I have been flying RC airplanes competitively for 8 years now. I was initially surprised to see that there are very few girls involved in this hobby (I have met about 5 out of over eight years of involvement to give you an idea). That's the only reason I mention my gender, because the girl/RC combination is definitely 'uncommon' and sometimes people have questions specifically about that point of view. Edit: I don't think it's special in any way other than being kind of rare. At the peak of my involvement I would practice several hours almost every day. This allowed me to win all 6 categories of the Canadian National Scale Aerobatics championships over a period of 6 years. I love the hobby. I am also involved in RC helicopters, gliders, and cars.

Edit: I think it might help if I describe in a bit more detail the type of competition I'm involved in. It's called scale aerobatics (IMAC is the most widespread version). You get a series of 10 aerobatic maneuvers which are similar to what real aerobatic airplanes would do in competitions. You have to fly them as precisely as possible (there are specific deductions, like you lose 1 point for every 10 degrees deviation from what a line is supposed to be in the figure). It's the same 10 maneuvers all year, except for one round on the second day of the contest, which is called the 'unknown' round. You get a list of 10 surprise maneuvers the day before and overnight, you memorize them and visualize them and do whatever mental exercise you can to try to prepare to fly them, but you're not allowed to actually use a plane or simulator and practice them. The next day, you fly them for the judges and the first time you fly them, you get evaluated. There is also a separate event called 'freestyle', in which you choose a music or mix of musics and design your own routine (4 minutes length). For the freestyle, you get judged on technical and artistic criteria.

Proof: http://www.futaba-rc.com/team/2012-team-futaba.html (search for "2012 Canadian IMAC Nationals") and http://imgur.com/puQkaLP

Comments: 238 • Responses: 89  • Date: 

Car_4728 karma

awesome. how much money do you think youve spent throughout the years?

isabelRC53 karma

Yikes! That's the question nobody involved in RC wants to get asked :). An aiplane of that size can cost 3k (second hand) to over 10k (new). The top of the line radio is about 2-3k. And of course they pretty much all end up crashing, eventually. As a couple (my husband is also involved, we met through the hobby) we probably spent on average 5k a year during the most expensive years. That was doing everything as cheaply as possible (second/third/fourth hand and camping for all events, fitting everything in a Toyota Matrix), which not many people do. Now, I have most of the gear I need and good sponsorships so it doesn't cost me much.

Brewster-Rooster7 karma

So do you now make a living off of it? Or do you have a job to support your expensive hobby? :P

isabelRC28 karma

I definitely don't make a living off of it :) . I'm not sure anyone does unless they actually work full time for an RC company (product design, marketing, whatever). I have a full time job, I work at a not-for-profit organization that promotes science to youth across Canada.

Car_475 karma

lol damn. expensive hobbies are a pain in the butt! my hobby is firearms so i spend quite a bit. this year ive spent around 4k on toys

isabelRC18 karma

I hear you! I think the hardest thing with RC airplanes, is that you could crash it on your first flight. When I got my first airplane, my boyfriend told me, 'don't get attached now, you know it will end up in the garbage can'. The expense is definitely hard and it helps that in my case, it's an activity that both my husband and I enjoy. I can't imagine putting that much money into it if it was only for one of the two people.

FascistPenguin6 karma

I figured I was ready to step up from foamies to a balsa model, so I shelled out for a decent kit and all the electronics. Fifth flight the servo lead from the receiver to the elevators went dead coming out of a harrier. Complete destruction, I salvaged the servos and speed controller but haven't had the heart to buy another plane since. It's just too painful.

isabelRC2 karma

Everybody has bad stretches, don't be discouraged... I remember a one month period, the first year I was flying, where every time (so pretty much every day) we went to the field we came back because something was broken (we had a muffler issue, were trying all kinds of ways to fix it without buying a new one). It was super frustrating. But eventually you get out of the rough stretch and it becomes really rewarding. The first few flights are definitely the most dangerous too, in terms of mechanical failures. Don't be discouraged!

gunpowderandbrass3 karma

Haha. Wow when I read her 5k number I was thinking to myself "mehhh that's probably about what I spend on guns and gear every year" lol. Then I saw your comment.

Car_471 karma

Yea. Lol. I should start reloading

gunpowderandbrass1 karma

I DO reload. Haha

Car_471 karma

What's a good beginner set up?

isabelRC1 karma

I would say whatever trainer that you can get second hand would be a really good way to start. You don't want to spend too much on your first plane, because you'll outgrow it. Ask around local clubs to see if anyone has a trainer for sale. If you can, start with a good radio (7 channels minimum, 9 if you can); radios don't crash, they will last a long time so they are a good place to put in a little bit more money. I'd go with a Futaba 8J or a Futaba 10CG if you can. I outgrew my entry level (6 or 7 channel) radio fast, that's the only investment I regretted; but if price is a concern it will do. In terms of airframe, I think most trainers are kind of in the ballpark. Things like: PT 40, Avistar, Nexstar, Alpha. It saves a lot of hassle to get something which is electric... I know there is an electric Nexstar now. My top advice would be: by a simulator first (I used RealFlight), look for a second hand trainer (hopefully you can sell it again later so it won't cost you much overall), definitely find an instructor and buddy box (it's like driver's ed) at a local club to get started. As a second plane I really like to recommend the ugly stick.

Pure_Silver21 karma

This is awesome! I thought I should point out for the few that are asking "why is she specifying her gender?" that /u/isabelRC is the first female I have ever heard of in this hobby even though I must have met a hundred pilots. Professional RC must have one of the highest male:female ratios of any sport in the world that permits female participants.

Back on topic - have you ever tried any of the VR kit (goggles linked in real-time to a cockpit-mounted camera) that's starting to make it onto the scene? I found flying RC to to be incredibly disorientating because of the change from my POV to the aircraft's, and wondered whether it would be easier to fly it from a first-person perspective.

isabelRC14 karma

You are not the only one to comment on the disorientation aspect, in fact a lot of people who fly 'real' planes find it very tough to transfer to RC for that reason. i.e. if the plane is coming towards you, left becomes right and right becomes left, if it's upside down, then rudder and elevator are reversed by aileron is the same.... yikes!

I'm not sure personally if I would recommend flying FPV before mastering the regular 'line of sight' flying because it might be good to be able to fly 'line of sight' as a backup if an issue came up with your FPV gear during a flight. But maybe it's the next big thing, who knows! In Canada I believe that to fly FPV you have to be assisted with someone with line of sight at all times but I might be wrong, I haven't looked into all the details yet. If you already know how to fly with line of sight I think it would be great to try FPV and see what you like best! I'm sure the orientation aspect is easier but the challenge might be getting good at understanding where you are geographically, based on the bird's eye view you have.

Strangely_Calm9 karma

/r/fpv local chiming in!

Head on over and we'll take you under our wing ;-)

Isabel is correct, you should learn flying LOS first, if anything happens such as camera-out, video transmitter-out, ground station failure, etc. It will be immediately apparent how hard flying LOS is.

Fpv is not the next big thing. It's great fun and we fit in well with the regular RC crowd, gliders and gassers and autonomous flight pilots (UAVs). But fpv sadly requires a lot of time, technical knowledge and of course...money!

As an advocate for the hobby however I will point you in the right direction.

Go here to learn about everything RC related

Here to learn about fpv specific flying

Here for cheap aircraft, radio transmitters, batteries, everything

Here for quality fpv gear

Legality differs from country to country but the rule of thumb is stay away from populated aerodromes and stay below 400'/120m AGL. Be respectful of other people and be safe.

