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Learning How to Fly-Updated 2020

ARCA's Pilot Training Program

Step #1 - Contact US!

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

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 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  volunteer 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. Our instructors ARE VOLUNTEERS (and AMA listed) so there is an expectation that you will join after about FIVE lessons.

CLICK HERE to let us know you want to fly before you join.


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)

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.

An AMA Youth membership with the AMA is free through his or her eighteenth birthday. THE SAME IS TRUE AT ARCA!


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

Our training program is built around THIS philosophy for EVERY SINGLE FLIGHT;

  1. "Tell me" - The instructor describes what you are about to learn AND WHY.
  2. "Show me" - The instructor demonstrates how to do what you are trying to learn.
  3. "Let me try" - The instructor lets you try to do what you are being taught.

This type of teaching is MUCH more efficient AND effective, than having an instructor say "here try this." (its also guaranteed to be lesS costly!)

We also believe that;

  1. SPEED TRAINING does not make you a better pilot!
  2. Learning in groups is NOT an efficient way to learn
  3. Flying around the pattern and landing unassisted 1 or 2 times is a great start, but don't be fooled! (flying can get tricky in the wind!)

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 - we teach how to AVOID crashing!

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

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

During training you learn about basic aerodynamics, the like setting a center of gravity, control surfaces, managing crosswinds 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 and even basic repair

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!





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 more, 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 $400-$600 plus dues the first year.  This includes most of the tools and equipment for fuel powered planes or electric powered.   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 (flea markets) for RC that can save you as much as  half of the cost of new gear. 

We URGE you to 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. Very often at the start of your training, your interests will be in one area and as you progress, they will change dramatically.

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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