Aerial modelism

The air model , or model aircraft , is a model of model that has developed in symbiosis with the aviation whose flight it tries to reproduce, the piloting technique, by specific models and the appearance by models to reduced scale of the real.

The dimensions of the models can vary greatly, from 10 cm to several meters of span , the mass varying from a few grams to 150 kilograms . The techniques used are also very diverse, from cardboard to composite materials , the elastic motor , to the latest miniature reaction engines . The flying models include both flying – free “flight – flying planes” for indoor flying, and radio – controlled models from Concorde or Airbus .

There are two main forms of model making : static model making and flying model making.

Static Modeling

As in other models , the realization of models for the only pleasure of the eyes is very developed. It is in the field of aeronautics that the plastic model has become generalized with a level of detail more and more advanced and a de facto normalization of the scales used. Major brands are well known as Airfix , Heller , Monogram , Revell , etc.

For this type of model, different materials can be used: wood , resin, pre-cut metal but also paper or cardboard . The model aircraft has always been a favorite subject for the cardboard model .

Modeling based kits ready to mount and decorate is often a step towards flying models, or to exposure models, even competitions. In the latter case, the models are usually static:

  • to dispense with the constraints of building a flying machine,
  • to allow a realization as faithful as possible to its original,
  • to avoid taking the risk of a flight accident.

Flying Models

The flying models can be models, or semi-models (simplified, with proportions often modified compared to the real) or more often in fact specific models, different from reality.

Despite the difference in size, the first efforts of the modelers were very close to those of the pioneers of aviation and we meet all model sizes, some of which are very close – by the dimensions – drones encountered in modern armies .

We find both motorized devices ( planes and helicopters ) and gliders .

  • Radio Controlled Aircraft are controlled by at least 3-way radios (depth, fins and gas or depth, drift and gas) The standard is a four-way radio, controlling depth, ailerons, drift and gases. More sophisticated models also have flaps and a retracting gear.The engine was the standard, the electric motor can power lighter models.

Small models designed for the flight in closed space, also called indoor flight , carried out for example in a gymnasium , make use of so-called “rubber motors” or very small light and powerful electric motors.

There are models of circular flight planes that are connected by cables either to the pilot, or to a stud around which they can turn at extremely high speeds.

  • The radio controlled helicopter are highly technical machines whose control has interesting possibilities (vertical flight, hover flight skidded, reverse). This interest is often fueled by the greatest difficulty to fly this type of aircraft, less stable than motorized aircraft or gliders .
  • The simplest small gliders (initiation) called “two axes” are equipped with two-way radios, controlling the depth for pitching and drift to obtain induced roll . Larger gliders are equipped with “like the real” fins. The gliders fly without engine using the wind to fly: the glider pilots practicing thermal flight (which uses warm updrafts that easily meet in plain weather permitting) or the flight slope (using the updrafts produced by wind continuous on a slope either in the mountains or in heavily hilly terrain).
  • The gliders are gliders that can receive an extra engine to avoid having to be towed by a model airplane on days when the wind is low.
  • Finally, the lighter than the air are also represented, among other things because of the pleasure associated with a very quiet activity and very discreet on the sound level (like gliders ) and very inexpensive (a balloon requires only one little crepe paper, and a heat source such as a camping stove). Generally unmanned, the balloon can be transported at considerable distances (several tens of kilometers are not unusual) when the weather is suitable.


Materials Employed

  • The woods ( birch , balsa , samba , birch plywood or okoume, pine …), are used for fuselages and wings , the lighter wood being preferred to woods such as pine used for structures more solicited . Different plywoods are found with varying numbers of folds (cross-layers); the more plies for a given thickness, the stronger the material. Modern laser cutting machines make it possible to use laser cutting services to make fully customized aircraft and helicopter models.
  • Metals (steel, aluminum) are found in hardware, bars, tubes, connecting rods requiring rigidity, even for the construction of the aircraft itself.
  • The resins are used as structural adhesives, alone or with synthetic fiber fabrics, for the construction of the cell, as finishing coatings (lightened resin), or as coatings for the interlining of structures (nitro-cellulosic coating).
  • The polystyrene used for some heavier constructions but more rapid wing.
  • The cardboard and paper variety are also used.
  • Fabrics and interlining films, which have the particularity to shrink with heat. They are used to cover the fuselages or to cover the wings in “structure” (composed of spars and ribs ). These (plastic) films are colorful and serve at the same time to decorate the models.
  • The composite materials : glass fibers, Kevlar or carbon linked by polyester or epoxy resins are also commonly used for the fuselage and wings of aircraft and competition gliders.
  • The depron is more and more widespread and allows an inexpensive construction.
  • EPP ( Expanded Polypropylene ) is increasingly used for the realization of small to medium size models, to make models of gliders or electric planes very resistant to the shock, for the learning or the flight of slope of fight.


