Is there a comparison of model types versus the milestones that reflects which plane is best for learning in ?


I bought an EPP flying wing some time ago and have taught myself and a few friends and family members, as well as any stranger with some curiosity, to get up into the blue yonder. My experience has been that it takes around 200-300 flights before you can hold a figure 8 pattern. It seems that the initial flights are the largest learning block since the flights are quite short and the window for learning the smallest as the person gets longer flights in they tend to learn quicker. Roughly the learning curve goes as follows :

  1. The first 50-100 flights, with flight times of 5-15 seconds, one gets the control down (Dive, climb, left and right).
  2. The next 100-200 flights, with flight times of 15-30 seconds, one can start transitioning to powered flight.
  3. The 200-300 thereafter, with flight times of 30 seconds to a few minutes, one gets comfortable with it flying back at you and across your view.


The general claim is that a slow flying, top wing is best for learning but I have had fair success with a flying wing. I intend to use a discuss launch glider next as you can give the person a longer flying time for the initial learning curve and I was wondering what others experiences/learning curves were with different model types.


I'm curious about the folk who selected the "wrong" thing to learn on and how they got along none the less. Perhaps it turns out that one type of craft is better for learning on then some other; granted a top wing is the likely result.

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    $\begingroup$ It seems that your asking for a discussion about people's experiences? I think this sort of thing would be better suited to chat (Droning On). $\endgroup$
    – Jacob B
    Commented Oct 6, 2020 at 10:45
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    $\begingroup$ Perhaps the question should be "How long does it take to learn to fly an RC plane?" Or "What are the milestones when learning to fly?" $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 6, 2020 at 11:14
  • $\begingroup$ @JacobB I thought this was quite explicit, namely ""How long did it take one to learn to keep a plane up based on the type of model they started training on ?". I was expecting some variation based upon model type and there will undoubtedly be variations due to ones experience and skillset but I thought laying it out as I did might lead one to answer in a fashion similar to the enumerated list I provided .e.g. I did reached X in so many flights and Y in so many more. Perhaps it's better to frame this within the scope of Robin Bennett's suggestion ? I can see that its a form of polling though. $\endgroup$
    – Carel
    Commented Oct 6, 2020 at 20:49
  • $\begingroup$ @Carel I get what you're saying, but as it is, it's still better suited to chat. If you haven't already, please see our Tour. It is best to avoid questions that are primarily opinion-based, or that are likely to generate discussion rather than answers. Currently, your question is just asking for people's experiences, all of which will vary and there is no one "correct" or widely accepted answer to your question. You might want to consider one of Robin Bennett's suggestions in order to make your question better suit the scope of the site. $\endgroup$
    – Jacob B
    Commented Oct 6, 2020 at 21:23
  • $\begingroup$ I was just typing a comment to say that if this really deviates too much from the exchange's scope let me know and I'll delete it. $\endgroup$
    – Carel
    Commented Oct 6, 2020 at 21:24

1 Answer 1


The big problem with learning to fly is that some of characteristics you need for a good trainer are the opposite of other requirements.

  1. Large models are less affected by wind, because their flying speed is proportionally higher relative to the wind speed. However small models are a lot more robust in a crash. and cheaper, so less discouraging when you crash.

  2. Highly stable models return the model to straight and level flight but neutrally stable models (like a flying wing) are less affected by gusts.

Traditionally this leave you with the option of a small, stable model and waiting patiently for calm weather, or a faster, less stable model and an instructor (or lots of crashes and repairs!)

These days it's possible to use electronic stabilisation to tame a neutrally stable aircraft, and to reduce the effect of gusts on a small model (although it won't stop it disappearing down wind!)

IME it takes an hour or two (on a simulator, or accumulated flight time) before a beginner can keep a model under control and steer the right way when it's flying towards them. Most people can only concentrate for 5-10 minutes at a time, so that's 10-20 flights (on a reasonably stable trainer, suitable weather and an instructor avoiding crashes). It then takes few months to a year before progressing on to an aileron model that isn't stable in roll - maybe 10 hours of flight time, say 100 flights of 5-10 minutes each.

Obviously if you don't have an instructor and are just doing short glides, those first couple of hours will translate to a lot of flights. If you're starting with an aileron plane (like a flying wing) you'll need to reach that 10 hour mark before you're really flying.

Older people take longer to learn, and missing a few weeks due to bad weather or other commitments puts them back a few steps. It's common for people to struggle through weeks of poor conditions then suddenly 'get it' when we have a nice calm day because they're not fighting the gusts.

I've taught a couple of people who practiced extensively on a simulator and flew a trainer competently on their first flight and an aerobatic model 5 minutes later.


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