Is there a generally accepted set of milestones that one should "tick" off before claiming that they can fly ? Are there different guidelines based upon the craft e.g. fixed wings, quadcopter versus helicopter ? Are these published by the modelling associations or by legal bodies like the countries aviation authority ?

My checklist is roughly :

  1. You crash beyond the first patch of khakibos in the veldt we fly in under glide
  2. You crash beyond the second patch of khakibos in the veldt we fly in under power
  3. You crash when you can fly across the veldt, where left is away from you and right is towards you or vice versa, and even return, where left is really right and right is really left and you understand the term "spiral of death"
  4. You crash in style reminiscent of "Those magnificent men in their flying machines" that you feel you could claim was a controlled decent to your friends and family without too much blushing after doing a series of "Uppity up up ups and down di down down downs" (or due to another attack by the resident bully of a hadida)

I doubt this is authoritive in any way whatsoever and was wondering if there was a better set of guidelines to work against.

  • $\begingroup$ This question was prompted by a youtube video where the guy mentioned he had to get clearance for flying a turbine jet, not sure if that was from his club or some larger body, and queries between Ceramicmrno0b, Robbin Bennet and myself. I'll link the video if I find it. $\endgroup$
    – Carel
    Oct 7 '20 at 12:50
  • $\begingroup$ Just a note about the spacing: english.stackexchange.com/q/4645/2241 $\endgroup$
    – JYelton
    Oct 7 '20 at 23:21
  • $\begingroup$ In addition to pilot competence, large models can require airworthiness approval from the CAA and jets often require permission from air traffic control in order to fly higher than models are normally allowed. These days every country has their own 'drone laws' that you need to check before flying, but they rarely check actual piloting skill because models are so varied. $\endgroup$ Oct 8 '20 at 8:08

In the UK, the British Model Flying Association offer an Achievement Scheme which recognises a few levels of competence:

  • The Basic Proficiency Certificates provide a measure of competence for pilots operating fixed and rotary wing aircraft fitted with stabilisation technologies.
  • An FPV extension is also available to holders of any Basic Proficiency or ‘A’ certificate.
  • The ‘A’ Certificate, which may be equated to a basic standard of safety and flying competence.
  • The ‘B’ Certificate, which is designed to recognise a more advanced pilot’s increased ability and knowledge, and demonstrates a high level of safety.
  • The ‘C’ Certificate, Aerobatics.
  • The ‘C’ Certificate, Scale
  • The ‘C’ Certificate, Gas Turbine

As well as covering theory (air law/safety) questions, the flying skill required increases as the candidate progresses through the levels - from assisted flight, through holding level figure 8's and other manoeuvers, to being able to fly in aerobatic displays.

  • $\begingroup$ I'll accept this for now as it seems the most authoritive. $\endgroup$
    – Carel
    Oct 7 '20 at 12:46

Years ago, I tried to put something like this together. The idea was to combine my experience in teaching martial arts with an FPV beginner guide - a sort of grading/belt system if you will.

It only ever got to the first draft. Here is what I ended up with. Feel free to expand, share, etc:


Like Taekwondo, the idea is to have a set collection of "grading requirements" that you must tick off to achieve that grade level. The list is far from definitive but it will give you a start point. Have fun!

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Thanks for sharing this. $\endgroup$
    – Carel
    Oct 7 '20 at 12:52

In the UK, the BMFA operate an 'Achievement Scheme' (it's not a 'licence', although some clubs do use it that way)

The 'A' Certificate is a measure of flying ability and safety which "may be equated to a safe solo standard of flying" and an increasing number of clubs use it as their 'solo' test.

The pilot is required to:

(a) Carry out pre-flight checks as required by the BMFA safety codes.
(b) Take off and complete a left (or right) hand circuit and overfly the take-off area.
(c) Fly a "figure of eight" course with the cross-over in front of the pilot, height to be constant.
(d) Fly a rectangular circuit and approach with appropriate use of the throttle and perform a landing on the designated landing area.
(e) Take off and complete a left (or right) hand circuit and overfly the take-off area
(f) Fly a rectangular circuit at a constant height in the opposite direction to the landing circuit in (d) above.
(g) Perform a simulated deadstick landing with the engine at idle, beginning at a safe height (approx. 200 feet) over the take-off area, the landing to be made in a safe manner on the designated landing area.
(h) Remove model and equipment from the take-off/landing area.
(i) Complete post-flight checks as required by the BMFA Safety Codes.

The candidate will also be asked questions about the current laws, and the club's safety rules for the site.

The test standards and guidance for candidates document includes the mandatory legal questions and their answers.

This test was designed in the days of large, glow motor trainers and lots of people now fly smaller electric models without wheels, so they can't do the take off. For them, and those with gyro-stabilised models there's a 'Basic Proficiency Certificate', which is fundamentally the same but without the take-off.


Not sure if there are official or official unofficial(and vice versa) guidelines for what your asking, but if someone finds those that would be interesting.

I don't have much experience with planes or helicopters, but I have flown quadcopters before and my learning curve went something along the lines of;

  • quad rockets up and I turn the power back off because I wasn't expecting it to be so touchy(first few flights)
  • get a feel for where the quad hovers(about five flights)
  • experiment with moving(20-30 flights)
  • try moving and going up/down(40 flights)
  • have stupid idea and set up small obstacle course and ultimately fail(one or two flights)
  • try rotating with movement and up/down(30-40 flights)
  • just get a feel for how it moves and where to hover and counter and etc(50 flights)
  • try obstacle course again and finally make it(about ten flights)
  • try with fpv goggles and repeat all over again but should be a bit quicker this time

I definitely would not recommend starting with fpv goggles, and maybe practice alone with them until you can hover out of reach without much trouble(people seem to like to cover the camera and do stupid stuff with it if they know you're looking through it). doing this, I ran through a bunch of batteries and once I had mastered it I went ahead and bought a second set partly to reward myself but mostly cause I had stepped on a few and the rest somehow ended up in the vacuum cleaner.

  • $\begingroup$ Sounds we both jump in the deep end, how is it going with your fixed wing setup ? $\endgroup$
    – Carel
    Oct 7 '20 at 12:54
  • $\begingroup$ @Carel, still researching parts and will probably order this weekend, didn't realize planes got so expensive. still debating whether or not to buy a foam plane and go from there or make a cardboard WWI looking biplane. probably gonna go with foamy plane. $\endgroup$ Oct 7 '20 at 12:56
  • $\begingroup$ the flight test foam board affairs seem nice; granted you have to click around some on their website to get the actual plans. For me getting foam board of any kind has proved tricky or its expensive and I can build an equivalent in balsa wood for a little less it seems so that's my route for the moment. Aerofred has a number of plans if you end up going that way $\endgroup$
    – Carel
    Oct 7 '20 at 13:03

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