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Thumbs or Fingers - Part two on which is better for flying R/C

Thumbs or Fingers – Part 2

Part one of this article can be found here. Thumbs or Fingers

 

So is the grass really greener on the other side of the transmitter sticks? If you fly thumbs would you really get better control with fingers? If you fly fingers would thumbs make you quicker and more nimble flyer? Not sure how to test for speed and mobility without some high-tech measuring equipment but here is a simple test to give you an idea which method just may provide better precision.

For this test simply hold a transmitter as if you were going to fly and without looking, repeatedly put one of the sticks it in the upper left corner. Now switch methods and repeat the test. Which one allows you to put the stick right into the corner consistently? If it’s about the same try all the corners and both hands, one method will likely prevail over the other.

Ok, you’ve taken the test and of course you find the method you DON’T use shows a tendency of better precision. should you switch if you would like more precision in your flying? Sure wish I knew the answer to that question because I made the switch from thumbs to fingers myself many years ago. My switch was made upon returning from a hiatus from the sport. To be honest,  I feel like I was simply a better pilot before the switch.

Although before you draw conclusions from that statement, there are several other factors to consider why I don’t feel like the same pilot as I once was. Since my return I don’t fly powered planes nearly as often as I did. Also I’m not nearly as daring of a flyer, maybe it’s because I’m older and more reserved. Lets just say I’ve become very fond of taking planes home in one piece.

Do I feel fingers have provided me more precise control of the plane? Absolutely! Another bonus of flying fingers is I have better access to all of the rate switches at the top of the transmitter with my other fingers and still retain good control of the sticks.

I’d be lying if I said the transition was easy. For quite some time, subconsciously, I would revert to my old “thumb” style during a flight. By the end of a flight my thumbs were on top of the sticks and my index fingers where trying to find their way to the back to the transmitter. However by sticking with it, in no time finger flying became the way I instinctively grabbed a transmitter.

If you’re a thumb flyer and thinking about making the switch to fingers, here are a few tips I can pass along to you. If you don’t use a neck strap I HIGHLY suggest one, at least until you get used to holding the transmitter with the new style. To expand the neck strap idea one step further, you may want to consider experimenting with a transmitter tray. I’ve never used one but many pilots swear by them. A tray completely removes the necessity to hold the transmitter with remaining fingers and often provides a shelf for pilots to rest the hands. I can see too where this can greatly improve dexterity of stick movement as well as finding the switches.

These next tips will be helpful regardless of which method you want switch to. Try adjusting height and angle at which you hold the transmitter. Thumb flyers tend to hold the transmitter higher and more upright. Finger flyers often find it better to have the transmitter lower and more level or even at a negative angle, like the 2011 XFC pilot shown in the picture below. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different sticks heights and spring tensions. For example, I found a very short stick helped improve mobility and quickness to the corners that I felt was lost in the transition.

Pilot at 2011 XFC

Longer sticks on the other hand may improve precision or the finer movements for thumb flyers. The last tip I can pass on is to try different ends on the sticks as well. There are several aftermarket sticks ends available for any preference. Some stick ends are concave at the top and can provide the perfect indent for a thumb flyer. For me a fatter end helped with finger flying.

Although when I recently bought a new transmitter the fatter ends just felt odd, so I switched to the standard ends that came with the new transmitter. I also had to experiment with different hand positions on the new transmitter because the style that worked with the previous one just didn’t cut anymore.

Having just about as many years experience flying using fingers as I did with thumbs it’s impossible to say if the switch was the right move, because there nothing to compare to. There is simply no way to say that if I would have stayed flying with thumbs it would have provided more quickness and dexterity making me a better 3-D pilot. Or that the change was positive because I wouldn’t have the precision necessary to do maneuvers like rolling circles.

Keep this in mind… If you think the grass is greener and you’re going to experiment with the ‘other method’, go full gusto and give it a true worthwhile shot. Of course its going to feel odd, because your making a change.

Human behavior specialists say it takes one month of constant repetition for new habits to form. So depending how often you able to get to the field or on the simulator, it very likely will take more than a month to truly determine if you made the right decision. Bailing out too soon will not do you any favors and may just keep you well below your potential.

What is your experience? What method do you prefer and why? Have you tried making the switch? Drop a comment below, let me know.

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Comments

  1. “Now switch methods and repeat the test. Which one allows you to put the stick right into the corner consistently? If it’s about the same try all the corners and both hands, one method will likely prevail over the other. Ok, you’ve taken the test and of course you find the method you DON’T use shows a tendency of better precision. should you switch if you would like more precision in your flying? Sure wish I knew the answer to that question because I made the switch from thumbs to fingers myself many years ago. My switch was made upon returning from a hiatus from the sport. To be honest, I feel like I was simply a better pilot before the switch.”

    Hmmm, NOPE. Thumbs were still faster and more precise. LOL

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