Hand launching remote control airplanes can be a bit of a daunting exercise. Unlike having a takeoff run, there is not much time to get it correct, and if it goes wrong you can easily break your aircraft – sometimes badly.

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Here are a few tips to help your hand launches along:

Throwing Strength:

The Goldilocks principle – not too hard, not too soft.

Too soft and the aircraft won’t get enough airspeed before the ground, and will stall and crash.

Too hard, and you might lose control of the angle you throw the plane (throwing it too far down or too far up), induce a spin as you throw it (easy as your wrist will naturally spin as you go to release), or even damage the airframe by imparting too much force.

So what is the right strength?

Well, imagine throwing a cricket ball or baseball around 10-15 meters (35-50 feet). That’s about the right amount of force.

Throwing Technique

As mentioned above you want to make sure you don’t roll your wrist as you release. Launching a plane is a bit more like throwing a dart (not a lawn dart hopefully!) or a javelin than a ball.

Throw with your dominant hand, and have the plane overhead, and give the plane a good solid push (remember the force). Make sure you have the controller in your hand ready to go (or better yet get someone to do the launching for your first time).

Holding the Plane

You want to hold the plane close to the center of gravity. This is easy for mid and high wings. For low wings hold them behind the wings with the nose angled slightly up in your hand (heh – if you are flying a low wing you should be okay doing this anyway).

Launch Angle

All things considered, I think the best angle is flat and level, or just ever so slightly up. If you put the nose too far up you will stall. Too far down and you won’t get time to stall as you push the plane into the ground.

Launch angle is probably more important than the strength of the throw, so if you need more control back off the throw and get the launch angle right.


It varies a little, but normally around 2/3 to 3/4 throttle. Full throttle is often too much and will induce a torque roll. Half is probably a bit too low, and the plane may not get flying speed quickly enough.

Climbing Out

Don’t try to climb out straight away. The first two seconds after launch you should spend just letting the model fly straight and level (even slightly down if necessary) while it builds airspeed.

Many hand launches fail because the pilot trys to climb out straight away, stalls at low altitude and noses in.

Let your plane build up airspeed by flying flat and level for a couple of seconds before starting to gently climb out.

Launch into the wind

That one should be obvious, but just in case…

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