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Learning How to Fly-Updated 2019

ARCA's Pilot Training Program

Step #1 - Contact US!

The first step to ANY training at ARCA if you are brand new, need to knock off the dust,  or a veteran pilot, is to contact us!
The minimum age is 13 but please contact us because we have trained kids younger than that!

We cannot STRESS enough, you should NOT go out and buy planes and radios right away if you are brand new!!

We can set you going on the right path based on your current skills. It makes no difference if you are brand new, have left the hobby and are returning, or have crashed planes a few dozen times!

Our training program and instructors are flexible enough to get you flying in a safe manner with TONS of confidence. Our training program is also FREE to ARCA members of all abilities. Non-members get up to five flights before there is an expectation of joining the club.


Step #2 - Join the AMA and Join ARCA

After you have received up to five lessons for free and are hooked, the next thing to do is join the AMA (Academy of Model Aeronautics) Our instructors ARE VOLUNTEERS so there is an expectation that you will join after about five lessons.

This is the national organization for RC modelers. The main function of the AMA  is to provide liability insurance for individual modelers, along with club and property owners.

You can join online and will receive a temporary receipt which can be shown to your ARCA instructor to help get started.

A Youth membership with the AMA is free through his or her eighteenth birthday.


You should join ARCA at around lesson #5 or so. This can be done before or after joining the AMA. But to be a member of ARCA, you must join the AMA within 90 days after joining our club if you are a new pilot.

Joining ARCA is required by insurance because we are part of the Walter E. Long park system within the Austin Parks and Recreation Department and also a sanctioned AMA club. Our By-Laws mandate this.

Our Pilot Training Program

All ARCA Pilot Instructors are on file with the AMA. They have several years of flying experience but also understand how to TEACH! We ONLY use AMA listed Pilot Instructors for teaching at ARCA because it is the safest way to learn.

We do NOT try to rush your training and do not subscribe to the idea of trying to force you into flying before you are ready, confident and safe.

That said, our Pilot Instructors also keep you moving in your training program at a comfortable pace.


OK! I want to contact someone about training



How We Teach - Let's be Buddies!

We use something called a buddy box. This is the best method of training and we prefer to use OUR equipment to start.  A "buddy box" means that the student’s transmitter is connected to the instructor either through a cord or using wireless technology.

Anytime there is a chance that the model may be out of control, or if the student loses orientation, the instructor can immediately take control of the airplane. Once the plane is back in control and stable, the instructor passes control to the student again. This method works extremely well!


What You Learn

Our AMA listed Pilot Instructors teach to a specific, "task oriented" program. 

Field Rules, safety and airplane checks - This explained from the very first time you fly, including on a Discovery Flight.

During training you learn about about aerodynamics, the  importance of wing loading, center of gravity, club field etiquette and many other things that will make you confident when you fly.

You will also learn the basics of setting up an airplane, setting up your radio and how to perform basic troubleshooting.

Our goal is to make you a safe pilot so you can fly at other fields too.


I want to see more of what I will learn!



Gary Smith  and Gary Smith Jr. (12)

After You Solo

After you solo its time to practice. You need to practice with your first trainer until you are extremely comfortable with flying it. 

You should be able to do anything you want with that plane before moving up to the next level. 

After a few months or years, you will get more comfortable and then there is no limit!! This is a hobby that stays with you for a very long time if not forever!


What does it cost?

Costs can run an average of $200-$500 plus dues the first year.  This includes most of the tools and equipment for glow and electric power.   Much of the tools and equipment is a one time cost.  If you crash, you can usually reuse your engine, electric motor gear, and radio components.

Another option is to buy used.  There are swap meets for RC that can save you as much as  half of the cost of new gear. 

Chat with your instructor to discuss what you are interested in.  Even if you have to do a little work to get a plane flying, it may be worth it if you are on a budget.

NO MATTER WHAT, try to control the urge to buy a plane before you have finished any kind of training.  Our instructors primary focus is to prevent damage to your planes. Training enables that.

I want to sign up for some training!

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