New Pilot Orientation
Written: July 20, 2013 (www.snhflyingeagles.org)
Updated: October 5, 2013
Welcome to the Southern New Hampshire Flying Eagles RC Club (“Flying Eagles”). This article was written to help orient new members. We hope it helps your enjoyment of our great hobby and club. Be safe, and have fun!
Membership: Joining the club requires that you first join the AMA - “Academy of Model Aeronautics” (www.modelaircraft.org). Our club is a chartered AMA club (charter# 2417) which provides us liability insurance and other membership benefits. All people wishing to join our club, or even just fly at our field must produce a valid AMA membership card. The AMA membership is inexpensive, and recently made free to people under 18! You’ll also get the monthly magazine “Model Aviation” as part of your AMA membership. You do NOT need to wait for your AMA card to arrive in the mail, simply print out the receipt when you pay your AMA membership dues, and include it with your Flying Eagles application. You will need to supply proof of insurance to the club treasurer before a membership can be issued to you however.
The Gate: The gate should be locked whenever there are no members at the field. The combination is available to any member. Please see an officer to obtain the combination.
The Container: That large grey shipping container located at the north end of our parking lot is commonly called “the container”. It houses our mower, maintenance equipment, flight equipment, glow fuel for purchase, our club trainer and other club items. It has a key lock. Any member may obtain a key for the container with a $5 key deposit. See an officer if you would like one.
Fuel purchase: The club typically stocks a few gallons of 15% nitro, glow fuel for purchase by members. This fuel is in a locked box within the container. See an officer if you would like to purchase fuel at the field.
Frequency Board: The frequency board is mounted to the outside of the container. It has a list of the 72MHz frequency channels used by FM transmitters. Members using 72 MHz transmitters must reserve a channel by pinning up their Flying Eagles membership card on the frequency board prior to powering the transmitter. Multiple pilots using the same channel at the same time will cause radio interference which causes bad things to happen.
There is also an area to pin up membership cards for 2.4GHz radios. Since 2.4GHz radios dynamically assign channels, pinning your card here is for membership verification and not safety purposes.
The parking lot: Our parking lot can hold a single row of cars. Please leave room between your vehicle and the fence so that a person may walk between the row of cars and the parking lot fence and leave enough room for people to stand and chat across the fence.
The pits: The pits are the area between the parking lot fence and the flight-line fence. This area is for pilots-only. Here you will find flight stands with safety restraints, pilots, their equipment and airplanes. Keeping spectators out of the pits is for their safety. A pit area crowded with spectators or one spectator unfamiliar with the dangers of spinning propellers and hot engines is a safety risk. Spectators are welcome to hang with the pilots from behind the parking lot fence, or at the shelter, which is located just north of the container. There is no taxiing in the pits, aircraft must be carried or pushed under control to the field.
The flight line: The flight line is defined by the fence between the pilot’s station and the field. The flight line extends infinitely in both directions of the fence. All aircraft must stay on the field side of the flight line. Under no circumstances are aircraft to be intentionally flown over the pits or anywhere behind the flight line.
The field: According to Google Maps, our field is 525’ long at its longest points. It runs north-south, with the north-end having the opening free from trees, otherwise known as “the notch”. The textile runway in the center of the field is 290’ long by 29’ wide. It was installed during the summer of 2013. There is enough room to choose to land on the runway, or next to it on the grass field. We maintain the field with field clean-up days. On those days (usually twice a year) the field marshal will send an email requesting members to bring weed whackers, brush cutters etc. Members volunteer to mow the lawn, and we’re always looking for help to spread the load. Contact our field marshal if you’d like to help.
Training: Flight instruction is free, and available to all club members. Our instructors are regular pilots who have been kind enough to donate their time to help others learn our fun hobby, and who have been qualified to instruct by our head instructor. Several of our instructors also carry an “intro pilot” rating, which allows them to introduce people to flying on a buddy box without the student having AMA insurance. We ask that once you have decided to learn to fly, please bring your own plane to train on. Currently we do not offer buddy-boxed RC helicopter training. DISCLAIMER: You dues do not entitle you to flight instruction. Flight instruction is offered free to members from certified club pilots who donate their time to help others. Flight instruction is dependent upon instructor availability and no guarantee is implied.
Club trainer: The flying eagles maintain a club trainer, and a buddy box as a way to have interested people introduced to RC flying. Once someone has decided that they love it as much as we do, and wants to continue training, we’d be happy to help you select an RC airplane of your own. You do not need to provide a buddy box, unless you would like to, or it is incompatible with the buddy boxes we own. As of this writing, the club owns Spektrum DX6i, DX5e and Futaba buddy boxes along with the appropriate training cables.
