Radio Controlled Aircraft

The radio-controlled airplanes (RC) are models reduced controlled by a remote control . They use a radio communication between a transmitter remote control and a receiver located in the aircraft. The receiver controls the actuators actuating the control surfaces or other functions of the aircraft as a function of driver control commands given by the position of joysticks radio controlledas a hobby is constantly increasing due to the availability of smaller and less expensive parts, as well as technological advances. A wide variety of styles and styles are available to satisfy all desires and budgets. Due to availability and advances in electric accumulators and electric motors, a growing number of users are using electric rather than thermal airplanes (most often running on methanol / oil or gasoline ). Electric airplanes are easier to build, quieter and less messy.

Scientists as well as government organizations or the military also use radio-controlled aircraft for experiments, retrieving weather information or making drones .


The first examples of RC models are dirigible balloons inflated with hydrogen in the xix th century . They were flying in music halls during the intermission to entertain the public, they were guided by rural radio signal generated by an electric arc 1 . In the 1920s , the Royal Aircraft Establishment of England built and tested the Larynx , a RC monoplane with a 160 km radius with a Lynx engine . Then in the 1930s , the British developed the Queen Bee ade Havilland Tiger Moth modified, and a similar target aircraft.

A small radio controlled aircraft intended for indoor flying


There are many types of radio-controlled aircraft, Park Flyers and training planes, for beginners; candle airplanes , electric motor or gliders for more advanced pilots. For experts, there are jets , helicopters , or other types of competition aircraft. It is also possible to build scale models of real aircraft . Some devices may also look like birds and fly as such.

A distinction is generally made between toy devices and those of leisure. Toy planes are exclusively electric, with less power and require less skill to fly. They are therefore cheaper. Recreational aircraft come in many variations, from the small electric plane 2 to the multi – thousand – euro aircraft and hundreds of cubic centimeters “under the hood”.

Park Flyers and training aircraft

The Park Flyers are small single electric airplanes to fly. They are built keeping in mind that the pilot is a beginner, requiring a flight area no bigger than a park. They are economical. Training planes are identical to park flyers because of their ease of piloting and their low cost. Nevertheless, they are larger and usually powered by thermal engines that work with a mixture of methanol , nitromethane ({\ displaystyle {\ ce {CH3NO2}}}) and oil.

Scale models and sports aircraft

The models and sports models are larger and generally more expensive.

There is a wide range of sports models ranging from simple fun-fly models whose wingspan is less than one meter, to huge models at the scale of one in four or even{\ displaystyle 1/2} of the aircraft shown having engines of several hundred cubic centimeters.

Most sports models as well as many large-scale models are generally able to acrobatic flight such as loops, barrels and other tailslides . The models widespread part in competitions worldwide. Most international champions fly devices ranging in size from 2 to 3.50 meters with two-stroke engines from 50 to 250 cubic centimeters .

Multis (aerobatic aircraft)

These are RC models specially designed to perform aerobatics smoothly and gracefully. The Multis are typically powered by combustion engines and in recent years also by electric motors. The design of the Multis is designed to get taut trajectories, with the minimum of stability, which means that they are designed and built to stay in the position in which they are. The pitch stability is low, the roll effects induced by the lace are almost zero. The surface control surfaces and the speed make them extremely manoeuvrable.

Gliding and gliding

The gliders are flying machines that are generally deprived of any form of engine 3 . The flight is therefore continued only by the exploitation of updrafts, in thermal flight or flight slope.


Model semi-scale airplane with the wingspan slightly increased to increase the smoothness and to dispense with engine, the flight being exclusively carried out on slope, from where its name: Power Slope Soaring (Elevation by the power of the slope). These radio-controlled models are often retro or recent fighter planes (or line), or anything that flies provided they have a minimal bearing surface.

A diverted application of these PSS is the flight combat slope. These PSS are made of EPP foam (expanded polypropylene) covered with reinforced tape (fiberglass). The “hunt” consists of looking for contact between models.


