RC Plane Going Backward? Here’s What To Do.


RC Plane Going Backward?

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I just finished assembling my new RC plane and was excited to take it out for a spin. As I was doing a pre-flight check to make sure that everything was working the way it should, I gave a push to the throttle, and the plane went backward. Who knew planes could go backward? And what the heck did I do wrong to make this happen?

What do I do when an RC plane is going backward? The only way this could happen is if the engine is spinning in the wrong direction for the type of propeller you put on the plane. If you want the plane to fly forward, you will either have to change the way the motor turns or put on a different propeller. If you fly Air Hog planes, then this could also be a battery issue that can be fixed by reversing the polarity of the battery.

You are not going to be able to get your plane to actually fly backward without majorly altering your plane, but you can have it moving in the wrong direction if the propeller isn’t properly matched to the motor. Once you understand the difference between propeller functions, you can properly diagnose your issue and make the corrections needed to get your plane into the air.

What Propellers Have to Do With the Direction of RC Plane Flight

Propellers are made to either push or pull the air over the wings of the plane. The main difference between the two is the direction that they need to rotate to make your plane fly. The benefits of one over the other are minor and mostly aesthetic, but the use of one over the other will greatly affect the design and functioning of your plane.

  • Tractor propeller: This is a pull propeller. When rotating properly, it pulls air. It is the standard traditional propeller. A tractor propeller is usually in front of the plane and needs to turn clockwise when looking from the front of the plane. Many people feel that tractor propellers are quieter than push ones.

  • Push propeller: This propeller pushes air. It is traditionally placed at the back to the plane, behind the motor. With recent advancements in motor design, it is not strange anymore to have a push propeller in front of the plane.

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A push propeller needs to rotate counter-clockwise when looking from the front of the plane. People who use push propellers with a traditional placement feel there is less chance of damage in crashes because the propeller is in back.

Remember, whether you have the propeller on the right way or not will not affect the direction that your plane moves. If you put a tractor propeller on backward with a motor that is spinning in the right direction, your plan will move forward, just not as fast as it would if you put the propeller on correctly. This might burn out your motor, but it will not make your plan go backward.

Motors vs. Engines and Direction of RC Plane Flight

Propellers are only one half of the equation. To understand how your plane moves, you also need to know what you are using to turn the propeller and what its capabilities are.

Engines

  • Use gas: to create internal combustion (IC) that produces the power to turn the propeller. This is the traditional method of RC flying.
  • Turn in one direction: which is why tractor propellers are traditionally in the front, and push propellers are in the back. The only way to get an engine that turns clockwise to rotate in the proper direction for a push propeller is to physically turn the engine around.
  • If you have an IC engine: and your plane is moving backward, you have the wrong propeller engine combo. You will either have to buy a different propeller or an engine that turns the other direction.

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Motors

  • Use electricity: to power the rotation of the propeller. Recent developments in the making of electric motors have made them as powerful as the IC engines that used to dominate the market.
  • Turns in both directions: that is, if you make a few easy changes to the wiring. It is standard for the motors to rotate counter-clockwise, but if your plane is going backward, you can make the motor rotate clockwise.
  • If you have a sensored motor: and your plane is moving backward, all you have to do is change the wiring, and the motor should spin the propeller in the right direction. These are the steps to do it.
    1. If your electric speed control (ESC) has a REV switch, turn it on.
    2. If it doesn’t have that option, attach the first ESC wire to the third terminal on the motor, the second to the second, and the third to the first.
    3. Reset the timing of the motor, or it will run hot.
  • If you have an unsensored motor: and your plane is moving backward, it is much easier to reverse and get your propeller spinning in the right direction. Here they are:
    1. Swap any two wires
    2. Reset the timing

Is Your Air Hog Flying Backward?

Moving backward isn’t just a problem in traditional RC planes. Many flyers of Air Hogs have run into similar problems. Since these planes come fully built, it isn’t an issue with the wrong propeller and motor. It actually turns out to be a weird quirk with the battery.

If you fly Air Hogs and have run into issues with your plane suddenly moving backward or opposite the directions, you are sending it; chances are you haven’t flown that plane in a while. Your issue has likely popped up after having been in storage.

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It seems that with these planes, if you drain the battery almost to empty and then put the plane in storage for weeks or months, the battery will reverse its polarity when charged again, causing the motor to spin the propellers in the wrong direction.

It is a similar problem to those flyers of planes with electric motors. And, in that way, the fix is similar as well. Here’s what to do:

  1. Flip over the plane and expose the wires that run to each of the propellers. These are two-channeled planes, so you are going to have to switch the wiring on both channels.
  2. Cut both wires running from the battery to the propeller.
  3. Reattach the wire coming out of the battery with the opposite wire coming out of the propeller. So, if there is a white wire and a black wire, attach the white wire coming out of the battery to the black wire coming out of the propeller.
  4. Do the same with the other set of wires. You may want to use another piece of wire as a bridge connecting the two.
  5. Test it out. The issue should be resolved.
  6. Enjoy flying your plane!

Conclusion

In short, if your remote-controlled plane is flying backward, there is no reason to freak out or worry about costly repairs. This isn’t a major problem at all. It is most likely just due to an oversight on your part when putting your plane together. So, it’s easily reversed. 

A quick change of parts or a little time spent rewiring your motor will get your plane moving in the right direction and up into the air – this time, in the right direction!

If your Air Hog is going backwards that is a common battery issue that can simply be fixed by swapping the wires that run to the propeller. 

Matt Robbs

I love to spend time with my wife and 3 kids. There is no better way to get them off the couch and outside than for us to grab the RC cars or boat and enjoy the sunshine!

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