What is Control Line?

Control line is a method of flying model aircraft where the model aeroplane is flown in an anticlockwise direction around the pilot while tethered by two fixed length multistrand stainless steel wires, or control lines. The control lines are connected to a handle, held by the pilot which allows up and down control (pitch) of the elevator simply by tilting the arm or wrist. Pulling the 'up line' makes the elevator tilt up whereas pulling the 'down line' makes the elevator tilt down. The handle also includes a safety tether (or thong) so that the model cannot fly away in the event of the handle slipping out of the pilots hand.

The flying area is actually on the surface of a hemisphere around and above the pilot who is at the centre. The model can be flown around and around or various manouvers can be performed like loops, figure eights etc. depending on the model aircraft type. e.g. racing and speed models usually go around the pilot approx 1 metre above the ground whereas aerobatic and combat models can use the full hemisphere and are able to perform an infinite number of manouvers on the hemisphere.

The engine is usually set to run at a fixed speed, however modern technology allows engines to speed up when climbing and slow down when falling. Miniature internal combustion model engines are widely used and run on either glow fuel (a mixture of methanol, castor oil and nitromethane) or diesel fuel (a mixture of kero, ether and castor oil). In recent times electric outrunner model engines are also becomming popular for sport and aerobatic flying and their advantages are less noise, simpler model construction, cleaner running, reusable energy and they are easier to use.

For rules regarding safety and technical requirements for control line flying, e.g. control line wire size, diameter and length, pull testing requirements and other safety requirements see the MAAA Control Line Rules Book for more information. A lot more information can be learned by visiting and/or joing a Control Line Club.

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