3D flying can be best described as taking
advantage of modern radio capabilities
and excess power to perform amazing
stunts that seem to defy the laws of aerodynamics and gravity. In other words,
3D flying is about making an airplane do
things that you wouldn’t normally think
an airplane would be capable of, such as
flipping end over end and flying on the
propeller thrust like a helicopter rather
than on the wing like during aerobatics.
You should also understand that 3D stunt
flying and precision aerobatics are entirely
different styles of flying, involving vastly
different and contrasting flying techniques
and equipment setups. The following are
some of the major differences between 3D
Aerobatics. A proficient precision aerobatic
pilot performs each maneuver repeating
control inputs that produce basically the
same result each time. A good airplane
pilot proactively controls what the plane
does rather than reacting to it. The role of
hand-eye coordination during aerobatics is
primarily to add the final touches to perform the maneuvers nearly perfectly.
3D. Because things are constantly
changing and no two attempts ever work
out the same, 3D flying is done almost
entirely reacting to the airplane. Therefore,
very fast reflexes (as well as fast servos)
are vitally important to 3D flying success.
In fact, pilots need to remind themselves
to keep their fingers moving and to cease
being smooth when switching from aerobatic flying to 3D.
A flat-plate-airfoil foamie is ideal for learning 3D aerobatics; you can fly close to the ground and mistakes aren’t as costly!
Plane vs. pilot
Aerobatics. A straightforward plane setup is
used that corresponds to the commands of
the pilot. Although good equipment and a
good setup will make the maneuvers easier
and improve a pilot’s learning curve, it is
ultimately the skill of the pilot that has the
greatest impact on the quality of each aerobatic maneuver.
3D. The degree of difficulty of each 3D
maneuver depends a great deal on how
adept the pilot is at utilizing dual rates,
exponential and programmable mixes.
Aerobatics. With a good understanding
of the proper procedure, most aerobatic
maneuvers can be learned fairly quickly,
with some measure of success experienced
within the first few attempts (it’s perfecting
them that takes time).
3D. The majority of 3D maneuvers
require extensive practice (and programming) before the first successful attempt is
Don’t confuse 3D control setups and flying
techniques with the techniques used to
fly aerobatics. Whereas aerobatic success
primarily depends upon the efficient exercise of good fundamental control skills, 3D
success requires committed practice, good
programming skills as well as exceptional
flying skills and reflexes. Simply put, those
who will become successful 3D pilots don’t
aspire to fly 3D because it’s quick or easy.
The challenge and intense thrills of 3D
flying typically appeal to those who want
Exaggerated aileron twist
example. You must account for
any twist in a control surface in
order to set up true neutral.
Do not use the inboard
trailing edge exclusively to
set neutral aileron.
Aerobatics. An aerobatic pilot needs to
make fewer control inputs as his skills
improve due to the fact that his inputs
become so precise that there’s little or no
need for additional corrections. That is why
it is said in competition circles that “the
guy who makes the fewest moves, wins!”
3D. A 3D pilot needs to continually
adjust the aileron, elevator, rudder and
throttle throughout most 3D maneuvers.
As a rule, first mechanically adjust the control surfaces and then fine-tune things with the radio. Note that it’s
normal to have to program di;erent travel percentages to achieve equal physical deflections in both directions.