Learning to Fly
Building and flying model airplanes can be a remarkably fulfilling pastime. For this to be true for the individual, certain criteria must be met. First, and most important, there must be a strong desire to fly models. Then, the individual must have good eyesight, good reflexes, and good hand-eye coordination. An interest in building, or at least assembling, models is important. Financial resources are very important. Startup costs for entry level equipment purchased at retail will probably be on the order of $350.00 or more. This does not include the ancillary costs of membership dues, fuel, and other expenses. The novice flyer must have adequate free time to learn the fundamentals. Flying models is not intuitive for most, so it is important to undergo flight training with an instructor on a regular, frequent basis. Time from beginning flight training with an instructor to solo flying varies, but somewhere in the range of thirty to fifty ten minute flights can be anticipated. Finally, the individual must have the fortitude to accept the inevitable crash involving damage, or even total loss, of his, or her, airplane. This is one of the reasons an inventory of more than one airplane is important. Rest assured, aeromodelling is not a boring hobby. Flying can always be challenging, even for highly skilled pilots. Building models presents its own challenges and can provide hours of satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment. If you feel comfortable with what you've read thus far, read on. Otherwise, aeromodelling may not fall within your area of interest, and you might consider exploring other pursuits.
Okay, you think you want to make the plunge. Here, then, are some suggestions and advice, tailored for individuals in the Highland Lakes Area of Texas. This would apply primarily for residents of Llano and Burnet Counties and the immediate surrounding area. Before doing anything else, you are urged to visit Highland Lakes Flyers Club at Hank Nilsen Field near Kingsland. Specific directions are provided elsewhere at this web site. Once there, make your presence known, introduce yourself, and let it be known you are interested in learning to fly. Talk with one or more of the club's officers; their names are posted on the club's bulletin board. Solicit advice on how to get started. HLF members enjoy a well deserved reputation for friendliness and interest in helping novice flyers. They will help you develop a shopping list for your initial investment in basic equipment. More about equipment specifics lies further down this page, but first, two other requirements must be considered. You will need to join the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) which is the national organization for aeromodellers. Highland Lakes Flyers is chartered by AMA, so all HLF members must have valid AMA membership. Liability insurance is provided through AMA. Except under very specific circumstances, no one is allowed to fly at Hank Nilsen Field without AMA membership. AMA and HLF membership applications are available at Hank Nilsen Field. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has its own requirements for model aviation. Highland Lakes Flyers does not place any requirements on its members regarding FAA regulations.
Now, to the equipment. When it comes to model airplanes and accessories, you can virtually let your imagination run wild. There's a huge range. But, that's not for the novice. His / her objective needs to be narrowly focused only on what is optimum for flight training. These days, nearly all flying at Hank Nilsen field involves electric powered aircraft. Since the electric's technology evolves continuously, it is recommended that the novice seek advice from one of the club's experienced members.
With this information in mind, confer with your flight instructor, or one of the club's officers, to determine specific selections as to manufacturer and source. Don't acquire anything before going through that process. Don't try to cut costs. You generally get what you pay for. Wait till you are more experienced before relying on swap meets and second hand equipment. You don't want to become frustrated dealing with unreliable motors and radios. If you do have an opportunity to acquire some good used equipment, have one of the club's experienced flyers check it out first. Most HLF members rely to one extent or other on mail order hobby suppliers, like Tower Hobbies, towerhobbies.com. Bear in mind that your primary objective is learning to fly. Once that threshold is crossed, you will have plenty of time to consider higher performance airplanes and a more comprehensive range of flight accessories.
Highland Lakes Flyers requires buddy box flight training with a qualified instructor for all novice flyers. There is no exception to this rule. The club has several members who serve as instructors. Once your equipment is ready and flight checked by the Safety Committee, you will be paired up with an instructor who will stay with you until you are ready for solo flying. He will instruct in both flying techniques and safe flying rules and procedures. The student must be prepared to commit AMA and HLF Safety Rules to memory. The worst mistake a novice can make is to attempt flying offsite without an instructor. Chances of success are highly unlikely and pose a great risk of property damage or even injury. That's why HLF requires buddy box training with an instructor. Flight training is provided at no cost to the trainee. The instructor volunteers his time and effort. The trainee must be willing to accept instruction without argument. Most crashes occur in a matter of a second or two, so there is no time for discussion, only reaction. Patience and courtesy on the part of both instructor and student are fundamental to the learning process. Trainees are well advised to additionally seek advice from other members as a way of improving flying skills and techniques. Some trainees are uncomfortable about flying in the presence of other club members. Be assured that no other HLF member will ridicule a trainee. All club members will be concerned for the trainee's success and will refrain from any behavior which might cause a problem. The trainee should understand the importance of learning to fly when spectators are present. Highland Lakes Flyers club administers its safety program through its Safety Committee. The novice is expected to make acquaintance with all members of this committee and to observe suggestions and advice from committee members. When an instructor determines that his trainee is ready for solo flying, the Safety Committee will observe and make a final determination. Then, the trainee is allowed to fly solo. However, a significant period of time will pass before the trainee becomes fully proficient. During this time, the inexperienced new pilot should freely call on the expertise of the club's highly qualified pilots for ongoing advice and instruction.