Our club has a Wings Program for those new members who require training to pilot a radio controlled model aircraft successfully. This program has been running for as long as the club has been around. Every non-flyer requires training of some sort in order to be able to take off and land without incident. Please believe me when I say that I have never seen anyone fly an R/C powered aircraft successfully without some sort of training. A person might be able to take off successfully, but within a very short time, the aircraft will return to earth in a manner that will require extensive repairs. Training continues for all students, young or old, until they are able to take off, fly a couple of circuits, perform a couple of simple manoeuvres, and land successfully several times from different directions.
Our club has several instructors who are regular club members, but are very skilled pilots usually having flown R/C for many years. We do not charge any fees for providing this service. The instructors do it for the love of it. These instructors try to get out to the field as often as they can, but sometimes other things prevent them from always being there. Students can always show their appreciation toward the instructors by occasionally bringing a coffee.
Training each year usually begins in early May depending upon the weather, and continues all summer until mid September. Evenings get too short after that. This year training will again take place on Wednesday evenings from about 5:00 PM until dusk, and Saturday mornings from 8:00 AM for electrics and 9:00 for glow finishing about noon. Other times are possible, but only by making prior arrangements with an instructor.
You will find that on some occasions there will be lots of instructors and very few students. Other times there will be lots of students, but very few instructors. This can't be helped, since co-ordinating this takes a lot of time with today's busy lifestyles. The best advice is to show up as often as you can. The more flights you can get in during one session, the better. If you can't be present during these times, you will have a difficult time learning. You might be able to co-ordinate your time with a particular instructor for training outside the normal times, but then you are interfering with the regular members' times. Sometimes it can be annoying to the regular members to have a student putting around during open flying. Also, instructors like to have some time to themselves to fly their own aircraft, and not be bothered (if that is the correct word) by students who might demand attention at other times.
All of our instructors use "buddy boxes" to teach the students. These are dummy transmitters which are attached to the "master" by an umbilical cord. You are encouraged (or at least it is suggested) that you get your own buddy box. I believe they cost about $30, and it can always be sold to another student when you no longer require it. The club has some buddy boxes available, but not every brand and sometimes not enough for everyone who shows up. This slows down the training process while the boxes are re-trimmed for different aircraft.
During training the instructor has the master transmitter and has complete control of your aircraft. He can give you control and take it away instantly with the release of a spring-loaded switch located on his transmitter. Once you get started, you will have control most of the time, but if you get into trouble, the instructor can re-gain control in an instant. This leads to less crashes and usually speeds up the time required to become proficient enough to fly on your own. Once you have reached a level of flying that satisfies the instructors, you will be given a "test" flight. Once you have demonstrated your skills to the satisfaction of two instructors, you will be given your "wings". Sometimes this test flight might be given without your knowledge. There is no pressure in this instance, and you might be given your wings when you don't expect them. Once you have your wings you can fly on your own without anyone else present. You are still encouraged to join the other students, at least for a while, because the learning process does not stop the minute you get your "wings".
For other information not covered here, check out the FAQ page.
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