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Building and Flying R/C Planes

In classes a lot of theory is learned about plane design and how planes fly, among other things, but not much hands on experience is given. That is where we come in. We focus on the hands on experience to show how planes are designed and built. The kit plane is built almost completely from scratch, which allows for members to really get to see how planes are put together and why parts of the plane are built the way they are built. Once the plane is built, it is taken out to fly to understand its flight behavior and to demonstrate how the type of design affects the flight behavior. Time permitting, the plane will then be modified to fulfill a specific purpose.

Rutgers AIAA isn’t all about structured projects. Outside of the competition teams we house a group of dedicated hobbyists who in their spare time build and fly R/C planes of all sizes and descriptions. All members are welcome to get involved in club sponsored build projects, which happen all throughout both semesters. These builds can include ready to fly kits, construction from a set of blueprints, or even the creation of a whole new design from scratch. Projects like these are great demonstrations of the theories about aircraft dynamics and flight mechanics that are taught in lectures. Normally, live demonstrations are not available in our classes due to the constraints of the classroom setting but AIAA offers anyone the opportunity to see real planes being built and flown.

Our philosophy is that the best way to understand how a plane flies is to put one together and fly it yourself. Even though we don’t have any full size aircraft available to fly, R/C planes can be just as good of a tool to show how flight works. The club will allow anyone, after they have had the proper training, to fly our R/C planes during designated flight days. We own an R/C simulator which uses the same control setup as our actual transmitter, which allows new members to get a feel for how small aircraft fly without the consequences of crashing in real life. After some time on the simulator, a new pilot will be taken out to the field and be given a “buddy box”. This is a pair of transmitters which can switch off controlling the plane. The new member is hooked up to an experienced pilot who takes control if anything starts to go wrong during the flight. After the new pilot is judged to have sufficient skill, they are able to fly without the buddy system to continue to improve their skills.