The question posed by this thread only applies to pilots who are trying to learn on their own. If you have an instructor, and will be flying on a buddy box, it doesn't matter if you start with ailerons or not.
You are ready for ailerons, as a self trainer, when you can fly your current R/E plane reliably, where crashing is a rare event, and you can easily handle flying toward yourself.
The following may help people understand this whole aileron vs. rudder thing. As it is not really about ailerons, but about the design of the aircraft.
Ailerons vs. Rudder Designs
Which is better for new pilots?
by Ed Anderson
aeajr on the forums
The question of ailerons vs. rudder only models, as a preferred design for
new pilots, comes up all the time. People mistakenly focus on the control
surfaces, but the real question or issue is the dihedral of the wing and the
wing's placement relative to the fuselage. Let's discuss this and try to
help clear up the question.
First, let me say that if you are working with an instructor, it makes no
difference whether your plane has ailerons or not. Your instructor will
help you learn the function of the surfaces and how to manage the plane in
the air. This is especially true if you will be training on a buddy box.
So, follow your instructor's advice as to what plane or what kind of plane
to get. As long as you are only going to fly under the supervision of an
instructor, it makes no difference. Follow their lead.
But what if you plan to try to learn to fly by yourself? Or maybe you will
have a little help from a friend but will be doing most of your learning on
your own. NOW it makes a difference.
There is no law of nature that says you can't learn to fly on a plane with
ailerons. Lots of people do it. But the R/E only planes seem to provide an
easier starter set-up for new self-trainers. Let's see why this is true.
Elements of a good first plane for a self training pilot.
High Wing. - Having the wing located on top of the fuselage places the
weight of the fuselage below the lifting surface. The plane will tend to
want to fly with that weight below the lifting wing, so the plane will want
to remain stable and have less tendency to roll on its own. So high wing is
best for new pilots. Low wing designs tend to roll very easily so they are
much less self leveling. They are very happy to go inverted, bad for a self trainer.
High Dihedral - The angle of the wing as it extends away from the fuselage
is called the dihedral angle. In some planes the wing may have several
angles. These are called polyhedral wings. In some planes the wing will
come out flat from the fuselage having little or no dihedral angle. The
more dihedral angle in the wing, the more stable the plane will be as the
wing will want to level itself naturally. The flatter the wing, the less
stable the plane will be and the less self leveling.
Because a flat wing is much less stable it is the preferred design for
aerobatic planes. And since a flat wing plane will not tend to self level,
the pilot has to do it or the plane will likely fall out of the sky. A flat
wing plane requires the pilot to be much more skilled and attentive.
So a good self trainer, both in models and full scale planes, will have a
high wing with a lot of dihedral. In many cases, if you let go of the
sticks, this design will right itself and return to level flight if it has
enough time and altitude. Again a good design for new pilots who are trying
to learn to fly on their own.
Rolling the plane - direct vs. indirect
In order to turn an airplane we roll the wings so that we redirect the lift
into the direction of the turn. If we did not roll the plane it would tend
to skid sideways.
Ailerons - Ailerons roll the wings directly by changing the shape of the
wing which modifies its lift characteristics. We tend to put the ailerons
on the outer section of the wing so we get the most effect from the
smallest deflection which reduces drag. The outside aileron goes down,
generating more lift. The inside goes up generating less lift, and the wing
But if you put ailerons on a high dihedral wing, the aileron is no longer
flat out from the fuselage, it is at more of an angle. The higher the angle
the more the aileron starts to look like a rudder. So ailerons on the outer
apsect of a high dihedral wing will generate more and more of what is
called, " adverse yaw" which means that they will try to pull the plane away
from the turn.
Rudder - If you apply rudder to a high dihedral wing plane, the rudder will
swing the tail around. This presents the bottom of the leading wing and the
top of the trailing wing to the oncoming air. This causes the wing to roll
and allows you to turn the plane. It is this coupling of yaw and dihedral
that allows a rudder only plane to turn. Once you realize this you see that
you can not efficiently turn a flat wing airplane with rudder only, you need
ailerons. But if you have high dihedral wings, you can do it with rudder
Putting it all together
So, if you are a new pilot who will be training on your own, you would
likely want a plane that is designed to be very stable and very self
leveling in order to have the plane help you get out of trouble. A high
wing, high dihedral wing design will do this best. This is the design of
most rudder only or rudder/elevator airplanes. That is why many people will
recommend these planes as the preferred design for new self training pilots.
This is also why taking a plane designed for ailerons and disabling the
ailerons is not the same as having a plane designed for rudder alone.
Now, some planes have a compromise design. Planes like the GWS e-starter
are high wing high dihedral designs. They also have ailerons. GWS has
created a compromise wing that is not really the best at rudder only or the
best at ailerons, but is OK with either use.
The Multiplex Easy Glider is another example. There is enough dihedral in
the wing that you can turn it with the rudder, but response will be
sluggish. The plane has aileorns, but in order to minimize the adverse yaw
effect they are placed in the center of the wing. This makes them less
effective than ailerons on the outer part of the wing, but since this is a
glider, not an aerobat, this compromise works pretty well.
There are other planes that make a similar design compromise. However
remember that disabling the ailerons does not make the plane more stable or
more self leveling. It just means you have one less control surface to
worry about. Disabling the ailerons on a plane that is designed to fly with
ailerons will likley result in a plane that flies poorly and that is never our goal.