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Firstly:- PLEASE e-mail or drop in at the club before buying or building your model.

Congratulations on considering aeromodelling as a hobby, and congratulations for having the good sense to check things out before buying. As a club we much prefer to give advice and guidance before rather than after as that way we can advise on a suitable model and the modifications that are best made during the construction stage. We can also ensure you get equipment compatible with the instructors so as to minimise delays through training.

Although the club has a dual-control "buddy box" for general use we advise that you purchase your own. That way it is set once for your model and does not need re-setting each time a different pupil is flying. Again, this is a tremendous saving in valuable time. Remember that you can always sell it on to a new beginner when you have finished with it. The dual control buddy box allows the instructor to regain control of the model by releasing a switch so damage to the model is minimal during the training phase.

The club has a number of instructors who are prepared to give up their free time to help train beginners. Pupils are advised to contact an instructor to arrange lessons and this way we do not have people turning up when there is no-one there to teach them.

The club also recommends the purchase of a computer flight simulator from your local model shop to give very useful experience. Some simulators come with their own controller, but more advanced ones can work with your own transmitter. Phoenix, Aerofly and Real Flight are more advanced simulators, some with on-line multiplayer capability. Simulators are an essential learning tool and dramatically cut down the learning time. Again, these can be sold on when you are finished with them. https://youtu.be/wCVLQG9FfmM

Which Model

When starting out you should be looking at one of the high-wing trainers on the market. Browse the various web sites to find reviews before buying. The Seagull Boomerang is the club's recomendation however it is best to speak to a club committee member to get the latest views on the current ARTF models as there are new ones appearing all the time.

Glow or Electric?

The BIG question for beginners is whether to go electric or glow. The 3-year cost is roughly the same because of the higher initial investment for the batteries and charger for going electric rather than the distributed cost for fuel. Both have their advantages and disadvantages:






Batteries (at least 4)

Starter motor

Speed Controller

Starter Battery

Battery Charger

Glow plugs

Power Supply


Batteries need recharged (1 hour per week)

Messy, noisy (but we love them), temperamental engines.

Clean & quiet. Starts every time.

Lower entry cost but ongoing fuel purchase required.

Higher entry cost but no ongoing costs apart from the electricity to re-charge the batteries, until the batteries need replacing.


It is best to buy a 2 stroke engine rather than a 4-stroke to start with as they are easier for beginners. Most of the cheaper engines have plain bearings whereas the more powerful ones have roller bearings.


Technology advances without respite so talk to the clubs for the latest information on transmitters before buying. Remember that both the transmitter and receiver battery need to be re-charged before going flying even if the model has not flown since the last charge. All new transmitters operate on the 2.4GHz frequency.

DO NOT BUY 27MHz radio sets . That band is used by R/C cars and CB radio therefore the chance of interference is too high. 35MHz and 2.4GHz are the bands for RC aircraft. You will not be allowed to fly on 27MHz on most sites.

Crystals (only for 35MHz) (Almost impossible to buy new, and beware of 2nd hand radio equipment)

A 35MHz transmitter's frequency is set by its crystal. Each crystal has a frequency and a channel number on it. Check with the club to see which channels are free before buying the crystals as only one person can fly on one channel at a time, otherwise interference occurs and the model will crash. The offending person pays for the repair or replacement to the damaged plane. You can tell which channels are currently flying by checking with the peg-board in use at the flying site. If the frequency peg is not on the board then someone I using it. (Note this system is not universal over all the clubs so check to see which system is in use before flying at other clubs)

Transmitter Setup

There are 2 modes for transmitter setups. Most clubs have the throttle and rudder on the left stick and aileron and elevator on the right stick.


Left stick pushed away from your body - throttle increase

Left stick pulled towards your body - throttle decreases

Left stick moved to the left - rudder points to left looking from behind the model

Left stick moved to the right - rudder points to right looking from behind the model

Right stick pushed away from your body - elevator goes down (model goes down)

Right stick pulled towards your body - elevator goes up (model goes up)

Right stick move to the left - left aileron goes up, right aileron goes down looking from behind the model

Right stick move to the right - right aileron goes up, left aileron goes down looking from behind the model


Do not buy anything until you have decided on which club to join since they will have their own preferences for beginners. When finding a club, ask about their training set up i.e.

