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Torque Roll Tips
Written by: Serge Daudelin
Torque rolling is like any other aspect of flying, it takes time and practice to become proficient and how to do it is one of the great debates of the hobby. Ask ten people and you’ll get ten different answers. With that in mind, I'll attempt to explain issues with torque rolling that I find important to understand.

There are several myths rolling around, things like, "You need Gyro’s", "You need a tail-heavy plane", "Huge surface throw is key". Well, that is not the case. In the hands or the right person, virtually any plane with a power to weight ratio of greater than 1 – 1 can torque roll. One of the elements that really helped me was coming to the understanding that there is an attitude where the plane will just sit there going round and round with virtually no input from the flier.


What is important to understand is that at the correct attitude, the thrust of the prop disk is in balance with the canopy to bottom of the plane CG. Remember this, because if you find that attitude, you will not need large throws, you will not need a rearward CG and you will not need Gyros. The plane flies itself. On most planes, that "Sweet spot" is with the plane slightly tipped back. A very common problem I see with people learning to TR is that they blow the entry, never find the above balance and end up using huge throws chasing the plane around the sky. This is the slow way to learn to torque roll.

The first thing to do is find the attitude where the plane will torque roll by itself. This will require that you visually learn what that attitude looks like, learn where the stick positions are to hold that attitude and where the throttle needs to be to maintain altitude. Start by pulling to vertical from low speed level flight. Do this on low rates. When you pull to vertical, roll the plane so the canopy is towards you reduce the throttle so the plane will stop climbing. As the plane comes to a stop, gently add in throttle so the plane is not climbing and not dropping. With the sticks at neutral, simply watch which way the plane goes. You want to be in the mindset of an observer. You are not trying to torque roll, you are merely observing. This will do two things.

It will help you to understand what is going to happen and by not trying to do an instant torque roll; it will take the pressure off you allowing you to learn. The plane wont stay hanging more than a second or two, what you are trying to find is the exact entry angle that allows the plane to hang longest and what the throttle setting is to hold the plane from climbing or falling. What you will more than likely OBSERVE is that the plane falls out to one side and to the belly most of the time. With this knowledge, enter the maneuver again and add in a little correction as the plane comes to a stop.

More than likely the correction will be a little up elevator and right rudder. The important thing is that you are not trying to catch the plane as it falls out, you are trying to find the place where the plane won’t fall out in the first place.

Focus on the canopy region on the plane not the tail and make sure you have the largest diameter and lowest pitch prop your engine can handle.. Do not practice too high. It’s a risky maneuver. You need to accept this and go for it. If you are too high, you cannot see the detailed movements. Focus on the canopy region on the plane. Smooth throttle management is a must. You need to able to hover at 75% power or less. The reserve power is power needed to bail you out should you need to. If the plane starts rolling fast, it is because it is doing one of two things. It is falling out of the maneuver or it is not maintaining altitude. Add in throttle and observe the attitude change in the plane.
Once you have mastered the entry, the plane will probably hang for a moment or two and start to rotate. As it does, it will almost inevitably fallout of the maneuver as soon as it has its back to you. The thing to remember here is that you are not trying to tune your reactions to catch the plane. You are trying to observe the planes behavioral traits. This will allow you to predict attitude changes before they happen. It will give you time to react and react in the correct way.

Again, you are trying to learn the attitude where the plane will go by itself. You are trying to find the position of correction that will allow the plane to go round by itself. Think if it this way. When you fly your plane in level flight, you set the trim so it isn’t rolling or climbing. You set the trim so it holds heading. In a torque roll, you do the same thing but holding in small inputs on the sticks that becomes your neutral point. Once you find this attitude and the sticks neutral point, the torque rolls will happen by themselves.

Some modelers use gyros to assist in 3-D maneuvers. In the torque roll, the use of one or two gyros (on the rudder and/or elevator) will help control the plane in the hover position. The plane will fall-out from the hover slower when gyros are assisting the controls and thus will be easier to recover.


Good luck!


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