Getting Started



  • This is a list of items that will be required in order to fly a model aircraft. After you have made your choice of equipment, have a word with a club member to ensure that your prospective purchases are correct and before you part with your hard earned cash!
  • It is not absolutely necessary to purchase all the items at once (see below!)
  • The best magazines for the hobby are Radio Controlled Models and Electronics (RCM&E) and RC Model World. These publications are widely available in good magazine stores (W.H. Smith etc). Both magazines contain lots of advertisements (especially for mail order) and will give you a good idea of the prices for the equipment. They often run articles for beginners which can provide lots of tips and hints.

Basic Equipment

  • High wing 4 channel trainer (i.e. rudder, elevator, aileron and throttle controls). There are now lots of Almost-Ready-To-Fly (ARTF) models on the market that fly very well and are very stable, which is vital for your first trainer model. If you think that you cannot build your first aircraft from a kit, then an ARTF trainer is the ideal solution. Go for an ARTF kit which has all the hardware included (e.g. fuel tank, engine mount, wheels, control linkages hinges etc. etc.). The Irvine Tutor 40 or Boomerang has proved to be excellent fliers, are well built and very robust!
  • Radio gear (with a minimum of 4 Channels) comprising Transmitter (Tx), Receiver (Rx), nicad battery, charger, switch harness and servos. Note, if you can afford it, buy a set with rechargeable batteries – this will save you money in the long run. Note also that you can buy a set with more than 4 channels, which can be used for more sophisticated models later when you have really got the building and flying bug! Futaba has been the leading manufacturer for years but is now outshone by the Spectrum range on the new 2.4 ghz channel, and is very price competetive.
  • With the buddy lead system you can be trained on Mode 1 or 2 without any problems. Also ensure that you have a matched pair of frequency crystals (for Tx and Rx) and the correct frequency pennant for them, and is one of the authorised channels in use by the club. This is very important for safety reasons. With the increasing use of 2.4 ghz radio gear, this issue is getting less important of course, since there are no frequency clashes with this gear!!
  • An engine to match the performance of the plane, normally a .40 size or .46 size. You may need to purchase a glow plug for the engine, as most engines are not supplied with one as standard. A good all round plug to buy is an OS No.8. You will also need to buy a suitable propellor for the model; 10 x 7 is the usual size for .40 engine and 11 x 7 for a .46 engine. Although 10 x 8 OR 11 x 8 will be that bit quieter for a .40 OR .46 engine, respectively. (see noise reduction section!) Note that an APC or Bolly propellor is recommended since the scimitar shape substantially aids noise reduction.
  • PVA Glue, 5 minute epoxy glue, modelling or stanley knife. Superglue is also a useful additional purchase.
  • If you are building from a kit, you will most likely need to cover the airframe – the most popular covering is ‘Solarfilm’ which can be applied with a domestic iron and comes in a huge variety of colours. There are very easy to follow instructions on how to apply Solarfilm included with each roll.

Equipment for Starting the Plane

  • Fuel – Straight or 5% Nitro is normal. Model Technics GX-5 is a good all round fuel to use. It is also the cheapest which is an added benefit. If you start doing a lot of flying, some of the more ‘exotic’ fuel mixes can turn out expensive… Note that the number in the designation usually refers to how much nitro (or ignition/power enhancing liquid) is added eg Dynaglo-10 would have 10% Nitro = see the Model Technics web site via the link page.
  • 2 volt glow plug energizer battery and connecting lead. A 2V rechargeable battery and charger can be purchased, although a popular alternative is the glow driver which is a battery and connector combined. Note that a rubber finger protector or ‘chicken stick’ (200mm length of hardwood dowel wrapped in hard foam and gaffer tape) is highly recommended for flick starting the engine and is very cheap to make.
  • Fuel tubing (1 metre) and fuel pump to transfer the fuel into the model. A hand cranked pump will be perfectly adequate to start with, unless you wish to purchase a battery powered pump (see below).

Additional Equipment

  • Flight Box. You may buy a ready built one or just use a plastic toolbox from your local DIY store to carry all your bits and pieces easily.
  • Power Panel. This is normally powered by a 12V motorcycle battery and includes a fuel pump, a glow battery outlet and 12V outlet for an electric starter.
  • Electric Starter. This is normally a 12V unit and plugs into the power panel or a motorcycle battery.


Other Notes

  • Ensure that you charge your Tx and Rx batteries overnight before flying. Both batteries are ‘trickle’ charged and therefore there is no danger of damaging the batteries by charging them before each flying session.
  • All of the above items may be purchased either at a local outlet or by mail order. Below is a list of outlets you may find useful.
  • It is a good idea to get your first model checked over by an experienced modeller before that first flight. If you bring the model to either the Club night or the flying field, do not be afraid to ask for some constructive criticism of your building skills!!