  • The rubber motors operate with long rolled elastics , the unwinding of which drives the propeller .
  • Compressed air engines, used mainly in free flight, are used very little in other categories of model aircraft.
  • Bungees, winches, and even “tractors” planes are used to launch gliders .
  • The models were (and still are) generally equipped with internal combustion engines (generally 2 – stroke single – cylinder), quite noisy, using as fuel a mixture of methanol and castor oilor synthetic oil. After a stranglehold on 2-stroke engines, 4-stroke engines have been developed in order to reduce noise constraints. Ignition with ” glow plug”) is challenged by the miniaturization of electronics and batteries that make it possible to use gasoline engines with spark plug ignition, more reliable and less expensive to use. Some of these engines may be unique models (star engines, multicylinders in line or V).
  • The electric motorization long limited by the weight of the motors and the batteries came to compete very strongly with the engines with explosion thanks to the arrival of the brushless or “brushless” motors with the high yields coupled with a moderate weight and especially with the progress of the accumulators of NiMh type. and Li-Po Some models also have photovoltaic solar panels, to increase the autonomy but only as a demonstration, because of the low efficiency of solar cells.
  • The turbines are driven by electric motors or internal combustion.
  • The pulse jet engines are rare because noisy and especially difficult to implement (no power setting). They are often used in demonstration because of their very spectacular side.
  • Jet engines are luxury pieces (minimum 2,000 euros ), and remain complex to implement.


  • The remote controls are used to control the models remotely, and are mainly categorized by the number of “channels”, which is the number of actuators that can be operated. They generally include 4 lanes for an airplane: pitching rudder (depth), rudder (ailerons), yaw (steering), engine rpm, but may allow the control of other functions such as the retracting gear , the flaps curvature, aero-brakes , etc. Some remote controls approaching computersoffer very advanced functions (operating even under Windows) and with synthesis modules of frequency transmission (which means that all the frequencies are usable without quartz for the transmitter as for the receiver) 1 .

Even more reliable than frequency synthesis, the 2.4 GHz technology automatically selects a free frequency, offers extreme reliability over more than 1 km radius, and tends to become widespread.

  • The receivers, mounted in the aircraft , receive the control commands from the transmitter (the remote control) and distribute these commands to the servomotors.
  • The actuators , often called “servo”, are electric motors enslaved greatly multiplied causing the control surfaces with semi-flexible rods, rods or cables. Their sizes, weights and powers vary according to their function and the size of the model.

There are now some that work in numerical control and no longer in analog (gain of precision and responsiveness).

  • The batteries are used to power the electronics of an aircraft or engine. Several types of batteries exist but those lithium have a better energy / weight ratio.
  • Various electronic circuits are built and used as needed. They can be used for the illumination of flying models, the launch of parachutes, sound effects …

Main disciplines

The models are planes, gliders or helicopters whose size can be very small ((micro-aviation).


  • free flight, model and duration (F4X and F1X) is to fly a model without guidance assistance, with various modes of drive / propulsion: rubber engine, CO 2 , compressed air, engines.
  • aerobatics (F3A)
  • Great Models (F3M)
  • electric acrobatics (F5A)
  • model (F4C)
  • small fat (VGM)
  • the trainer or training aircraft with generally the wings above the fuselage

The Frenchman Christophe Paysant-Leroux is the world champion of aerobatics plane since 1999 2 .

A Belgian company , ZN Line 3 and a French company , PL.F Concept 4 (formerly PL Prod) equip two-thirds of the world’s best pilots for “flying aerobatics” (F3A).


  • Thermal flight (F3B)
  • Thermal flight of duration (F3J)
  • Slope flight ( F3F )
  • Glider “hand-launched” (F3K)
  • Trailed glider, duration and speed tests (F3I)
  • Gliders models


  • Aerobatics (F3C)
  • Freestyle (F3N)
  • Electric Helicopters (F5C)

Micro-Modeling and Indoor Flight

Main article: Micro-model .

The micro-model or micro-aviation allows the Indoor flight : models small enough to evolve in a closed space like a gymnasium , even in an apartment (which made the success of the helicopters). The technical challenge of micro-aviation lies in the miniaturization of the airfoils and the propulsion system .
These engineering models may not weigh more than a few grams and measure less than 20 centimeters long. These micro-planes have very low wing loads. Because of the scale effectwhen the size decreases, the mass decreases (to the cube of the scale) faster than the surface (squared of the scale).
The micro-models are powered by a rubber motor or by an electric motor 5 . Indoor flying has developed thanks to technological advances in miniaturization (electronics, motors, batteries).

Indoor radio controlled aircraft

There are indoor planes designed to pass all the figures of aerobatics. They are very low weight thanks to depron and the use of high efficiency brushless micro-motors .

  • The Stubenfliege
  • The Tweety Torque (also Outdoor in calm weather)
  • The Q-Sky, which is the first indoor plane in the world to take off the ground without being launched.
  • The Polyclub , good outside but more delicate in indoor due to its high speed.
  • The 3D Morback, capable of all figures in a small space.

