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Starting RC Model Flying in Ireland

There are a couple of ways you can get started.

The traditional way is to locate a model flying club near to where you live. The local hobby shop is usually a good starting point to get this information. I live near to Dublin, and my preferred LHS (local hobby shop) is Green Hobby & Model in Dublin,  This is the solution that is preferred by model pilots who buy a glowfuel engine trainer model plane. You see, a glowfuel model is designed to take off a grass runway, and the club has rented a field, rolled the grass, and keeps it nice and short. The club has what you need if this is the kind of model you got. Unfortunately this kind of model is too heavy to learn on by yourself, because of its weight (2 1/2 - 3 1/2 kgs it would break easily if it lands a bit too hard (being made of balsa wood) - and repairs are to be avoided as long as possible!  But never mind - the club will have an instructor who can teach you for free and he will do your takeoffs and landings until you are able to do them ok every time. With a glowfuel engine trainer, that will be about 12 to 20 flights.

What if you don't want to take organised lessons? This approach is not for everyone, and I didn't like depending on the instructor arriving to "get me up", before I could fly.  The answer is to get a different type of airplane. One that makes flying easier. One that weighs less. Usually this is an electric engine model aircraft. Answer: get electric powered soaring gliders to learn on.

When I got started I bought a .45 size glowfuel engine kit and built it up. Then I took it to the club and got a few lessons. But I wanted more freedom, so I sold the model 6 weeks later.  I got a tiny glider called a Pixie, chopped off the nose, stuck in a speed 400 motor (electric) and took it out into a field to learn to fly. I had a lot of fun, but this was a dummy run for the real thing. Then I got the model that had actually suited me better all along, only I didn't know it earlier. the internals from the little Pixie fitted perfectly into the much larger Daisy.

My new model aircraft was a Daisy - fibreglass fuselage, very strong and light, and the wings were made of the traditional built up balsa wood. The weight was reduced from the 3+kgs of my first plane, down to 800 grams now. This one flew so much easier, and landed like a feather. It was a Daisy Electric version and I learned to fly with it. I learned to fly really well with Daisy, and later I upgraded it with the more aerobatic wings that are available from the shop. That plane did almost a hundred flights for me, before battered and much repaired, I finally retired it.

Where do you fly if you don't go to the club?  It is a natural enough question. Well the obvious place is the slopes of a hill or mountain. Ireland is perfect, because the windy days are best for this. Incidentally, the wind stops the glowfuel engine type planes from flying, especially the trainer ones. But the Daisy thrives on wind. You use less gear too, so it's easier to get ready to go out at short notice. Answer: Go flying in upland areas.

The best comparison is to compare petrol engine type models with a speedboat, engine and trailer whereas the Daisy would be a yacht. At first it's not obvious that this is a simpler, cheaper, less troublesome way, but we learn as time passes and  I woke up to the advantages of electric flight. The easier it is to get the gear perfect, the more often I fly. And I flew lots with Daisy.

My son is learning to fly now. He wanted a plane that looked like the piston engine trainer models, but with an electric engine inside, to keep it easy to use. We decided on a small Cessna by Rodel. Here it is... This is a very cheap model, completely made of styro foam. But it builds up ok and flies nicely. It also slope soars well (with engine off) in a PSS style. This way he gets flights 30-45 minutes long and has more flying time and less of the tricky takeoffs & landings to do, until he gets the hang of the hobby. And I use less glue on repairs !

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