Now for some YouTube series to get you started This guy is pretty much the Godfather of fpv

These guys are the daredevils

And these guys are the ones who brought RC flight to the masses

Happy flights!

isabelRC6 karma

Thanks for the links, I am definitely going to go through them in my quest for FPV!

spudmizer10 karma

How fast do you usually fly, and have you ever crashed and thought.. what was I thinking??

isabelRC14 karma

The speed depends on the airplane. With a glider you can fly extremely slowly without stalling the plane. With my aerobatic plane, I haven't tried it with my new GPS sensor yet but I'm think that I could approach 150km/h (just a guess at this point). In the type of flying I do, we are mostly interested in precision, not speed. That's for other types of flying: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ByOB4luuvy4 . As far as crashing, I am a very conservative flyer (probably because I learned to fly with big planes right away, which weren't even my own) so most of my crashes have been mechanical failure or other similar thing where I couldn't do much about it. So my regrets are more about not having investigated a specific symptom before taking up the airplane. I did crash a glider last winter, that I put in a dive and then couldn't pull out of it, because of the speed it was going at, and I definitely had a moment of 'what was I thinking!' It was a foam glider, and I think that at the speed it was going, the elevator must have been distorting when I tried to pull it up.

rabbitlion3 karma

468 mph, in an airplane without an engine, that's just crazy.

andrewembassy3 karma

Wait, is that really what's happening there?

Edit: wow. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dynamic_soaring

isabelRC2 karma

Yep, it's super crazy.

UpvotesAllWhoReply9 karma

Did you hear about that young man who got killed by his own RC helicopter in New York City a few months ago? How exactly did he manage that?

isabelRC15 karma

I didn't know about that specific incident but I have heard of other similar ones. With a helicopter, the blades can be pretty long (1.5m across, maybe?) and spinning fast enough to decapitate someone, for example. If it starts to drift towards you and you can't stop it (either you don't have the skill, a bad reflex, or something mechanically wrong), you can see the possibilities. With airplanes I think the most common injury must be the propeller hitting your hand when you start it.

UpvotesAllWhoReply6 karma

Here's the news story about it.


Supposedly this guy was quite the talented pilot, so I don't understand how things went so wrong.

He has a cool YouTube channel with his flights... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DhRy_UXF98g

isabelRC11 karma

Wow, that is really sad. Well, with helicopters, they are bascially hundreds if not thousands of vibrating/spinning parts held together in an unstable mass. If one gear strips, or one electronic part fries, everything could go haywire and there might not be anything you can do to control it. So at that point, if it's heading in the wrong direction, you might have a fraction of a second to run. The best safety precaution is to fly a reasonable distance from yourself, but that sometimes makes it harder to see what's going on. In the article they say this is the second fatal accident of that sort, which doesn't seem that high when you think about the number of RC helicopters out there, so I wouldn't say it's a particularly dangerous hobby but there are risks for sure.

Griffinburd7 karma

That's rather interesting. Where do you see the line being drawn between recreational remote control and drone?

isabelRC9 karma

I guess when people talk about drones they imagine a commercial or military objective? So the difference would be just based on what the objective is... I know of several people who are involved in both areas (recreational/competitive on one hand, and commercial/military on the other hand).

Griffinburd2 karma

Thanks for replying! One more question, do you think you could have flown the Top Gear shuttle?

isabelRC3 karma

I didn't know that TV show and I will look into it! Thanks for introducing me to something new :) I'm afraid I can't really answer your question right now but it sounds like it might be "no" ;)

ccatlr1 karma


isabelRC3 karma

Hmm it looks like it had a mechanical issue and no one would have had a shot to pilot it!

ptcptc5 karma

What are the differences and similarities between what you do and real pilotting? I'm pretty sure that you would be much more qualified to fly a plane than me, but in what extent?

isabelRC15 karma

The biggest difference in my opinion (confirmed by pilots who have tried both) would be the point of view. In a real airplane, you move with the airplane so a right turn is always a right turn and a left turn is always a left turn. In RC, if the airplane is coming towards you left & right get 'reversed' visually, and if you are upside down, ailerons stay the same but rudder and elevator get reversed. That makes orientation trickier in RC. I have flow real planes twice: a Cessna and a glider, and both times, I was able to fly them fine, without training and without the 'instructor' having to take back the control at any time, because the controls are the same and the response to the controls is similar. The only thing they needed to do was warn me about keeping the nose down, etc, because I was not used to instrumentation (i.e. in RC you can see the airplane's speed visually, in real airplanes you have to watch the instruments). Flying once in the air is one thing but I sure couldn't land or take off properly without lessons! I wouldn't know anything about the proper speeds, what approach pattern to take, how to not overshoot the runway etc.

strikeandburn4 karma

Where does your income come from?

isabelRC12 karma

I have a full time job, not related to RC. I work in the not-for-profit sector (I'm a salaried staff though, not a volunteer). The organization I work for promotes science to youth across Canada. I coordinate their national volunteer-driven outreach program.

Matt8720001 karma

My Uncle was really big into RC flying a while back. He even flew for the Canadian Forces. They would buy him planes, he would fly them over the range, and they would shoot them down. It wasn't a fulltime job for him but it was really awesome to watch.

My Uncle flew some really awesome planes, too, and I think he was a pretty big MAAC member too.

Have you heard of Pete Hildebrandt?

isabelRC1 karma

No, I haven't... maybe it was a little before my time, I'm not sure. I'm not super active in MAAC. That sounds like an interesting RC career :)

cali-pigeon4 karma

That's rad. Do you have a family? Are they involved in RC? What other kind of work/hobbies do you do? What's next for you w RC?

isabelRC12 karma

I am married, no kids. I met my husband in RC, about a year after I got started. I work for a not-for-profit organization that promotes science to youth in Canada. My other hobbies are beekeeping, stained glass, kayaking and camping. RC wise, I just qualified for Team Canada for the world championship so I'll be preparing for that. I also started to compete in a specific kind of RC glider competition (ALES) and I have a lot to learn about that style of flying!

Int21h-31h1 karma

I work for a not-for-profit organization that promotes science to youth in Canada.

YSC/YSF/whatever they call themselves nowadays?

isabelRC2 karma

It's called Let's Talk Science. We do partner with YSC for science fairs.

Airazz4 karma

Remotely relevant: there's this couple in my local RC club, they met through RC models. He's been racing car models for many years all over the world, while her father is one of the best known RC airplane constructors in the country. So in the end most of their family is in the hobby, which is nice.

At the end of every summer her father hosts a large competition, so for them it's also a family meeting.

isabelRC4 karma

That sounds very fun :) . It's really cool when you can do something you like as a family or as a couple.

Meandmynuts1 karma

Small non RC question. Do you fly real planes? And did your interest start in RC or somewhere else?

isabelRC2 karma

I don't have a pilot's license, I would love to but it's too expensive for me. I have flown a Cessna once and a glider once. Both times I was able to fly them based on my RC skills (but I probably couldn't have landed them without lessons first!). I would say that my interest kind of started with model rocketry when I was a young teenager. But I always (since I was about 6 or 7 and saw an RC event) had my eye on model airplanes.

yourenotserious3 karma

How close is do you control your planes from? Do you watch them on screen or are they always in sight?

Has there ever been a fatality in RC plane racing?

isabelRC7 karma

In my corner of the hobby, they are always in sight. You fly with visual contact. But, flying 'FPV' (first person view) is getting more and more popular. You wear goggles and there is a camera mounted in the cockpit of the ariplane. I haven't tried it yet but I definitely want to! There are so many aspects to this hobby, it's one thing I really like about it.

In general, for my type of flying (IMAC / Scale aerobatics), you are flying at least 100 feet from yourself and you might go as far as 1km (approximately). Overall, some people fly close enough to touch the airplane, and you can go as far as you can still safely see the airplane (more than 1km if it's a big plane). That's really what the limit is. The range of the radio is a larger distance that what you could safely see your airplane at.

