10 Pro Tips for Flying E-Jets - Model Airplane News (2022)

The development in brushless motor design and LiPo battery technology have greatly benefited the RC hobby especially for wannabe jet pilots. Electric ducted fan (EDF) jets have become one of the most popular segments of the RC modeling hobby and the development of these speed demons is nothing short of amazing. When most people talk about RC jets, the first part of the conversation always focuses on speed. But that’s just one part of the e-jet equation. This article covers the basics of power system and airframe setup, showing the various choices and options available to the wannabe jetster. From low-time beginners to the advanced RC pilots, there’s something for all skill levels.

To begin with electric powered jets fall into two categories: prop jets and electric ducted fan (EDF) jets.

1. Prop Jets: As the name implies, these jets can look just like full-size jets but they get their propulsion from an electric motor and propeller. Prop jets can be further sub-divided into pushers and tractors. The pusher configuration has the motor and prop mounted in the tail of the fuselage, while tractor prop jets (usually lightweight sheet-foam flyers) have the motor and prop facing the front. Some jets split the difference with the propeller positioned (tractor or pusher) located within the fuselage/wing area in a tight-fitting slot cut into the model.

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2. EDFs: Electric ducted fan jets have also developed a few different approaches. These include: fully enclosed and exposed electric ducted fan units, type of construction, impeller diameter and method of inlet air ducting. Regardless of configuration, the heart of the EDF jets is the ducted fan unit. The unit is comprised of the outer body or duct, an inlet ring or lip at the front of the duct that smoothly guides the airflow into the duct, a precisely fitting multi-blade impeller that driven by an electric motor, the hub which is the central part of the impeller that attaches to the motor’s prop shaft and coupler, and stators which are stationary vanes that help straighten the swirling airflow produced by the spinning impeller. Some jet designs rely on large opening (cheater holes) to draw the air into the EDF unit while others are equipped with internal air ducting that channels the air into the impellers and exhaust tubes to direct the thrust out of the back of the jet.

3. Foam construction: Foam is an extremely popular building material for jets and here you can find complex all-molded-foam ARFs and simpler flat-foam-sheet kits you have to assemble and glue together. Both have their advantages and they vary in price according to the amount of included hardware and accessories. Foam jets are usually are smaller and lighter than built-up wood and fiberglass jest and so they can be powered by less expensive less powerful power systems and controlled by budget servos and radio gear.

4. Composite jets: A step up from the foamie flyers is the composite/wood designs. These jets come with a molded fiberglass fuselage with built-up wood wing panels and control surfaces. Usually they come already painted and covered but are still very easy to assemble. The sophistication and complexity of these types of jets vary greatly and so do their price tags. There are composite jets available for a few hundred dollars while others are priced at several thousand. Again, it is all a factor of what is included in the box and the quality of the power systems and components used. Size is a factor as well as the controls features. If you have flaps and retractable landing gear you’ll pay more but you’ll also enjoy more performance.

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5. Proper gear A very important thing to consider is the quality of your radio gear. The lighter and simpler your model is, the less expensive and powerful your servos have to be. As the weight and speed of your jet increases, the flight loads and demands on your servos also increase. Ten dollar mini servos are just fine for small, lower speed jets. For the mid to upper end of the jet range you should consider more expensive and powerful servos that range from 40 to 60 oz.-in. of torque. Also, as speeds increase, servo centering and precision also becomes more important. As with everything else in this world, speed is expensive.

6. Pilot training Flying exciting EDFs such as the E-flite Habu 32 or the BVM Electra Jet is exhilarating but not especially difficult. It is here you have to evaluate your own piloting skills. If you are a beginner, you should first learn to fly normal prop driven airplanes first and get comfortable with flying faster and faster. Low-wing, aileron-equipped high-performance sport planes are great for pilot training. Then when you are real comfortable with speed, move up to something sleeker with less drag like a flying wing. One of the best trainer airplanes for the budding jet pilot is the new ParkZone Stryker F-27Q. An advanced molded foam flying wing design, it is by definition a prop/pusher jet. Flying wings with their reduced drag and increased speed are extremely well suited for pilot training. When you are comfortable with speedy flying wings, you’ll be ready for jets.

