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How do YOU get started? « Canada's Drone Enthusiast Group | alpha flying circus

How do YOU get started?

It seems overwhelming.  I remember my first few weeks of building a plane from a bunch of parts and then hoping I had measured correctly, and that my limited soldering skills would hold up.  Today, you have so many options, which might make it even more complicated.

Well I have had some experience teaching total novices how to fly.  In fact, I am the longest termed RC pilot in our group, and I can’t say I was doing this when I was young.  Some of the people that are successfully flying today had given up after smashing hundreds of dollars of aircraft.

There are two ways to learn to fly.  The fast and expensive way and the slower but much more successful way.

Whether it is a multi rotor, or an airplane, you should learn how to fly it before you start to put goggles or cameras on it.

In our case, we have a very simple process that we start everyone off with.

It is called “Yellowbird”.



Yellowbird is our name for my old GWS Tigermoth, a trainer that was used to get pilots used to single wing planes prior to WW2.  Because of its well behaved characteristics, I find that it is a plane that gives everyone a sense of accomplishment because it is so easy to fly.

The number one rule of success when it comes to flying RC airplanes is not to fly in strong and gusty winds.  Patience is a virtue that will save you a lot of money and a similar amount of frustration.  Usually early mornings or early evenings are best, but we prefer to use www.windfinder.com to check ahead of time.

Once I have some nice light conditions, then it is time to put Yellowbird up in the air. Maybe…with a tail wind….she would do 10 kph.  Maybe.  She is a simple 3 channel trainer.   Throttle (power to the motor spinning the prop), elevator (up/down) and rudder (yaw left/yaw right).   So speed, up and down, and left and right.  Simple.  I will usually fly her up to about a hundred feet and then hand the controller to the beginner and stand and coach them.

Lazy circles, both left and right.  Leaving the throttle alone and just learning how the orientation works.  The advantage with a light plane like this is that even if the beginner gets in trouble, there is plenty of time to hand the controller back to me.  I prefer this method over using a trainer cord (linking 2 radios together so that the teacher can take control) as I find it is more personal and you are explaining what is going on.

I don’t ask them to land, instead just letting them have success and get comfortable in the feeling of flying something.  I can honestly say that Yellowbird has taught everyone in my circle of friends that flies.  Myself included.  It wasn’t my first plane, but it was the one that felt the most like one.

This also let people see if this was going to be something that they wanted to invest money into.

Anyone telling you that it isn’t an expensive hobby really hasn’t been in it for long.

You may be able to buy a starter kit for a few hundred dollars, but the starter radio will usually be only good for that one airplane.  You will want more.  More channels (a channel controls a function such as throttle, elevator, aileron, and rudder).  You will want something that feels more professional, and something that you can adjust to fit your style.  A good radio will cost you upwards of 300 dollars, but can be used will all your models.

There is no better way to learn and have success than by finding a group of people to fly with.  That is the social side of this hobby that I find the most enjoying.  Getting together with friends to share in a common interest helps the beginners, the experienced, and the hobby industry in general.

That is what started alph flying circus.  It was just a group of friends that kept growing, and we thought it would be great to have a place for others to share in our fun.

Soon we will have live chat so that we can login from the field and let you know where we are.  We always have extra planes with us, and love to help others have success.

Once you get comfortable flying LOS (line of site) then we can help you add a camera and see what it is like to fly FPV (First Person View) ,from inside your model.

Whether it is high altitude gliders that float on the wind, or high powered jets that can break 160 kph, it all starts with the simple things.

Learn the theory behind why things fly and you will be a better pilot.

Practice safety and patience and you will have success.

Have fun, and remember that at some point somebody helped you to get started, pass that on.


  1. I remember my first flight with YB, seems like it was just yesterday. Now i didn’t crash, but its no stranger to damage. Its been repaired a few times and still holds up well. Great beginner plane.

    • Yes, I remember you and Mike getting going on it. And then Dark Tech has to try fly it through a tree. That is why YB now has some carbon fiber.

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