Ted shuffled out of his cave and grunted these great (and sometimes not
so great) words of knowledge:
The Nexstar is a nice trainer, however, my personal opinion is that it
is overpriced for what you get.
1. Do not try to teach yourself how to fly. The normal 1st flight of
someone trying to teach themselves how to fly is typically less than 30
seconds and usually results in damage to the plane (about 1/2 the time
the plane is a total). Get an instructor. Clubs provide members an
instructor at no charge.
2. Find a local club. Your local hobby shop can help you find one.
3. Talk to the people at the club AND talk to an instructor. See what
the instructor suggests for a trainer.
4. Join the AMA and your local club.
Back to the plane.
You can D/L FMS for free and you can either make a cord that goes from
your transmitter to the computer or buy one off of Ebay for around $20 -
$25. FMS is a decent sim. It doesn't have the "bells and whistles" of
G4 or Aerofly, but it will allow you to practice what your instructor
The AFS on the Nexstar is, in my opinion, useless since it teaches you
the wrong things. MOST instructors have the student turn it off and
learn the CORRECT way.
The wing droops are nice, however many students remove them by the 3rd
lesson (or sooner).
The Nexstar comes with a 4 channel radio. There is nothing wrong with a
4 channel radio, however most students will be wanting/needing more
channels by their 3rd plane.
I suggest the following:
Since most trainers fly pretty much the same, get a basic ARF trainer
such as the Hobbico SuperStar or Avistar. With an ARF you do not have
the emotional involvment that normally comes if you build the plane from
a kit. Remember, a trainer is to learn on. Expect it to get dings,
tears and some damage. It goes along with learning.
Get a BALL BEARING 46 engine. OS, Thunder Tiger and Evolution are 3
brands I can recommend. They are "user friendly" engines. By user
friendly I mean that 99%+ are going to run decently right out of the
box. They will require minimal break in, have good power and not
require a lot of "fiddling with" to run properly and keep running properly.
For a radio I suggest a 6 channel (or more ) COMPUTER radio. Initially,
you will not be using the additional channels, however many students
want flaps and/or retractable landing gear by their 3rd plane. Getting
the 6 channel (or more) radio initially saves you from buying another
radio later. I also suggest getting the radio in 2.4 mhz rather than 72
With some careful shopping you can NORMALLY beat the price of a Nexstar.
If you happen to catch some sales, you can beat the price by a
Remember, do not try to teach yourself how to fly. Get an instructor.
Hope this is of some help.
Most trainers are capable of far more than people ever use them for. My
Seagull Boomerang 40 has 300hours of flying and is looking really sad, yet
it will still do things most pilots would never think it capable of
I've overpowered it, dived it well beyond flutter, pulled massive 'wing
breaking' G, landed it inverted, flown through trees, discovered it's
absolute maximum speed (just won't go faster no matter how big an engine),
hovered it etc etc.
You're wasting money and getting no benefit for it. Try a cheap trainer,
assemble it well, and (once you get used to it) flog the death out of it.
About the only thing they don't like is knife edges, which some judicious
modifications will solve.
Don't get cocky or push it too quick. Seen plenty of 'Top Gun' learners who
simply rush things too much and end up getting nowhere but frustrated and/or
http://www3.towerhobbies.com/cgi-bin/wti0001p?&I=LXWH71&P=0 This is one
of the best planes ever. I built the smaller version of this from
scratch a few years ago and put hundreds of hours on it.
http://www3.towerhobbies.com/cgi-bin/wti0001p?&I=LXMU53 **&P=0 This is
another one of the greats. Comes with everything, and it saves a
hundred bucks off the price of the Nexstar, which would be wasted money
if you ask me. Just get a plane and learn to fly it, and don't fool
with the fancy gizmos on the Nexstar.
Incidentally, neither of these planes has a flat bottom airfoil, in case
you're interested. But they both will fly slow so you can learn to
handle an airplane, like you do in a full scale Cessna 150.
Some other really good ARF trainers:
http://www3.towerhobbies.com/cgi-bin/wti0001p?&I=LXGHD4 **&P=0 Comes
with 6 channel radio and ball bearing servos. I knew a guy who had one
of these, (after I had been a competent pilot for several years) and we
used to have a ball flying it. It's a really good trainer.
