Flight Instruction

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Airplane Flight Instructors:

  • Dave Halverson
  • Fenton Appleby
  • Bill Powers
  • Dennis Tamburro
  • Arnold Solof
  • Syd Clement
  • Bruce Cheeseman
  • Don Loomis
  • Jack Norris
  • Wayne Greco
  • Tom DuBoise

Helicopter Instructors:

  • Dave Halverson
  • Fenton Appleby (unofficial)


Flight instruction at South Jersey RC Society  (See also “Learning to Fly” in the RC Links section)

Test for Solo Flight Certification at Our Field

AMA Guide for Introductory Pilot Instructor Selection Criteria and Flight Proficiency Demonstration (Instructor Test)


Helicopter Pilot Proficiency Program  (Click for tests for PPP Levels 1 – 7)

All helilcopter pilots flying at SJRCS are encouraged to work on achieving the highest level of proficiency possible.  Each progressive level (up to 7) helps build new skills and will encourage you to become a better pilot.

The intention of the incremental proficiency levels is to give pilots a working time-tested method of improving piloting skills in a progressive  format that builds on the core foundation skills learned in the previous level.

Below are members of the SJRCS who have demonstrated a certain level of proficiency flying helicopters.  Documentation for the 7 levels can be found by clicking the above link.


Level 1
  • Jeff Parkin
  • Fred Mensing
  • Arnold Solof
  • Dennis Tamburro
  • Bill Powers
Level 2
  • Fenton Appleby
  • Bob Chew
Level 3
  • Dave Halverson


Test for Solo Flight Certification at Our Field

  1. Horizontal Figures of Eight  (both left and right)
  2. Three loops in a row  (from both left & right)
  3. Immelmann turn  (both left & right)
  4. Power on stall
  5. One roll (both left & right)
  6. Dead stick landing.
  7. Landing pattern approach (from both left & right)
  8. Take off and landing (from both left & right)


Flight Instruction at South Jersey RC Society


We want you to be safe and competent in your new hobby. To achieve this, the club offers new members a free flight instruction program. Instruction takes place by appointment.  Call Bill Powers (856-279-2660) to schedule lessons.  First we make sure you have a current Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA), membership so that you have the insurance required to protect both yourself and the club in case of an accident. Then we will check your aircraft for safe construction and installation of the engine/motor and radio equipment. We can show/instruct you how to safely start and adjust the IC (internal combustion) engine or the electric motor in your model aircraft if needed. We then give you ground school and flight instruction and work with you until you are competent with your aircraft. This ensures that are able to take off, do controlled circuits and land your aircraft without the aid of an instructor.

When you can fly your aircraft competently your flight instructor will certify you and you will then be allowed to fly without the aid of an instructor! Our instructor programs are one-on-one and tailored to each student pilot. There are NO EXPECTATIONS of how quickly or slowly you must progress. You are free to learn and progress at a speed that is comfortable FOR YOU.

You are welcome to drop by the field on Tuesday evenings (weather permitting)… approximately 5:30pm and see what the club has to offer a new pilot. Introduce yourself and ask lots of questions! We can give you as much help and advice as you can absorb.

It is also possible to make arrangements with any of the club instructors for training at other times during the day. For more information please click on Contact Us .

Additional Expanded Information / Instruction can be different for each new pilot as each person learns at a different pace. This is just an example situation:

Our instructors use what is commonly called a “buddy box” (Curtis training with Dave). This is a system that allows both the instructor and the novice pilot to both have a transmitter. The two transmitters are connected to each other by a cable. The instructor controls who is actually flying the aircraft at any given time. He has a master switch he holds down on his transmitter to give you control. If he lets go of the switch he gets control of the aircraft back. This allows the instructor to immediately take control of the aircraft whenever necessary avoiding crashes. During your first couple of flights you will find the instructor taking control back from you quite often as you do things like “over bank” your turns lowering a wing too much, etc. The instructor will take control and tell you “I got it”. He’ll level the plane back out and give you back control “ready, you have the plane” and so forth.