I haven't heard of fatalities in RC racing but there might be some. I'm not really into racing, my type of flying is scale aerobatics, which mimics real airplane aerobatics. You are given a set of maneuvers and you try to do them as precisely as possible. I haven't heard of fatalities in my type of flying either. I have heard about a RC airplane accident in Europe and some RC helicopter accidents.

pmpodge3 karma


isabelRC7 karma

Haha, that's the best question! Specifically in terms of aerobatics competition, for me, it's a really good intersection of many of my interests: (1) Mental: precision flying is a really good challenge in concentration. My favorite event is the 'unknown' sequence. They give it to you on Saturday night, and you have to memorize and visualize it (it's a sequence of 10 maneuvers, which have many elements in each figure... like two loops with various rolls and snaps incorporated into them). On Sunday morning, you have to fly it, and the first time you fly it (no practice allowed), you get judged on it. So it really pushes your power of visualization, concentration, memorization and strategy. I love it! (2)Competition: I'm a really competitive person, I like to always be working towards a goal (3)Scientific/engineering: The physics of flight fascinate me and I love understand how things work, building things and making things work (4)Artistic: Aerobatics are like a dance in the air and when I have good flights, I take a lot of pleasure in seeing the figures well executed. Also for the freestyle category, you get to choose your own music and put together a routine which is really challenging and fun.

oberbernou1 karma

How do they enforce the rules of the unknown challenge?

isabelRC1 karma

Do you mean the no-practice rule? Mostly on the honour system, although sometimes they have handed only it a few hours before the actual flight, which makes for a situation where someone couldn't really leave the field to hide and practice out of sight. If it's overnight, I guess someone could hide somewhere and practice (though a lot of people camp at the field and others share hotel rooms). Anyone who is at the field, is not allowed to fly once they open their unknown envelope. Mostly the honour system though. Personally I have found that for myself, if I really get in the right mental zone and I'm really concentrated on my visualization, once I get up and fly, I can feel like I've already flown it and I don't think it would be any advantage if I'd already practiced it on a simulator or at a hidden field a couple of times. Some other people would disagree that that is possible, and I don't feel like I can achieve that everytime, it depends on my mental state. I do suspect it is likely that some people sometimes cheat and practice on a simulator, a few times someone pointed out a competitor who did really well sometimes and really bad other times, which is a little suspicious. But I think it's very few people, and in the long run they don't do well because they probably wouldn't get the opportunity to do that every time. One person I have in mind, who I suspected, also tried increasingly desperate shenanigans and finally effectively dropped out when nothing really worked. You absolutely need consistency to do well, and seizing some opportunities here and there to cheat won't do it (it will be really hollow too... it's not like you are big money, the biggest thing you get is self-satisfaction so it would defeat the purpose...) My thoughts to someone who does it would be: "What's the point, you're missing the most rewarding part of the competition", and to someone who is frustrated that someone might have beat them because they cheated would be: "you have to fly for personal satisfaction of your performance, otherwise you won't last in this hobby". There is always going to be someone who has a bigger plane, better radio, more time to practice or who didn't spend the week before the competition in the workshop.

jayemdee3 karma

Do you & your husband build your models as well as fly them?

isabelRC10 karma

Usually, we either by "ARF" kits which means "Almost ready to fly". That means that you'll need to put in about 10-20h of assembly time (for example, put the rudder hinges on, cut out exhaust holes, install all the electronics and motor, assemble the landing gear) but a lot of the work is already done (like the wings come completely assembled and covered, you just have to put in the mechanism to control the ailerons). For 40% planes, it's hard to find a good ARF kit (in my opinion) so we buy second hand scratch-built airframes (Carden Aircraft). It's a lot cheaper to buy a second hand, already built plane instead of buying a kit and building it yourself (which might take 500h I hear). I work long hours and in my spare time I love to fly - so I don't have too much time for building. Later maybe? My husband has built some from scratch in the past and I think we'd both like to do more, but, right now we like to concentrate our hobby time on actually flying, especially given that we compete.

Feet_Of_Stone3 karma


isabelRC3 karma

No, I never flew a turbine jet. I had one club member offer me to fly his jet but I was too nervous based on the value of the jet, to take him up on his offer. It's a little bit outside of my main RC interests so I'm not sure if I'll ever get into it. I'm sorry you gave up RC, usually there is a way to make it work within your constraints, but if you decided to move on then I hope you founds some other interesting things to try. There is so much to try in life :)

lugubriousjumpsuits2 karma

Super cool, my 72 year old mom just got her Aerobatic ticket for her pilot's lic.

Fun stuff, the competition format sounds like a blast for your R/C stuff.

Do you have interesting in being a pilot? Does interest in R/C aviation in general get people interested in flying full size aircraft?


isabelRC3 karma

I would definitely LOVE to fly 'real' planes, it's just not an option financially right now. Ah, if I could go back in time and tell my younger self to join the air cadets! A lot of RC pilots are interested in becoming 'real' pilots but it's hard to say whether RC got them interested in it, or, whether they just had an interest in aviation overall from the start! Kudos to your mom!!!

kbud2 karma

thanks for the AMA

In your opinion, should the United States (or other countries) be concerned about terrorist attacks by people using long range RC planes?

isabelRC2 karma

It's not on my top list of things I worry about at night ;)

Aruarian_Dance_2 karma

Are you well versed in the physics and mechanics of flight & airplane design? What is the most interesting thing you have learned in relation to flight if so, or how has this knowledge helped you along your hobby?

What is the most intriguing modification you've made to your plane(s) that is perhaps not well known?

isabelRC4 karma

I'm an electrical engineer so it's not like I'm a specialist in the physics of flight, but I do have good physics general knowledge and I learned a lot since I've been involved in RC, so I'll be happy to attempt physics questions :) . I think one of the first and most fundamental things that I learned was what a bunch of baloney Bernouilli's principle is in relation to airplanes (see http://www.grc.nasa.gov/WWW/k-12/airplane/wrong1.html_ for example.

I think understanding physics does help when you are trying to understand RC flying. One example that comes to mind, if your engine quits in the air, you'll get only one chance to land your aircraft. Understanding how potential/kinetic energy transfers work, and how friction/drag can help you lose some energy, helps me when I'm making the approach. Other people might say that they do it intuitively, it's hard to say if in my case, I really think it through based on physics or if in the moment, I just confirm my gut instinct with my physics knowledge. I guess it would be similar to asking, does physics knowledge help you drive? When I'm driving on ice/snow, I think about things like the radius of the turn affecting my centrifugal force, the banking angles of the road, static vs kinetic friction etc but am I really using it to drive or am I just thinking about it? I'm not sure. I think it's similar for flying. But, I think a knowledge of the physics involved in structures has helped me when I had to do repairs and decided where to reinforce stuff.

Another example that is maybe more along the lines of what you are thinking about, would be for gliders. When I first started, soemone told me that when you hit a patch of lift (an air current going upwards), the tail of the airplane bumps upwards (so the nose looks like it dips down), which is counterintuitive. They knew it was the case but they didn't know the reason why. I was able to (roughly) understand it in terms of the CG of the plane being more forward than the center of pressure of the glider. (I'm not sure if center of pressure is the right word). When I fly thermal duration glider, I think about vector fields a lot, too, and I think of it as an optimization problem (in ALES competition you have to land on a specific spot after exactly 10 minutes, no motor allowed, and you need to use thermals to stay up for 10 minutes0.)

In terms of modifications, I guess the biggest modification we have done is to modify the 35% airplane, intended for a 100cc motor, to run on an electric motor. Electric motors aren't typical for that size plane. I'll try to think of a more fun modification to tell you about though :)

Aruarian_Dance_1 karma

Excellent response, thank you. If you're still around, do you play / use RC simulators on the computer?

Best of luck.

isabelRC2 karma

In terms of RC simulators, I have always used RealFlight. Everybody has a different way of using it. For me, I used it a lot initially to get the basics of helis and airplanes (up to flying the Basic sequence let's say). Then I really decreased my usage of it. Sometimes I used it strategically to learn new things (like the 8 point roll for example, or a rolling turn). But I don't practice much with it in the day to day. It's not similar to the real plane enough to be a good precision flying practice tool but it's good enough to master the basics of a new maneuver. Now, I pretty much only use it to construct my freestyle. I mix my freestyle music on the computer and try out combinations of maneuvers at the same time, it takes a lot to get the timing just right and once I can do my whole freestyle on the sim, it doesn't take much to translate it to the real RC plane. My job is also mostly computer-based, so I think it's a factor for me that I am really sick of sitting at the computer and I'd rather head outdoors for some fresh air and real flying.

back_to_werk2 karma


isabelRC2 karma

Well I guess you can think of military drones as RC planes so I guess the answer might be yes (I don't know much about military stuff though). You can definitely have RC dogfights. The most popular version I know of, is to build a really cheap airplane out of Coroplast and junk leftover from other projects, and put a ribbon on it. Then everybody tries to cut off the other people's ribbons by flying into them.

DarkSlaayer2 karma


Come join us!

isabelRC3 karma

I will!