7. Flight control: Another interesting difference between flying jets and typical propeller airplanes is that with jets, there is no prop blast directing airflow over the wing and control surfaces. Conventional airplane pilots can get accustomed to the almost instant thrust and increased control response by simply punching the throttle. The propeller both propels the airplane forward and blanks the control surfaces with plenty of airflow. It’s like power steering, a lot of control with little effort. For a jet to produce thrust however, it depends on smooth airflow into the EDF unit. Sharp maneuvers can interrupt and reduce this airflow leading to less thrust and less speed. There is no increased airflow and what control you have all depends of maintaining forward airspeed. This is not at all difficult to master, but it is something to keep in the back of your mind when you consider doing low and slow hot-dogging with your jet. .

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8. Flight ops: One thing that the new “speed freak” may overlook before buying his first jet is evaluating the condition of his home base of operations. What’s your flying field like? Is it a well manicured sod field with a pool table-smooth surface? Do you have a paved runway? Or, is it the local soccer field? If you are flying off of shaggy grass, it would be best to fly smaller, hand-launchable foamie jets. Typically, the wheels on jet landing gear are smaller than your average RC sport plane and they won’t even roll in tall grass. Skip the landing gear and give it a toss. For more advanced jets, you’ll need a smooth runway and if you have retracts, the smoother, the better. When you travel to e-jet events most are hosted by clubs that have access to smooth tarmac for effortless takeoffs and landings regardless of wheel diameter. So, evaluate your own base of operations and fly something accordingly.

9. Bungee launches:
There is a gray area in model jet size, where some models are a little too big for a comfortable hand launch but not quite big enough for a set of landing gear for rise-off-ground takeoffs. Here you can take a hint from the glider guys and use a bungee launch system. Nothing more than a length of surgical tubing, a stake, ring and some nylon cord, the bungee launch is the best compromise. For your average four to five pound EDF a 30- to 40-foot length of 3/16- to ¼-inch surgical tubing will do nicely. A 12-inch tent stake anchors one end and a tow ring tied to the other is attached to the launch hook. The hook should be an inch or two forward of the plane’s CG for smooth launches. The longer the bungee the better; you want a constant, smooth pull for a longer time. Shorter lengths produce more aggressive pulls but they are shorter in duration.

How much pull? A good way to fin-tune your launch system is to use a fish scale and pull the launch cord back so it pulls four or five times the weight of your model. For a four-pound jet that would be 16 to 20 pounds of pull. Hold the model low with its tail just touching the ground with the nose pointed up just slightly. Have a buddy hold the plane and when you’re ready have him release it. Have a little up trim dialed in and concentrate on keeping the wings level and the upward flight path angle shallow until you have sufficient airspeed for your first turn.

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10. Smooth moves:

In the air is where jets are supposed to be and flying at high speed is a thrill all by itself. But things happen quicker with jets and they can become very small very quickly if you just fly them in a straight line away from yourself. The best jet pilots fly with a flight plan and they stick to the plan until they land. It can be very easy to mentally fall behind a fast jet. Have a simple mission; don’t just bore holes in the sky. If it’s a first flight, concentrate in trimming the model for straight and level and fly around the pattern at a safe altitude at different speeds to see how the model reacts. If you have some time on your jet, then practice landing approaches and being smooth. For more advanced jets, practice flying with the flaps and landing gear up and down, and consider setting up Flight Modes with your computer radio to easy the pilot load. Have one setting for takeoff, one for general flying and a thirds to set up your model’s landing configuration.

When it comes to turning around, use large smooth sweeping turns to keep your model in the groove and to maintain airspeed. A favorite maneuver for turning around and reversing directions without going out too far are vertical ones. At the end of a speed run pull into a vertical line and do a half-roll and pull half a loop to come back down into straight and level going the opposite direction. To swap directions and gain altitude do a half loop and at the top half roll back into level flight.


Once you decide to join the jet set for some fun and excitement in the fast lane, these tips will help you stay ahead of the learning curve. Electric jets are a great way to feed that need for speed! Go ballistic!


What is an ESC for RC planes? ›

Performance matters in an RC ESC (Electronic Speed Control). Choose from our RC ESC brands for high quality RC ESC brushless performance to pair with your ESC motor.

