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Trainer planes, the wrong approach

#1
From flying my first RC planes and learning on my own, I think that the typically docile, gently-responding, training plane is a poor way to start.

I began with a flying wing built from the book, “DIY RC Airplanes from Scratch”, by Breck Baldwin. The plane is very responsive, and that’s good. According to the author, “This instant feedback gives the pilot a clear signal of what works and what doesn’t.” Yes, this leads to crashes. Which are going to happen anyway in the beginning. Not a problem, as his planes fly even when seriously crumpled (he calls them “flying towels”).

Compare this to the typical trainer which takes a longer time to respond to inputs. I tried one and found that the feedback lag made things worse, and the plane harder to fly. I’d try to correct a problem, nothing happened (or happened slowly), so I’d over correct, leading to an unexpected result, with things escalating from there.

I love having the instant response to see “well, that’s not right” and be able to get out of it. It’s also good not to be too afraid of crashing. Both let you experiment freely, and that’s a great, and fast, way to learn.
 

CarolineTyler

Well-known member
#2
I get what you say. I count myself as a competent newbie. I love the wings (I have a few), their speed, their lack of heavy stalls and their robustness and I love FPV quadcopters (again fast and nimble). I belong to a model flying club here in the UK and the rules are that when I'm flying on the field I have to have a mentor with me until I pass my 'A' certificate. And there's the rub - the BMFA require I use a plane with undercarriage that weighs more than a kilo (1.5+ kilos recommended) and that's a big plane compared to what I enjoy flying. Luckily I was given a busted up Seagull Swift 40 trainer which I refurbished to do training and my exams on. It's so sluggish compared to my wings and other planes, I feel that I'm stirring a pot of porridge when controlling it and although it flys great and almost ignores gusts of wind, its sheer size scares me a bit!!
Its different flying, it's more technical flying and I'm certain that long-term I will benefit from flying this beast It just won't be as fun!
 
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#3
Love the "stirring a pot of porridge" image. You guys in the UK have more restrictions and licenses for everything. I ride a motorcycle here in the US and as long as you have a pulse you can get a license. Where you are, you have to go through training and serious testing. From my time in England I can say that this produces much better riders. And maybe rc fliers as well.
 

CarolineTyler

Well-known member
#4
Love the "stirring a pot of porridge" image. You guys in the UK have more restrictions and licenses for everything. I ride a motorcycle here in the US and as long as you have a pulse you can get a license. Where you are, you have to go through training and serious testing. From my time in England I can say that this produces much better riders. And maybe rc fliers as well.
I used to be a motocycle instructor :)
 

Piotrsko

Well-known member
#5
Typically a trainer should be trimmed to fly hands off for several moments. You do this because you are learning a new skill not related to anything else you've ever done. Rudder reversal and the death spiral comes to mind. When was the last time you walked on a ceiling upside-down?Fast stuff has little time to recognize that an error was made and even less time to decide how to correct and recover. THREE MISTAKES high is for a reason. Having said that, I have zero problem with responsive trainers being expo'd down. Computer trainers are nice, but, my son can fly circles around me on the computer, anything on file, any condition, but has not had a sucessful flight at the field.
 

Hai-Lee

Old and Bold RC PILOT
#6
From flying my first RC planes and learning on my own, I think that the typically docile, gently-responding, training plane is a poor way to start.

I began with a flying wing built from the book, “DIY RC Airplanes from Scratch”, by Breck Baldwin. The plane is very responsive, and that’s good. According to the author, “This instant feedback gives the pilot a clear signal of what works and what doesn’t.” Yes, this leads to crashes. Which are going to happen anyway in the beginning. Not a problem, as his planes fly even when seriously crumpled (he calls them “flying towels”).

Compare this to the typical trainer which takes a longer time to respond to inputs. I tried one and found that the feedback lag made things worse, and the plane harder to fly. I’d try to correct a problem, nothing happened (or happened slowly), so I’d over correct, leading to an unexpected result, with things escalating from there.

I love having the instant response to see “well, that’s not right” and be able to get out of it. It’s also good not to be too afraid of crashing. Both let you experiment freely, and that’s a great, and fast, way to learn.
I am self taught and my first plane was a micro 3 channel with no computer aids or even expo. Sure it gave me a "Feel" for what the plane was telling me but my number of crashes was horrific. I then started building in FB and depron again with the wrong radio gear and I learned a great deal more, (at my own expense).

Then I finally got reasonable and modern radio gear and some FT designs in my hangar and my skills grew rapidly. Now I teach others how to build, setup, repair and fly and I also mentor others to improve their experience.

The learning process can be very short for some and impossibly long for others. With a "Trainer" model aircraft the student gets time to observe what the model is doing, "Think" about their required reaction, and then input the required control corrections/inputs. This "Thinking" time is generally the basis of the somewhat sluggish control responses in trainer aircraft especially as beginners have an almost universal overcontrolling aspect to their initial control responses.

Another design feature is the self righting/ stability of their design because in a panic brought on by control confusion the first reaction is to "Hands off" of the transmitter controls. This "Hands off" on a self righting trainer model has saved a lot of crashes and money!

As an instructor the hardest part is to keep the trainee's interest high and for me to learn the current student's level of skill and capability. For reasons of cost for the student I even supply TTs for their use at attempting solo flights and as an assessment method of their skill levels. When I first started many years ago the crashing and the cost of replacement models/repairs almost drove me away as I had limited means so I do all I can to remove the cost and damage of crashes from the student and endeavor to build the student's skill and confidence levles continuously. So far as an instructor I have not had a student crash or otherwise damage their models, (TTs do not count as they are disposable).

Some of those I have taught now fly far better than I ever will and got there in a very short time and yet others have 20 or more hours of buddy box instruction and are only just able to retain control for a minute or two before intervention is required. Different things for different people! Slow trainer aircraft are a vital step along the lowest cost route to learning to fly RC model aircraft though for some it is just a very quick and small step and for others it is a almost a plateau or a final destination in itself.

I hear your argument and I shared some aspects of your experience but then you need to consider that not everyone has the ability to learn on your time scale or even that not everyone has the ability to learn the "Reflexes" in the manner or the time frame that you managed. I suppose that it why they call it "Personal Experience".

Have fun!