Definition of common RC Airplane termsAs you learn about the RC Airplane hobby, you will encounter many of the following terms:
Engine - This is most often an internal combustion (IC) engine. Somewhat similar to your car or lawnmower engine in that fuel is burned inside a cylinder, which drives a piston, which turns a shaft. However, there are some very important differences, see here.
Motor - Sometimes used in place of "engine". Also refers to the increasingly common electric motors used in place of the IC engine.
Nitro - Refers to fuel containing Nitromethane. Sometimes refers to just the nitromethane ingredient itself, as in : "this fuel contains 15% nitro".
Glow Fuel - Same as nitro fuel. It's called "glow" because the engine uses a glow plug instead of the spark plug found in gasoline engines.
Glow Plug - A heated element that causes the fuel to burn. The plug has a steady glow instead of an intermittent spark.
Battery - May refer to the power battery of an electric motor, or the battery for the radio receiver.
Receiver - Much like your car radio, the receiver gets radio waves sent through the air. These waves contain instructions for the servos that move the rc airplane's controls.
Transmitter - This is the box with joysticks that you hold, and use to send commands to the rc airplane.
Servo - Each servo is a small motor that is wired to the receiver. If given instructions to do so by the transmitter, the servo moves a certain amount, which also moves the aircraft control surface that is mechanically connected to it.
Servo arm - Connects the servo motor to the pushrod
Pushrod - Connects the servo arm to the control horn
Control Horn - Connects the pushrod to the control surface or device, eg: rudder, elevator, aileron, throttle, speed control
Rudder - The movable part at the back of the vertical fin. Causes the airplane to rotate left or right (yaw) about a vertical axis.
Elevator - The movable part at the back of the horizontal stab. Causes the airplane to rotate up or down (pitch) about a horizontal axis.
Aileron - The movable part at the back of the wing. Causes the airplane to roll left or right.
Vertical Fin - Part of the airplane's tail piece. Stabilizes the aircraft against yawing motions.
Horizontal Stab - Part of the airplane's tail piece. Stabilizes the aircraft against pitching motions.
Center of Gravity (CG) - The balance point of the plane. An unbalanced rc airplane will fly poorly and could crash.
Stall - Airplane flys too slowly for the wing to produce upward lift. The plane will start to fall from the sky. A bad stall near the ground is a common type of crash.
Spin - A stall combined with rotational motion. Could create a crash, or if done correctly, a fun aerobatic maneuver!
Propeller - Attached to the engine or motor, this creates thrust that pulls the aircraft forward.
Electronic Speed Control - On an electric rc airplane, device that regulates the battery voltage going to the motor. When the transmitter stick is moved, increases or decreases the motor and propeller speed, as well as the thrust.
Brushed Motor - A type of electric motor where current is supplied by a mechanical sliding contact.
Brushless Motor - A type of electric motor where current is supplied without a mechanical sliding contact. Tends to be more powerful, longer lasting, and more expensive than comparable brushed motors. Also requires a specialized controller.
Two-stroke - Type of internal combustion engine. The fuel is burned (power is supplied) on every second stroke of the piston. Most common and affordable type of rc engine.
Four-stroke - Type of internal combustion engine. The fuel is burned (power is supplied) on every fourth stroke of the piston. Quieter, more fuel efficient, but generally more expensive that comparable two-stroke.