Indoor Radio Controlled Helicopters

Small helicopters are able to fly in a small space like a house or an apartment. For example, the Picoo Z- type 2-axis R / C Micro Helicopter weighs less than 10 g and does not exceed 17 cmin length. Its piloting is facilitated by a gyroscopic stabilization system. However, he can not fly in strong winds …

  • Picoo Z
  • Micro 47G

Main World Records

Source: World Records in Aeromodelling , International Aeronautical Federation 6

Solar Powered Airplane 7

  • A previous world record in time and distance to solar energy was made on July 15, 2014 by Roger Thierry and Patrick Vallet. The construction of the solar wing has been developed after many tests and various methods to combine lightness and power.
Duration: 4h 55
Distance: 130 km
  • Two new records were set on 7 July 2015 in Éole-en-Beauce (Eure-et-Loir) by Patrick Vallet, Jean-François Allais and Michel Ozog 8 :
Duration: 8h 30
Distance: 257 km

Radio controlled glider

  • Altitude gain 9

The world record of altitude gain by a glider was established on in Saint-Vincent-les-Forts (04, France ) with an altitude of 2068 m 10 . The previous record was dated. It was performed by Jack R. Hiner ( United States ) with 1950 m altitude.

This new record was broken by flying the glider from a tandem paraglider . Two tests were made. The paragliding pilots were Frédéric Jacques and Gabriel Galtier and the model pilots were Frédéric Jacques and Olivier d’Apuzzo. The glider was an ASW22 of 4 m wingspan.

  • Flight duration. The world record flying time by a glider was established onby Nicholas Shaw, with a glide of 36 hours 03 minutes and 19 seconds between the towns of Ivinghoe Beacon and Buckinghamshire , United Kingdom .
  • Distance. The world record flying distance by a glider was established onby Eduard Svoboda, with a flight of 716.10 km, near the city of Louny , in Czechoslovakia .
  • Average speed. The world record of average speed by a glider was established onby Klaus Kowalski, with a flight of 239.70 km / h , between the cities of Bottrop and Sterkrade in Germany .

RC airplane

  • Distance. The world record of flying time by a motorized airplane, closed circuit was established onby Maynard S. Hill, with a 1,300- kilometer flight near the town of Hagerstown, United States .
  • Average speed; The world record of average speed by a motorized aircraft per reactor , in circular flight was established onby Leonid Lipinski, with a flight of 395.64 km / h .
  • Gain of altitude. The world record of altitude gain by a motorized airplane was established onby Maynard S. Hill, with a gain of 8,205 m , near the town of Dahlgren in the United States .
  • Flight duration. The world record of flying time by a free flying motorized airplane was established onby pilots Maynard S. Hill, Barrett J. Foster and David G. Brown, with a flight of 86 hours 52 minutes and 19 seconds, between the cities of Cape Spear in Canada and Mannin Beach, Ireland .

Radio Controlled Helicopter

  • Distance. The world record of flying time by helicopter, in a straight line, was established by Michael Farnan on, with a flight of 134.10 km, between the cities of Yatpool and Gama, Australia .
  • Speed. The world record of average speed by helicopter was established onby Mikhail Mukhin, with a flight of 145 km / h in the city of Mytischy (near Moscow ), Russia .
  • Gain of altitude. The world record altitude gain by a helicopter was established onby Jean-Philippe Allogne, with a gain of 2 940 m , near the town of Blagnac in France .
  • Flight duration. The world flight time record by helicopter was established onby pilots Vladimir Bulatnikov, Yuri Bazanov and Alexander Orlov, with a flight of 5 hours 59 minutes and 51 seconds, near Moscow, Russia .

Main associations

  • French Federation of Model Aircraft  [ archive ]
  • Belgian Aeromodelling Federation  [ archive ]
  • Swiss Model Federation  [ archive ]
  • Canadian Model Aircraft Federation  [ archive ]

Notes and references

  1. ↑ Futaba’s T12 or T14 or Hitec’s Spectra module.
  2. ↑ Awards Paysant Christophe Leroux  [ archive ] on his personal website.
  3. ↑ ZN line  [ archive ] .
  4. ↑ PL.F Concept  [ archive ] .
  5. ↑ Peanuts and micro RC [1]  [ archive ] .
  6. ↑ 2C% 20F% C3% A9d% C3%% 20A% C3% A9ronautique% 20internationale .
  7. ↑ ” The solar flight ”  [ archive ] , on Airbus Air Sports , (accessed March 7, 2015 ) .
  8. ↑ Éva Gosselin, ” Unusual: Viabon to the team of Patrick Vallet explodes records ”  [ archive ] , on [ archive ] , (accessed July 9, 2016 )
  9. ↑ The altitude gain consists of taking off from a place, taking the maximum altitude and landing within 500 meters of the take-off point.
  10. ↑ ( en ) Website of Thierry Regis  [ archive ] .

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