Airplane and Radio Setup flight training manual

Essential airplane & radio setup principles for optimum aerobatic performance and handling

While modern technology has expanded airplane capabilities, declining emphasis on the fundamental setup principles that are essential to achieving a great flying airplane in favor of emphasizing advanced programming to solve deficiencies and improve performance has made the setup process exponentially more complex and subject to error.

Airplane & Radio Setup manual brings to the forefront the most important fundamental airplane setup principles and the role that advanced computer capabilities play in fine tuning the setup to produce the most capable and honest handling airplane possible.

Section 1 illustrates the airplane setup principles responsible for ensuring that a plane flies like it’s on rails and does only what the pilot tells it to do.

Section 2 details all the major radio programming techniques that enable pilots to optimize their airplanes’ aerobatic performance and ease of handling, while avoiding the setup trends aimed at improving a certain condition or maneuver that come at the cost of making everything else a pilot does more difficult.

Section 3 walks pilots through the complete series of setup flight checks used to fine tune an airplane’s handling to suit the skill level and flying style of each pilot and thereby ensure his or her greatest opportunity for success.

Plus, a special bonus section features several setup techniques taken from full-scale aviation designed to maximize overall precision handling, expand an airplane’s flight envelope, and tame the landing.

Whether you seek the confidence that accompanies feeling connected to and in complete control of your airplane, and/or the satisfaction that comes from improving at an accelerated pace, Airplane & Radio Setup manual is the perfect guide to ensure that you get the most out of your equipment and potential in the air!

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SECTION 1: Airplane Setup

  • Wing Incidence/Decalage Intro
  • Incidence & Neutral Stability
  • Incidence Installation
  • Common Incidence Questions
  • G. & Neutral Stability
  • G. Tradeoffs
  • Locating C.G. / Center of Pressure
  • Right Thrust
  • Down Thrust

SECTION 2: Control Setup

  • Introduction
  • Servo Resolution
  • Setting Control Surface Neutrals
  • Dual Rates/Flight Modes/Conditions
  • Expo Methodologies
  • Transmitter Handling & Expo Tips
  • 2 Finger Advantage
  • Increased Stick Tension
  • Differential Aileron
  • Adverse Yaw Explained
  • Aileron-Rudder Mixing
  • Ail-Rud Mixing Setup
  • Ail-Rud Mix Payoff
  • Knife Edge Mixing
  • Mixing Principles
  • Flight Mode Mixing
  • Setup Summary Page

SECTION 3: Flight Tests

  • Introductory “Mulligan” Process
  • Basic Trimming
  • Travel Evaluations
  • Expo Evaluations
  • Fine Tuning Prerequisites
  • Advanced Rudder Trim & Thrust Checks
  • G. Checks
  • Tail Heavy Characteristics
  • Band-aiding Setup Flaws
  • Knife Edge Mixing
  • Throttle-Elevator Downline Mix
  • Conclusion
  • Setup Test Points List Page

Bonus Handling Enhancements


See what people are saying lately about this course:

"Model airplane setup can easily become an endless series of random flights, chasing endless variables.  What pilots need are systematic setup procedures to follow based on established aerodynamic principals.

Without a good understanding of the basic principals of plane setup, pilots are often distracted or misled by setup fads, or even more common, the mistaken belief that modern radios can be programmed to overcome or compensate for a fundamentally flawed airplane setup.

A good plane setup will always be a blend of fundamental setup principles (you could call them laws) and taking advantage of advanced radio capabilities, but before you even begin to set up an airplane, you must decide what type of performance you are looking for.  I.e. is it a trainer, pattern, aerobatic or 3D plane.

By following the timeless setup principals outlined in Dave's book, you can create a rock solid setup foundation for your plane.  Then, you can take advantage of modern radio programming to refine the controls of your plane to achieve the best overall handling, which will then allow you concentrate on learning to fly the maneuvers that you most enjoy without the plane getting in the way of your progress.

