What do you need to do to fly a circuit properly?

faq2Flying a circuit is one of the proficiencies needed for Bronze wings. Most new modellers require six to eight hours’ flying before working towards the Bronze wing proficiency. If you fly each weekend (weather permitting) you can expect to go solo in about eight to 10 weeks. Be aware however, that training can take as long as 12 months. At the other end of the scale we have taught people to fly in one week of intensive effort. It all
depends on how much time you can devote to learning.

Here, we take a look at some tips and challenges faced when flying a circuit.

What is a circuit?

A circuit is a rectangular path that radio-controlled aircraft are flown around and is used for taking off and landing approaches. All pilots need to be able to fly a circuit in both directions.

If the wind changes direction then the circuit direction is changed so that the aircraft always takes off and lands into the wind. The idea is to fly along the circuit at a constant height keeping control of the aircraft. The trick is to use small smooth inputs to keep the aircraft heading in the desired direction and at the desired height.

What do you need to do to fly a circuit properly?

  • all turns should involve no more than 30 degrees of bank;
  • you need to maintain the same height throughout the circuit;
  • make turns at the appropriate location and make sure your control inputs are smooth and gradual.

What common problems do pilots face?

  • not leaving enough room for the turn resulting in a bank greater than 30 degrees;
  • not finishing the base leg turn to be lined up with or just before the centre of the runway; and
  • not being able to fly the circuit in the opposite direction.

How can you improve?

The short answer is practice. You need to make sure you leave enough room to turn and undertake activities that challenge your hand/eye coordination. Often being able to fly the circuit in the opposite direction is a matter of getting used to a different orientation, but it can feel like trying to write with the wrong hand. Lining up the base leg turn is a simple matter of turning the model until it is facing you. If you are really keen you can buy a flight simulator for your computer that will help to improve your skill and let you advance faster.

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