Flight Training

2021Marymoor R/C Club Flight Training

There are FOUR WAYS you can learn to fly!

        1.  Join us on Tuesdays from 5-8 in May through August for our club training sessions. (more detail below)

        2.  Any time of year, call Brian Burk, Training Manager at 425-269-8936.  He will find you an instructor

        3.  For Youth members, look for Brian Connelly at the field on good weather Wednesdays and Sundays

        4.  Find a club member on your own who is willing to teach you.


DO NOT TO PURCHASE ANYTHING until you read to the bottom of this page.


Tuesday Evening Flight Training

We will conduct training this year using masks, social distancing, and hand sanitizers.

     -- Training sessions will be from the first Tuesday in May to the Last Tuesday in August, weather permitting. 

     -- Check Facebook for weather update by 3 PM that day.  

     -- Training is from 5-8.  

     -- The field is closed to other activities at this time.

The Marymoor R/C Club Flight Training program is for new pilots that want to learn to fly.

(If you are an experienced pilot, have an active AMA membership, and are joining MAR/C, you can instead request a flight proficiency check: New Member Proficiency Check. )

If you are a new pilot that wants to successfully solo, read on!

Our goal is for all students to enjoy a safe and inspiring training experience.  The information here can be a bit intimidating at first.  Rest assured that we are enthused about helping you, as we have done for many, many new fliers.  We will introduce knowledge to the student at their own pace.  We want every student to succeed.  After all, flying is a lot more fun when we have new friends to share it with!

  • A new pilot may fly a MAR/C owned trainer with an instructor for one flight (perhaps more) prior to joining the training program.
  • To join the program, AMA membership (http://www.modelaircraft.org) and MAR/C membership are both recommended.  You must join both before you can fly solo.
  • MAR/C membership is “provisional” (yellow badge) until the student passes a flight proficiency test and gains the privilege to fly on their own, "solo".
  • We provide a “buddy box” for the instructor that connects to your transmitter.

                  -- We support Spektrum and Futaba brands. 
                  -- If the student owns a transmitter of any other brand, they must invest in their own buddy box (e.g. a second transmitter) of the same brand, and the connecting cord.

Direct any questions to: Flight Training Manager, Brian Burk (425) 269-8936, Brian L. Kelly (aka BK2) at (425) 417-4272, or Mike Powell at (425) 883-2465.


MAR/C Ground School Modules

Download these easy to read lessons as you progress through the program:
a) Getting Started in Training
b) Selecting Your Airplane and Radio
c) How Training Works
d) How Planes Fly
e) Flight Training Phases and Your Training Log
f) Phase 1 - Preflight and Taxi
g) Phase 2 - Orientation and Traffic Pattern
h) Phase 3 - Approach and Landing
i) Phase 4 - Takeoff
j) Phase 5 - Advanced Orientation and Aerobatics
k) Proficiency Flight and Quiz
l) Radios and Electronic Speed Controls
m) Your next airplane after training

An additional great resource is the presentation from the club's STEM Day (large download):
STEM Day Presentation

Before purchasing your own airplane and other equipment, please read to the bottom of this page.

Contact one of the above MAR/C contacts if you have any questions.  Also, please come visit the field and talk to other pilots, to see the equipment in use and get a feel for different kinds of trainers.  You can do this any time, but Tuesday training evenings are the best opportunity.  Deciding what to buy based only on website and advertisements usually results in disappointment.  Buying from swap meets is also risky unless you know exactly what you need.

What is training like?

A MAR/C tech inspector will check your airplane to ensure that it has been assembled correctly and is flight worthy according to the pre-flight checklist found in the MAR/C Ground School part (c) above.   Most deficiencies identified by the tech inspector can be corrected quickly at the airfield.

Student pilots will fly with different MAR/C instructors during training.  The instructor’s “buddy box” transmitter will be connected to the student’s transmitter with a special cord.  The instructor can fly the airplane and take control from the student instantly at any time.   

