Test Drive the J-5 before you Fly (for beginners only)

There have been several articles and blogs about Hobby Lobby’s new Piper J-5 with numerous recommendations for beginners.  The best way for a beginner to become successful at learning the art of RC flying, before taking a brand new airplane to the field, is to practice on a flight simulator.

If you are new to the hobby and have purchased a beginner airplane like the Piper J-5, but have no access to a RC flight simulator; please try the following exercise before you are tempted to put your brand new airplane in the air.

Our first “flight” will be on the ground….or our first drive, if you prefer.  Instead of purchasing a computer flight simulator, the only purchase required for this exercise is a piece of ordinary sidewalk chalk.  Go to your favorite Dollar Store, and buy a big stick of sidewalk chalk (the kind that washes off, of course).  Next, take your airplane to an empty parking lot (away from traffic, please!).

Take the chalk and draw a line away from your starting point that looks like a series of big squiggles, or s-turns.  Continue drawing these s-turns until you are about 100 feet away from your starting point.  Then draw a loop (like the top of a circle) until you are pointed back in the direction that you started from.  Next draw a series of big squiggles (s-turns) just like you did on the other side, until you are back at your starting point.

When you are finished, your drawing on the parking lot will look like a circle at the top and bottom with a series of squiggles on both sides.

We are now ready to practice! Make sure the batteries in your transmitter and airplane are fully charged.  Turn the transmitter on and connect the battery to the airplane, making sure that the throttle control on the transmitter is all the way down.  Then place the airplane on the ground on the squiggly chalk line going away from you.  Advance the throttle slowly, until the airplane is just rolling along at a very slow pace. Use your right stick (on 3-channels for beginner operation) to steer the airplane along the chalk line.  Try to stay on the line all the way around the circle.

This exercise will begin to teach you 2 of the 3 dimensions of RC flying.  You will notice, and soon master the skill of turning an airplane while learning that turns are accomplished by moving the right stick in different directions depending on if the airplane is moving away from you, or towards you.

When you can confidently “drive” around the circle, while staying on the chalk line, you are much better prepared to try your first beginner flight.  While a simulator is still the best choice for training, this method can and will teach you part of the necessary hand/eye coordination to successfully fly an RC airplane.

Good luck and happy driving and flying!

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