Product Tips & Tutorials: RC Planes
Glossary of Terms for RC Planes
Posted by on 06 September 2012 05:01 PM

Here are some terms and definitions that will come in handy in the world of RC Planes.


2.4GHz - The frequency band of spread spectrum transmitters.

2 Stroke - The most common type of glow plug engine for RC Planes. The fuel/air mixture is drawn in, ignited and combusted in one revolution of the piston.

4 Stroke - 4 stroke engines take 2 revolutions to do what a 2 stroke does in one. Usually more powerful than a 2 stroke engine.

3D Flying - Referring to the complex forms of aerobatic maneuvers, usually with more than one maneuver being performed at once.

Aerobatic - Any aerobatic maneuver or series of maneuvers that involve loops, rolls, and spins.

Aero-Modeling - The general term used to describe the hobby of building and flying model Planes and aircraft.

Ailerons - The moving section of the trailing edge of the wing, located towards the outer end. They can also be the whole length of the tail end. Controls how the plane rolls.

Aileron Differential - When the ailerons are set up to move upwards more than downward motion. This is to counteract any extra yaw during a turn. 

Airfoil - The cross-section shape of a wing.

Altitude - The vertical distance between your RC Plane and the ground in Feet or Meters.

Angle of Incidence - The angle at which the wing of a Plane is installed on the fuselage, measured relative to the axis of the fuselage.

ARF - stands for "Almost Ready to Fly". In terms of packaging, it is almost the same as RTF planes, except that there are a minor installments you need to do. ARF planes do not come with a Transmitter, Receiver, Battery, or Battery Charger. You're going to have to buy/install those parts yourself. ARF planes are the next step up for beginner pilots. You can take your the transmitter/receiver/battery from your old plane and program it on to the new ARF Plane. This goes for almost all planes of the same channel type.

Barrel Roll - An aerobatic maneuver that involves the Plane following the twist of a large imaginary horizontal corkscrew through the air.

Brushless Motor - Type of electric motor used in the RC industry. For more information on brushless motors, please check out the KnowledgeBase under Accessories/Motors.

Bulkhead - The foremost part of your Plane, usually where the engine is mounted.

Center of Gravity - The Plane's point of fore-aft balance.

Channels – The number of actions/parts that your plane will recognize and use. 6-Channel Planes have 6 different parts/actions/movements you can control.

Control Surface - The term used to describe the moving part of any flying surface.

Crosswind – The wind that is blowing at 90 degrees to your line of flight.

Dead Stick - When the motor cuts out in mid-air.

Delta Wing - A wing in the shape of a triangle. Only one set of wings. The wings act as a aileron and elevators. 

Dihedral - The upward angle of the wings when viewed from the front.

Drag - The force that is created by the movement of the Plane through the air.

Elevator - The moving section at the rear of the horizontal stabilizer that controls the pitch of the plane.

Field Box – The box that you take onto the field during flights. Usually contains spare parts, tools, and batteries.

Fin - Also called the Vertical Stabilizer. It's the vertical surface at the rear of the RC Plane used to stabilize the RC Plane in flight.

Flaps - Moving sections of the trailing edge of the wing. Used to create more lift at slower flying speeds and also used to slow the plane on landing approach.

Flare - The action taken in the last stage of the landing approach. Used to reduce the approach angle and slow the rate of descent.

Flying Wing - An airplane that consists of all wing. No fuselage or tale. An Example of a flying wing is the B-2 Spirit.

Fuselage - the main body of the Plane.

Horizontal Stabilizer - The horizontal surface at the back of the fuselage where the elevators are attached to.

Leading Edge - The front edge of the wing, tailplane or rudder on the RC Plane.

 - The force created by the forward motion of the Plane's wing. Air pressure over the wing is less than the pressure below the wing and so the wing, along with the rest of the model, is pushed upwards.

Loop - An aerobatic maneuver where the Plane flies a vertical circle in upwards the air.

NiCD - Abbreviation for nickel cadmium. This is a type of metal used in rechargeable battery cell production.

NiMH - Abbreviation for nickel metal hydride. Another type of material used in rechargeable batteries.

Nitro - short for Nitro Methane. It's a principle ingredient of glow fuel and is crucial in keeping the fuel/air mixture burning inside the oxygen-starved combustion chamber of the engine.

Park Flyer - The general name given to any electric RC Plane that can be safely flown in a public park/school yard/parking lot/sports field.

Pilot Error - Any mistake made by the pilot during flight.

Pitch - The angle of a wing or propeller blade in relation to the airflow over it.

Pre-Flight Check - Essential checks that need to performed before flights.

Propeller – The blades that spin on a plane and creates thrust for the plane.

Prop - Abbreviation for Propeller.

Radio Interference - when two (or more) identical, or close, frequencies are being used at the same time. The signals will become mixed, and interfere with the controls being sent to the RC Plane.

Range Check – A Pre-Flight Check to test the operation range of your RC Plane.

Receiver – The part of the RC Plane that receives radio transmissions from your Transmitter.

Retracts - abbreviation for “Retractable Undercarriage”.

Roll - The rotational movement of a Plane in regards to its longitudinal axis.

RTF – Stands for Ready To Fly. RTF models can be assembled with minimal work.

Rudder - The moving section on the back half of the fin. It is used to control the Plane's yaw.

Rx - Abbreviation for receiver.

Scale - Any RC Plane that has been modeled after a real aircraft.

Stall - When the flying speed gets too low and the necessary amount of lift needed to hold the Plane in the air is lost.

Stall Turn - An aerobatic maneuver where the Plane is put into a vertical climb, power is reduced and full rudder is applied.

Taildragger - A Plane that has 2 main wheels and a small tail wheel.

Tail Wind - When the wind is blowing in the same direction as the Plane is moving.

Trailing Edge - The rear edge of the wing where the airflow separated by the leading edge rejoins. 

Thrust - The force that is generated by the spinning propeller or fan/turbine of the Plane, and pushes/pulls the model through the prair.

Trimming - The action of fixing your model to fly straight and level with the transmitter sticks in their neutral positions and no input.

Tx - Abbreviation for Transmitter.

Windsock - A large cone-shaped tube mounted on a pole at flying fields. It indicates the direction the wind is traveling.

Wingspan - The overall length of the wing, from tip to tip.

Yaw - The rotational movement of an aircraft about its vertical axis, controlled by the rudder.

Comments (0)
Post a new comment
Full Name:
CAPTCHA Verification 
Please enter the text you see in the image into the textbox below. This is required to prevent automated registrations and form submissions.