31 years ago when I took my first solo flight, I never thought I could ever duplicate the intense excitement that comes with that experience. All you RC pilots know exactly what I’m talking about. And then, in the late 1980s I was introduced to RC combat.
Combat of the ‘80’s was basically a flying wing with a .40 size nitro motor pulling a plastic streamer. The thrill was exhilarating and intense. Several planes in the sky resembled an angry beehive. Your chances of midair collisions seemed way better than cutting an opponent’s tail. Wow what a great spectators’ sport. Most of the planes were cut from foam and when hit sent down a snow shower of styrofoam bits. Eventually, pilots started making the planes from plastic sign material and PVC gutters. While these were tough and more durable, performance suffered because of the added weight. They weren’t as much fun to fly, and I decided to leave the combat arena.
Around the time I left combat flying, RC electrics were being introduced. Slow to start, only a few modelers took the sport seriously. Although RC electrics continued to grow over the years, they really gained popularity around the turn of the century. This is in part due to the computer and cell phone industries. Their technologies really put RC electric on the map. Computers introduced RC to small CD Rom brushless motors, and cell phones allowed for the development of small, powerful and lightweight Lipo batteries. This all gave great performance to the world of RC electric.
RC electrics can be flown almost anywhere space allows, including a park, a golf dome, or even in a gymnasium. Plus, they’re quiet and easy to operate. And with all these electric bonuses, I have discovered “Backyard Combat”. I actually fly in my backyard against anyone willing to take me on. I use an EPP airframe which averages about a 28” wingspan and a small electric motor which gives me all the performance I need to get away or attack. The excitement is intense. The rubber-like EPP takes a direct hit while being extremely light weight. There’s no more rebuilding entire airplanes; a little CA glue is all you need to make fast repairs. The power systems are cheap too! About $60.00 will get you what you need (not including transmitter and receiver).
Although several rules for electric backyard combat are starting to emerge, I like to keep it simple. I use a 10 ft. streamer of crepe paper cut in half to a 1” width. A 2” roll can easily be cut using a band saw to give you 2 1” wide rolls. If you can find 1” rolls that’s better yet. I get two colors like white and black. Cut the black to 5 ft. and cut the white to 5 ft. Now tape them together to create a 10 ft. streamer. If an opponent cuts the end color you are considered hit but still in action. If he cuts the first color you are out. The battle ends when the first battery dies. The pilot with the longest tail intact is the winner.
These battles can take place in the backyard, schoolyard, gym, dome, park or flying field. There are club sponsored events being organized at this time. With the popularity of electric events growing across the country, I believe RC combat will once again become a popular and profitable venture for several clubs. Many modelers like the closer action these electrics offer since these battles are usually in a tighter box than nitro combat, and they’re just easier to see.
With great price, durability, and amazing performance, I see electric combat becoming a very large part of the RC world. Whether it’s in your backyard or a club sponsored event, the fun factor can’t be beat. Not to mention the fact, NASCAR FANS, that it’s much more exciting than to watch a bunch of cars turning left. Hah. In RC combat, we are almost guaranteed the thrill of a collision. Now that is almost as exciting as a first solo flight!
About The Author
Mark Schoenrock is the owner of Budget RC, designers and manufacturers of RC model airplanes. His RC experience goes back 31 years with experience in gas and electric models. His first kit was designed and sold in 1992 called the TRI-FLI. He lives with his wife Sara and their two sons, Mark and Kyle who are also very busy at Budget RC. Their home is in the great, small town of Croswell Michigan.