RC Airplanes



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RC Airplane terms and definitions

As with any hobby or pursuit there are lots of terms, words, and definitions that go along with it so as you are learning the hobby you are also learning the language of the hobby. In the case of RC airplanes there are technical terms for building the planes and there are also lots of aeronautical terms that have to do with flying and or the parts and controls of the plane. Here is a list of many of these terms.


General Terms

ARF - Almost Ready to fly - These refers to an RC airplane that needs some work to be completed and flown. Typically you have to do some minor assembly, install the servos, the engine and a few other things like landing gear. A kit like this, for a balsa wood airplane can take ten hours to complete.

RTF - Ready to fly - You can take the plane out of the box and fly it. Although you will have to do a few things like add batteries and test it and probably attach the wings to the fuselage.


Parts of an RC airplane

I have a page with pictures to help you understand the parts of an airplane better

  • Battery - powers the motor
  • Canopy - goes over the cockpit where the "pilot" would sit.
  • Cowl - This goes on the front of the airplane covering the motor unit
  • Engine/motor - turns the propellor
  • Fuselage - the main body of the aircraft
  • Landing gear - wheels for the plane to land, typically two in front and one at the rear
  • Propellor - turns and impels the aircraft forward
  • Recharger - charges up the battery
  • Spinner - the front nose of the propellor
  • Transmitter - The operator uses this to control the aircraft
  • Wings - gives the plane flight!
  • Ailerons - Control Roll (tilts plane so one or other wing goes down/up)
  • Elevator - Controls pitch of airplane (up/down)
  • Throttle - Speed of airplane
  • Rudder - Controls Yaw (turning left/right)
  • Receiver/controller - This receives the radio signal from the transmitter and sends the signal to the various servos in the airplane. This is how you control the plane.
  • Servos - These are small electrical activated devices that push or pull the control rods
  • Control rods - These extend to the moving parts of the aircraft such as the rudder, elevators and ailerons. The motion of these rods move the controlled parts of the plane causing it to change its flight path.
  • Clevis - a small plastic part that connects a part of the plane to the control rod. It enables the control rod to move the plane part
  • Control horn - A plastic star or wheel that mounts to the servo. The control rod connects to this.


gas powered ARF Plane

I have started a new series of tutorials on gas powered arf airplanes and it includes videos. I take you through all the steps to building and flying a gas plane. The plane picture at left is a balsa wood arf and this is a pretty big plane. The fuselage is about four feet in length. Intro to Gas powered ARF planes