Mandrir2 karma

First of all thanks for doing the AMA, hope I'm not too late. RC flying is such a cool hobby. I used to spend hours with my dad in the hobby store pouring over different rc planes and helicopters. Must be really fun to do it competitively. My question, though, is how often do you crash or wreck your planes? I imagine it's not too often anymore.

isabelRC3 karma

I have crashed 5 planes in 8 years. 3 were big planes and 2 were small planes. First 40% plane, the fuel tank split and the fuel leaked in the fuselage and dissolved all the foam, then the engine stopped (no fuel). Rough deadstick landing and weak fuselage = disintegration 2nd 40% plane, the 3-blade prop sheared off and 'sawed' the fuselage in half in the air. The two halves of the plane fell sickeningly slowly 3rd 40% plane, my radio was forgotten on, and inserted in the carrying case so that the elevator trim was turned all the way down and I didn't realize it. I kept nosing over on take off, so I put on the high rates, took off, didn't understand what was going on (major purpoising), ditched the plane A foam glider that I wasn't able to get out of a very fast dive (I think the tail was distorting when I pulled on the elevator control) A really horrible small plane that I got for free, that I put a junk receiver in and flew even though I realized that the receiver was glitching. Overall my crashes have been kind of evenly spread out (not really decreasing). I didn't go through the initial learning curve the same way as most people do, crashing a lot in the beginning, because I learned on somebody else's primary competition plane, which meant that I stayed on the buddy box for a long time, until I was very proficient. Plus I was very, very conservative given that situation, and if there was any big issue (like a deadstick), I would hand the transmitter back to him. Overall, I'm a very conservative pilot, because the price tag is not worth taking risks.

dawiseguy982 karma

Hello, I've recently gotten into Amature Radio, and I've been reading a lot about pilots of these planes needing licenses (radio, not pilots, haha) to fly these. Are you licensed, or is the frequency/power you fly on outside of that scope?

isabelRC3 karma

No radio license required in general The old style radios are on 72MHz which I believe is specifically for RC aircraft usage. At a club there would have been a system (usually a board and clothespins) to ensure that no two pilots were attempting to use the same frequency at the same time. Now, almost every one uses 2.4GHz frequencies with spread spectrum and/or frequency hopping, in a similar way that other consumer electronics use 2.4GHz. Some people use amateur radio frequencies to control their airplanes, in that case, I believe they need the regular Ham license. But that's pretty rare, I think it would only make sense if somebody was a Ham already and he/she wanted to take advantage of a less busy frequency.

Ride_To_Die2 karma


isabelRC5 karma

I know 'of' Chip Hyde :) for sure. TOC is a great accomplishment, you must be proud of him!

Snowdart2 karma

What's your annual insurance bill?

isabelRC3 karma

RC stuff doesn't fall under regular homeowner's insurance. In Canada, the US and probably other countries, there is usually a national organization that you can subscribe to, that offers group insurance as one of its services. In Canada it's called MAAC and the annual fee I think is around 85$. It covers things like injury or damage to others but it wouldn't cover the plane itself if you crash it.

MeatAndBourbon2 karma

As someone that had done both, ever try helis?

Do you bfly on private property, clubs, some mixture thereof?

I find it difficult to find places to fly. Clubs are a half hour drive at least, and don't like helicopter pilots in my experience. They'll have rules to keep us shut in the corner.

isabelRC5 karma

Actually I got into helis first, then airplanes. I wanted to get into RC ever since I was a kid and saw a funfly. When I finally was able to afford it, I looked into it and discovered that RC helis were an option, and that looked even more interesting! So I started with that first. By the end of the first summer, I started to look into RC heli aerobatics competition and there weren't any in my area. In the process of asking around though, I discovered that there was an active RC airplane aerobatics circuit and that's when I made the switch. A club member (we later started dating & got married eventually) offered to coach me on his plane and I made the transfer to RC airplanes specifically because the competition appealed to me.

I learned at RC clubs, now I fly at a mixture of clubs (especially for events), and places where we have made arrangements with farmers (we live in a rural area). We fly on our property too (smaller planes and electrics). Don't get discouraged! There were some patches of time when we felt we didn't have any where to fly (rules, bad luck, etc) and we always figured out a way. Maybe look into flying over water or snow/ice depending where you live? You might have to stick to smaller aircraft for a while, that you can fly in smaller places... there is always a way, don't give up :)

Pharmchik2 karma

I think you would be my daughter's hero. She is 8 and has asked for a remote control helicopter for the last two years for Christmas and birthdays. We'd like to get her one for Christmas this year. Not a cheap one, but obviously nothing like you would fly. Do you have any suggestions?

isabelRC4 karma

Awesome :) . I'll tell you of two options and why I would consider them, and you'd have to pick based on her personality and aptitude I think. The first option is a co-ax helicopter, the Blade CX2 RTF. Co-ax means it has two sets of blades rotating in opposite directions. This makes that helicopter very stable (i.e. it doesn't tend to tip over, and it tends to self-correct more than others). So it's easier to fly, but at the same time it's more limited, i.e. it will never do anything close to aerobatics and it might be mastered very easily. The second option would be a fixed pitch helicopter like the Blade MSR. That one is more agile, but harder to master. It might be discouraging for some kids, but if she is tenacious and not easily discouraged, it might be a good choice as it had more possibility for doing fun stuff with it. I have the Blade MSR and I have had a lot of fun with it indoors, I don't have the Blade CX though. I think it's worth getting a hobby grade helicopter like the Blade ones, as opposed to a random toy one, which might or might not work. Hobby grade helis have replaceable parts. The blade MSR is pretty robust.

spyinbabylon2 karma


isabelRC3 karma

The Micro CX2 recommendation sounds good.

101Alexander1 karma

How exactly do you fly the RC plane when its so far away from you?

isabelRC2 karma

It's a pretty big plane (40% scale so about 8 feet wingspan) so I can see it pretty far. How well you can see it is definitely the limiting factor in terms of how far you can go. When you are flying it, you also kind of mentally keep track of what it's doing... someone who is not flying it might find it harder to know what's going on (upside down or upright for example?) than the person at the controls.

101Alexander1 karma

Well I guess a follow up to that question would be, how would you tell its angle of attack as not to stall it out? Do you judge the airspeed by eye? It sounds like as long as you keep good situation awareness of the plane its not as hard as it appears.

isabelRC2 karma

That's a good point. When it's far, I definitely wouldn't play around with the stall point. Close by, some hints to determine if it's close to stalling would be the airspeed and attitude. That's tricky because the wind speed and direction (headwind vs tailwind) will affect the speed at which it will stall. If you are actively controlling the airplane while all this is happening (like landing it for example, as opposed to just hanging in the air), you'll perceive that it's starting to respond differently to inputs (in particular, the elevator input). Overall, I think it's most important to train yourself to get out of a stall because it will sometimes happen when you don't want it to happen. One of the first exercises I did was to put the plane up high in the air, put the engine at idle, and let it stall, recover, stall, recover etc until it was almost at ground level, all the while using aileron and rudder to keep the wings levels and the nose pointed into the wind, and elevator only to recover. It was a really good exercise in terms of developing an instinct for when it's going to stall, and knowing how to calmly recover. Oh and there was freezing rain that day so the airplane kept getting heavier and heavier and stalling more and more easily ;)

101Alexander1 karma

Holy crap, when you mentioned flying into freezing rain...I fly little Cessnas and the way I learned was simply avoid it and understand how quickly things like freezing rain can ruin your day, but there's hardly ever going to be a practical demonstration of it in the plane (illegal to fly into known icing on those little guys). It seems like you get to toy around with things I can't. Do you ever get anxious about losing the plane? Flat spin?

It really seems like a different world flying from the outside of a plane (40% scale is still pretty freaking big) than flying from the inside.

isabelRC2 karma

To be perfectly honest, I was very inexperienced when I flew in the freezing rain, and I didn't totally understand what was going on until I landed and saw the 1/4 inch of ice on the wings ;). I wouldn't do that again. Do I ever get anxious about losing the plane - I guess the most common way it happens is on a deadstick landing (for example if you run out of fuel for some reason), or if something mechanically wrong happens and I don't understand right away what's going on. The worse anxiety I get is if I think that a glitch happened, and I can't really determine what the cause was, or if it's going to happen again. But with aerobatic planes, I've never been in an unrecoverable stall or spin or anything like that.

