One vital part of our precious model which is usually neglected is the landing gear, the main one and the tail wheel (in case of tail draggers). Without them the aircraft can be launched only by hand or from a ramp, and land on its belly which is not considered as a model’s life extension factor!
Of course these methods (if they are chosen to be used) are suitable for light park flyers and foamies.
Most kits or ARF models come with the landing gear that the manufacturer has deemed appropriate for the size of the model. This is often sufficient if you plan on taking off from a hard steady surface. If you fly in a less than ideal area, such as sand, gravel or grass you may need wheels that are more suitable than the stock ones.
The Rc market worldwide provides numerous wheel types and sizes to fulfill the needs of any Rc pilot. Depending on the individual needs one can choose from rubber, soft foam, plastic or Styrofoam. Each type of wheel serves a different purpose and depending on the type of the plane that you fly and the wheel you choose, one type may be beneficial and another detrimental to the flight characteristics of the model.
Soft foam wheels are the most suitable for park flyers and light weight balsa planes, because they combine less weight and absorption capabilities for the specific size of the airplane that they are attached to.
Plastic wheels are generally reserved for relatively light and cheaper models. They are light, not very durable and do not grip the ground very well. RC airplanes with plastic wheels tend to dance or slide around during taxing and landings, especially when the airplane is a tail-dragger.
Styrofoam wheels like those found on the Multiplex Fun Cub, are not commonly seen in the world of airplane wheels, but they are super light and can be made huge in diameter if you need to take off from rocky terrain.
Rubber grooved wheels are often the best choise to the larger birds or to the pilots that are looking for a more realistic or scale appearance. These birds can cope with the extra weight of the rubber wheels and at the same time they gain from their better roll and grip characteristics.
You may choose to use inflatable wheels but be carefull with the inflating tube. It is recommended not to use a compressed air source or any big pump, since the quantity of air added is minisucle and the small hand pumps work just right for feeling the pressure and making adjustments.
Special attention must be given to the wheel’s rim (plastic or aluminum). Usually rubber wheels with aluminum rim are more expensive from the ones with plastic, but they are far more durable and ideal for the scale looking lovers.
When it’s time to choose the right wheels for your airplane, keep in mind the different characteristics of the various types of wheels, and try to choose the ones that add more to the looks of your model aircraft, but at the same time are durable enough for the size of your model and the surface you will be landing and taking off from.