What size electric motor do I need for my RC plane? ›

Electric motor power is stated in watts. 750 watts = 1 horsepower. An easy way to estimate power needs for RC hobby applications is to use 100 watts per pound for sport flying, 150 for aggressive aerobatics, 200 watts per pound for 3D flying.

How can I get better at RC flying? ›

Top 10 R/C Flying Tips
  1. #1 Practice: ...
  2. #2 Land keeping plane pointed at yourself until late: ...
  3. #3 Take off with Speed: ...
  4. #4 Elevator for speed and throttle for altitude: ...
  5. #5 Sticks together or sticks apart for knife edge. ...
  6. #6 When control is lost. ...
  7. #7 Power into turns when slow or on approach.
25 Jul 2018

How high can model airplanes fly? ›

The highest altitude remote-controlled (RC) model aircraft flight is 10,607 m (34,800 ft), and was achieved by Paul Kaup, Jake Minker, Nick Ross, Eric Gordon, Rachel Stark, and Dani Deckert (all USA) in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, USA, on 13 October 2019.

How does an ESC control speed? ›

An ESC or an Electronic Speed Controller controls the brushless motor movement or speed by activating the appropriate MOSFETs to create the rotating magnetic field so that the motor rotates. The higher the frequency or the quicker the ESC goes through the 6 intervals, the higher the speed of the motor will be.

What is KV and KT? ›

RPM= Kv * Voltage

Kt - Torque Constant. The more torque a motor needs to produce, the more current it will draw. The Kt rating designates the amount of torque a motor will produce given a current. To estimate the torque of a motor, simply multiply the Kt value by current. Kt is in units of Inch*Ounce/Amp.

Is a higher kV motor faster? ›

Generally speaking the more Kv a motor has, the more RPM and more power. For example, a 9000Kv motor would be faster than a 2200Kv motor. If Kv is like horsepower, then Turns is the physical attribute of a motor.

How many Watt is a pound? ›

§ 50 to 70 watts per pound is the minimum level of power, good for park flyers and lightly loaded slow flyers. 70 to 90 watts per pound is perfect for trainers and slow-flying aircraft. 90 to 110 watts per pound is good for fast-flying scale models and some sport aerobatic aircraft.

Are bigger RC planes easier to fly? ›

Larger planes are easier to see, generally fly at slower more scale- like speeds and are less effected by wind gusts. A light breeze to a micro RC plane is like a full blown hurricane to a full scale aircraft. The small planes are also harder to see at a distance.

How do you fly an rc plane for the first time? ›

8 Tips for a Successful First RC Airplane Flight - YouTube

What happens if plane flies too high? ›

If a passenger jet flies too high, it reaches a point called 'Coffin Corner'. This is the point at which the aircraft's low speed stall and high-speed buffet meet and the plane can no longer maintain its altitude which forces it to descend.

Can you fly a model plane anywhere? ›

You can fly your rc plane or drone anywhere below 400 ft, so long as you're not near an airport, a crowd of people or other sensitive areas, and you're not infringing local laws. You can't fly in National Parks, but you can fly in National Forests.

Do you need a Licence to fly a model plane? ›

You don't need a licence to fly an RC plane recreationally in the US at the moment. But, depending on what country you live in, you may need to take an online test, and mark up your model so that it can be identified.

Does ESC control voltage or current? ›

In an ESC, this transistor plays a key role by performing all the works. It observes the complete current & voltage of the motor as well as a battery. This transistor works like a switch to control the current flow to throttle the electric motor.

Does ESC change voltage? ›

ESC Voltage

The ESC may let you set a switch-off voltage that will alert you when the battery voltage becomes too low (3.0 - 3.4 V per cell) to avoid damaging the battery. Those systems are called Low Voltage Cut Off (LVC) and they will reduce the maximum power that the ESC can provide.

What is the primary purpose of an ESC? ›

An electronic speed control (ESC) is an electronic circuit that controls and regulates the speed of an electric motor. It may also provide reversing of the motor and dynamic braking. Miniature electronic speed controls are used in electrically powered radio controlled models.

How many amps should my ESC be? ›

The ratings on an esc and battery are usualy a "max" value. If we believe the numbers then your cell is safe up to 44 amps and the esc is safe up to 35 or 60 amps.

