How to Fly a Radio Control Helicopter

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How to Fly a Radio Control Helicopter

When watching experienced radio control helicopter enthusiasts flying their aircraft it is easy to think that it is simple. Taking time to learn to fly your aircraft before setting out on a serious flight will be good for confidence but might also save you a great deal of money on eBay  in the early stages.

The basic components of a radio control helicopter are:

  • the helicopter itself
  • the engine
  • main blades
  • tail blades (tail decorations)
  • balance bar
  • connect buckle
  • inner shaft
  • battery
  • remote transmitter and
  • aerial

Accessories can be anything from distinctive tapes and paints to camera attachments and light fittings.

Remote Control Helicopter Engines


Powered by Lithium batteries, the electric option has all kinds of advantages. It is clean and simple and arguably the most environmentally friendly of all the engine options.

  • It is extremely reliable.
  • They have no tuning or fuel distribution issues.
  • Noise levels of the electric RC helicopters are generally much lower than other options, which in certain flying areas is very important.
  • The electric engines tend not to vibrate and so last much longer and do not suffer the stresses and strains of other engine types.

For all this the batteries:

  • Are relatively expensive
  • Do not offer long flying time.
  • Need to be recharged.

To take a helicopter out for the day does require quite a few batteries and the charging gear. The lithium batteries if not properly looked after can be quite liable to catch fire so great care has to be taken with them.

The Nitro

  • Nitro fuelled engines are the favourite of many stalwart RC flyers.
  • They have a very simple mechanism.
  • They are relatively cheap and last for a very long time.
  • They are comparatively easy to refuel and set away for a fresh flight.
  • They are very strong and suffer less damage in crash situations than other types.
  • The issues with it are that nitro engines are that they are:
  • extremely noisy
  • quite smelly and messy
  • fairly hard to tune

The professional flyer enjoys the technical aspects of the Nitro; working with such an engine and its foibles is part of the charm. Another slight problem is how the fuel tank affects the centre of gravity on the aircraft and thus causes balance problems and a poor flight performance.


Generally the petrol engines are a little bit cleaner and less messy than Nitro but more complicated and dirty than the electric. The noise levels and vibrations are generally lower because the engine runs at a lower RPM (revolutions per minute). The fuel is simply petrol with 2 stroke oil which is easy to obtain and relatively inexpensive. The engine is always easy to start and because it runs at a much quieter rate it has a much greater flying time because of its fuel efficiency.

The issue with petrol is that it has the lowest power to weight ratio of all the options and is generally a harder engine to find in a wide range of different models. In short it is more expensive and there are less options than with electric or Nitro. As these models tend to be heavier they do themselves more damage than most in crash situations.


This is the closest thing to a real helicopter engine on the market. They are much more complicated than the Nitro, petrol or electric models but they are much the most powerful and are best in really big models.

They have very little vibration due to the fact that there is no exhaust pulse or reciprocating piston mass. They are very expensive and very few of the model companies make full turbine kits. Parts are rare and can often take a lot finding. They are also much more intensive from a maintenance perspective and do not do well in crash situations

Learn to Fly

The secret to learning to fly these aircraft is to take time and be patient. More helicopters are damaged in the first ten flights that a rookie flier makes than at any other time.

Learn to fly in stages as follows:

  1. Pre Flight – get the radio controlled helicopter set up physically to perform in the best way possible. Understand the health and safety aspects of the equipment. Check and adjusting the centre of gravity and applying and understanding the range of options in terms of training gear options. Training gear is really just a set of fibreglass or wooden accessories that can be fitted to the helicopter to prevent it from breaking during the early stages.
  2. Technical – understand the requirements as far as blade tracking and spooling up the rotors. Also understand the vibrations and applying the relevant power.
  3. Hovering – the hover is the moment at which flier and machine are at the unanimous state of control but in flight. Choosing the ground on which to fly is an important consideration. Whilst grass is often the most common surface the best is probably packed snow or ice. Here there is a little flexibility and give versus concrete but not the drag that thick grass can sustain.
  4. Before starting to hover perform a radio range check. This will give the operator a clear indication of the range of the transmitter. Make a reference point on the take off area in the form of a mark or cross.
  5. Make sure the aircraft is facing into the wind and that the wind isn’t too strong then stand about 10 feet behind the helicopter.
  6. Once the helicopter has started apply pressure to the throttle steadily getting the helicopter to lift its weight off the ground.
  7. As the helicopter starts to lift the operator will have to adjust the trim. Keeping the helicopter at or just above the reference point start to adjust the tail blade and the trim to get the helicopter to slowly move forward. This balance of trim and tail blade is very like trying to keep a marble still on a flat surface and the flier will soon start to adapt to the sensitivity of the machine.
  8. Four basic rules at this stage are:
  • Always point the nose of the helicopter into the wind
  • Look at the body section or nose of the machine when flying.
  • Never look at the tail boom or tail blades when flying.
  • Always start the flight from behind the helicopter.

