Flying remote controlled (RC) model planes has been a popular hobby with children and big children, otherwise referred to as adults, for many years. I remember having a model plane when I was a child, it wasn't remote controlled, it was the type where you had some type of control mechanism, think a piece of string, attached directly to the plane and you held onto one end. RC model planes are WAY more fun because it is more like actually piloting a real airplane - including crashes if you aren't careful.
Today's planes are much easier to set up, can fly at slower speeds, and you can find smaller size models that don't require as much airspace for you to successfully fly your airplane. Once you get the hang of flying the smaller planes, following my five tips, you'll find that you can fly your plane without having to travel several miles just to find an open ball field that is clear of trees and power lines and other type obstacles that you don't want to have to deal with. Here are my five simple tips that can help you to have a lot more fun flying your RC model airplane.
(1) Buy a flight simulator and practice, practice, practice. Now flying a flight simulator isn't going to be exactly the same thing as actually flying a remote control airplane, but it can teach you basic skills that will become second nature so when it actually comes time to fly you won't even have to think about them. A simulator can help to teach you the necessary hand eye coordination that you will need during a live flight. Flying a model airplane requires exactly the opposite control movement of what most people think they need to do to make the airplane adjust correctly. You will learn to make the proper corrections without even having to think about what you are doing. And let's face it, if you crash, you just start the game all over again, and it hasn't cost you a penny.
(2) Go online or buy one of the many great books about flying model aircraft that are available. Although there is no substitute for real experience a book can teach you a couple of invaluable lessons. First, it can teach you the "right" way to fly a model plane. That way you will at least know what you are supposed to try to do. Second, it can help you to learn the basic terminology that you need to know for step 3. If you are going to work with a more experienced pilot or just want to go to the same area where other model airplane pilots fly their planes and watch and learn you need to be able to understand the language of flying - it has its own vocabulary. So for example, if someone looks at your plane and asks if it is an RTF model you need to know what they are talking about to answer. We'll get to RTF's in just a minute.
(3) Join a local club and/or see if you can find someone to team up with who is already an experienced pilot. The are several great RC model airplane hobby sites online and it is easy to find a local flying club that is close to where you live. Just as if you were training to fly a real lane, an experienced remote control plane pilot can teach you a lot of the tricks of the trade that will help you to have a lot more fun, and a lot fewer crashes.
(4) Choose the right type of model plane. This is one of the more important tips that you really need to pay attention to if you want to have any success. If you followed my advice in step one, and practiced on a flight simulator, then you probably already know that it is a whole lot easier to fly a plane and keep it under control if you are flying more slowly. Well, the real thing, whether it's a model plane or a real fighter jet is no different. When you are shopping for a model plane, and this is after you have followed my previous tips, so that you can talk intelligently to the salesperson because you already know the basic terminology, tell them what you are looking for. You want an airplane that has a long tail and one that has a dihedral angle (another word you need to know) of about 5 degrees or more. A larger dihedral angle will mean that the airplane will self correct a little easier when you make mistakes. Now it won't have the same ability to do axial rolls and lots of fun stuff as quickly as other aircraft, but right now you aren't worried about that, you are worried about not crashing.
(5) Buy a RTF RC plane. See, I told you we would come back to RTF. RTF is the beginner's friend - it simply means "ready to fly". As you advance you will likely buy other types of aircraft that aren't RTF, that allow a bit more customization and part if the fun is in building your own unique RC plane, but that's for a later date.
That's it, five simple easy steps and you can have a lot if fun. Oh, and not to be a pessimist, but when you buy your airplane, you need to ask about spare parts. The reality is, even if you follow all my tips and all the great advice you can get from a seasoned RC pilot, crashes are pretty much inevitable. Sooner or later you will run into a situation you can't handle, and it won't be pretty. But until then - happy flying and have a blast.