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Giant Scale RC Airplanes – The Mystery Is Solved

Elvis Elvis

Giant scale rc airplanes are a very popular segment of rc modeling for those with the resources (and room!) to spare. But what’s it all about? Some of the larger giant scales still shock me as I recently sold a full size airplane of mine that wasn’t much bigger than some of the giant scale rc airplanes that are out there.

The premiere giant scale association is ironically named the International Miniature Aircraft Association (IMAA). They can be found at www.fly-imaa.org . This organization is dedicated to the research, development, design, construction and operation of giant scale rc airplanes. They stress non-competitiveness, safety of operations, pleasure, recreation, fellowship and enjoyment.

You’ll notice I said non-competitiveness. It’s interesting and kind of refreshing that competitions that judge the appearance or the performance of aircraft, or the skill or abilities of the pilots, are contrary to the philosophy of the association. They’re strict about this and don’t allow it at any giant scale rc airplane event that they sanction.

Their by-laws state that they do however, allow awards to be given out for things like, “best crash” or “longest drive to the event”, etc. but the spectators are the only ones allowed to vote.

The term, “giant scale rc airplanes”, also referred to as large scale, are defined by the IMAA as rc airplanes with a minimum 80 inch wingspan for monoplanes and 60 inches for multi-wing aircraft. Ducted fan aircraft need to have 140 inches combined length and width. Width is wingtip to wingtip.

You must be a member of the AMA prior to joining the IMAA.

Other than sheer size, most of the differences between normal category rc airplanes and giant scale rc airplanes have to do with the control of the beast, both electronically and from the pilots perspective.

For starters, the on board flight pack in a giant scale rc airplane needs to be a minimum of 1000 to 1200 MAH and you should always double up on servos for at least ailerons and elevator. The servos that are typically used are the high torque version. All of this is because giant scale rc airplanes receive much greater G forces on the control surfaces creating a much larger demand from the servos, which in turn creates a much larger demand for DC current.

The airframes are typically built from balsa and plywood and the engines can range from around a 1.0 CI 2-stroke or 1.2 CI 4-stroke up to chainsaw and motorcycle engines.

Giant Scale RC Airplanes   The Mystery Is Solved

You don’t need a different radio (transmitter) than the one you use for your normal scale rc but it might need to be capable of mixing (coupling). This is where 2 radio control channels are coupled so that they move simultaneously when only one control channel is activated. A lot of giant scale rc airplanes require a combination of aileron and rudder to turn. A radio with mixing does this electronically at the transmitter.

Although not for beginners, giant scale rc airplanes are not that hard to fly, with practice. The size may be intimidating, but it’s the size that make them both more docile and easier to see.

They do however, require you to master the use of rudder, and coordinated use of ailerons and rudder need to become second nature. You can start getting use to this now with your normal scale rc airplane. In actuality, that‘s the proper way to fly anything with both rudder and ailerons.

Because of the immense size of some giant scale rc airplanes, some of the techniques that we use for full size aircraft apply here as well.

For example, if you’re making a crosswind takeoff, start your takeoff roll with full aileron into the wind. As the plane accelerates, you can reduce the amount of aileron deflection but you should still maintain some aileron into the wind until you are airborne. Once in the air, you should turn the aircraft so the nose of the plane is pointing slightly into the wind. This is not done with rudder but with coordinated use of aileron and rudder as in any turn.

Once this crosswind correction is accomplished, the flight path of the aircraft should track straight along your desired ground track. If not, turn more, or less into the wind.

For a crosswind landing, you can either maintain this same type of “crab” into the wind and then align the plane with the ground track just before touchdown, or you can make your approach like the pro’s.

This consists of lining up on a semi-long final, bank the plane into the wind and apply opposite rudder to keep the centerline of the aircraft lined up with the runway. If the plane is drifting to the windward side, reduce the amount of bank. If it’s drifting to the downwind side, increase the amount of bank. But keep it lined up with the runway using rudder.

Don’t be tempted to roll the wings level as you start to flare for touchdown as the crosswind will immediately start drifting you sideways and if your plane is a tail dragger, this could contribute towards a ground loop. Try to actually touch down on the upwind main wheel first and even after the other wheels have touched down, keep holding the stick (ailerons) into the wind until the end of the landing roll.

You’ll notice in flight that these giant scale rc airplanes are slower to react and really, easier to fly smoothly. They just look more like the real thing.

Giant scale rc airplanes are as close as anyone can possibly come to flying a full size (real) airplane and still miss the mark completely.

These behemoths always evoke admiration and awe from rc modelers and non-modelers alike. But if you’re going in this direction, make sure you have a trailer and a spare garage!