Getting Started with RC Quadcopters!

I’ve written about RC planes. I’ve written a review of a quadcopter, and I’ve written RC plane reviews. But how you start flying RC quadcopters? Well, that’s what this post is for; read on… 

 Also: visit my second post on umFlight  about getting started with planes. 

The Controls

Quadcopter trainer controls are slightly different than planes. 


the controls of a quadcopter

 Yep. This is the same picture from my fourth post on umFlight, and the controls of a quadcopter are the same as the controls of RC planes. Push the elevator forward, and the quadcopter goes forward. Back and it goes back. Moving the aileron left or right moves the quadcopter left or right, and the rudder pivots it.

Selecting your First Quadcopter:

It’s hard to select a first quadcopter when they are considered a third major type of RC aircraft (along with helis and planes) and a stepping stone between beginner and advanced helicopters. So I will show two possible paths depending on how fast you learn.

The first path is to buy a beginner helicopter like the Blade MCX2 and then buy a quadcopter. This is ideal is you are a slower learner.

The second is to go straight to a beginner quadcopter if you can learn a little faster. Many people actually recommend to go strait to the quadcopter, but I displayed the first option just in case.

Now, let’s assume that, if you decided to get an MCX2 or similar, that you finished learning with it. It is time to select your first quadcopter! I’m going to help you select a first micro quadcopter. Micros, other than being what I blog about, are much cheaper than larger quadcopters, and are VERY durable. However, larger quadcopters are durable, too, but the micros… wow! 

So, my recommendation is a Blade Nano QX. If you have/are going to get a computerized radio (this must be DSM2/X to work with the NQX!), then get the BNF version for $60. If you don’t have the right radio, then get the $89 RTF version.


All quadcopters are very durable compared to RC helicopters or planes. The Nano QX even has blade guards, which guard the only thing that usually breaks- the rotors! 


Slowly bring the throttle up a bit, and then move it up to about half throttle quickly to get it away from the floor or table. If the quadcopter is too close to a table or the floor, it can become less stable, so newbies need to avoid that.


Once you are a few feet in the air, just let it hover. Make slight corrections by moving the controls to keep it in the same general area. After a minute or two (even a whole battery or two), start making slight movements to make it move around. Note: if you are using the Agility mode (that’s what it is called on the NQX at least), then the quadcopter will NOT stop moving when you return the stick to center. You must apply a little pressure in the opposite direction it is going. If in Stability mode, it will stop when you neutralize the controls.


Move your quadcopter over a good landing area and gently move the throttle down.


I hope that this helped you get started with RC quadcopter. If you have any questions, just ask in the comments.

Flying in the Wind Can Be Fun!

A few days ago, I was out flying my Champ in somewhat heavy winds (somewhere between 5 and 15 mph) and I, for the first time in my life, thought that flying in these winds was… fun. Yes, fun.

It took a lot of concentration, skill, and a little luck. This was the first time that luck was not a significant factor for me in the wind. My wind flying skills finally just clicked. After two years of flying various RC aircraft (one year of hobby grade flying), I was finally able to fly in more than a very light wind on aircraft not equipped with AS3X.

Before attempting to fly on winds over 5 MPH in an ultra micro, do these steps:

1. Master the plane in calm air before moving on to “windyish” conditions.

2. Practice in light wind, then moderate wind, and then more…

3. Know that you will be spending the time keeping the plane on course. Not doing crazy flying.

4. NEVER maiden a plane in wind. I have heard this repeatedly on forums and common sense would say this, too. Leave each plane’s first flights for calmer days.

Flying in that wind improved my precision in no wind an allowed me to fly more often (the wind is usually about 10 mph around my house).

Thanks for reading. Leave a comment, share this post, and enjoy!

What are AS3X and SAFE?

AS3X (Artificial Stabilization 3 aXis) and SAFE (sensor assisted flight envelope) are two fairly recent Horizon Hobby innovations. But what are they? Read this post for an explanation!

Firstly, all planes equipped with SAFE also have AS3X.

AS3X is a 3 axis gyro system, meaning that if an outside force (like wind) knocks the plane off course, the gyros will compensate for this and put the plane back on course. But, if you move a the sticks of the radio, it will let the plane change to your new course. This system allows a RC plane to fly in heavier winds than without AS3X.

SAFE is the same thing as AS3X, but SAFE has an accelerometer, which brings in self leveling. SAFE also has flight modes and, sometimes, a Panic switch. A switch on your transmitter will activate Panic mode, which automatically brings your aircraft to level flight!

SAFE usually has 3 flight modes: beginner, intermediate, and advanced. Beginner mode has a limited bank angle and self leveling. Intermediate mode has a less limited banking angle and self leveling. Finally, Advanced mode has no bank angle limits and no self leveling.

You can progress through the modes, from beginner to expert, with just a flip of a switch or two (again, depends on the transmitter)!

And, with Panic mode, you don’t have to worry as much as usual about getting the plane into a bad attitude or it getting out of control; just press the Panic button/flip the Panic switch and the aircraft returns to level flight.

To learn more about SAFE and AS3X, visit these two web pages:

AS3X Link


Thanks for reading! As a continuation of my AS3X posts, I will post a review on an AS3X plane and an AS3X mod in the next couple of Sundays.


Update: After flying the Sport Cub S, I have found that, on planes, there is only self leveling in Beginner mode. Quadcopters and helicopters have self leveling in Intermediate mode, but planes do not. Just keep this in mind.