Be careful at this stage not to push the tail blades into the ground. This often occurs especially when trying to put the helicopter down after a low hover.
9. Once comfortable with the forwards/backwards/left/ right control points try to do some more diagonal moves. All the while, keep the helicopter low to the ground and pointing into the wind. Keep using the reference point to serve as key indicator of how much movement is sustained and in what direction with a touch of the controls.
10. Above all, take plenty of time to understand the controls and their relationship with the movement of the helicopter.

From here you should start to build your confidence with the machine. You can start hovering at a higher point, comfortable that the chances of an expensive crash are minimised. Be careful to take a rest every now and then. Even if you have practiced on a simulator, it is still hard mental and physical work flying a radio control helicopter properly.

As confidence grows, the helicopter can be flown on forward circuits and at greater range. Finally the transitional lift can be tried to demonstrate a quick and efficient take off.


Ultimately if time is taken and good instruction adhered to the novice radio control helicopter enthusiast can be looking to try some small acrobatic moves in about ten days flying time. Going slowly through the different disciplines and mastering them all before moving on too fast is the key to becoming a competent flier. It will save buyers money in broken parts.

The section below is a good guide to buying the parts and accessories that buyers will likely need at some point. It’s a good idea to take a look in order to quickly learn which parts you will want to avoid having to replace.

Buying Parts for Your Radio Control Helicopter on eBay

To start shopping, go to the Sports and Leisure category. Click the Toys & Games, Radio Controlled, Helicopters and Parts & Accessories .


The Categories list on the left side of each page will help you narrow down your listings by item type. You'll find links for brands such as: Align, Syma, Raptor, Kyosho, Walkera and CNC .

Product Finder

Use the Radio Control Helicopter Parts Finder to quickly narrow down item listings by brand, model and condition (new or used).

Keyword search

Search eBay listing titles for specific words. For example, to find New Parts for a Radio Control Helicopter, type the keywords "Radio Control Helicopter Parts New" (without quotation marks) into the Search box. Click, "Search title and description" to expand the results. Visit eBay's Search Tips page for more tips on searching with keywords.

If you can't find exactly what you want, try browsing eBay Stores or tell the eBay Community what you’re looking for by creating a post on Want It Now, or save a search on My eBay and eBay will email you when a matching item becomes available.

Buy Parts for Your Radio Control Helicopter with Confidence

Make sure that you know exactly what you’re buying and understand how eBay and PayPal protect you.

Know the Item

  • Read the details in the item listing carefully.
  • Remember to add delivery costs to the final price. If buying a high value item, check that the seller will insure it until it is delivered.
  • If you want more information, click the “Ask seller a question” button on the seller’s profile or the “Ask a question” link at the bottom of the item listing page.
  • Always complete your transaction on eBay (with a bid, Buy it Now or Best Offer) otherwise you will not be covered by eBay Buyer Protection.
Never pay for an eBay item using an instant cash wire transfer service like Western Union or MoneyGram. These are not safe ways of paying someone you do not know.

Know the Seller

Research the seller to feel safe and positive about every transaction.

  • What is the seller’s Feedback rating? 
  • How many transactions have they completed?
  • How many positive responses do they have?
  • What do buyers say in their Feedback? 
  • Are they positive about the seller?

    Most top eBay sellers operate like retail shops and have a returns policy.

  • Do they offer a money-back guarantee? 
What are their terms and conditions?

Buyer Protection

In the very unlikely event that you do not receive your item or it is not as described, eBay Buyer Protection covers your purchase price plus original delivery cost.

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