Pilot’s stations: We have 4 pilot stations at the flight line, and a maximum 4 aircraft flying at any time. All flying must be done from one of the pilot stations, unless otherwise directed by a contest director during a special event.
Flight operations: A typical flight has the following order. An airplane is assembled as safety and common sense dictates. This is preferably done on a flight stand if available, or on the ground in the pits. Once assembled, it must be restrained to prevent the plane from moving forward or backward out of control. This is typically done by the flight stand itself or by some restraint on the ground. A typical restraint is a stooge, another member or even a rope cord. The transmitter and aircraft are turned on. A safety check is performed next:
- Is my aircraft responding to transmitter control inputs? Check each one individually – aileron, elevator, throttle and rudder. Are they moving in the correct directions? If not, have you selected the right model on your aircraft? Did you reverse the servo wire when plugging in your ailerons?
- Is the wing securely fastened to the fuselage?
- Is the empennage (tail of the plane) loose or in any way damaged?
- Are pushrod keepers on the servo arms and control surface clevises?
- Is the propeller nicked or otherwise damaged?
Be sure the area around the propeller is clear of objects and people. Then the engine is started (or electric motor spun up). Did it develop full power? Are there any fuel leaks or air bubbles in the fuel line? Have a friend help you do a “full-power, nose-up” test to check for fuel draw.
Next check the flight line to see if a pilot station is available, if it is, carefully lift your plane from the stand, and walk it to the flight line. Place your plane down at the flight-line fence opening and proceed to an open pilot’s station. If someone is taking-off or landing, wait for them to finish. Once the field is clear, call your intentions. Calling your intentions to other pilots is a critical safety procedure. Announce “taxiing out”, if no one calls you off, taxi out. An up-wind takeoff is typical (propeller pointed into the wind, either north or south). The next step is to call for a takeoff, “taking off to the <direction>”. The direction can be north, south, or ‘to the notch’. If for any reason, someone needs to cross the flight line onto the field, they must call “on the field”, to alert pilots the runway temporarily closed for operation. The person on the field should quickly retrieve their aircraft and clear the field. Be sure to announce “all clear” once the field is clear.
Priority should always be given to a) people on the field, then b) “dead-sticks”, this is when an aircraft’s motor has stopped in the air, c) pilots landing, and finally d) pilots taking off.
Pilot communication is critical to safe flight operations. Please be courteous, yield right-of way, announce your intentions and be safe. A safe club is a fun club.
Thanks so much for taking the time to read this intro. We have a great club that has lots of fun enjoying our hobby, and we’re happy you want to be a part of it.
Your Southern NH Flying Eagles Officers
Foam Electric Trainer Setup
E-flite Apprentice S 15e RTF with DX5e Radio (~$299): A nice foam electric trainer that comes with a Spektrum 5 channel beginner radio. It includes the aircraft, receiver, transmitter and a LiPo battery charger. There is no building required—just charge and install the included battery, mount the wing and tail, and fly. This is a beginner setup, the radio is not a computer radio, and cannot be programmed to support multiple aircraft.
Radio upgrade: Spektrum DX6i (~$200): The most popular radio at our field. Has digital trims, electronic servo reverse, and has 10-model memory. You can always use the DX5e as a buddy box or as a backup transmitter.
Extra batteries: The Apprentice S uses 3S 3200mAh 20C LiPo batteries with EC3 connector. It’s always good to have 2 or more, so while you fly one, another one is charging. E-Flite sells these batteries for $45.
Inexpensive Foam Electric Trainer
FMS Sky Trainer – receiver ready version: ($99) 55” wingspan foam trainer, and a good flying one at that. Includes motor, servos and ESC. Add your own radio receiver and 3s 2200mAh LiPo batteries.
Larger Glow or Electric Powered Balsa Trainer Setup
Avistar Elite ARF ($140) – plane only. This is a larger, balsa, trainer airplane that can be setup as electric or glow fuel powered. Check out towerhobbies.com for more information, or just ask someone at RC buyers. Pair this airplane up with a power system, a Spketrum DX6i radio and you have a larger airplane that provides more stability and can fly in higher winds.
Local Hobby shop
The closest, biggest hobby shop is RC Buyers Warehouse. They are located at 95 Northeast Blvd, Nashua, NH. (603)595-2494. Website: rcbuyerswarehouse.com or rcbuyers.info/ . They stock, or can get, most popular brands.
Other popular sources
Often batteries, motors, ESC and parts can be had for less money by shopping online and using after-market parts. Checkout the following websites for alternative sources:
valuehobby.com Addison, Illinois, 630-948-0947. (Has the FMS SkyTrainer)
bananahobby.com Irwindale, CA
hobbypartz.com/ Industry, CA, 626-968-9860
hobbyking.com China - Look for US warehouse