Basic Aircraft Set-up
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Aircraft setup is often touted as an art. It is absolutely true that there is a lot involved in developing a good set-up, but the good news is that none of it is difficult…just time consuming. It starts with your choice of aircraft and continues through several dozen flights. You have to follow a regimented series of steps, each of which must be accomplished in a particular order. There are no short-cuts. You can skip a step, but you cannot trick the physics of flight. It will know you skipped the step and reward you with a poor flying plane. Take your time to get it right, though, and you will have a superb flying plane that is a joy to fly.

You will never do well in competition if you are compensating for a plane that does not fly right. The following discussion of aircraft set-up is directed towards pattern competition…both scale and not. Any sport plane will benefit from careful set-up, but you don’t need to spend as much time on a sport design, which is, no doubt, limited in its abilities.

I understand that a lot of the old heads will read this and have their own techniques for trimming aircraft. I am in no way implying that the techniques I am giving you here are the only ones you can use. There are others. I will state that after 40 years of modeling, an engineering degree, and a career flying full size planes, I doubt there are many trim techniques I have not heard of and tried. I have chosen the simplest ones to explain - and use - and assure you they will work. So, don’t argue with the old heads. Use my techniques, and then double check them with the others you may hear. They are all tools in your box of tricks to get your plane flying right.

I have ordered the following steps in the order they MUST be performed. If you later make a change to one of the steps, you will have to re-run the steps below it, but not above.

So, read along as we cover aircraft set-up from selecting the right plane to dialing it in.


Choosing the right plane.

Aircraft Weight Discussion

What To Do About To Much Power

Equipment Considerations



Choosing a Transmitter

Which Modulation to Choose

Details About PCM

How Many Channels do I Need?

The Trim Pass

How to Set Center of Gravity

Setting Elevator Travel

Setting Engine Thrust Line

Setting Lateral CG


Rudder Mixes

Throttle Mixes

Aileron Differential

Finalizing Control Rates

3D Setup


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