1. How many instructors do they have and what are their qualifications (Bronze, silver, gold, and examiner)?

2. Does the club have a trainer aircraft?

3. How many buddy boxes do they have?

4. How many other novices are getting instruction?

5. Is an instructor available and when are you able to get instruction?

Getting to the stage where you can fly solo is purely dependant on how much flying time you can commit to. If you aim for 30 flights at 3 to 4 flights a day and you won’t go far wrong. It is worth arranging to spend 1 day for 8 to 10 consecutive weeks for training as you really need consistency to begin with.

There are 3 levels of proficiency within the SAA:

Bronze - able to fly solo at your own club and any other club

Silver - can apply to fly at public (model) events

Gold - personal achievement

For people who are far from clubs (and for everyone else) the SAA run training weekends. Check out the Events page on the SAA web site.

Once you have a Bronze you can visit other clubs and fly without supervision, although if you are not known you may be asked to do a demo flight.

There is a good competition environment covering precision aerobatics, Scale, IMAC & Freestyle, slope soaring gliders, thermal gliders, as well as a large water-plane following. The "Events" page on the SAA website has all the details: http://www.saaweb.uk/events.htm


We recommend joining the Scottish Aeromodellers Association. The benefits of joining are:-

Low cost 3 rd party insurance

Access to a structured training and safety environment

Access to the SAA training weekends

Members can visit any other club and fly, as well as take part in competitions without insurance problems


A Family Membership is available to family members only and will provide for 1 Full Membership and any number of Junior Memberships residing at the same address and joining through the same club. Each family member so covered will be deemed to have conditions applicable as per individual membership. Family Membership fees will be 125% of the Membership fees for the time being. Each family member covered by SAA membership should be registered with the SAA as individual members. In applying for a family membership, the Full Member should submit separate application forms for themselves and each family member along with the appropriate fee (Existing members can submit Renewal Notices where appropriate. At any time additional junior family members can be registered at no charge by submitting an application and quoting the Full Member's membership number. Remember, only Junior members (under 18 on 1st January of membership year) can be covered under a family membership.

You do not need insurance until you start flying regularly, so you can try out flying using a buddy box at the club without any expense. You are allowed 3 supervised training flights before requiring your own insurance.


Please note that most clubs will not be used as a baby-sitting service, and expect 1 parent or Guardian to be in attendance at all times. The child protection act is in place to protect both adults and children, and members could put themselves at risk if left alone at a flying site with a junior member. Even when they are aged 16 there could be problems. I have seen the site go from very busy to empty in half an hour when the rain sets in. It would not be fair on our members if they had to wait with your son /daughter for 2 or 3 hours until they were collected. Neither would it be acceptable for us to go and leave them alone at the site. It is also recommended that a junior member does not visit the workshop or garage of a club member unless accompanied by a parent.

CAA Drone Registration and Education System (DRES)

The government require all pilots and models to be registered through the Civil Aviation Authority’s DRES scheme. Full information can be found here: https://www.saaweb.uk/register_drones_and_model_aircraft_caa.html


You are hereby advised that aeromodelling is a sport which contains risks. You enter a model aircraft flying site your own risk. Neither an individual, nor a club, nor the national body will be held responsible for any injury or damage to visitors or their property as a result of failing to seek safety related advice before visiting the flying site, or for failing to adhere to that advice when at the flying site. To make your visit to a flying site as pleasant as possible I would advise that you:

  • Contact the secretary of the club to arrange a visit.

  • Remain in the car park area until your designated host meets you.

  • Ask for a safety briefing

  • Act on your host’s instructions at all times.

  • Do not approach any model which has the engine running.

  • Do not stand in front of or in line with a rotating propeller.

  • Do not stand behind a jet or ducted fan engine

  • Do not engage anyone in discussion who is preparing a model. Wait until they acknowledge your presence.

  • Do not engage anyone in discussion if they are flying. Wait until they land.


All pilots who have not reached "SAA Bronze / BMFA "A" are expected to undergo training and attempt this part of the achievement scheme at the earliest opportunity. A downloadable pictorial diagram of the Bronze schedule is here, and the full text version of the Safety Code is available on the S.A.A.'s web site here. The Bronze call sheet and Silver call sheet are also available.