If you have found yourself always looking for the perfect plane, or the perfect setup, or suffered far too many crashes because you did not understand a critical piece of information, this book will thoroughly increase your knowledge of proper airplane and radio setup in a useful way, saving you a lot of time, money and heartache.  It will also make your flying much safer.

As a bonus, you might just discover that with a few adjustments here, and a little radio programming there, you may already have the perfect airplane in your fleet. Thus saving you even more money and time!"

- Noel Proctor. Tucson, AZ
Captain, United Airlines

"I hope the book will impact the people actually looking to fly better, not just talk hypothetically. Like you said in the book, today's modeler relies way too much on the radio and thinks that the airplane is a fixed object, when it's really the primary object to tune. Bingo! Awesome book!"

- Seth Arnold. Champaign, IL
Product Development, Horizon Hobby
Multiple IMAC & XFC National Champion

"I got my 1st flying session in this weekend. I spent the winter reworking my Aero-works 260 Extra per the parameters specified in your setup manual.  I built in 0.5 degrees of + wing incidence, repositioned the CG, and fine tuned the dual servo elevator making control movement symmetrical. The right thrust and down thrust turned out to be spot on.  The Extra flew like it was on rails with minimal trimming required. Very few inputs were required to maintain a heading, and inverted was comfortable with light down elevator pressure. The best part Dave was landing. The plane came in on final with a slight nose down attitude easily controlled with the throttle and flared nicely once close over the runway. It was a joy to fly.  This was the complete opposite of the sphincter tightening experiences of last year. I was able to string the first half of my sequence together first time out for the season."

- Michael Casciotti

"I have your One Week To Solo, Sport Aerobatics, and the airplane/radio setup manuals.  They have helped me tremendously.  Thanks to your books I get lots of comments at the field about how well I fly given I just started this season."

- Craig Quillen

"I corrected the CG to your specifications and installed the vortex generators and it is a new plane. At almost idle it flys along at a snails pace with no indication of dropping a wing or sinking. What a pleasure. Going to follow your book and work on a couple mixes next time out."

- Bill Sneddon. NJ

"I read your setup manual for 2 hours last night and learned more in those 2 hours about proper setup than all the years I’ve been in the sport combined!  The book is fantastic.  Keep up the great work and thanks again."

- James McMenamin

"I highly recommend Dave’s flight training in order to better understand the best way to set up and fly your plane to consistently achieve good results."

- Walle Ralkowski

"Really appreciate the manuals, and the way they have been written. Many of the side notes have also been very helpful.  Adjusting the stick tension and differential aileron has helped me out a lot this week.  Anyway- I’m seeing immediate improvements.  I thought that following the structure in your book would remove the fun until the improvements and heightened level of enjoyment took over. The methodical way you isolate the critical aspects of where my control inputs need to be with each attempt at a new maneuver is awesome. Your books have helped me identify patterns of bad habits and incorrect inputs that I had been failing to identify while flying."

- Dave Edwards. Quincy, MA

"I have only been in the hobby for two years and recently ordered your "Airplane & Radio Setup" manual to try to improve my skills/knowledge of the hobby. Upon reading the manual I mixed Ail-Rud mix into my Sig Senorita and the results were quite impressive, so I tried the mix (adjusted for wing type) on my Extreme Flight Edge 540 with similar results. I followed these up with a mix for knife edge and these two planes are both definitely flying with much more control. Your manual has greatly helped grow my knowledge and confidence in respects to RC Airplanes. I have been surprised to find out how many pilots at the field are not incorporating these mixes into their flying. Thank you for writing such an informative manual and it was worth every penny. This manual should be required reading for anyone getting involved into the world of RC airplanes."

- Bill Herbert

"Thank you for the very well articulated description of what the purpose of vortex generators actually is. I recently bought a Park Zone Sport Cub which has them, but no one, even Horizon Hobby, has been able to tell me exactly what their function is that was comprehendible. The excellent illustrations were also extremely helpful in showing their effect on air flow over the wings. All too often contributors submit articles (and they are published) and write up mushy and favorable reviews of planes, for what I think is the sole purpose of pleasing the manufacturer so the person can continue to receive free products. Nice that you dealt with an aviation subject that didn't kiss someone's ass, and actually educated your readers. Super article."

