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Are RC Helicopters Hard To Fly? A Beginner’s Guide

If you’ve ever dreamed about owning your own helicopter, but you know that you’ll never be able to afford one, we understand. However, that’s why many of us became involved in RC helicopters. If you can’t own a real chopper, you can still experience the joy of owning a helicopter by purchasing an RC helicopter and learning how to fly it.

Are RC helicopters hard to fly? No, RC helicopters are not hard to operate, and it’s far more than just a toy with an instruction guide. RC helicopters are expensive pieces of equipment that do involve patience, skill, and time to learn how to fly. However, the process of learning how to fly is not complicated and requires some experience and comprehension.

Since there isn’t a lot of information available on the Internet today covering whether RC helicopters are hard to fly, we created this guide to help you out. Below we’ll talk about how you can get started in the world of RC helicopters and learn how to fly one.

Getting Started with RC Helicopters

While you might be eager to purchase your new RC helicopter and to get started with some enjoyable activities, you need to remember that you can’t run until you learn how to walk, as the old cliché goes. While enthusiasm is excellent, feeling overly enthusiastic can create a certain level of impatience, and there are a lot of consequences to impatience. For instance, you wouldn’t want to go in a real helicopter with an inexperienced, overly enthusiastic pilot, correct?

So, when you first start learning how to fly your RC helicopter, you’ll have to focus on learning one skill at a time. If you think of this as a challenge, and it is a very fun one, then you’ll feel accomplished each time you master one of these skills. Learning how to fly an RC helicopter is easier when you understand the way the parts on the RC helicopter work. We’ve broken down the skills you should master below before you start flying your RC helicopter.

#1 Understand Your Radio Transmitter

Your radio transmitter is the component that allows you to pilot your RC helicopter. All radio transmitters found in RC helicopters perform the same functions. While their options and designs can change depending on the manufacturer of the RC helicopter, they are all very similar. You’ll need to know a bit about your transmitter so that it will start feeling natural to you when you use it.

You’ll find the following flight controls on your RC transmitter:

  • The throttle, which controls the height of the helicopter.
  • The trim, which controls the helicopter’s right and left lateral movements.
  • The rudder, which controls the helicopter’s forward and backward movements.

If your transmitter comes with several channels, then it probably also has several extra controls. However, since this is a guide for beginners, we recommend that if you are a newbie, you should get a transmitter that only has two or three channels to start with. With extra channels, you can go in more directions with your helicopter, but this can all be confusing when you are first learning. Stick with something simple, and then you can add other channels as you get the hang of things.

#2 Understand Coaxial Rotors Vs. Single Rotors

Another thing you’ll need to think about as a beginner is the type of rotor you want your RC helicopter to have. If you are a newbie to the world of RC helicopters, then we highly recommend that you use coaxial rotors. With coaxial rotors, you’ll get dual rotors with one placed above the other on the concentric shafts.

While coaxial rotors do decrease the agility level of your RC helicopter, they add a lot more stability compared to single-rotor helicopters. When you are new to flying RC helicopters, you’ll want to focus on security and steadiness and not so much agility. So, when you are first starting, opt for stability because it will make it much easier for you to learn how to fly your RC helicopter.

#3 Protecting Your Helicopter

While we understand that you’ll never really mean to crash your RC helicopter, accidents are going to happen, especially when you first start to learn how to fly your RC helicopter. As a newbie, you are going to have to expect a few crashes, and you’ll need to write those events off to experience. As a novice user, you’ll want to take some precautions to strengthen your helicopter. While we can’t help you make your helicopter indestructible, we can help you protect it.

Consider purchasing some RC helicopter training tools, which usually come in wood, fiberglass, or carbon fiber. If you use training gear on your RC helicopter when you first learn how to fly your helicopter, you’ll be able to reduce the likelihood that you’ll experience a crash or an accident. Another great thing about training gear is that it also keeps your rotor blades and other parts safer when you experience an accident.

