How to land a model plane

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How to land a model plane

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Flying remote-controlled (RC) model airplanes can be a fun way to pass the time. But this hobby is a bit more involved than collecting stamps. In fact, some of the same principles of aviation found in commercial airliners apply to the small RC plane. One thing that is always a challenge is to land a plane, no matter how big. While landing an RC plane is significantly less of a challenge than it is with a passenger jet, it still requires concentration.


Step One

Choose an area to land your RC plane. A large flat area in a park or empty parking lot is ideal.Direct your RC plane toward the area where you intend to land, but make sure the plane is flying into the wind.


Step Two

Use the controls on the remote to reduce throttle by half.Use the controls on the unit to level out the plane, so that the tail rises and the nose points down at a 45-degree angle.


Step Three

Turn onto the "base" leg, then onto the final approach to the runway. Reduce throttle some more, but keep your speed above the stall speed of the aircraft. Ideally, you will approaching the runway at a vertical angle of 10 to 20 degrees. The pitch "attitude" of the aircraft should be flat or slightly angled downwards.


Step Four

If you feel that you are descending too fast or uncontrollably, add throttle and a little bit of elevator, very smoothly. Resist the temptation to simply pull hard back on the elevator: at stall at low altitude will probably result in more damage than a slightly hard controlled landing. If you must abort the landing, keep adding power and fly over the runway, then turn and setup for landing again.


Step Five

Be advised that there is no shame in aborting a poor landing approach.


Step Six

When the aircraft is 6-18 inches above the runway, start adding a small amount of back stick (up elevator). This can be as little as a couple millimeters of stick movement, depending on your plane and radio setup.This will do two things:a) slow the aircraft even more, andb) bring the airplane parallel to the runway. If the timing of this "flare" is correct, the airplane touches the runway just as it levels out or noses up a tiny bit.Whatever you do, do NOT pull back hard on the elevator. This can cause the airplane to "zoom" upwards for a few feet, then run out of speed and come crashing down (i.e. stall). It's better to flare too little than to stall the aircraft so close to the ground.


Step Seven

Here you can see the aircraft angled up just a tiny bit before the moment of touchdown.


Step Eight

Now that the aircraft is down, reduce the throttle some more so that it's moving at a comfortable speed on the ground. Don't forget to steer it more or less straight ahead.For a 4 channel plane, this will mean using your left thumb. When the speed has slowed enough, steer the aircraft back to your position, being carefully to not accidentally bump the throttle forward.


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