JustLetMeComment1 karma

Wow, I never though R/C would hit the main page of Reddit! I'm more of a car/truck guy myself, but still cool to see. What's your favorite land R/C?

isabelRC1 karma

I race Tamiya Mini 2WD. I just got into it about a year ago. It's really fun. I'd like to try the F1s too. I think my passion will remain with RC air stuff, especially aerobatics, but I like the rush and adrenaline of car racing.

Prior to that I raced Mini-Z cars (F1 and regular). We have a track in our basement. My hubby used to have a bunch of friends who would come race, before we met. Then a sewer back up ruined the track and the gang 'disbanded'. Then we met. Then I discovered a rubbermaid full of RC cars in the basement. So the logical next step was to start racing against each other and resurrect the track. Later on we 'graduated' to Tamiya Minis.

barjam1 karma

What do you think it would take to get more females involved in RCs? I have not once seen a female at the RC field (heli or plane) unless they were just hanging out.

isabelRC6 karma

That's a question I get asked a lot and I'm never sure how to answer. It's hard for me because I just fell into it naturally and I never really questioned the gender aspect of it until I was in it and realized how few women there were. I think in terms of hobbies, it's not like it's absolutely crucial to get people into it, it's just for fun. So it's just nice for everyone to feel like this is an option. Therefore I think it comes down to exposing people (whether male or female) to it and making them feel like it's an option for them that they'd be welcome to try. I'm sure parents have a big role in this and if they expose their kids to a spectrum of options, regardless of traditional gender roles, and let the kids decide what they like, it will be a big step. I think this has changed somewhat and will continue to change, with generations. I know that is what my parents did and as a result, I have both what might be considered as traditional and non-traditional interests for my gender (crafts, knitting, crochet, cooking on one hand; RC, engineering, car maintenance on the other) and I never felt like gender constrained me. The only obstacles for me in RC were feeling like maybe I was intruding on the 'boys club / 'guy time'' at the club (once I started going, I never felt that way but before I started going I was slightly worried about it), and very, very few instances in sexist remarks (I absolutely want to emphasize that those were always the exception rather than the rule, and I think it's definitely a case of rude people will always find something to use to get to you, and it wasn't fundamentally about gender).

So I think that, fundamentally, it's about exposing young girls to a wide variety of hobbies, and then making sure that girls who want to try it are welcomed and feel like they are being treated like any guy would.

In my case, I know that my father absolutely played a role in exposing me to traditionally male hobbies and interest and I picked up a lot of them from him. He never pushed it but he exposed my brother and myself to all kinds of stuff in an open ended way... we could pursue it to the depth we wanted to and it was very much kid-led and parent-supported.

barjam1 karma

Oh sure not crucial just more fun when there is a good mix of genders on any activity.

That is interesting that you felt like you were intruding (a bit anyhow). Any of the clubs I have been a part of probably would have welcomed any females (anyone really) hanging out. They seemed to have a pretty decent wife (and kids) presence already and everyone was super friendly to my wife.

Getting my two kids (boy/girl) interested has proven impossible for me. My dad never had any luck getting me interested in his hobbies so perhaps that is life paying me back :)

Thanks for the response.

isabelRC1 karma

I know that a lot of parents feel like their own kids get saturated by their exposure to the hobby and they don't think it's 'special', therefore, they don't want to try it. But all the other kids on the street want to try it ;).

As I mentioned, once I started going to the club, I didn't really feel like I was intruding, it was more a worry that I had, before I actually tried it. The clubs I attended were always welcoming and in general were very happy to have a girl participate, and had a similar attitude of 'how can we get more girls interested'. Having attended a variety of clubs, I can say that it varies a lot in terms of how family-oriented they are. Some have loads of families hanging around, swing sets / sandboxes, ladies socializing together, bbqs, etc, and some seem more like 'older retired men hanging out' clubs. They are all fun to me, I am there to fly :)

amalied881 karma

I have always thought it looks like fun. Also RC cars when I was younger. But I often get a lot of flak from others when I mention it so all I have done is buying a kids RC car when I was younger and one of those mini rc choppers a couple of years ago. Which I play with in the living room when I am home alone.

So my point is that many who might like it stay away because of peer pressure. I guess it's the same problem as a guy who would like to sew needlepoint might feel.

isabelRC2 karma

I would really encourage you to try it. I have had overwhelmingly positive support in the RC community. A good first step is to look up a club near you and show up there, say that you are interested in getting started and see what the response is. Or call up an instructor (listed on club websites) for a little chat. As soon as I connected with my instructor, I knew it was going to work. If you like, PM me just in case I know someone near you who could help you out.

HisHolinessIsHere1 karma


isabelRC1 karma

Somebody asked the same question which is a good one, here is what I said: "Haha, that's the best question! Specifically in terms of aerobatics competition, for me, it's a really good intersection of many of my interests: (1) Mental: precision flying is a really good challenge in concentration. My favorite event is the 'unknown' sequence. They give it to you on Saturday night, and you have to memorize and visualize it (it's a sequence of 10 maneuvers, which have many elements in each figure... like two loops with various rolls and snaps incorporated into them). On Sunday morning, you have to fly it, and the first time you fly it (no practice allowed), you get judged on it. So it really pushes your power of visualization, concentration, memorization and strategy. I love it! (2)Competition: I'm a really competitive person, I like to always be working towards a goal (3)Scientific/engineering: The physics of flight fascinate me and I love understand how things work, building things and making things work (4)Artistic: Aerobatics are like a dance in the air and when I have good flights, I take a lot of pleasure in seeing the figures well executed. Also for the freestyle category, you get to choose your own music and put together a routine which is really challenging and fun."

tophmctoph1 karma

Are you licensed to fly a full scale plane? If no, do you think youre skills could transfer in any way?

isabelRC3 karma

Nope I'm not. I would love to and have looked into it, what is holding me back is the costs involved. I know for sure that my skills would transfer over. I answered this in more detail in another question, but I flew a real plane twice (a glider and a Cessna) and both times I could fly it fine just based on my RC skills, but I wouldn't have been able to land it or take off. The controls are the same, orientation is easier in a real plane, but RC doesn't prepare you to understand the instrumentation of a real plane.

tophmctoph1 karma

I can understand that. I was thinking in a movie/tv plot line epicness of you are on a flight and the pilot goes down and its up to you to save everyone! I figured the instrumentation would be foreign but the real test would be landing it.

isabelRC3 karma

Haha I definitely wouldn't volunteer first, but if there weren't any 'real' pilots on board, an RC pilot would probably be the next best choice? Or that might be a 'Flight of the Phoenix' inspired fantasy.

giggsy6641 karma

Could your RC planes actually carry a person?

isabelRC3 karma

My airplanes no, they don't have enough space in them and they are not solid enough to support the weight (maybe a baby??? not gonna try it). I am not sure if they have enough power, they might but I would have to bet no. I am sure it would be possible to build one that could and maybe people have already done it, I am not sure.

Gwuc1 karma

Have you ever been RC flying and just happened to see an ex, kinda angle it into a nose dive on him and think to your self "it's worth the plane."

isabelRC2 karma

Hehe! Nope. I think it would be hard to achieve that, too. Talk about ultimate spot landing.

mman15061 karma

Have you had any "close calls" or injuries? I cut my finger open on a multirotor prop after the receiver malfunctioned :(.

BTW, my ex GF enjoyed RC too! I could never convince her to fly though.

isabelRC1 karma

In terms of 'injuries', I did hit myself in the thigh with a small heli (flying in a small apartment, not a good idea too much turbulence off the walls and ceiling) which left a solid bruise and taught me to respect helis. That's about it. It wasn't really a big deal but it definitely made me think about what would have happened if it had been in my face or eye... I have seen several people injure their fingers in the propeller; we have one friend who badly injured his hand that way, to the point of having permanent limitations with that hand. We've had some LiPo explosions due to a malfunctioning charger. Since that happened, I always charge inside an ammo box and I store my lipos in an ammo box too.

