Once you master basic flight, it is only natural to want to venture into aerobatics. RC airplanes make it easy to perform maneuvers that only the elite aerobatic pilots can fly in full-scale. There are many maneuvers that you can learn as you progress, but the most common “first maneuver” is the loop; specifically the inside loop. Mastering the loop, however, requires some practice.
When I say “mastering the loop” I am talking about flying a large, perfectly round circle in the sky. Anyone can fly a trainer at full throttle and then jam full up elevator causing the model to perform a quick, and most likely ugly-looking loop. But to fly from level flight and performing a large, round loop requires constant adjusting of the throttle, elevator, ailerons and rudder.
The loop can be performed with just about any model with any power system. Many first loops are performed on a basic trainer as the pilot advances from basic flight maneuvers (take-off, landing and straight and level flight). The only real requirement is that the model must have enough power to pull it up and over the top of the loop. If your model does not have a lot of power, you might still be able to do a loop but they will be much smaller in diameter. The more power your model has the larger the diameter of the loop can be.
HOW TO PERFORM A LOOP
Start by flying the aircraft with enough power to maintain straight and level flight. To initiate the loop, start to feed in up elevator so the nose of the model pitches up. You will need to add throttle to maintain airspeed. Keep adding up elevator and throttle until the aircraft is upside down and then start to throttle back a little. Keep adding up elevator to keep the aircraft going around the circle. As the nose of the model starts to point down reduce the throttle to avoid over-speeding the model. Once the plane has reached level flight again, finish up by adding enough throttle to sustain straight and level flight.
That’s it, pretty simple right?
Chances are your first loops will not be very pretty. They might look more like an egg; large and oval shaped. Or perhaps you were too aggressive with the elevator in which case your loop might be small and tighter. To master the loop you will need to get a feel for how much throttle that you need ad various points of the maneuver. On the first 180-degrees you will find that you are continually adding throttle and the remaining 180-degrees you are continually reducing the throttle.
Depending on the wind conditions, you might need to use the rudder to adjust the tracking of the loop to keep it in line. Slight ailerons adjustments might be needed as well to keep the wings level throughout the maneuver. The amount elevator you use will determine the diameter of the loop. By coordinating the elevator with the throttle, you can vary the overall diameter to just about any size you wish and constant coordination of these two controls will help you keep the loop nice and round.
I always suggest attempting your first loops at a nice high altitude so you have some safety room in case you get disoriented and fall out of the maneuver.
THE FINAL WORD
The loop is one of the most basic maneuvers and is usually the first one that most pilots learn. It is a good maneuver that sets the foundation for many other, more advanced maneuvers in the future. It also teaches you to finesse the controls and not to become a “stick banger”. Small and precise control movements yield the best results.
Lastly, fly with purpose! The next time you go to the flying field, make your only mission for the day (besides not crashing) to master flying large, perfectly round loops. Fly them from different angles and directions so you don’t get complacent and you will start to become more proficient at controlling the model no matter the orientation. If you plan to make 5 flights, then dedicate time during each flight to just flying loops. If you do this, you will find that you will become a loop master in short order, and then you can move on to perfecting the next maneuver which will most likely be a roll.