You could also get any of these planes with no engine and buy a 4 stroke
instead if you want to. It's just a matter of budget.
Here are some thoughts to keep in mind. Most guys who don't quit right
away end up with lots of different planes, radios and engines after a
few years. If you stick with it you'll have extras of everything, so
don't think you have to get exactly the right gear the first time out.
Keep in mind that you may already be planning your next three planes,
but three planes from now your plans will likely have changed.
I've been doing this for almost 20 years and taught about a dozen people
to fly. It's really not as hard as some people would like you to
believe. If you want to do it, you can. Regarding equipment, I have a
collection of cheap radios, a box of servos and receivers of various
sizes, and dozens of engines that get installed on different planes as
they come and go. The basic four channel airplane is what most people
fly 90% of the time, and it doesn't hurt my feelings a bit to install
cheap four channel radios in them. Maybe you'll build some really cool
scale project some day with flaps and retracts and use a six channel
radio. While you're building it you'll probably be flying various four
channel airplanes that don't require anything more than a cheap four
channel radio. I noticed that you mentioned biplanes, which is
something that I've always loved, too. I guarantee you don't need
anything fancy for a biplane, and unless it's a high speed precision
aerobatics type, you won't be able to tell the difference between
plastic bushings and ball bearings in your servos.
I'm not trying to twist your arm or anything. You don't have to do
things my way, but remember that you don't have to go out and spend $850
for all the best gear your first time out either. Have fun.
I like Robert's answer a bunch and wholeheartedly second his opinions. I
think any of the planes he points out are good choices for someone who wants
to get into the hobby. I especially like the Hobbistar 60, because its
bigger an easier to see. It also will allow you to "play" with its
capabilities a bunch, but the Avistar will allow that, too.
My mission is accomplished. I got some folks to write that probably wouldn't
have responded to this article. That was my goal. You have to be a little
controversial in order to drag some of these folks out of their dark
No, you don't need a fancy radio to begin flight training. But you would
save money in the long run if you bought a nice computer radio to begin
with. After all, the transmitter stays on the ground, so regardless of the
number of crashes that your model experiences, your TX is going to remain in
good condition, barring any hanger rash type of accidents.
Do you have to have ball bearing servos? Of course not. But if you spent the
extra money and bought the cheapest ball bearing servos, I guarantee that
you would enjoy your model more than if you had bought the plastic bushing
servos that are bottom of the line.
An excellent transmitter, coupled with an adequate flight pack is a good way
to go. I'd buy a used 72 MHz transmitter that is computer based and with at
least eight or nine channel capability. Then I would buy a cheap flight pack
that matches the transmitter's frequency and shift. Most computer
transmitters can be converted to 2.4 GHz with the replacement of the Tx
module at a later date. I run 72 MHz, 50 MHz and 2.4 MHz with my old JR X347
Tx, my JR 8103 and my JR 9303 transmitters. You have that capability when
you get a computer based transmitter because they use Tx modules to
determine the band and frequency.
It's been fun.
Yeah, Ed, I think your logic is sound. Its just that if a guy is in the
position where he HAS to save a few bucks on his initial equipment, a four
channel Tx and cheaper servos aren't all that bad. I try to have that kind
of stuff on hand for those just starting out in the hobby. If I see a good
used outfit that I can pick up for a good price and pass along the saving to
a person who is interested in entry level equipment, I can usually get him
into the plane, Tx, Rx and servos for less than $200 and sometimes less. Of
course some of the other stuff is extra, but I usually have those things
available fairly inexpensively, too. I probably have too much stuff at the
moment, but I just love it when a new person shows up at the field with
equipment that I sold him for a very good price. Usually its a new flyer, a
new club member and another smiling face.
As for the modules, I find that its a great way to get into 2.4 GHz
equipment. I bought my 9CAP and Hitec Eclipse fairly cheaply when their
previous owners decided to go dedicated 2.4GHz rather than go with the
module. I have the capability to fly on any channel that is open or 2.4Ghz
with the 9CAP and any channel with the Eclipse. I'll shortly be getting a
2.4 GHz module for that one, too. Then my other radios will be sold. (I got
those modules from all those Priority Club points I accumulated over 20
years of traveling on business, so they really didn't cost me anything.)
