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Scale RC Aircraft are Fun to Fly and Look Great!

Consider adding some scale models to your flying fleet


Nose of Blackburn scale RC model airplane

Nose detail of 1912 Blackburn

Historically, scale RC aircraft were considered something exotic that only a special breed of pilot could build, own and operate. Design problems could be challenging.

Back in the day of gas powered model aircraft, where essentially all RC aircraft were built by the owner from plans, this line of thought was more or less correct. It was unusual to see a scale model plane on your club flight line. Folks noticed whenever a scale bird took to the skies.

Demoiselle scale RC airplane

Demoiselle top view

That has all changed today. With the ready availability of high quality ready to fly aircraft, scale RC aircraft are available for the every day pilot.

Pre-built aircraft come out of the factory fully tested. The jig assembly process produces a light weight, strong and fully aligned scale plane. A lot of the headaches encountered by the aspiring scale pilot in the past concerned a realistic model that was usually overweight, with flaws in the precise alignment process required for a well flying model.

Almost Ready to Fly models improve flying skills

The scale pilots of yesteryear spent a great deal of time studying construction plans and building their specialized aircraft, and not enough time practicing basic flying skills. You can anticipate what often happened.

A pilot is taking their new pride and joy for an initial test flight. The builder has spent a great amount of time in the workshop creating a scale masterpiece. They have spent little time practicing model flight. The engine finally gets started. The scale aircraft may be a bit overweight, and in any event will be a challenge on tracking straight for the first takeoff.

Sure enough, as on any test flight, little things going wrong can add up quickly. The final result for new scale models was often some sort of unhappy crash during that initial flight.


Moth scale RC model

Moth getting ready to take off

Happily, this sequence of events does not happen nearly as frequently today. With the availability of affordable, high quality ready to fly scale aircraft the builder can easily get in a lot of quality stick time flying a model that will emulate the flight characteristics of the aircraft they are constructing.

Today’s computer flight simulators provide the RC pilot with a wealth of experience flying a wide variety of scale models to include types that closely match the flying characteristics of your own design.

Scale planes, in their need to follow as closely as possible the outline and dimensions of their full scale counterparts, can often inadvertently inherit poor flying characteristics.

For example, the tail surface area of a full size aircraft is usually too small for a scale model. Thus, it is important to enlarge tail surfaces to help minimize controllability challenges and employ model building tips. As always with replicas of older aircraft, use coordinated ailerons and rudder to minimize adverse yaw when turning.

Neiport scale RC model airplane

World War I Nieuport biplane

Keep your models light

Tied in with the full to model size dimension issues, excess weight must always be monitored on any scale RC aircraft. This applies to RC conversions of Guillow kits.

Work at all times to minimize excess weight on your model. Consider a slight increase in the model’s wing area to compensate for any extra weight as you develop your plane design. Keep in mind that a heavier scale RC aircraft can be flown, but the performance will suffer as compared to a similar model that is lighter.

Fokker Spin radio control model airplane

1911 Fokker Spin semi-scale model airplane

If you suspect your scale model airplane will be heavy, keep the speed a bit higher on take off and landing, and avoid abrupt, aggressive turns. The Air Camper is an ideal example of a lightweight balsa model kit.

One very elegant solution to the challenge of well flying scale RC aircraft is met with the new generation of lightweight foam RTF RC planes. These scale foam models come in a variety of sizes and they have revolutionized scale indoor RC flight.

ParkZone has an extensive line of high quality, affordable and very well mannered micro scale RC aircraft. Examples include the Cessna 210, Sukhoi and P-51 Mustang. These models look fantastic and are truly ready to fly right out of the box. Due to their foam construction, there are no concerns at all with the aircraft being too heavy. The use of ready to fly models is a great way to keep your flying skills sharp.

Author: Gordon McKay

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