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Basic Aerobatic Maneuvers

1. The inside loop:

The inside loop is the easiest of all stunts to pull off and any rc airplane with elevators is capable of looping.

How to fly it: Start by flying straight and level into wind, no lower than, say, 50ft/15m high.
Open the throttle to full power and, at point A in the picture above, pull back on the elevator stick to start a climb - not too suddenly, be gentle but definite. Keep the power on. The airplane will go into a vertical climb, let it keep going until it starts to roll over onto its back - point B in the picture. At this point, close the throttle and keep holding the elevator stick back, adjusting it as necessary to maintain a tidy path. You might also need to use ailerons/rudder to keep the path of the loop as vertical as possible.
At point C in the picture, level out the airplane by returning elevator to neutral and increase power to exit the loop, flying straight and level again.

Below is the inside loop on video (on the RealFlight rc flight simulator), including close-ups of the Tx stick inputs and the airplane's response...

2. The outside loop:

The outside loop, also called a bunt, is an inside loop but with the airplane inverted i.e. the top of the plane faces outwards.

How to fly it: Method 1: Your airplane must be inverted (i.e. rolled through 180 degrees) at the start of the loop (point 'A' in the picture). The danger here is to remember to use down elevator to get the airplane to climb. Accidentally applying up elevator at this point will send the airplane crashing in to the ground!
Keep holding in down elevator and let the airplane do a full loop. At the top of the outside loop (point 'B'), your airplane will be right side up. Reduce power and continue the loop back down towards the ground and at point 'C' roll through 180 degrees to bring the airplane right side up to exit the maneuver.

Method 2: An outside loop can also be started from the top (point B in the above picture), by flying straight and level at a good altitude and applying and holding in down elevator all the way round the loop. You need to reduce power at the start of the dive until the bottom, then increase to full power to complete the second half of the loop.

Below is the outside loop (Method 1) on video (on the RealFlight rc flight simulator), including close-ups of the Tx stick inputs and the airplane's response...

3. The roll:

The roll requires ailerons but if your airplane only has rudder then you might be able to pull off a larger, somewhat untidier 'barrel roll'. A roll with ailerons is a very smooth maneuver and not too difficult to pull off.

How to fly it: Same start as the inside loop; fly straight and level on at least half throttle. To begin a roll, apply a very small amount of up elevator and left or right aileron a split second afterwards. No need for full power this time, keep the throttle stick where it is throughout the roll. If you are using rudder alone you'll need to apply much more up elevator and put the plane in to a small climb before rolling.
As you apply elevator and aileron, the airplane will start to roll over. Keep the aileron stick in the same position but you will probably have to adjust the elevator to keep the roll tidy. As the plane inverts, release elevator and apply a tiny amount of down elevator when the airplane is fully inverted, this will prevent any loss of altitude during the roll (generally speaking...).
Once the airplane is right-side up again, return the sticks to neutral and resume straight and level flying.

Below is the roll on video (on the RealFlight rc flight simulator), including close-ups of the Tx stick inputs and the airplane's response...

4. The stall turn:

The stall turn is almost the same as Chandelle.  In the Chandelle, the angle is less and the maneuver does not cause the airplane to stall.  Some may also call this maneuver a hammerhead turn,  but a true hammerhead turn has enough power to keep flying all the way through the maneuver and the arc in area marked 'B' in the diagram is wider and these maneuvers makes use of the airplane's rudder and is a simple maneuver to perform.

How to fly it: As before, begin with a straight and level flight path. At point A in the picture above, increase throttle slightly and apply up elevator, putting the airplane into a vertical climb. Adjust the rudder and elevator as necessary to maintain the vertical climb without going into the beginnings of a loop.
Let it climb for a couple of seconds and then, at point B, reduce throttle*, release the elevator stick back to the neutral position and - here's the important part - apply full rudder to the left or right. If the airplane doesn't look like it's going to turn on its tail, give the throttle a small blip to get some prop wash (air movement) over the rudder.
Once the airplane has spun round on its tail, return the rudder to neutral and let the airplane go naturally into a brief vertical dive for a second or so. Then, at point C, apply both motor power and up elevator to pull out of the dive and resume straight and level flying.

*How much you reduce throttle depends on a few things, not least of which is the type of plane and size of rudder. You might need to keep some power on to increase the prop wash (i.e. airflow) over the rudder, to facilitate the turn.

Below is the stall turn on video (on the RealFlight rc flight simulator), including close-ups of the Tx stick inputs and the airplane's response...

If you want you can use the wind direction to help you perform the stall turn by flying crosswind - fly at 90 degrees to the wind and turn the airplane into the wind at the top of the climb. The wind on the fin pushes the model round for the perfect maneuver!
The picture below shows this:

The Immelmann Turn:

Named after the German WWI fighter ace Max Immelmann, this aerobatic maneuver is a modified and simplified version of his attack maneuver that he used during dogfights.

How to do it: Commence the maneuver as if performing a standard inside loop i.e. enter the maneuver from straight and level flight at point A in the picture above, with full power. Let the airplane complete its vertical climb and roll over onto its back, then at point C use aileron to roll through 180 degrees.
Level the airplane out once it has rolled over, and exit the maneuver on a straight and level course, higher than and in the opposite direction to your initial entry course.


Below is the Immelmann Turn on video (on the RealFlight G4 rc flight simulator), including close-ups of the Tx stick inputs and the airplane's response...


The Split-S:

The Split-S is essentially an inverted Immelmann turn, if you like.

How to do it: Starting with straight and level flight at a higher altitude, the airplane is rolled through 180 degrees at the start of the maneuver. Up elevator is applied as soon as the airplane is inverted, and the throttle reduced. The airplane then enters an 'inverted' dive and is flown towards the ground.
Keeping up elevator applied, the airplane is pulled out of the dive and returned to straight and level flight to exit the Split-S maneuver. No rolling out is necessary, as the airplane will already be the correct way up.


Below is the Split-S on video (on the RealFlight G4 rc flight simulator), including close-ups of the Tx stick inputs and the airplane's response...


The Spin:

The spin is a favorite rc airplane aerobatic maneuver and spins can go very well or disastrously wrong, depending on how much altitude you leave yourself to recover! During a spin, the airplane flies vertically downwards while rotating about it's longitudinal axis (ie about its fuselage). Ailerons are needed for a smooth spin, trying to spin your airplane with rudder only will more than likely result in nothing more than a wishy-washy 'spiral dive'.


How to do it: Enter the maneuver into wind, flying straight and level but at a slow speed and with plenty of altitude (point 'A' in the picture above). Slow your airplane further by reducing throttle completely and applying up elevator - not too much, but just enough to initiate a full stall. The timing here is quite critical, you need to apply full rudder and full aileron (both in the same direction) just as the airplane stalls, point 'B' in the picture.
If you've got it right, the airplane will continue its stall while entering a spin. Keep both rudder and aileron fully deflected for as long as you want to hold the spin. Recovery is simply a case of returning rudder and aileron to neutral while applying up elevator and throttle to pull the airplane out of the dive (point 'C').


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