Osiris621 karma

Recent RC enthusiast here. Dabbling in a bit of pattern. I wish there were more women in the sport. Best of luck to you.

isabelRC3 karma

Thanks! Good luck to you too! RC is really fun, take it at your own pace and find which part of the hobby is the most rewarding to you. I haven't tried pattern yet but it has a lot of similarity to IMAC, which is what I fly. It just happened that IMAC is more active in my area than pattern, that's why I picked it.

PIE-3141 karma

Thank you for this AMA! If I may ask, What's your favorite plank? I saw that you mentioned Cardens which are very beautiful models. Thank you for your support in the hobby and good luck to you looking forward!

isabelRC2 karma

I really enjoy Carden Extras (260, 300 or 330), 40% scale. I would love to get a 43% but I can't right now, budget wise. They have really good characteristics and built right, they can be very rugged which works for me since we tend to fly whatever we have until it disintegrates! Right now my dream plane is a high performance glider (like an Aspire maybe), but I need to save up for a while (or find a second hand one).

Nulubez1 karma

Spektrum or Futaba? Favourite fuel? Any tips/tricks on honing in slow speed idle?

also, hard to read that title without thinking of the other AMA (i let mine expire a couple years ago when i got out o the hobby)

isabelRC3 karma

I fly Futaba, as full disclosure, I'm a Futaba sponsored pilot. I fly the 18MZ radio.

In terms of fuel, all my engines are gas engines (gasoline), I actually don't have much experience with nitro which I think is probably what you are referring to. For the slow idle... I always use a low idle switch, i.e. my idle in flight is higher and then when I want to land, I flip a switch which allows for a lower idle (low enough so that the engine will die if I don't bump the throttle up every few seconds). Other than that it's all about tuning and that takes a lot of trial and error, I can't really think of any other way... tune it in one direction until it doesn't work anymore, then the other direction until it also starts to deteriorate, then settle for the happy medium. It's one thing I really like about the DA 150, it idles reliably at a very slow RPM.

RCHeliDad1 karma

Do you use expo? How much?

Pinch or thumb?

isabelRC3 karma

I do use expo most of the time. For precision flying, I usually use, on average, around 45-55% on the ailerons, 50% on the elevator, 50% on the rudder. I also use a lot of different 'dual' rates and conditions which in some ways can replace exponentials. I have 12 different sets of rates that I use in a flight (upline, downline, spin, hammerhead, upline/downline/horizontal positive/negative snaps), rolling turn, normal flight. That would seem like a lot to a sport flyer but for precision aerobatics it really helps. To large extent these conditions/rates are triggered by stick positions so it's not like I am working 12 switches at a time. I think the % doesn't mean much from airplane to airplane, it also depends on the rates you are using, conditions, etc, so it's more important to understand how to set it up than what someone else's number is. I can expand if you want :) I put a

Thumb, definitely. I'm 100% a Nintendo kid.

RCHeliDad1 karma

I am not surprised to see a complex answer for the expo question. I am surprised, however, to see you are a thumb flyer. I thumb.... And grew up playing Nintendo! =D

You said earlier you started on a helicopter. Which one? Why did you get into pattern? Have you tried a flybarless heli?

isabelRC1 karma

I started with a Hirobo Sceadu 30, I still have it. Later I got a Blade CP and a Blade MSR. I haven't tried a large flybarless heli, maybe some day. Right now I'm not spending more money on helis. I feel like the thumbs vs pinch debate is kind of blowing over. I really don't think thumb flying is limiting. That`s my opinion. I have also read that younger people who have grown up with Nintendo and cell phones have more developed dexterity in their thumbs, I don't know if that's a factor. I got into scale aerobatics (slightly different than pattern) because I was looking for something competitive. I really like having a goal to work towards. For me, the 5 levels of competitive classes of IMAC was a structure that really helped me gain proficiency year after year, and measure my progress. That was really positive and helped sustain my interest and my drive to go and fly and try new things and perfect them.

RCHeliDad1 karma

I thought pattern and scale aerobatics were, more or less, the same.... My bad. How are they different?

I want something 50cc or larger. I work just down the street from Aeroworks and am always tempted to just go get something and put it together. But, in the kids VS hobby fight for time I bet you can imagine who typically wins.

isabelRC1 karma

They are very similar! Pattern: I think there is a size restriction, but the airplane doesn't have to be a scale airplane. So you end up with really aerodynamic, dart-looking planes. I think the maneuvers could potentially be anything the pattern people dream up. Scale Aerobatics/ IMAC: No size restriction (except local laws and governing body restrictions I guess), and the airplane has to be a scale (scale-ish) replica of a real aerobatic plane, like an extra, edge, yak, etc. So you end up with giant planes (35%, 40%, 43% scale... I'm sure it will keep getting bigger...) that look realistic. The maneuvers are all based on the same maneuvers that real aerobatic planes fly in competitions. The idea is to mimic the real stuff. In IMAC, you also have a special 'unknown' round which is one of my favorite parts. I explain it elsewhere but they are 10 surprise maneuvers handed out at the contest, that you are not allowed to practice and are judged on the first time you attempt them. That doesn't exist in pattern. There are also some small rule differences. Aeroworks makes really great planes. I have had several 35% extra 260 ARFs made by them, one of them I currently fly as an electric conversion. They fly really well and last a long time. We had one one which we put at least 5000 flights on it before getting a fuselage failure.

Deathracer20001 karma

Hi! I'm one of the volunteers at Joe Nall. Were you at Triple Tree last year with Juan Pablo Montoya? I honestly don't think anyone recognized him with all the Team Futaba gear on (At least I think it was TF gear). Stop by the registration tent next time you're here :)

isabelRC2 karma

No I wasn't! Maybe some day. It would be a big trip for me since I am in Canada but it's definitely something I think about!

datbino1 karma

when i was younger, arf's and rtf's were a 'new' idea and it was a very very expensive hobby to even try.

how has this changed in the past 10 years? i see r/c planes for 45 dollars at radio shack which arent on the level you are at, but has the hobby grown

isabelRC2 karma

I think the hobby is changing and probably as part of it, it's growing. There might be less people who are learning and flying in the traditional settings (RC clubs), I am not sure, but there are definitely more people picking up the cheaper stuff at non-specialty stores and trying it or flying on their own. It's definitely a trend that the industry and governing bodies need to keep an eye on if they want to stay relevant.

InfernoAcid1 karma

Cool! Those are some big engines youre flying. I used to fly RC too, but my biggest engine is actually a 1cc methanol engine. I mainly flew RC gliders for five years. Then i quit about six years ago.

Last year I decided to look back into the hobby since I missed it. Prices of brushless engines and battery packs have gone down significantly, which was great to see. But the thing I noticed most was that everyone was flying ARF or foam airplanes now. Back when I started out everyone was still building their whole plane, and at most got lasercut parts.

I kind of feel sad about that. It used to be about DIY. Now it looks like it's about getting a toy and flying it asap. How do you feel about this yourself? Any tips for me as a sailplane lover on what to look for? Thanks!

isabelRC1 karma

I think there is still a little bit for everyone and if you look online, you will find the kits you are looking for (as opposed to at the fields... maybe people have less 'time' now to build? or are more into instant gratification? I know that I am totally guilty of prioritizing flying over building). I also think I would be really heartbroken if I built something lovingly from scratch and then crashed it :( Carden Aircraft makes beautiful kits and if you look up build threads for them. I am sure you will be gratified. For sailplanes I am not much of an expert. I would suggest looking up sailplane events near you and going there and asking questions, seeing what is being flown. I can ask some friends though. What kind of soaring are you interested in? thermal duration, powered, winch, etc?

InfernoAcid1 karma

Thanks for the tip! Mostly powered. Im from the netherlands myself. The RC clubs are way less developed here like in Germany or the US. You usually only see turbine or 150cc engines in germany. And most fields arent big enough for a proper Winch or rubber band. Also no Mountains or hills for soaring here either.

So thats why its down to powered soaring with the occasional thermal bubble if youre lucky.

isabelRC1 karma

If you are looking to get your feet wet, the Radian Pro is very affordable and surprisingly good (it's a foamie though).

