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Getting Started
So you think you want to fly?....
Here's how it goes..

First you find someone that flies in your area and talk to him/her. Then you need to see if you can afford getting started. This should take from $100-$200, depending on how many luxuries you want. (These may include an electric starter, electric fuel pump, field box, tachometer, and other unneccessary, yet helpful gizmos.)

Now comes the fun part....
Now you need a plane. There are many options out there to choose from. You can start with anything, but what you start with directly affects your learning experience.
The next question you need to ask your self is "Do I want to build??"
If the answer is "yes", you will be in for an even more rewarding experience in seeing your own creation fly.
If you are limited for time, perhaps an ARF (Almost Ready to Fly) is the better option.
There are many quality planes to choose from in both categories.

Now comes a crucial choice. Do you want a true "trainer" (very slow, stable plane..wing has a lot of dihedral (upward "vee" of the wing), very good self recovery characteristics), or a "easy" sport plane (not as stable, but not too hard to fly. A sport plane is a little bit harder to learn on, but in my opinion, it makes you a better pilot quicker. It also provides you with a good plane to practice aerobatics on once you master basic flight.

Personally, I learned on a Hobbico Starfire .40 AWARF. You learn to actually fly more easily, because you have to control it. I see too many people letting their stable trainers wander across the sky because they basically fly themselves. With a gentle sport plane, you learn to fly patterns (wide circles/ovals) with authority over your plane.

Getting Ready...
Once you've made your decision, you may need help. (Whether it be with building, or just in general..) Don't be afraid to ask for help, whether it be from the local hobby shop or the local pilots. Both will more than likely be very willing to help, and a little help with a new hobby can make a huge difference in the way your model flies.

The Powerplant
Engine Selection
As a beginner, follow the manufacturer's engine guidelines to the letter. You will have your hands full if you over-power or under-power you craft.
Looking for an economic choice? O.S. makes an excellent line of engines, with many models falling in the "less than $100" category. These may include the FP series or the LA series. Both are excellent engines. Another good manufacturer is K&B. Their Sportster series are very good, and also fall in the "less than $100" category. These are just a couple suggestions, as there are dozens of manufacturers out there. No matter what your choice, follow the manufacturers "break in" instructions exactly. There is no better way to ruin an engine than not breaking it in properly. this extends the engine's life and enhances performance dramatically!!

The Radio
This is also an important decision. A poor choice here can lead to disaster the first time out. Use only an FM radio (AM is very susceptible to interference which makes it dangerous to use for airplanes) in top working condition. If you can't get a new radio, make sure the previous owner took extremely good care of it and have an experienced pilot give it a good check before flying. One of the leading causes of crashes is radio failure. A few good choices for radio equipment are Futaba (the Skysport series), Airtronics (the Vanguard series), and Hitec. Be sure to keep a good charge on your NiCads, as a weak battery means a weak signal, which may lead to a radio failure/crash. An inexpensive "hobby" voltmeter is a sound investment.

Don't Get Discouraged....
Needless to say, it will not be the easiest thing in the world to learn. However, most planes will take a fair amount of punishment (especially trainers!) and a minor rebuild here and there is to be expected. No one learns it overnight, and you'll have to keep practiced up to maintain skills. This is why it is unwise to give up for a week or so if you crash. Go home, be pissed off, rebuild, and get back down to the flying field. For every "break" you take, you 'll find that you have forgotten how to do some things. Be persistant, but most importantly, have fun!!!!