How to Balance an R/C Model Plane

Written by larry simmons
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For a remote controlled model plane to achieve efficient level flight the model must first be balanced. A balanced model plane is one that has had its weight carefully distributed so that it favours neither side nor the front or rear of the plane. A balanced plane naturally flies level and on course, with equal force being necessary to change direction, while an unbalanced plane will be difficult to control, often leading to crashes. Balancing an RC plane is a not a difficult process, and it can be completed in a matter of minutes as long as you follow the correct procedures.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • RC model plane
  • Lead weights
  • Epoxy glue
  • String
  • Stick-on lead weights

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  1. 1

    Locate the aeroplane's centre of gravity. Most RC plane's centre of gravity is about one-third to one-quarter the width of the wing from the front of the wing.

  2. 2

    Check the balance of the plane by placing your arms beneath the wings and trying to balance the plane with the tips of your index fingers placed along the line of the wing at the centre of gravity about 3 inches from the fuselage under each wing. Lift the plane slowly using your fingers and note its position. A balanced plane will lie level when raised or with the nose of the plane slightly downward. An unbalanced plane will be tilted heavily forward or toward the rear.

  3. 3

    Adjust the balance by shifting around the RC gear inside the plane. Move the battery pack, the RC receiver or the speed controller forward or back in the plane body to shift the weight forward or back, balancing the plane. If the plane was tail heavy you will need to shift weight forward; if nose heavy, shift the weight backward. If the RC gear cannot be moved you will need to add ballast to the plane to balance it. Ballast can be added in the form of small lead weights, glued into the tail or nose of the plane until the plane is balanced.

  4. 4

    Roll balance your plane to prevent it from veering to the left or right during flight. To determine the wing imbalance of your RC plane, loop a string at the plane's nose between the nose of the plane and the propeller, and another string at the rear of the plane right before the tail piece. Hold the plane off the ground by the two strings and note which side the plane dips toward. This dip indicates that one of the wings is heavier than the other.

  5. 5

    Place stick-on lead pieces to the light wingtip of the plane to bring the plane in balance. The lead stickers can be purchased from most hobby shops which sell RC aeroplanes.

Tips and warnings

  • The heavier your model aeroplane the more power needed to gain and maintain flight, so balance the need for a perfectly balanced plane with the ability of the balanced plane to achieve flight.

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