InfernoAcid1 karma

I'd rather go wood than foamie! I was thinking of building a large F3 based glider and getting a nice brushless engine in the nose.. If thats possible, but it might be too cramped in a fuselage like that. But it might be better for me to start out with something like the Radian so that I'll get my flying skills back up again.

isabelRC1 karma

I'm not that knowledgeable about gliders yet, but I had a chance to try the Aspire and the Gracia and both were really nice planes to fly, and very popular in ALES competitions. They were both powered and both are ARFs. I know there are kits out there but I don't know enough to make a recommenations.

James2711 karma

Hi. Great ama. I've often wondered if it's possible to fly a RC plane or something similar over my city or some roads in my area (in the UK) WITH a camera attached which I can view on a screen in real time.

Anything out there like this or possible? Assuming money is of no concern. I'm not rich I just don't want you to be limited in your answer. Thanks!

isabelRC2 karma

Technically it's possible, if you look on youtube you will some videos that people have made. Search for FPV (first person view). I don't think it has to be too too expensive (some expense but you wouldn't have to be super rich). Personally I would just urge you to think about the safety side of things.

ctchuck1 karma

On the manned fixed wing side, we have been talking about the legality of flying for hire with UAS. Do you have to deal with the FAA much?

isabelRC1 karma

Well I'm in Canada so the equivalent for us is Transport Canada. There are some clubs that are relatively close to major airports, that have to keep in touch. I know there was so talk of getting those clubs on the official maps and that when there are events, they let the airport know and they keep in touch by radio. I am not sure what might be happening in terms of the respective organizations talking to each other.

ctchuck1 karma

Thanks for the reply! Missed the Canadian part. Here in the states it seems we are expecting a ton UAS in the air. Curious how it will all mesh. Thanks for the AMA.

isabelRC1 karma

I'm curious too and I wonder how it will impact the controls imposed on RC pilots in general. I am sometime surprised at the flexibility we enjoy.

Fotoshep1 karma


isabelRC2 karma

I agree with almost everything you say and I share your enthusiasm. With RC airplanes and before that with model rockets, I learned a lot about materials, types of wood, glues, fasteners etc and building techniques. It's also a chance to do some practical applications of electronics. And there is a true wonderment when your creation takes flight. I'm not sure how to interpret your last couple of sentences, but one thing I learned that surprised me, is that almost anything will fly, it's not as mysterious as the Bernouilli principle makes it sound, you don't need a complicated airfoil or even any airfoil at all. (But it won't necessarily fly well ;))

BukONine1 karma

got any performance videos?

isabelRC1 karma

I am kind of hesitating to post this link of a video someone put up but here it is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aRNNIINoqgE . The freestyle starts around 0:50. The reason I'm hesitating to post it is because the airplane is so tiny in the frame so you can't really tell a lot of the details that are going on (for example, when the song 'What it love' starts, the airplane moves to the beat but you can't really tell in the video). Oh and the landing sucks, haha. I don't have any better videos online, there are others but the airplane is always tiny in the frame. I have some on my computer that I will try to put up eventually.

Gkg141 karma

That looks like such a fun hobby! How'd you get into it?

isabelRC1 karma

When I was about 6 or 7 years old, I went to a funfly event (an event where a lot of people fly RC airplanes) to see a friend of the family fly. I thought it was SO cool and from that point on I knew I wanted to try it. I was forever trying to get my dad into it so I could try it too but it didn't work. So when I got to my 20s and started to have a bit of financial independence I looked into it more seriously. Twice, with a couple years in between, I went to a hobby shop to buy beginner equipment (the first time it was for an airplane; the second time for a heli) and both times I got completely put off by the experience, so I walked out with nothing. After my second such experience, I did a web search for a club near where I lived, called up an instructor, and got incredible support that enabled me to get started. He told me exactly what to buy (I bought it all online), helped me find second hand stuff, inspected my heli once I'd put it together, and then taught me to fly (all for free!). After one full summer, I got into RC airplanes as well due to my interest in competitive aerobatics. That part was easy because I was already part of a club.

davidzilla123451 karma


isabelRC1 karma

The first part of your story, is actually a really common story in the RC community. Except that in most cases, people take the plane out by themselves and crash it themselves. It's not a very forgiving hobby in that way. It's up to you to decide if you want to fly your new plane or not. If you do, get it checked out and go on a buddy box at a club (make sure to ask around to be certain that the person who takes you up is well qualified!). In those circumstances, there is a smaller chance that things will go wrong. But whenever you take up a plane, you have to be okay with the idea it might be the last time. That's a reality...

harborhound1 karma

What are the range of these? I'd be scared to lose signal and crash. Also how much can they carry?

isabelRC1 karma

The range of the radio signal could be something like 5km but of course, you can't see your plane properly if you go that far, so you are limited by your vision. In my case I know I have flown 1km out (it's a big plane). In terms of weight, it would really depend on the airplane so it's a really hard question to answer. My competition airplane weighs 40lbs, It could carry more than that but it's not made for lift. There are some competitions specifically about designing airplanes for heavy lifting: http://students.sae.org/cds/aerodesign/ .

mustnotfapatwork1 karma

Very cool! I've always wondered - what are the rules for flying these RC planes? I mean a 40% model is pretty big, so do you have to inform any authorities, air controllers etc. before flying? Or could you just suddenly decide "I want to go flying" and then go ahead and do it right away?

isabelRC2 karma

There aren't really any rules imposed by the FAA, Transport Canada or anything like that, that I know. I think it may be capped by a certain weight limit and/or altitude, depending on the country, but I'm not sure. However most of us adhere to a governing body in our country. For example in Canada that would be MAAC; in the US it would be the AMA. Those organizations offer insurance and have rules such as a weight limit; specific guidelines about how a club/RC field should be laid out; specific rules about flying FPV (first person view). Most of the time we fly at fields approved by MAAC or events held elsewhere but approved by MAAC (like an airport shut down for a day for example).

quantumaviator1 karma

This is such an awesome AMA! I have been involved with r/c planes and heli's since I was little. Aviation has always been my biggest passion. I always wondered how someone got to be a professional and get sponsors and stuff. My question(s) is how did you end up being sponsored and making it to where you are today in the sport. AND do you use any of the r/c simulation software available? I have the phoenix r/c software and it is extremely realistic to flying an actual r/c plane and heli. So do you use the software to train in your downtime? Thanks for doing such an awesome AMA!

isabelRC1 karma

Getting sponsored takes patience; it won't happen right away. It takes some time for your name to get out there and to earn your stripes so to speak :) From my experience, sponsors aren't just looking for the best thumb skills, though it doesn't hurt. Some of them do want people who can give a good 'show' at big or local events, but for others, the priority is more about having personable/approachable people who go to a lot of events, who can answer questions about products and represent the company/brand in a positive light. Most, I would say, aren't looking for 'fanboys' or salespeople, more for an approachable 'real' person that people can ask questions to at the field. Online presence can also be important - someone who will be on the forums and answer technical questions and offer suggestions, in a positive way. There are usually requirements in terms of filing reports etc. For me, after 3 years of heavy competing I got my first sponsor, and then I slowly added more sponsors. I didn't take all the sponsorships that I was approached about, I felt that it was important that the ones I did take were brands that I really liked and used, and was happy to represent, for example if they are really trying to do something good for the hobby. Usually you can apply for sponsorship through the company websites or, even better, approach someone who is already sponsored by that company and ask them to submit your file. I always wrote up a resume and cover letter just like I was applying for a job. In terms of making it where I am, well, it was basically just a lot of stick time (the first few years I was putting in many thousand flights a summer), soaking in all advice I could get (competing in judged disciplines really helps with that), and being disciplined about my flying. If I tried a new maneuver, I might fly it 500 times in a row until I was happy with it. Whole flights of the same maneuver, over and over again. That could sound boring but for me it was very interesting to get to that level of detail in the maneuvers. It's important to seek advice, even if you don't agree with it at least consider it. Also I took it one step at a time. I spent one full year in each level of IMAC before moving up, I think other people might have moved up faster but I think it's important to master each step so that you have a solid foundation. In terms of RC simulators, I have always used RealFlight. Everybody has a different way of using it. For me, I used it a lot initially to get the basics of helis and airplanes (up to flying the Basic sequence let's say). Then I really decreased my usage of it. Sometimes I used it strategically to learn new things (like the 8 point roll for example, or a rolling turn). But I don't practice much with it in the day to day. It's not similar enough to be a good precision tool but it's good enough to master the basics of a new maneuver. Now, I pretty much only use it to construct my freestyle. I mix my freestyle music on the computer and try out combinations of maneuvers at the same time, it takes a lot to get the timing just right and once I can do my whole freestyle on the sim, it doesn't take much to translate it to the real RC plane. I love your enthusiasm :) don't hesitate if you have other questions, and good luck with your RC endeavours!

