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RC Airplane Accessories

So you've made your choice of model airplane and radio system. What else do you need to get to make it fly? Many people show up at the RC Airplane field without everything needed. (What more could you possibly need?)

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If you've bought an all inclusive RTF package, you should be done at this point. If not, here are the required accessories for different airplane types:

RC Gliders

Gliders need some way to launch them. If you have a hand-launch glider or slope glider, you will not need any extra equipment. This is one of the main attractions of this type of rc airplane. If you have a larger thermal sailplane, you will need either a winch or a high-start.

One of the benefits of joining a club with other rc glider flyers is that there will usually already be a shared winch. Learn how to use it and participate in its upkeep. High-starts can be purchased from eHobbies, Hobby Lobby or other vendors. Make sure you have the rubber, nylon line, attachment ring, and a stake for the ground attachment. I'm a big fan of the mini-parachutes, as the line floats down from the launched airplane slowly, and is easy to spot. But these are really optional.

Electric RC Airplanes

Next up in the number of required accessories is the electric rc airplane. If your plane did not come with a motor or electronic speed control (esc), you will need to purchase these. A battery for the power system will also be required. These rechargeable batteries naturally require a charger. Make sure that the charger is designed for the specific battery type (e.g. NiCd, NiMH or LiPoly), and be sure to read the directions for use. Overcharging your battery by using the wrong type of charger (or using it incorrectly) can cause damage to the battery, or possibly yourself.

Glow-Powered Airplanes

Glow powered airplanes need quite a few accessories. You will of course need the engine. Not all engines are supplied with the glow plug; these are considered consumable, so check the recommended type and take a spare or two to the field. You will also need the fuel, again start with the recommended type. I've also found that props tend to break only when you don't have a spare; so take a spare.

Other items needed to start the engine: Glow Plug Igniter (or separate battery and lead wires), and a "Chicken Stick" for flipping the prop (or Electric Starter and its battery). To fuel the tank, you will need a manual or electric pump (which would require a battery).

Glow fuel contains oil, which tends to get spread over the airplane during flight. For clean-up, take a bottle of Windex and a roll of paper towels.

It's common to carry all the glow accessories in a flight box. You may save some money by getting a Field Accessory Pack that contains the box plus common accessories.

Other useful stuff for your flight box:

Prop wrench

Glow plug wrench

Fuel filters

Fuel tubing



Other assembly tools

CA and 5 minute epoxy glue

Scrap balsa wood or foam

Packing Tape

You will acquire other accessories as your rc airplane career continues, but this list should cover most of the bases for now.

When you're done shopping, it's time to learn how to fly your rc airplane.