Flight School: Aircraft Power Systems

Time To Get Up and Running!

When it comes to setting up an aircraft, there are a lot of aspects to consider. One of those is going to be how to power your aircraft. There are a few options for powering your aircraft; you can fly with an internal combustion engine (such as glow, petrol, and turbine) or an electric motor. Let’s take a broad look at the different options.

An internal combustion system is going to operate with four basic components. One, a fuel source. This can be glow fuel – or nitro fuel – which is a mix of nitromethane, methane, and an oil, a petrol based fuel (such as gasoline or diesel), or a kerosene based fuel for turbine engines. Your fuel source will need to be kept in a fuel tank. Two, you will need the appropriate engine based on the type of fuel you wish use. Three, you will need fuel lines to connect the fuel source to your engine. Four, you will need the proper ignition system. Each type of engine has their own ignition system. We will keep that lesson for another segment.

The other option for powering your aircraft is to use an electric motor configuration. An electric configuration is typically easier to setup and maintain – just charge your batteries! The basics of an electric setup include your motor, an electronic speed controller, and your flight batteries. Again there are multiple types of motors and ESC’s (electronic speed controllers) to choose, but we will get into more detail in another segment as well.

Elite 35cc Brushless Motor and Jeti Mezon Pro 80 ESC

Photo Credit:
“Nitro Engine” – Gerry Yarrish. “Optimize your Model’s Fuel System.” Model Airplane News. Retrieved from https://www.modelairplanenews.com/optimize-your-models-fuel-system-improving-engine-performance-and-safety/. (2023).
“Turbine Engine” – “RC Turboprop Model Jet Engines Explained.” RC Airplanes Simplified. Retrieved from URL https://www.rc-airplanes-simplified.com/model-jet-engines.html. (2023)

Limited In The State of Iowa

Brian “Chappy” V.’s Turbine Helicopters

In a search for Emcotec’s DPSI Ampere and magnetic switches, (since battery redundancy was a must for these helicopters) I was lucky enough to have an opportunity to chat with “Chappy” of Chappy’s Hobbies, and he was kind enough to share with us this photo of his beautiful Helicopters, including two giant turbine helicopters. According to Chappy, “These… are the only turbine helicopters in state of Iowa,” which is quite a neat fact to know – let alone be the one to have them!

The large blue helicopter on top is a Vario EC120, modeled after the Eurocopter (now Airbus Helicopters) EC120 Colibri. The EC120 is a multi-purpose helicopter that runs a single engine and can seat up to five.1 The EC120 by Vario Helicopters is a 1:4 scale model designed to run either electric mechanics or turbine.2 Chappy’s runs a Jakadofsky Pro5000 Turbine Engine. With massive rotor blades (1050mm according to the manufacture), the EC120 has an eight foot rotor diameter, and weighs in at about forty-two pounds.

On the bottom and to the left, we see a XLV Benzin by Vario Helicopters. Another large helicopter, the XLV Benzin also has an eight foot rotor diameter. Its cabin is constructed of GRP (fiberglass) with a carbon glaze3, and the entire helicopter weighs about thirty-six pounds. For this helicopter, Chappy has chosen to run a Jakadofsky Pro5000 turbine engine as well.

The smaller orange and white helicopter (on the bottom to the right) is an Agusta A-109 running Align mechanics. It is modeled after the Agusta Westland AW109 – another multi-use helicopter developed in the late 1960’s as a commercial helicopter.4


1“Eurocopter EC120 Colibri.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 02 February 2023, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Statistical_hypothesis_testing&oldid=1090223185.

2“H120 (EC120) 1:4 – Fuselage Kit”. Vario Helicopters, 02 February 2023, https://www.vario-helicopter.biz/be/Fuselage-Kit/H120-EC120-1-4-Fuselage-kit::200477.html#horizontalTab1

3“XLV Benzin Pod & Boom Kit”. Vario Helicopters, 02 February 2023, https://www.vario-helicopter.biz/us1/Pod-and-Boom/Pod-Boom-for-Hobby-Use/XLV-Benzin-pod-boom-kit::35466.html#:~:text=The%20XLV%20Trainer%20is%20a,with%20a%20special%20silencer%20system.

4“AgustaWestland AW109”. Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 02 February 2023, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AgustaWestland_AW109

5Photo from Brian “Chappy” V.