The reason I responded to this thread is that I'm expressing a point of
view that doesn't get a lot of play for some reason. It seems that a
disproportionate number of people on this group assume that everybody
wants the fanciest gear on the market and that we will all end up there
by choice some day. This is not true. Not only do I not have a
computer radio, but in 20 years of flying models I have never wanted
one. I have never built a plane with 6 channels. I've built several
with 5, but not more than half a dozen or so. Sometimes the extra
channel is flaps and sometimes it's a bomb door.
Some of us are just simple and don't like all the fancy electronic crap.
The only reason I find that fact worth mentioning is that in spite of
the "you'll want it later" advice seen here so frequently, most of the
guys I've ever seen at the flying field were flying basic 4 channel
sport planes and using basic 4 channel radios. Only about 20% have had
computer radios of any kind, and this was at a very popular public
field. Apparently the 2.4 GHz stuff is getting more popular now, but
I've been out of the loop since I moved to the country a year ago...
I hate to come across as disagreeable, but I disagree with that
statement. Until just a few years ago I never owned a ball bearing
servo, and I enjoyed my planes just as much as the next guy. Now that I
have a few of them I sometimes can tell the difference, but sometimes I
can't. And I guarantee that I don't enjoy the cheap stuff less.
I don't want to argue, I'm just pointing out that it is a fallacy to
assume that everybody else will follow the same path that you took. This
is a very common fallacy, probably the most common in the human
Tom, whatever you buy, may you learn to fly before you learn the fine
art of crash repair.
Each of us judges the world and others by our own experiences. I don't argue
with folks. I just state my viewpoint and then move on.
I've been flying R/C and model airplanes in general for a long, long time. I
have decades of experiences. Does that make me correct? Not at all. I've
seen some real goof balls that had decades of experience and I've had to
argue with them back when I was in club politics and either club president
or on the board of directors. Their reasoning was often flawed, costing
their student pilots money that truly did not need to be spent. Many times
their suggestions for rules were absolutely ridiculous to most folks. But
they had the right to be heard and their suggestions taken seriously. Others
dismissed such folks out of hand. They never had their say, which I thought
Ever run into folks that will only fly plain bearing engines? I have. Or
folks that will not own a computer radio? I have. How about folks that will
never buy anything that is new? If they could find a way to buy used fuel,
they would! <G>
It takes all kinds to make a world. I have always fought for folks to have
the right to be different, as long as they were reasonably safe. I'm not
putting anyone down now for their behavior of choice. I kind of visit
different areas of interest and different modeling philosophies quite often.
One side of me loves classic pattern. Another side of me is an ardent
Telemaster fan. I even own a few helicopters and RTF electric models. I'm on
a giant scale kick at the moment. Who knows what I'll be into next week? I
The fact that you disagree with me is fine. I do appreciate you presenting
your point of view, even when it disagrees with mine. We put the info, our
opinions, out there for the readers to evaluate. That is as it should be.
Thanks for clear explanation.
I'm adding up the expense of radio, servos, FS, plane, motor, etc. And
frankly it's looking like used equipment from a club member or an ARF kit
w/ the works. It may cost a few more bucks more but it'll save the hassle
of putting everything together. I work with computers but gave up building
them when I realized I can buy good one cheaper than I can build one w/o the
Regarding your last sentence - me too.
I buy refurbed computers from Tiger Direct. Yep, the technology is a couple
of years old sometimes, but I'm just an ordinary end user. I don't need a
super screaming state-of-the-art machine any longer, but I do like fast
The thing about refurbs is you have to put it through a rigorous testing
regime when you get it, because you only have a short while in which to
exchange it. Nope, no returns for refund. I've paid as little as $250 for
2.8 GHz P4 processor equipped machines. Or $350 for a Pentium D dual channel
2.8 GHz machine. Or $260 each for several 3.06 GHz P4 machines. Why so many?
I frequently give them to family and friends that need a computer.
I'd rather build models anyway.
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