quantumaviator1 karma

WOW! Thank you for the awesome reply, it really does mean alot :) You mentioned that you have a plane you use, that was converted to electric. what do you prefer electric or gas? What are some of the advantages and disadvantages between gas and electric? I've never owned a gas r/c plane as it seems messy and more complicated then electric. All though i'm sure you can have longer flight times with gas than electric. Oh and I just purchased a sail plane that came with the hi-start bungie! Never used the hi-start before, but when I did, man that thing was awesome! Speaking of which, do you prefer to "hunt" for thermals on level ground with a glider, or would you rather do slope soaring?

isabelRC1 karma

So there are three types of motor/engines... electric, nitro, and gas. Nitro is a fuel specific for rc. I don't use nitro anymore. Here are my thoughts... Nitro: expensive per gallon, you have to buy it at RC stores, might be okay for small engines, the gear you need to get it started is kind of a pain: glow plug, glow plug igniter, engine starter, batteries etc. Your plane/heli gets all slimy and you have to clean it with Windex. General opinion is that we will see less and less of it now that electrics are affordable. Gasoline: typically for bigger planes (50cc and up i.e. 28% scale and up). You buy gas at the gas station and add oil (like a edge trimmer kind of). It's the cheapest way to go for big planes or people who fly a lot. Disadvantages: stinky (your car, your clothes, your house will stink). Gas engines can be loud so you might get in trouble for that. You usually would hand start the prop and that could seem a little dangerous. Electric: more and more affordable and easy to get started. Connect the batteries & turn on and that's it... no tuning to do and no special start up procedure. Very quiet motors, so no neighbor worries. Disadvantages: it can get expensive for big planes (50cc size and up), that's why there are not many big electric planes. That's due to the cost of batteries. Potential for the motor starting unexpectedly from a rest position. Shorter flight times for big planes. The other disadvantage is that LiPo batteries are kind of explosive. If you short circuit them, or something malfunctions, they pretty much vaporize the air around them. So there's a potential for injury and destruction. I'm nervous about it, I keep mine in ammo boxes. But overall I think electric will win in the long run! Hopefully more stable batteries are put on the market and prices go down. Anyways for small planes I think it's the way to go, and for big planes, gas is the cheap option for now. In our case we converted to electric mostly because some of the places we fly at, are not very noise-friendly. As a bonus, the setup we have is WAY more powerful than the gas equivalent, and, I'm starting to like the simplicity (not tuning, no flipping the prop). Regarding gliders, where I live unfortunately there aren't really any good cliffs. I got to try slope soaring for the first time on vacation in Cape Cod this summer, it was really fun! But I think I prefer hunting for thermals, the challenge is greater. With slope soaring, it just seemed like you could fly forever (we did a few flights of several hours, basically until we got tired), which is cool in a way but not very challenging. I like thermaling because it seems like you are playing 'chicken' with gravity. Also I have really enjoyed learning to 'read' the landscape and the subtle signs of thermals popping up... birds, puffs of wind, flags changing directions, cloud shapes, leaf rustles... I really like that aspect. Have fun with your hi-start bungee! I never tried that but I saw one once and it looked really interesting!

baseshark1 karma

What kinds of engines do you guys use?

isabelRC1 karma

In terms of gas engines, Desert Aircraft (especially the DA 150 for my 40% airplane). They work with normal gasoline mixed with oil and they are made especially for RC airplanes (Sorry I can't tell if you are an RC guy or not so I'm answering on both levels ;). They are 2 cylinder, 2 stroke engines. I also have a 35% plane which was converted to electric. That one uses a Plettenburg Predator 30-8 electric motor, with 14S2P 5000 mAh lithium polymer batteries (which makes for a really big battery pack!). I don't use any nitro engines right now.

schmults1 karma

Congrats on the nationals win, what's your Freestyle/sequence machine? I've got a Comp-Arf 3M extra 330 powered by DA 150 and a 2.6m yak. I love Carden and Dalton but I'm a sucker for C-Arf. It's nice to a see fellow giant scale pilot on here.

Obligatory smoke pic http://rcmb.org/2011_Rededication/Publish/rcmb52111014.jpg

isabelRC1 karma

I fly a Carden 40% Extra 330 on a DA 150 for IMAC flying and sometimes for freestyle too, if I can only bring one plane. I also fly a Aeroworks Extra 260 electric conversion on a Plettenburg Predator 30-8. We haul around all our planes in out Toyota Matrix, we don't have a trailer or a mini van, so that's why sometimes I only bring one plane. It's really tough to fit both planes in (it can be done but it's a major pain and generates a lot of hangar rash) But I prefer the 35% electric for freestyle. Wishing you blue skies and calm air!

isabelRC1 karma

P.S. I love the paint scheme on your plane :) Simple but classic.

onnoj8170 karma

150cc? Those are the hardest races in Mario Kart! So, now I have to ask what your favorite Mario kart track is?

EDIT: actually, if you are going to answer anything for me, what type of motors do you use? Who manufactures them?

isabelRC2 karma

I had a lot of fun playing Mario Kart and I don't underestimate the contribution of early Nintendo-playing to my RC skills :) But sadly I don't remember which track was my favorite. I didn't own that game so I didn't play it that much.

I fly Desert Aircraft engines. I like them because they are very reliable and robust (especially the 150cc). They are made especially for RC aircraft. I also have a smaller plane which is is 35%, and we have converted it to use an electric motor. That one is a Plettenburg Predator. It's a repalcement for a 100cc engine but I find it much more powerful. I love it!

wyefye-2 karma

how is being a woman relevant, here?
you do what you like to do. sex shouldn't be relevant, you clearly know what you're doing, don't muddy the water with your "womanhood".

isabelRC1 karma

Answered a couple times elsewhere in this AMA.

leaverageshitposter-2 karma

Why did you feel the need to disclose your gender in the title? Not trying to incite anything, I'm just curious. Thanks!

isabelRC1 karma

That's been covered in another question ;) . Long story short, I only mentioned it because it's an unusual combination (girls & RC) and people sometimes have questions related to that. But I don't think it's 'special'.

RepostFrom4chan-5 karma

Pilot. Sure..

isabelRC1 karma

Hehe, I agree but being in the hobby, I have picked up the terminology despite myself ;)

RepostFrom4chan1 karma

Stick with the RC stuff for a hobby is probably the smart move. I can't imagine it being anywhere close to as expensive as the real thing is.

isabelRC1 karma

I think you are right about that.

TwoThreeSkidoo-6 karma

That's a lot of rich white people. Reminds me of a yacht club.

isabelRC2 karma

There is definitely a cost barrier to it and I know that a lot of people wouldn't be able to do it. I'd like to add that if you want to get started in the hobby, a couple hundred dollars will do it. The competitive stuff gets more expensive if you want to be able to compete at the highest level so there is definitely more of a hurdle there. In our case, we are lucky to have some 'hobby money' but it definitely meant cutting elsewhere and doing it as cheaply as we could. I know we are very lucky to be doing it though.

Timmk85-7 karma

Why do you feel you need to specify that you're female?

isabelRC1 karma

Answered in other questions :)

JamieLowery-10 karma

Why was it necessary to highlight the fact you're a "woman" remote control air plane pilot? I'd be just as impressed if it were a guy, seeing the fact you highlighted the "woman" actively actively aggrevating me against you, just as someone saying they were a "male" rc airplane pilot would aggravate me?

isabelRC15 karma

I mentioned because in my day-to-day experience, a lot of people ask me questions about why there aren't many girls in RC, what it's like competing as a female in that hobby, etc, so I know that there is interest in that point of view. I don't think my achievements are more worthy because I'm a woman but I think it's a different aspect of the topic that people might have questions about. I understand your point of view though :) I myself made peace with seeing people sometime more interested in that aspect of things than my skills themselves.