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A Comprehensive Guide on Radio Controlled Aircraft

radio-controlled aircraft, also called an RC plane or RC aircraft, is a remotely-operable flying machine that can be controlled through a handheld radio transmitter by an operator situated at a distance. The RC plane contains a receiver designed to communicate with the handheld transmitter using signals received by servomechanisms that correspond to the joystick's position on the transmitter.

Although consumers of kids' toys and hobbyist collectors occupy a large chunk of the RC aircraft market, there's much more to such technology. What started as a hobby among RC airplane enthusiasts has now grown into serious military-grade interests that are fully funded and bolstered by the US Air Force and the Navy.

Indeed, the rudimentary, rudder-only RC models of the past have now evolved into more advanced aerobatic models and pylon racers, among other RC aircraft types. In light of this newly emerging development in aviation, radio-controlled airplanes can no longer be considered child's play. This is why this blog aims to shed further light on the world of radio-controlled aircraft and how you can find one that suits your unique needs.

What Is the Working Principle of RC Airplanes?

RC airplanes, like most airplanes, work on the principle of Bernoulli's theorem. According to Bernoulli's principle, airplanes achieve aerodynamic stability not because of the pocket of air above the wings' surface, but by the partial vacuum created beneath them. This pressure difference above and below the wings provides aerodynamic lift from the airplane's state of equilibrium. Briefly put, the aircraft gets "sucked up" and maintains a near-constant flight speed as a direct application of Bernoulli's theorem.

To further modify flight control, the design of RC airplanes encompasses four hinged design contrivances: the rudder, elevator, ailerons, and throttle. The ailerons, elevator, and rudder are classified as primary control surfaces. While the rudder is designed to provide in-flight directional stability by moving left to right (and vice versa), the ailerons and elevators do so by moving up and down. In addition, these control surfaces can be moved in tandem to alter the tangible side force/lift/downforce movement experienced by the aircraft.

What Are the Different Types of RC Aircraft?

As briefly discussed before, old-time RC aircraft hobbyists compete cheek-by-jowl with top military and civil aviation procurers in the surging demand for quality RC aircraft. Furthermore, the introduction of electric RC helicopters has only further fuelled this demand. Therefore, it makes sense that we now explore the different categories of RC airplanes available in this sector.

RC airplanes are available in different sizes, composed of different materials, and suitable for various purposes. All models are categorized as scale, full-scale, or semi-scale types. If the model in use is a functional replica of a real aircraft, then it falls under the ambit of "scale," if it is merely a representative model of the actual aircraft, it is said to be a "semi-scale" RC aircraft while a novel design created from scratch is dubbed "non-scale." Let us now delve deeper into the broad categories of modern RC aircraft:

Fixed Wing RC Aircraft

Fixed-wing airplanes are not designed to lift off vertically from the ground. Apart from that, their structure is shaped so that they can operate with considerable aerodynamic equilibrium. Fixed-wing RC airplanes are further divided into:

  1. Gliders

These airplanes have a basic, rudimentary design and do not require an electric motor. Therefore, they do not need too many accessories or design modifications and can work well with wind or thermal energy to remain airborne for long periods. Usually, these airplanes can be given a flight boost by being launched from an elevated pedestal, like a hilltop.

  1. Powered Gliders

Unlike gliders, powered gliders, sailplanes, or e-soarers use an electric motor to derive power while airborne. This additional feature removes the need to launch powered gliders from an elevated altitude, and launching from flat ground would work similarly to launching from an elevated position. However, much like gliders, these can be vertically hand-launched as long as there is enough space. Today, the most commonly used powered gliders/sailplanes are usually 2 meters long and can withstand intense wind speeds without using much energy.

  1. Jets

Jets happen to be among the most expensive fixed-wing RC airplanes, thanks to their inherent requirement of expensive equipment, not to mention the technical skills needed for their operation and upkeep. Their design features include wooden airframes, electric ducted fans (EDF), kevlar fuel tanks, and propane-fuelled microturbines that can switch to jet fuel using a solenoid.

  1. Warbirds

Warbirds are extremely popular for their sleek design aesthetic and nostalgic association with post-World War II aircraft. Collectors and hobbyists swear by the Corsair F4U, Mustang, and Spitfire as some vintage examples of this series of aircraft. These RC planes are more reminiscent of the artillery target drones that the US Army extensively used during the Second World War.

  1. Pylon Racers

Slow in design and hard to spot, pylon racers, much as the name suggests, are used for racing around a multiple-lane track, where the number of lanes can range from 2 to 4. They have an average speed of 240 km/h, although some models operate at a much slower pace. In the US, the Q40 and Q500 are used for racing, though several different models are used for racing worldwide.

RC Helicopters - Just like their airplane counterparts, RC helicopters have emerged as affordable and convenient beginner-friendly solutions for people interested in stepping into and exploring the domain of radio-controlled aircraft. Most RC Helicopters available today can be divided into three major categories:

  1. Single Rotor helicopters

One of the most conventionally used RC helicopter systems is the single rotor helicopter, which can be powered just like RC airplanes. Single rotor helicopters can derive their power either from IC engines or electricity, although IC-powered helicopter designs tend to be more complicated in their operation and management.

  1. Coaxial RC helicopters

Coaxial RC helicopters are different from single rotor RC helicopters because they have double coaxial rotor systems to keep the helicopter airborne instead of the principal and tail rotor systems found in single-rotor helicopters. Because of their unique rotor designs, these are also known as contra-rotating or dual-rotor helicopters. 

  1. Multicopters

Multicopters contain multiaxial thrusting rotor units, which can be regulated by the downward or upward thrusting of the system. However, multicopters are ineffective on their own and need a flight controller for obtaining aerial stability. The computer-operated flight controllers used for multicopters utilize sophisticated technologies such as gyroscopes and accelerometers to precisely regulate the altitude and direction of the multicopter in flight.

In a market full of counterfeit products, sourcing genuine and top-quality RC airplanes, whether fully assembled or in parts, can be a daunting task. However, you need not worry since we at Stacked Aviation have your back with our nearly-endless inventory of new, hard-to-find, and obsolete parts that are sourced from trustworthy entities. Regardless of your parts procurement needs, with Stacked Aviation, you can rest easy about sourcing only top-notch parts and products held to the strictest quality-testing protocols. Get started by submitting an RFQ form, and one of our sales reps will happily assist you in your buying journey.


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