Also, there are seven simple rules you can follow that can help you keep your RC chopper safe:

  • Don’t fly when the winds are stronger than 15 mph
  • Never fly when it’s raining
  • Make sure to get a helicopter with coaxial rotors.
  • Find a safe space to fly and experiment.
  • Make sure you maintain your RC helicopter.
  • As you start learning how to fly, make sure you fly close and low to the ground.
  • Also, listen to the craft’s sounds as you fly to ensure there are no problems with your helicopter.

#4 Practice in a Safe Area

If you’ve never flown an RC helicopter before, we recommend that you first start flying indoors. Flying an aircraft inside is typically simple if you’ve purchased a lightweight RC helicopter model so you can learn a few things before getting too involved. You could also use an enclosed patio or a large garage area, too, if you have either one of these options available to you.

However, while you do have a few options regarding where you can practice your RC helicopter flying, we still feel the best place to start is indoors. That’s because you won’t encounter any distractions or interfering issues. You’ll be in a controlled environment without an audience, which is what you should want when you first start learning how to fly your RC helicopter.

If you don’t have an indoor area that would be large enough to practice then find a park that is empty or an empty lot. For most people that don’t have indoor space you can find a park or greenbelt that you can do some practicing in. 

#5 Start Flying Low and Close

When you start practicing with your RC helicopter, you’ll need to give yourself some time and be patient with yourself as you learn. Don’t push yourself too hard, and stay persistent, because that’s what will help you learn how to fly your RC helicopter. It’s better to think about taking baby steps and then allow your learning to take place naturally.

When you first start practicing with your RC helicopter, you’ll want to start by flying low and close. You should not fly far and high at this point because you might lose control of your craft, and at this point, you probably don’t know how to regain that control. So, for a rough measurement, think about staying around the three-foot mark and don’t distance the craft higher or father than six-feet away from yourself at all times.

Also, when you are ready to start practicing flying, you’ll need to know the max flight time for your RC helicopter. You’ll be able to fly higher and further away as you start getting used to using your RC helicopter, but you’ll need to be honest with yourself about your limitations as a newbie. You don’t want to be too high or far away, then run out of power and crash your new RC helicopter.

#6 Maintain Your RC Helicopter

Knowing how to do some simple maintenance on your RC helicopter can not only make your RC helicopter last much longer, but it can also prevent crashes over the long haul. So, you’ll need to make sure you perform regular maintenance checks on your RC helicopter. Make sure you read the manual that comes with your selected RC helicopter, and it should help guide you through some of this. You’ll need to learn how to check the following:

  • Analyze the rotors’ tightness before flying.
  • Adjust the tracking of your blades.
  • Assess nuts and bolts on your helicopter before flying because vibrations and flying can loosen these parts.
  • Make sure the ball links on your RC helicopter are not loose.
  • Check on the wiring and make sure nothing is loose, broken, or cut.
  • Look over the radio functions and look around for possible interference.
  • Ensure that your trims are in position.
  • Make sure you have a fully charged receiver, helicopter, and extra batteries.

Different models of RC helicopters have separate checks you may need to perform, and you’ll be told what to do in your owner’s manual. However, we recommend that you get familiar with your helicopter and get in the habit of doing a pre-flight check on everything, making that part of your routine when you fly your RC helicopter.

Now that you understand the skills and parts of your RC helicopter, we’ll cover how to fly an RC helicopter.

Flying an RC Helicopter: Steps

RC helicopters typically require more time and patience to learn how to use compared to other types of RC vehicles. Also, since helicopters can pose a danger to those that don’t know how to control them, you do need to make sure you know how to fly yours correctly. Below we give you the steps for flying an RC helicopter.

#1: Start on a Flat Surface with Room

When you want to get your RC helicopter in flight, first start by putting it on a flat surface with room around it to maneuver. You also don’t want a lot of wind around you. Once you’ve got your RC helicopter in place, you’ll need to push your throttle slowly upwards and then let your helicopter hover a couple of inches off the ground. Remember, don’t fly too high when you are just starting.

#2 Make Adjustments

As you begin taking your helicopter a little higher (we recommend no higher and farther away than three-feet), you’ll need to start adjusting the controls to keep the aircraft moving.

#3 Use the Joystick

Now you’ll want to use the joystick and move it to the left or right. When you do that, you’ll see your helicopter change direction. Remember, you want to keep it low to the ground just in case. That way, if something terrible happens, you won’t damage your new RC helicopter too badly. 

