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Build Stick & Rudder Flight Experience without Paying $200 an Hour

I have been wanting to get back into full scale flying. But at $180/hr plus $70 for instructor, it’s hard for me to justify the expense if not training for professional advancement. God how I miss my college days renting club airplane (Cessna 172) for $45/ hr wet! There’s gotta be an alternative!

Simulators nowadays are so good at duplicating the visual experience of full scale flight, especially with VR goggles, They are indispensable tools for pilot training.

Another option is with scale, head-tracking HD FPV setup in a realistic behaving RC plane (the bigger the better) that would give one a more tangible flying experience that will translate easily to full scale flying. The fact that there’s slight financial consequence (skin in the game) for crashing, that it is a leg up from simulator experience, in my opinion.

Here I demonstrate a training session with realistic touch and goes and traffic pattern work with a scale FPV setup. If I had airspeed indicator, the training experience would have been even more realistic/transferable to full scale flying. Also this is on a “small” plane (1100mm wing span). Plane at 2m span would behave much more realistically and be more stable in wind.

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Well-known member
Flying a Cub is more sensory than using instruments. Ditto for gliders. Microstupid flight sim once had a waiver for IFR Such that you could get most of your hood time on the computer. So FPV should reduce costs, although you might need some sort of seat setup, and rudder to transmitter stick is a bit tough, or it was 20 year ago
A seated setup with full size yoke/stick and rudder would be doable and be more realistic. However, due to physics of small RC planes, all of the maneuverers/effects happen much faster (the smaller the faster). For example when I play back my videos, a play back speed of 70% make them look full scale. So using full size controls may be a mismatch due to the much faster reaction times required for RC flying.

About sensory flying, one major difference between FPV and full scale is the lack G forces - obviously. Not a particularly big issue in most of GA flying. Except for the seat in the pants feeling required for proper use of rudder in a tail dragger that has severely obstructed forward view. Especially during flare while executing a crosswind landing when alignment of plane’s direction of travel with wheel track is critical to avoid ground loop. One really needs the seat in the pants feeling to catch any deviation from intended path of travel and dance on the rudder to stay on track. With FPV latency, forward view obstruction and no seat of pants feeling, there simply is not not enough sensory feel to land consistently in some tail draggers under FPV.
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Practicing basic airmanship stuff like short approaches, touch & goes, turn around a point and basic aerobatics while giving joyrides to a couple of licensed pilot friends. Verdict: why pay $200/hour for full scale plane rental when scale FPV flying is more fun - G forces not withstanding - and don’t have to deal with air traffic control. Rings true for recreational pilots but not aviation career advancement.