RC Combat With Your Local AMA Club

RC Combat With Your Local AMA Club

By Heath Bartel | [email protected]

Originally seen in the May 2022 Model Aviation

E1000 Combat pilots at a Valley Aero Modelers Combat event in Appleton WI. (L-R) Jim Redlin, Mickey Prock, Heath Bartel, Bob Fels, Josh Huelsbeck, Tim Stadler, Andy Gallman, Jeff Hallett, Peyton Verhagen, Todd Fisher, Kyle Meerdaels, William Drumm, Andy Runte, and Mike LaPacz.

RC COMBAT IS AN exciting competition and a great way to have fun with your fellow club members. The two most important things you need to fly Combat are friends who fly RC and somewhere to fly. Your local AMA club is a great place to find both!

RC Combat works best when all of the airplanes have similar levels of power. To achieve this, it is divided into classes. The goal in choosing an RC Combat class to fly at your local club should be to select one that is approachable and affordable for an average pilot.

E1000 is the most approachable Combat class because of its smaller aircraft size, electric power, small, inexpensive batteries, and good performance. E1000-class Combat airplanes use an electric motor powered by a battery that is no larger than a 1,000 mAh three-cell LiPo. Aircraft in this class typically have an approximate 32-inch wingspan, making them easy to transport fully assembled.

Electric-powered Combat aircraft share all of the familiar advantages of electric-power sport aircraft. They’re easy to start, with reliable motors, and they don’t need to be wiped down after flying. Additionally, the cost (in both time and money) to build an E1000-class airplane is roughly half that of any other Combat class.

I have frequently been asked about flying electric Combat with other battery sizes. The sizes that are usually asked about are 1,300 mAh 3S and 2,200 mAh 3S because these are common batteries. A Combat league could be built around either size of battery. The key is to select a maximum battery size. If the size is not limited, an arms race will ensue, with the most competitive pilots building increasingly powerful airplanes with larger batteries between every Combat event.

The next step is to decide what model to fly. E1000 allows pilots to fly any airframe. Depending on your group, some of the pilots might already have aircraft that will work; however, many will want to build an airplane specifically for Combat.

Although experienced builders will enjoy the opportunity to experiment and try different models, I suggest having a proven, go-to airplane that you can recommend to new builders and pilots. This provides a clear path for new pilots to quickly join in on the fun. My favorite E1000 model kits are the HB series from HB Aircraft and the FT Mighty Mini-Arrow from Flite Test.

After you find a model that looks interesting, build and test-fly it. If you like the way it flies, set it up on a buddy box and do a demonstration of it for club members. Don’t just show them how it flies—let them try it out on the buddy box. The goal of this step is to build interest and excitement by showing your prospective Combat pilots how much fun the airplane is to fly.

With your go-to model in hand, it’s time to host a build party! The goal of a build party is to have a fun event for club members while helping them build Combat aircraft. Invite everyone from the club—not just the people who are sure that they want to fly Combat. Club members who have a Combat-ready airplane are far more likely to try flying it.

Most clubs will have members with a wide range of building skills, from those who have never built anything and only fly ARFs to scale-building experts. A build event brings the club community together and facilitates learning while building something. Most E1000 Combat airplanes can be built in a few hours, so the goal is to have participants leave the event with a fully constructed model.

After building, it is a good idea to host a test-and-trim event for anyone who built a Combat airplane. The focus of this event is to help everyone get his or her airplane in the air for the first time. This involves all of the normal first flight steps with any new aircraft, such as checking the radio setup, control movement, and throws. The goal is to help everyone get his or her new airplane tested and flying.

A 3S battery arms race: (Bottom to top) Turnigy 1,000 mAh, Spektrum 2,200 mAh, and Zappy 5,000 mAh LiPo batteries.

A successful club RC Combat league has a lot in common with a successful golf or softball league. Hosting a number of small events that repeat weekly or biweekly with roughly a two-hour duration is more effective than scheduling one or two giant all-day events per year. A schedule with a number of small events is much more resilient in the face of inclement weather and prevents pilots from missing out because of a scheduling conflict on a single day. It is also easier to reserve the flying site for a two-hour period instead of a full day.

When the pilots in your group are more experienced, the time between rounds can be lower, but at first, plan a relaxed pace of two or three rounds per hour. Four rounds per event is a good starting point. Be sure to invite the entire club to spectate. Encourage club members to generally sport fly before and after the event. This is also a great time to give demonstration flights of your Combat airplane to pilots who have not yet joined in on the fun.

Break out the streamers and go get some cuts with your local flying friends! To learn more about RC Combat, visit the Radio Control Combat Association (RCCA). The link is listed in "Sources."




Flite Test


HB Aircraft


Horizon Hobby

(800) 338-4639


Valley Aero Modelers, Inc.




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