The jets are usually propelled by a gas turbine or a ducted fan . They can also be powered by small powdered rocket motors, micro turbojet engines or pulse jet engines . These devices can reach speeds exceeding 300 km / h . They require excellent reflexes and are very expensive, so they are reserved for experts.


The Racers are small aircraft propeller that are racing around 2, 3, or 4 poles , their speeds exceeding 250 km / h . These devices are generally cheap and offer fairly close performance which emphasizes the skill of the drivers. They are usually made of fiberglass; stronger composite materials are used on the most stressed points during flight. The wings are usually hollowed out to reduce the weight (all devices must reach a minimum weight, but lighter wings allow more precise control).


Unlike helicopters, gyroplanes are propelled by a propeller like an airplane and the setting in motion of their rotating wing (rotor) is ensured by the relative wind. These models are a real challenge to design as well as to build but they provide a unique spectacle when in flight.


RC helicopters are a class apart because of differences in construction, aerodynamics and flight technique.

They are very interesting machines because of their complex mechanics; moreover, unlike other flying machines, these make it possible to perform flights in all directions (translations) and of course to remain perfectly immobile (stationary) over a point.

Bird models

Some RC models are inspired by nature. They may be gliders with the appearance of a bird , but most often models of birds propelled by flapping wings . Spectators are often very surprised to see such models flying, and birds are no less curious when such devices share their airspace. These factors, as well as the challenge of building such a model, add to the pleasure of driving, although there are now some models ready to mount such birds on the market . Swing wing models are known as ornithopters, which is the technical name of aerodynes carried and propelled by an oscillating wing.

3D Flight

3D Flight or 3D flight is a type of flight for which the models have a thrust- to -weight ratio greater than 1: 1 (typically 1.5: 1 or more), large control surfaces and powerful accelerations, as well as a relatively low wing load.

These features allow for spectacular acrobatic tricks such as torque-rolls, barrels, loops, and other maneuvers performed below the stall speed of the model.

The 3D has created a very important market for electric indoor as Ikarus ‘Shockflyers’ designed to fly in gyms. These models generally use small brushless (brushless) motors and lithium polymer batteries . There are also many larger 3D models powered by four or two-stroke gasoline engines or larger electric motors.

Types of kits and construction

There are different ways to build or assemble an RC airplane. Many kits are available commercially, more or less expensive and requiring more or less talent or experience from their manufacturer.

Some kits are mainly made of foam and plastic or balsa . The construction consists of the use of hulls for the fuselage , and ribs and stiffeners for the wing . The most robust models have their structures made of wood or may also include composite wings made of expanded polystyrene covered with a wood veneer , often abachi. These models are generally heavier than those of traditional construction and are therefore better suited to powered aircraft than gliders. The lightest buildings are generally reserved for indoor (or indoor) flying in a windless environment. Some of them are made of fine balsa structures and carbon fibers covered with a very thin synthetic film. The arrival on the market of “foamies”, or devices made of light foam injected and sometimes reinforced with carbon fiber have made the “indoor” flight more accessible to amateurs. The “Crash proof” models in EPP ( Expanded Polypropylene ) foam are so flexible that they suffer little or no damage during an accident, even in the event of a crash on the nose of the

The late 1980s saw a range of US AirCore company models intelligently using double wall polypropylene. This double wall material ‘Correx’ or ‘Coroplast’ was generally used in advertising and industry, being readily available in flat sheet form, easy to print and cut. The models have been pre-decorated and available as Almost Ready to Fly (ARF) requiring a relatively easy assembly with interlocking pieces. The thickness of the material (usually 3-6 mm ) and the density of the latter meant that the models were generally heavier (more than 2,268 kg) and therefore had speeds above the average. The range has been designed using a smart cartridge type motor mount designed for Type 40 ( 6.6 cm 3 ) motors .

Fans have more recently developed a range of new models using corrugated plastic or “Coroplast”. These models are collectively called SPAD  (en) which means “Simple Plastic Airplane Design”. SPAD supporters praise the virtues of increased durability, ease of construction and lower costs as opposed to balsa models, sometimes at the expense of weight and unconventional aesthetics.

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