NEW TO AEROMODELLING ?
At NASA we will not ask you to part with any money and join the club until you and the club are satisfied that is what you should do, however you must be insured before you fly any model. As a member of NASA we would ask you to join the British Model Flying Association (BMFA). Visit the web site at www.bmfa.org for more information. When you join the BMFA you are covered by the Associations insurance.
There are a few basic questions you need to ask before you spend any money:-
What model is best to learn to fly?
Because of the weather in this part of the world you need a model and engine large enough to cope with most weather conditions. A forty size engine is ideal, that is .40 cubic inches or about 8cc (cubic centimetres) capacity. This will give you enough power to fly in conditions which would ground a smaller aircraft. You should be able to fly most weekends with this set up, which is important when you are learning to fly.
There are many high wing (wing on top of the fuselage) trainers on the market which need four servos. One servo on each; Rudder, Elevator, Ailerons and Throttle. Generally these aircraft have three wheels (but not essential), two main wheels and a nose wheel which is steerable from the rudder servo to aid take off. It will always be more satisfying to build your own model, but there are models which are ARFT (almost ready to fly) available from your model shop. An ARTF model usually needs the wing halves joining and the fin/ rudder, tailplane, undercarriage, engine and radio gear fitting. Always get a member to check the model over before defects before you complete the model . If you build a model from a plan or kit and get some advice you should know how sound the airframe is, you will also know how to repair it when inevitable damage occurs.
What engine should I buy?
We have already suggested that you should buy a forty size engine and a two stroke may be easier to handle than a four stroke at this stage, it will certainly be cheaper to buy. There are many lower priced engines on the market and although there are satisfied users around the country we would recommend that you buy either an Irvine (British, late 2006, now made by OS) or an OS (Japanese). The build of these engines is consistently good and what you need is reliability. Lower priced engines may be inherently noisy and you may find yourself spending too much time on the ground adjusting to achieve a reliable engine run, rather than flying. Generally with the correct propeller the Irvine or OS will be quieter than some other engines of the same capacity. What ever you buy, think safety, keep your hands and fingers away from the propeller.
Many models are now available powered by electric motors
A word of warning - electric motors are generally more dangerous than internal combustion engines because although they can both cause serious injury, internal combustion engines usually stop when they the propeller comes into contact with flesh and bone, electric do not. Take care, if a battery is connected to a electric motor stay clear of the propeller and restrain the aircraft, this sounds obvious advice but many experienced modellers have sustained injury - you have been warned.
Electric powered models range from small 'Park Flyers' (which come supplied with low specification transmitters) to full specification competition models. Both these are powered by Lithium Polymer batteries which also need special attention and special chargers to be safe.
Do not use a low specification transmitter on a large aircraft, say one that uses more than two cells (7.4v). (please check this with an experience flyer, as transmitters vary and technology changes).
Please ask for advice what ever you would like to fly before spending any money.
Talk to a club member, but it may be necessary to buy a larger size propeller than that normally accepted for this size of engine you are using to restrict the amount of noise your engine will make. Although they are not the most durable type of propeller available, an APC propeller of the correct size will be the quietest and probably the most efficient. Noise is a problem and the most frequent reason for the loss of club flying fields so we need to make as little noise as possible.
What radio equipment should I buy?
The first thing you need to decide is which thumb or fingers and thumb (if you use a transmitter tray) you will use to control which control surface on the aircraft. What does your instructor fly? You will need to buy the same 'mode' of transmitter. The majority in our club fly Mode 1, for a fuller explanation on transmitter modes, click here. At NASA we only use (UK legal) 2.4GHz transmitters or odd numbered frequencies on the 35 megacycle band, it is important that you only buy odd numbered crystals if you wish to fly with us.
35 MHz transmitters: do not be tempted to switch on your 35 MHz transmitter unless you know there is no one flying within a two mile radius of where you are standing, and as a further precaution do not switch on with the aerial extended unless you are about to fly your model from a designated field. Never switch your transmitter on at the flying field unless you have the correct club frequency peg attached to your transmitter. The preferred make of radio equipment at NASA is Futaba or JR, but there are also a few Sanwa being used successfully, and Hitech are becoming more acceptable. Talk to your instructor, if you are going to use a 'Buddy Box' system to learn to fly you will need the same make of radio as your instructor. Never attempt to fly a model unless you know the battery pack is fully charged.
What else will I need?
The list of auxiliary equipment can be long, so before you take any decisions please wait until you have talked to a club member. You will be pointed in the right direction to spend as little money as possible. However you may decide to buy an electric engine starter which will need a 12v battery and you will need a suitable charger for the battery, this will save you starting your engine by flicking the propeller, again there are several on the market, but take advice from a club member before you buy. You will need some way of energising the glow plug to start the engine, this can be in the form of a separate 1.5 to 2 volt independent 'glow driver' or 'power panel' connected to the 12v battery. Fuel comes is an array of assorted formulas. Straight fuel means there is no nitromethane content. Nitromethane is expensive and is not necessary for a two stroke engine. Fuel containing 5% nitromethane may make slow running more reliable and especially so in winter, but it will cost more. A four stroke would need a minimum of 10% nitromethane. Some sort of pump will be required to transfer the fuel from its container to the tank. A hand cranked pump is the simplest but the are electric pumps which will run from a 12v battery. Some members use metal geared car windscreen washer pumps. As you become more familiar with the sport you will no doubt buy auxiliary equipment to suit your needs.
There are lots of hints and tips to achieve that first successful flight. Click here to view further thoughts. HINTS