The complete radio control model airplane FAQ.  


Winter radio control model airplane Flying FAQ'S

Should I learn to fly in the snow, or wait for spring?

Where can I build (plans) or buy Snow Skis (or see some to copy)?

What kind of hinges are good for cold weather flying?


What do I use for a landing strip during the winter?

I have flown in the snow. Since I live in SoCal, so I don't do it regularly, but I've done it a couple times. It is a little different from summer flying, but not a whole lot. I made several attempts at finding a runway for a ROG takeoff before being successful. My parents have a large back yard--several acres. We dragged a long pipe width-wise behind a snow-machine (that's Alaskan for snowmobile, a nerd word in the North--after all, would you rather be on a mobile, or a machine? Aaarrr!! Aaaar!!) and made a suitable runway. It didn't turn out brilliantly suitable though. Everywhere you walked, you would leave deep footprints. When you had a hard landing, the tires would dig into the snow on landing. With skis it probably would have been great, though. The biggest challenge was the size of the runway and cleared area for the type of plane--that Duraplane made those 2-3 acres seem TINY.

Second, we tried a frozen gravel pit where the snow had been packed down hard, by snow machines driving from end to end. That was even worse. The many small uneven bumps made gaining speed very very difficult, and the small 1" snowballs that were kicked up and loose were not friendly either. Finally, we found a quad-runner racetrack on a frozen pond. It had one straightaway that was suitable for a runway--albeit very small at only about 15-20' wide. (Yes, I hit the snow bank almost as many times as the runway.) One thing we learned is that the steering is a LOT more dependant on the rudder--the little tires just don't grab the ice very well. I might try it with skis later this year. rcfaq

Should I learn to fly in the snow, or wait for spring?

Get an Instructor and Go Fly with Ski's! You'll really enjoy the Ski Landings and Take-Offs as they will not change anything when you convert back to Wheels in the Spring. Ski Take-Offs are a blast when you Do a Couple Donut's Then Throw the Throttle Forward and Take Off. Landings virtually have no! bounce and you'll be impressed at how the LT-40 Lands anyhow regardless of Wheels or Ski's. Have Fun--Scorpion Jack

Don't wait, get someone to help / train you, and go flying. I hear those Canadians are a hardy lot, and won't let a little snow and cold air stand in the way of enjoying themselves. You will be surprised at just how much lift that plane will produce in some good
cold air. Bob Cowell

Start a new plane for a spare and wait for good weather. Or come to El Paso where we fly year round. Pete Christensen   (Fair-weather pessimist!--rcfaq)

Where can I buy Snow Ski's (or see some to copy)?

Building and Installing Snow Skis--the simple design

How to Build Snow Ski--a little more complicated

Lynch's Hangar Model Airplane Snow Skis--$15/set

Home Made Formica Skis

Dubro Products Snow Skis

RADICAL RC Floats-- Kits

RC Winter Outing by Marty Hammersmith


Here's what the newsgroup had to say:

    I've used both the DuBros and some home made aluminum skis. Both worked equally well. Even though the DuBros are quite expensive I still prefer them because they are easier to install and keep level in the air than my home made skis.  Good luck, it's great fun to fly off snow, just remember to dress warm. :-) Thomas Kvitle Jenssen  (Oslo - Norway)


    I don't know what size plane these skis were for, but I saw where someone had made skis out of 20 oz. (or so) sized soda bottles. All they did was cut the bottom off then make cuts up the sides using the smaller bottle top as the upturned tip of the ski. A balsa strip was glued into the inside lengthwise and the mounting hole was reinforced - they just went in the place of the wheels on the normal landing gear, I guess (can't remember). They might have also added a strip of something to the bottom (piano wire?) to make them track straight. We don't see much snow here in South Carolina, so wheels tend to work fine all year long. Good luck! -Matt Vaughn


Junk the idea of ski's. Go with floats. Best in all kinds of snow conditions. Bill Gregorek 


What kind of hinges are suitable for cold weather flying? 

Last winter, I asked what hinges are good to -40 degrees. Are metal ones required, or will CA hinges work? Need a plane for the Midnight Sun RC Club's annual Jan. 1 Fun Fly. It's in Fairbanks, AK, and Jan. 00, it was -40 that day...I plan to fly in it again this year! (Last year the only planes that I saw flying were sailplanes. They did quite well, too!) Unfortunately, it took a while to get some useful answers...


Jerry Festa, being his normally cheerful and helpful self responded "At that temperature, are HUMANS able to bend? :-)"

Dr.1 Driver didn't understand that I was talking about temperature degrees: "CA hinges will crank to over 60 degrees, as any fun flyer can attest to.  As long as they're not bent double, they'll work." I straightened him out on my intent, and he confessed "Oh, ok.  Well, I've flown my plane with them in 45 degrees, had no problems." Thanks a lot, Dr!


Finally, Don Hatton (of Galena, AK) came through! ...I use monokote hinges and Goldberg/Klett pinned hinges.  I used to use Granite State Iron-on hinges but apparently they aren't made anymore. I have never used CA hinges, so I can't comment. For the cold, the best choice IMO would be the Kletts.


Kaare Smith (of Norway) has experienced something similar:
I really don't have an answer for you. Nice to have such an annual event up in the north. Here in Buskerud RC Klubb in Norway, we have a similar event, the Crhistmas Limbo, which normally is held between december 24. and january 2. Normally we have temperatures between -10 and -20 degrees Celsius.
     We fly all winter, but I don't know if CA hinges is much used. I think CA-hinges never has caught on over here. What we normally use is nylon/plast hinges with metal pins. No problems with this, but we are normally sceptical to use plastic links and use metal ones because of fear of it being brittle in the cold weather.
Spadman (from Canada's Eastern Coast) offers this tidbit... It certainly doesn't get that cold here and if it did I'd be drinking rum by the fire.  In any event I have used CA hinges with very good luck in all our weather.  However when you talk extremes like that I'd hesitate to use anything that depends on flexing plastic.  For that reason I think I would chose a hinge with a metal pin hinge to be on the safe side.  Dubro, Klett and Robart all make a metal pin hinge so you have a good choice.  I know the body is plastic but it dosen't have to flex like a CA.
Spadman from Canada's Eastern Coast



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