What is a 4 in 1 ESC? ›

A 4 in 1 brushless ESC allows you to move ESCs from the arms of your quadcopter into the centre stack with your flight controller. Compact builds can benefit, as they make wiring a lot simpler, removing the need for a power distribution board and separate BEC in some cases.

How do I match battery to ESC? ›

Your ESC is rated for operation at 6-12V, which suggests that you could use a 7.4V or 11.1V Lipo battery. Battery capacity and 'C' rate should match the expected current draw and run time. For example if the average current draw is 15A and you want to get 10 minutes then you need at least 15*(10/60) = 2.5Ah or 2500mAh.

Does the ESC power the receiver? ›

Most modern-day electric-powered radio control vehicles, whether airplanes, boats, or cars, have something built into their electronic speed controls (ESCs) that shunts power from the main battery to the receiver to power the radio system.

How do I connect my ESC to my RC receiver? ›

RC Motor and ESC Wiring - Part 1 - YouTube

How do you connect the brushless motor to the ESC? ›

First connect your motor to ESC. From motor goes three wires: black, red and middle yellow(or other color), and from ESC goes three thick wires but the same color. Connect(using special connector or just solder) middle one from ESC to middle one from motor.

How do electric motor speed controllers work? ›

An AC controller can also be referred to as a variable frequency drive, adjustable speed drive, frequency converter and more. The AC motor receives power, which is converted by the AC motor controller into an adjustable frequency. This adjustable output allows the motor speed to be precisely controlled.

What channel do I plug my ESC into? ›

Battery pack plugs into the ESC (The 2 heavy gauge wires). ESC plugs into the receiver on the throttle channel (channel 1 or channel 2 on your receiver) and powers the receiver through that one plug.

Can you use an ESC without a motor? ›

Just make certain that none of the motor leads can short to each other or to anything else, and yes it is absolutely 100% A-OK to operate the ESC without a motor connected.

Does ESC change voltage? ›

ESC Voltage

The ESC may let you set a switch-off voltage that will alert you when the battery voltage becomes too low (3.0 - 3.4 V per cell) to avoid damaging the battery. Those systems are called Low Voltage Cut Off (LVC) and they will reduce the maximum power that the ESC can provide.

What does VCC mean on RC receiver? ›

VCC is the technical term for positive (+) regulated system power. In this case it is 5 volts, colored RED, and along with the black GND wire powers the receiver module. So plug the RED and BLACK wires into the receiver module. Most receiver modules have (+) and (-) pins along with each channel so any of these will do.

How many channels does a RC plane need? ›

A standard RC transmitter you buy for a RC plane has 6 channels. These channels are controlling the rudder, elevator, ailerons, motor, Aux 1, and Aux 2. So basically each channel controls a different motor. Aux 1 and Aux 2 are reserved for different features on your plane.

What are the 3 wires on a brushless motor? ›

As there are three sets of coils, there are three wires - one for each set of coils so they can be individually energized. The ESC is what controls the sequence in which the coils are energized. Essentially, a brushless DC motor is a three-phase AC motor.

Can I connect a brushless motor directly to battery? ›

You can't. Brushless motors will not work without an ESC.

How do you control the speed of a brushless DC motor? ›

In a brushless DC motor, the relationship between the applied voltage and the load torque determines the rotational speed. This means that, when using the motor, you can control the rotational speed of the motor by changing the applied voltage.

Can you run a brushless motor without an ESC? ›

No, you can't. A brushless DC motor is very similar to a three phase AC induction motor. You need to use a brushless DC motor controller (ESC) designed to generate the rotating field.

What are 3 types of motor controls? ›

There are four basic motor controller and drive types: AC, DC, servo, and stepper, each having an input power type modified to the desired output function to match with an application.

What is difference between AC and DC motor? ›

In AC motors, the armature is stationary while the magnetic field rotates. In DC motors, the armature rotates while the magnetic field remains stationary. In AC motors, three input terminals (RYB) are present. In DC motors, two input terminals (positive and negative) are present.

What is an ESC used for? ›

Electronic speed controllers (ESCs) are devices that allow drone flight controllers to control and adjust the speed of the aircraft's electric motors. A signal from the flight controller causes the ESC to raise or lower the voltage to the motor as required, thus changing the speed of the propeller.


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