- Doug Snyder. Boise, ID 

"I am really enjoying your helpful manual ‘Airplane and Radio Setup’ … really  good advice and tips! Your very practical advice and recommendations are a much needed ‘antidote’ to all the extraneous ‘bells & whistles’ fiddling about that seems so prevalent in RC flying."

- Peter Nanigian. Fallbrook, CA

"You are the primary reason why I subscribe to MAN.  Your recent article on vortex generators is fascinating. Your writing is clear and concise (easy to understand for old guys like me) and your diagrams are the best, period!"

- Al Wesley. Clarkston, MI

"Attending your course made a large improvement in my flying.  The first weekend after flight school one of my flying buddies said my flying was much more precise. Club members are not only complimenting a "good flying plane" but also a "good landing plane". 

I "tuned up" my airplanes per your instruction.  I found they were very nose heavy and they now fly much much better. As you said many pilots use excessive amounts of expo.   Most of our pilots fly sport planes with 30-40% expo or more. Since reducing my expo, wind is much easier to manage now.  My fellow pilots decided to go back up with less expo when they saw how little effect the wind had on my plane and they were amazed by how much easier their planes flew. The biggest surprise is now even Bubba asks me questions!

Probably the highlight of the fall was when I helped an 83 year old pilot get back in the air.  He sold all of his rc gear 25 years ago, but decided he wanted to try rc again when I described the simple techniques you taught me.

I fixed the incidence on my SebArt Winds 50 and installed vortex generators as described in your book.  These changes turned a "good flying plane" and made it a "great flying plane"."

- Mark McCoy. Missouri

"As a retired aerospace engineer, I was interested in your vortex generator instructions and installed a set on top and bottom of my .40 size Hobbico Superstar using the guidance from the article.  Without any change to aileron throws, an improved roll response was definitely noted.  My trainee, who has not yet soloed, was also able to tell the difference.  I personally appreciate your technical articles specific for fixed wing RC."

- Stu Mitnik. Scottsdale AZ Model Flyers

"I purchased this book as I have found other manuals from 1st US R/C Flight School to be quite useful. This one has not disappointed. It is a very good, short manual that clearly gives a lot of information about setting up the controls of your aircraft in the most efficient manner possible, and also helps with the basic mixing functions of modern radio systems. I would argue that it is more beneficial for someone who wants to set up their plane for precision flying, rather than 3D thought it does not exclude 3D. Definitely worth the investment."

- Flying Giants Customer Review

(2012) "I wanted to thank you for a great week of flying! As soon as I returned home I pulled out my 35cc Extra, and after making the adjustments you suggested, just couldn't get over how much smoother it was! Thanks for all your help. I am working through all the maneuvers using the notes taken during the course. It wasn't long before everyone in my club started asking questions about all that I had obviously learned at flight school."

- Bill Pura.  Manitoba, CAN

(2013) "Since our class, I stripped about 4 ounces of lead out of the front of my Yak and re-balanced according to your instructions. Moving the CG point put the balance at exactly the middle of the wing tube-about 3/4" behind the original line. It flew flawlessly. Stripping the weight out made it more gentle. The Yak floated in as nice as anything and touched down smoothly. After getting back to the pits, all kinds of guys started coming over to ask questions and introduce themselves. It was good to realize that taking the classes is paying off with more security and understanding, and the ability to analyze a new situation and work with it."

- Bill Pura. Mnitoba, Canada

"I just received two of your training manuals....Setup and Park Flyer.  After reading the first few chapters of the setup manual, I checked the setup on my 30c Sbach 342 and found out why it has been so difficult to trim and fly.  I will apply your setup guide from the get go on all my future models. Thank you."

- Joe Rice. Hanna City, IL

"I’ve been actively pushing your books and your class to the newb's in the club - People are amazed at how good the books are."

- Bob Kohler