PDQ's training program is designed to prepare pilots to fly solo, in a manner which is safe for people and property. While the program is designed with the expectation that the student has no previous knowledge or experience, students can certainly fast-track through the program if they have experience. There is no "hours" requirement, simply a need to demonstrate completion of a required skill to move forward.
Most of our club instructors are for fixed-wing (airplane) training, though training for helicopters and multi-rotors (drones) can be requested through the Programs Administrator. Details below are related to the fixed-wing program, as it's our most commonly requested.
If you have any questions about the process, or haven't yet purchased equipment, be sure to reach out to our Programs Administrator for assistance.
Flight training is completed with the students own airplane. The club does not currently have loaner equipment.
The R/C hobby is changing fast with technology, and thus suggestions for "the best plane" can quickly become outdated. If you don't yet own any equipment, we suggest joining us for a monthly meeting so we can help point you in the right direction. The club has instructors who can work with Spektrum, OpenTX and Tactic radios.
In general, we suggest a high-wing trainer. Typically a foam park-sized flyer, or a home-built balsa trainer. While electric is certainly the more common power choice for beginners, club instructors are also equipped to train on fuel-powered airplanes.
In addition to your in-person training at the field, a number of pilots find a computer simulator to be helpful in their training. The best simulators allow you to connect your actual flying radio either via cable or wirelessly to your PC.
"SAFE" is a training aid marketed by Horizon Hobby and their Spektrum brand of radios. When switched on, SAFE limits controls of the airplane to help maintain safe level flight. When switched off, the plane is fully under control of the operator. With some radios, a 'panic' feature is enabled, where pushing a button returns the plane to straight level flight. Opinions on the system are mixed. While it can certainly help you get flying quicker, it allows the pilot to learn "bad habits" which can limit the progression of the pilot to solo flight.
Prospective pilots are also likely to encounter the AS3X system marketed alongside the SAFE system. AS3X is a separate technology, which can be activated independently of SAFE, but which is always activated when safe is active. AS3X is a gyroscopic stabilization system. If an aircraft encounters a gust of wind, the system automatically attempts to counteract the winds effect. Gyroscopic stabilization can be quite handy at our field, which can be gusty at times.
Regardless of the electronic aids available on your plane, PDQ flyers are required to pass their PDQ Wings test without the use of any electronic aids.
1. Ground School
The student will also learn how the radio works, how the sticks move the flight surfaces, proper start up and flight preparation.
Ground school may be delivered in person, or through suggested online resources.
The student will learn and demonstrate a proper pre-flight check of their aircraft before flight. The student will demonstrate stick movement and responses on the ground. Engine adjustments for fuel-powered aircraft, and safety for electric aircraft will also be covered.
Demonstrate stick movement and responses in the air. The instructor will take off, and land the plane. Switching control to the student once steady, level flight is achieved.
4. Pattern Flight
Rectangular patterns at steady altitude, left and right.
5. Flight Maneuvers
Continuous level circles from left and right. Enter and recover from a stall. Figure eight flight from both directions.
6. Landing Pattern
Approach only, low and go.
7. Take Off
Take off with instructor's approval - can be started after completing stage 5 flight maneuvers.
Landing from pattern flight, to a full stop from left and right.
9. PDQ Wings Confirmation Test
- Demonstrate a pre-flight check.
- Take off and land from left and right unassisted (wind permitting.)
- Maintain straight and level flight parallel to the runway.
- Procedure turn.
- Perform a figure eight.
- One touch and go (maximum of 3 attempts.)
- Rectangular approach.
- Land under power.
Note: No stabilization or electronic aids are permitted.
You can download a copy of the PDQ Wings Test sheet here.