Alert: If you are in the process of buying your first trainer airplane, we recommend you get one that has a Spektrum or Futaba compatible receiver.  Otherwise, we may not have a second compatible transmitter for the “buddy box” function.   Most of the club instructors have Spektrum compatible transmitters.

In the beginning, the instructor will take off and land the airplane. The student will only fly after it is airborne and the airplane is at a “safe” altitude. Generally that means about 250 to 300 feet. The student stands next to the instructor. In the beginning, the new pilot will have their hands full just trying to figure out which way the airplane is heading. That is normal and only gets easier by practicing. If the airplane gets out of the students control, the instructor will take control, correct the problem and then give control back to the new pilot once they are ready again. At this point we are only trying to let the student learn how to make turns and keep the airplane at about the same altitude. After a few flights the student will have a little control and we can bring it down a little lower, but still keeping it “safe”.

The next few sessions will consist of getting as much practice as possible. There are a few exercises like making a square and a figure eight, but this is the time the student will learn how to stay ahead of the airplane instead of just reacting to what the airplane does. In other words turning left when they want to turn left and vice versa. The instructor may also have them do a little taxiing to familiarize the student with how to control the airplane on the ground.

After the student has proven that they can make the airplane go where they want, it’s time to start learning the limits of the airplane, not how many G’s the wing will take before it snaps in half. What we are talking about is throttle control, stall speed, glide characteristics, and slow speed maneuvering. Most trainer planes can fly pretty slowly. They won’t drop out of the sky unless you tilt the wing vertical and make it drop out of the sky. It takes a few flights in order to explore the limits of the airplane, learn how it handles at slower speeds and why it does the things it does. Again, this takes more skill and will be taught as the student improves. Everyone is different and there is no set time in which they learn. All that is important is that the student keeps learning.

About the time the student has learned slow flight, they will be taught how to do take offs. Since they already have the skills to fly the airplane safely, they just need to be able to keep it going straight long enough to reach flying speed. Good airplane setup will help tremendously when first learning how to takeoff. Most important is that the nose wheel only move a little bit in each direction. The more the steering moves, the harder it is to keep in a straight line because it is very sensitive to your inputs. A rule of thumb is to push the airplane forward on the ground and move the rudder stick all the way to the right or left. If the airplane makes a circle that is smaller than about seven or eight feet, you may want to adjust your linkage to the nose wheel to make it move less. The instructor may help the student with the first takeoff by steering and operating the throttle for them while the student flies the airplane off the ground. Once the student has learned to takeoff, they will be taking off and trimming the airplane out until they learn the rest.

Landing is the most complicated thing to do because it has many steps that have to be completed which lead up to actually landing. A common saying is, “Takeoffs are optional, landings are mandatory.” That is of course true. Now we start putting all the individual things the student has learned together to land.   First thing is flying the approach pattern. The pattern is a rectangle with one long side across the middle of the field and the other long side on the far edge on the field parallel to the runway. The pattern can be flown either clockwise or counter clockwise depending on the direction of the wind. Always take off and land the airplane going into the wind. Starting at a lower, but still “safe” altitude, the student will be directed along the pattern to learn the spacing of each side of the rectangle. Once they have that down, they will be instructed when to reduce throttle and glide the airplane down in order to fly across the field at about 25 feet. After flying all the way across the field, they will add throttle and climb back up to pattern altitude and go around again. They will continue working on this and slowly getting better at it until they can slow the plane down and fly across the field at about 10 feet.

At this time they will have the “opportunity” to land. We call it that because there is a doorway at the edge of the field that is about 15 feet tall and as wide as the field. If they can slow the airplane down and fly through that doorway, they will be ready to land the airplane. If they come in too fast or too high, they will go around again and setup for another approach. Once the student demonstrates that they can fly though the doorway at a reduced speed, they will be instructed to land the airplane. At that point they need to continue descending until the airplane is about two or three feet above the ground and level off. Then as gently as they can let the airplane sink to the ground and try to keep the nose of the airplane up. Once the airplane touches down they need to keep it going as straight as possible until it comes to a stop.