#4 Bring it in for a Landing

When you want to land your RC helicopter, look for another flat spot. Then, bring your helicopter over that spot and push down the throttle slightly until the helicopter lands. Make sure you are slow with the throttle so that you don’t stress out the helicopter when you land it.

Tips When Flying

Now that we covered the steps to help you take off and land your RC helicopter, we’ll go over a few tips that should help you successfully fly your helicopter. First, remember to use small, slight movements, even if you are feeling anxious or stressed out when you are operating your helicopter. If you make fast, harsh movements, you’ll probably lose control.

If you do lose control of your RC helicopter when you are trying to land it, ease off the throttle so that the blades stop spinning. Remember, only ease off the throttle if you know you are going to crash. You’ll wind up damaging the helicopter far less if you take this extra step.

Also, make sure you allow your battery to cool down between flying periods before you go out and fly again.

Now that you understand the steps you’ll take to get your RC helicopter off of the ground so that you can practice flying with it, and we’ll cover some safety rules that you’ll need to pay attention to anytime you fly your RC helicopter.

More Tips

Some great additonal tips for flying your RC helicopter can be found on the video below. In only 20 minutes you can learn all of the basics of flying your copter.

Paying Attention to RC Helicopter Safety

RC helicopters are potent tools, and that means they can be dangerous if they fall into the wrong hands or are misused. People can experience real injuries when flying RC helicopters, and some crashes have caused fatalities because of the speed, quickness, impact, and pace of the helicopter’s blades. Helicopters can weigh more than six pounds, and if you combine that with their blades, you can see how dangerous these objects really can be.

Anytime you plan to fly your RC helicopter, your first concern should be the safety of the public around you. Also, new RC regulations and rules have come out encouraging hobbyists to not just fly anywhere they want to fly. Instead, RC enthusiasts are told to now locate a safe spot to fly their helicopters and pay attention to the state laws and regulations that apply when it comes to flying RC helicopters.

Since we always want you to play by the rules when you start flying RC helicopters so that you don’t get into trouble, you should try to stay away from public spots, cars, stadiums, power lines, and places that have crowds of people in them. Also, keep in mind that higher-quality RC helicopters are typically made to be flown and customized by people that have a lot of experience, so you don’t want to purchase too crazy of a helicopter when you are a beginner. The last thing you need is an out of control helicopter! Start with something small and lightweight.

Your beginner status means staying away from public areas, crowds of people, vehicles, built-up areas, stadiums, power lines, or government buildings. High-quality RC helicopters are designed to be flown and customized by people with experience, so don’t purchase more than you can control. It’s better to buy something small and cheap when you are just beginning, anyway. That’s because the smaller, more affordable helicopters are made to be flown indoors by newbies, and they won’t do too much damage, either.

Flying at Night

We don’t recommend that you fly at night until you get the hang of flying your RC helicopter first indoors, then outdoors. However, once you get the hang of these two things, the next thing to try is night flying, which will give you the chance to do something different and new with your RC helicopter once you are ready.

If you do want to fly your RC helicopter at night, you’ll need to have a set of night blades on your helicopter since those include built-in LED lights. Not only do the LED lights look fabulous on an aircraft, but you’ll also be able to see your helicopter from far away, and you won’t need to worry about losing it.

Remember, when you start practicing at night, you’ll still need to pay attention to the RC helicopter rules and regulations that exist in your state or area. You should never fly in any crowded spaces, and you should also make sure you have a flashlight on you when flying your helicopter and setting up your flight plan.

Improving Your RC Helicopter’s Battery Life

Another essential thing to pay attention to when it comes to safety is your RC helicopter’s battery life. If you can avoid damaging your battery life, you’ll be able to stay away from a lot of frustration in the long haul. If you want to prevent your battery life from going down initially, you should wait about fifteen to twenty minutes after you’ve drained the battery before you charge it again. You want to charge it back when it feels cool to the touch. Make sure you don’t overcharge it.