Initially, the instructor will perform all take offs and landings.  The instructor will transfer control of the aircraft to the student when it is at altitude and flying straight and level.  At first, the student will not be able to fly the airplane very long before the instructor needs to make a correction.  As experience is gained, the student will be able to fly the plane with fewer corrections.  Eventually the student will progress to approaches, landings and takeoffs.  The student will also learn how to recover from adverse situations such as being upside down.  

A log book is used to document the progress of each student.  In the final steps of the program, 2 instructors observe 2 flights that are required to be successful without any corrections by the instructors.  The last flight is a solo flight without use of a buddy box which must be successfully completed without advice from the instructors.  Each graduating student receives a certificate attesting to their proficiency and receives a full membership card to replace their provisional card.

Your Checklist to Get Ready!

  •     First, visit the Tuesday free instruction flight (or visit the field anytime).
  •     AMA membership.
  •     MAR/C membership (apply as soon as you have AMA number).
  •     FAA UAS registration.
  •     Read sections 1-4 and Phase 1 of section 5 in the Ground School.
  •     Purchase your plane and transmitter AFTER reading below.
  •     Read instructions for your plane, charger, and batteries.
  •     Assemble your plane according to the instructions.
  •     Come to training night with your batteries recently charged. 



This is also covered in Section b of the Ground School, but the information here is more up to date.

An airplane specifically designed for training (and usually called a “trainer”) is the best type for student pilots to use.  Trainers generally have a wing that mounts on top of the fuselage and wing dihedral (wing halves form a slight “V” shape when viewed from front or back).  This type of airplane has a tendency to fly level when the control sticks on the transmitter are released.

Your airplane must have four control channels (throttle, aileron, rudder and elevator) to be used in the training program.  Additionally, your transmitter brand must be either Spektrum or Futaba to be compatible with the buddy boxes that the club instructors will use.  If you use another brand, you must bring your own buddy box (an extra transmitter) and cord.

Size does indeed matter.  Smaller airplanes are of course less expensive, but more difficult to see in the air and their wheels are too small to conduct takeoff and landing on our grass field, even though it is mowed very short.  Smaller or lighter airplanes are more affected by wind and turbulence and more difficult to fly in windy conditions.  That great looking, inexpensive, and probably small airplane you found online or at a garage sale might not be the best thing.  We strongly encourage all students to go with tried and true airplanes like the ones below.

We STRONGLY recommend ELECTRIC powered “ARF” (Almost Ready to Fly) airplanes that are intended for training.  

Also, we strongly recommend purchasing a flight simulator program to run on your home computer.  They allow hours of practice at home compared to minutes while flying at the field.  The simulator will pay for itself  by reducing the likelihood of accidents.

  RealFlight Box             RealFlight Screen Shot



The Carbon Cub S2.1, E-Flite Turbo Timber Evolution 1.5, and FMS Super Cub are excellent choices.  Similar airplanes can also ge good, but we have good experience with these.  They are easy to fly, handle gusty conditions well, and have robust landing gear that you will value when learning to land.  A transmitter must be purchased separately, but this can be an advantage.  It gives you the option of buying a more capable and easier to use transmitter like a DX6 or DX8e that will be a good investment if you continue with the hobby.  Even if you don't continue, these transmitters have good resale value.  The cheaper DXe or DXs transmitters sometimes supplied with airplanes labeled RTF (Ready to Fly) have no resale value.

Note:  We no longer recommend the E-Flite Apprentice.  More information at the end of this page.

Recommended Airplanes

FOR YOUR TRANSMITTER, we recommend a Spektrum DX6 or DX6e.  They are much easier to program then the DXe or DXs, easier to use with a buddy box setup with your instructor, and allow you to grow with the hobby and use with the next several airplanes after your trainer.

