Prop Master's Free Flight Instruction

Prop Masters has several instructors who will teach you how to fly. No, you don't need to be a member of the club in order for us to teach you and best of all, it's free. Joining the club should be something you decide to do on your own.

The first step is to stop in at a meeting, or at the flying field. If you already have an airplane, bring it with you. We will check over the airplane to make sure things look good. Even if your airplane is not finished, bring it anyway. It's a good opportunity to get some ideas to make assembly easier.

Once the airplane is checked out and is deemed air worthy, it's time to fly. In the beginning, the instructor will take off and land the airplane. The student will only fly after it is airborne and the airplane is at a "safe" altitude. Generally that means about 250 to 300 feet. The student stands beside the instructor and will be handed the transmitter. In the beginning, they will have their hands full just trying to figure out which way the airplane is heading. That is normal and only gets easier by practicing. If the airplane gets out of the students control, the instructor will correct it and get them flying again. At this point we are only trying to let the student learn how to make turns and keep the airplane at about the same altitude. After a few flights the student will have a little control and we can bring it down a little lower, but still keeping it "safe".



The next few sessions will consist of getting as much practice as possible. There are a few exercises like making a square and a figure eight, but this is the time the student will learn how to stay ahead of the airplane instead of just reacting to what the airplane does. In other words turning left when they want to turn left and vise versa. The instructor may also have them do a little taxiing to familiarize the student with how to control the airplane on the ground.

After the student has proven that they can make the airplane more or less go where they want, it's time to start learning the limits of the airplane, not how many G's the wing will take before it snaps in half. What we are talking about is throttle control, stall speed, glide characteristics, and slow speed maneuvering. Most trainers will fly a little faster than most people walk. They won't drop out of the sky unless you tilt the wing vertical and make it drop out of the sky. It takes a few flights in order to explore the limits of the airplane, learn how it handles at slower speeds and why it does the things it does. Again, this takes more skill and will be taught as the student improves. Everyone is different and there is no set time in which they learn. All that is important is that the student keeps learning.

About the time the student has learned slow flight, they will be taught how to take the plane off. Since they already have the skills to fly the airplane safely, they just need to be able to keep it going straight long enough to reach flying speed. Good airplane setup will help tremendously when first learning how to takeoff. Most important is that the nose wheel only move a little bit in each direction. The more the steering moves, the harder it is to keep in a straight line because it is very sensitive to your inputs. A rule of thumb is to push the airplane forward on the ground and move the rudder stick all the way to the right or left. If the airplane makes a circle that is smaller than about seven or eight feet, you may want to adjust your linkage to the nose wheel to make it move less. The instructor may help the student with the first takeoff by steering and operating the throttle for them while the student flies the airplane off the ground. Once the student has learned to takeoff, they will be taking off and trimming the airplane out until they learn the rest.

Landing is the most complicated thing to do because it has many steps that have to be completed which lead up to actually landing. A common saying is, "Takeoffs are optional, landings are mandatory." That is of course true. Now we start putting all the individual things the student has learned together to land. First thing is flying the approach pattern. The pattern is a rectangle with one long side across the middle of the field and the other long side on the far edge on the field parallel to the runway. The pattern can be flown either clockwise or counter clockwise depending on the direction of the wind. Always take off and land the airplane going into the wind. Starting at a lower, but still "safe" altitude, the student will be directed along the pattern to learn the spacing of each side of the rectangle. Once they have that down, they will be instructed when to reduce throttle and glide the airplane down in order to fly across the field at about 25 feet. After flying all the way across the field, they will add throttle and climb back up to pattern altitude and go around again. They will continue working on this and slowly getting better at it until they can slow the plane down and fly across the field at about 10 feet.

At this time they will have the "opportunity" to land, we call it that because there is a doorway at the edge of the field that is about 15 feet tall and as wide as the field. If they can slow the airplane down and fly through that doorway, they will be ready to land the airplane. If they come in too fast or too high, they will go around again and setup for another approach. Once the student demonstrates that they can fly though the doorway at a reduced speed, they will be instructed to land the airplane. At that point they need to continue descending until the airplane is about two or three feet above the ground and level off. Then as gently as they can let the airplane sink to the ground and try to keep the nose of the airplane up. Once the airplane touches down they need to keep it going as straight as possible until it comes to a stop. If they are lucky, the engine will be still be running and they will taxi back to the pits. After the applause dies down, they will start breathing again and bask in the glory of actually flying their own airplane for a complete flight. We will continue to work with them until they are self sufficient. Once they fly three complete flights with some basic maneuvers in one day, they will move up from Beginners to Novice A if they are members of the club.

Learning to fly RC airplanes is challenging and fun. Sometimes airplanes crash or are damaged. This is a common occurrence in this hobby. We are here to help you, but it would be lying if we told you nobody crashes an airplane learning to fly. It would be more accurate to say most people do crash while learning how to fly. Fortunately, in most of them the airplane only has minor damage, but there is some risk that is unavoidable. We encourage anyone who is interested in the hobby to stop out at the field and see for themselves what they are missing.
If you have any questions about our flight instruction program please email 
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