You can also improve battery life by taking off extra weight or removing your LED lights or blades when you don’t need to use them. Also, making sure your helicopter stays as light as it can mean it will last longer overall. However, if you get to a point where your battery is drained too much, and it’s destroying your fun, you should be able to easily purchase and find a new battery for your RC helicopter.

Getting New Parts for your RC Helicopter

Now, when you realize that you need to replace something on your RC helicopter for safety reasons, like a battery or a rotor, what do you do? Don’t worry, and there is good news here when it comes to finding new parts for your RC helicopter. It’s quite easy to find new parts for your RC helicopter online.

We recommend staying on established RC websites to make sure you’re getting the best parts around. Remember, the online RC community is vast, and members are allowed to auction off new and used products on various websites.

You can also consider going to eBay and Amazon to find some RC helicopter parts. If you already know what you need and want for your RC helicopter, both of these websites can help you save a bit of money.

Now that we’ve discussed some important information about RC helicopter safety, we’ll move on to discuss common RC helicopter problems and how you can overcome them as a newbie.

Common RC Helicopter Problems

Since there are a few common RC helicopter problems many newcomers face, we wanted to cover those with you here below. That way, if you run into one of these instances, you’ll know how to fix them, and you’ll be able to keep flying and learning.

#1 RC Helicopter Isn’t Taking Off

If your RC helicopter isn’t taking off, the most common problem associated with this is the battery. You’ll need to check your battery to make sure it’s charged, and also consider using a multimeter to see your battery voltage information. If your voltages are over or under 4.2v, then you’ll need to recharge your battery again with a balance charger. If the problem keeps happening, then you’ll probably need new batteries.

Another reason why your helicopter might not be able to take off is that the shaft linkage is loose. If that happens, your helicopter won’t fly. So, check on the screws and make sure they are tight. Make sure the shafts on both blades are also reliable.

You may also have worn out parts that are preventing your helicopter from flying. You could have problems with your blades or motor brushes, too. If these parts are worn, you’ll need to replace them to make your helicopter fly again.

#2: RC Helicopter Keeps Spinning in Circles

Another common issue with RC helicopters is spinning in circles. If you notice this problem, check to make sure your gyro is working well. If it isn’t, then you may need to consider replacing this part to make your RC helicopter fly again.

#3: Make Sure Your Blades are Balanced

Another thing you’ll want to check if you notice issues with your helicopter is your blades. If your helicopter blades aren’t balanced, then your helicopter will vibrate more, and that can make it very difficult for you to keep your helicopter under control. With balanced blades, you’ll get more power, control, and increased flight time.

You can check the balance of your RC helicopter’s blades by weighting them on a digital scale. After you’ve weighed them, your blades should come out with the same weight, meaning they should also balance out. If you are a newbie and you’ve purchased a ready-made RC helicopter, then your blades will be balanced.

Advantages of Owning an RC Helicopter

RC helicopters have much to offer, and they are much more than just toys. If you’re thinking about purchasing an RC helicopter, you’ll wind up investing a decent amount of money into your new hobby because RC helicopters are not cheap. RC helicopters are typically expensive since they are very technical, and while it isn’t challenging to learn how to fly one, it will require some patience and training.

However, there are many benefits to owning RC helicopters for both children and parents. RC helicopters are great hobbies for children because it gets people outside, encourages patience, and teaches a lot of responsibility about machinery. So, your children will learn how to handle an expensive, technical piece of equipment, teaching them respect and trust before they ever learn how to drive.

Many adults enjoy RC helicopters because of the nostalgia level that is typically attached to many RCs. Many adults enjoy flying RC helicopters around their yards or local parks because they enjoy time out in the open, thinking outside their usual boxes, and releasing their inner child. 

Trust us, once you start getting involved in the fun world of RC helicopters, you’ll be able to reduce the stress in your life and enjoy some time outside. If you can also get your children and family to experience the joy of RC helicopters with you, you’ll be able to have a smartphone-free day of adventure.

Final Thoughts

Now that you know a bit about the different parts of an RC helicopter, how those parts work, and how to fly an RC helicopter, you should be ready to get out and enjoy your new hobby for a few hours. With a lightweight, fun, introductory type of RC helicopter, you should be able to enjoy hours of fun with your friends and family.