DX6 and 6e


In addition, you should:

  • Purchase at least 2 flight batteries
  • Purchase a battery charger that can accept household power, for easier use at the MAR/C charging station at the field.  The hobby shop can make good recommendations here.  Buying one online without advice can be quite confusing.  Alternatively you could bring 3 batteries fully charged to the field.
  • Purchase an inexpensive “battery checker” that you will use to see how much battery power remains at the end of a flight.  Understanding good care and use of Lithium-Polymer batteries is essential to avoid ruining them.
  • Get a durable box to store and transport your transmitter in order to protect the antenna and switches.


The E-Flite Apprentice has been a popular trainer but we no longer recommend it.  It has a nose wheel that tends to get stuck on our grass runway and break on bad landings, it too slow and tends to get blown around in the wind more, and has a fragile tail.  Reliability has also been an issue at times and it is not possible to use the supplied DXe or DXs transmitter as a buddy box. In short, a lot of time can be wasted.

The Apprentice package is less expensive initially, but MORE expensive in the long run.  It comes with a cheap DXe or DXs transmitter and a rudimentary battery charger.  You will want a more capable charger, and the transmitters are difficult to use and have no resale value.

E-Flite Apprentice (NOT recommended



Low Cost Options


The Airplane

No matter how you go about it, please follow these guidelines: Choose an airplane that has a tail wheel in the back, wings on top and a wing span of about 50 inches or more.  The main landing gear wheels should be at least 2 ½ inches in diameter and up to 3 ½ is an advantage on our grass field.  Look for robust or shock absorbing landing gear designs.  Airplanes called Cubs or Super Cubs are typically in this category.  Most airplanes marketed as “trainers” have a nose wheel, but these do not work well on a grass field like Marymoor.


Low Cost New Airplanes with Radios (RTF)

The lowest cost options are airplanes marketed as RTF (Ready To Fly), packaged with with a very basic transmitter such as the Spektrum DXe or DXs, maybe a simple battery charger, and one battery.  If you wish to go this route, bear in mind that the transmitter will have little to zero resale value, and you will very likely need a better one if you continue with the hobby.  The Carbon Cub and Apprentice are both sold this way.  The Cub is by far a better choice.


Build it Yourself !!

This is a wonderful option if you enjoy making things.  With fairly little effort you can have the pride of flying something that you made.  You will learn so much more and acquire skills needed for repairs.  Nobody knows their airplane better than someone who has made their own.

Excellent resources for this can be found at https://www.flitetest.com/get-started/airplanes.     They have plans and kits for many fun, well-designed airplanes built from sheets of Dollar Store foam.  These can make excellent parent-child projects for kids in the 10-12 year old range, and quite doable projects for high school youths to do on their own.  FliteTest’s beginner planes are somewhat smaller than we recommend, but the benefits of building them outweigh any slight disadvantage.


Garage Sales and Swap Meets

Garage sales are the riskiest path.   We do not recommend them unless you have a knowledgeable person that can help you.  There is a lot of junk out there, and you could spend more replacing outdated components or repairing a plane that turns out to be too heavy to make a good electric airplane.  Especially avoid airplanes with internal combustion engines.  Be prepared to spend a lot of time and money replacing radio gear, engines, or electric motors.  RC Swap meets are a slightly better option but the same rule about having a knowledgeable helper applies.


Teaching Yourself to Fly?

If you want to try this, a simulator will be your most important purchase.  Practicing at home can avoid many crashes. 

New technology called SAFE is now available that can make an airplane extremely easy to fly and offers a Panic button to recover from confusion.   In SAFE mode the plane can be so easy to fly that it is actually difficult to turn the airplane around to bring it back to you, and there is some risk that it could even fly away on its own.  But, some airplanes even have an autoland function that can bring the airplane back to you and land it automatically, although these capabilities add some to the cost.

We find that people trying this route, after frustration with the technology or many crashes, come to us looking for instruction.  Still, a skilled, and patient person can learn to fly this way, but it will take longer with more crashes, and they may develop some bad habits that lead to crashes when they try larger airplanes later.

The Marymoor RC Club program tries to teach you to fly well and develop habits that will help avoid crashes later as you advance to larger and faster airplanes.