Getting Started with Electrics
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Home > Getting Started > Getting Started with Electrics

[Courtesy of Ken Antonellis - CRRC Instructor]

R/C pilots have learned to fly with various airplanes.  Gas-powered trainers, conventional gliders and electric assist gliders seem to be the most popular ways to learn.  I prefer electric gliders for one main reason, they work!!! Those students who start out with electric gliders seem to solo quicker than those who learn on the other two conventional methods. Not being an engineer, I am not absolutely sure why but I can offer a few suggestions:

  1. Electric motors make very little noise and make even less when they are turned off when the student is ready to land. This seems allow the student to relax more than he or she would if they were making a final approach with a power plane.
  2. Electric gliders having lighter wing loading than most power planes thus they can be flown slower without stalling which gives the student more time to react.
  3. Like conventional gliders, Electric gliders typically can be landed safely all over the field not like powered planes with wheels which can be damaged when landing in the tall grass.
  4. Typically the electric glider will give the student more time per flight than the conventional glider.

I am not suggesting that electric glider students learn quicker than their counterparts but I do think that they solo quicker!!

Getting started with electrics

Before making the purchase, you have to decide if you enjoy building or want to be buy something that is all ready to go. On those airplanes, you can be flying within an hour or two. To build a wood kit probably takes anywhere from ten to 20 hours!

As to price, you can spend less than $100.00 on up to several thousand dollars for one airplane! Batteries have come a long way and so have electric motors. The latest technology involves the use of brushless motors and lithium batteries. The only down side is that lithium batteries can be dangerous and should be handled with care by following all directions that come with them. My advise is if you enjoy building things and are a “tinkerer” lean toward a kit comprised on mainly balsa wood. Admittedly, this is becoming a lost art as it is almost cheaper to buy an “arf” (almost ready to fly) kit.

Most of the local hobby shops have these all ready to go in the area of $150.00. They can give you some good advice also as to which airplane is right for you. A good source of information is Hobby Lobby. Their site is http://www.hobby-lobby.com.

They have a great beginner’s trainer which is the Wing Dragon. It flies great and everything you need is in the box including plane, motor, radio, battery and charger. They claim that you can be flying in 15 minutes. I think that is a little too quick, but an hour or two is realistic.

Remember, if you buy it, do not try to fly without help. It is too expensive that way, Good luck!

So whatever your preference is, gas-powered, contentional or electric gliders, come join a club and get started!!


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