about tethered balloons and RC flight.

Unfortunately, the area is pretty heavily wooded. For all I know that ruins it right there, at least for airplanes.

What do you think? A melding of hobbies sort of thing? Well, not with you in Thailand, but with somebody in your hobby?