Belly-landing a foam plane on the sand?

This is more of a general RC planes question: Does anyone regularly hand-launch and belly-land a foam-style plane on the beach in the sand?

  1. I read several posts warning that “sand gets everywhere.” Besides potentially jamming up my motor (and servos) does this cause some other problem(s)?
  2. When belly-landing in hard-packed sand, this could be rough on foam… right? Would you recommend any sort of protective cover? Or would it just mark-and-scrape, but probably not cause significant damage?
  3. If a protective cover is recommended… has anyone tried spray-on covers? What’s your experience?


What size bird? if you come in slow on FBWA or Stabilize, what about a hand catch?


I don’t want to do a hand-catch. It’s a 1.2m flying-wing: the RMRC Mako. It’s cruise speed is 15 m/s, and we’ve measured it’s stall speed as 10 m/s. For a couple reasons, we fly without the optional rudder servos.

It has some foam “landing skids” on the wings and fuselage, just semi-circular pieces of foam designed to take the impact of landing. These seem like they’d be very useful, but I don’t have a chance to try them before needing the beach landing.

It also has an optional plastic bottom. After some evaluation, we decided our grass-landings don’t need it and it’s just extra weight… but maybe it would help for sand-landings?

When we fly off a boat (rather than the beach) we will be catching in a soccer-goal sized net. If folks advise that sand-landings are a bad idea, we can do this on the beach too… I had originally assumed the beach-landing wouldn’t be so bad, though?

I wouldn’t intentionally land any of my aircraft in the sand. I gotta believe that’s going to be hard on servos, gimbals, and lenses.



At present, I’m concerned about our foam fuselage being “sanded” harshly (pun intented) as well as sand causing problems for our rear-mounted prop motor. Anyone have experience with these issues?

Get some clear 2 inch packing tape and use that on the bottom. If you are worried about getting it off the fuze without damage ( assuming foam or balsa body), put some blue 3-m painter tape down first. As far as servos etc, ;protect the control horns/servos if they could hit with a skid or thin wire 1/2 loop around the points of contact. If servos exposed a paper shield taped over them (leading edge) will help. Stripping gears is more of a problem than sand getting to the servo gears in my experience.
Sand in the motor is a problem. Best I can think of is to put a paper tube , with clearance for cooling air , around the motor if exposed. Probably the bottom 1/2 as a shield will do. Having a can or two of brake cleaner to blast you motor after every landing will help. Just watch what you buy if you have plastic parts anywhere - including the motor. Not sure of your airframe, but expect some sandblasting if you land under power. So dead stick. Motor is up high on you frame, so probably no problems with motor. BUT !!! From picture the prop will probably hit as it not a folding design, but no ideas there to stop that -sorry.
Flew a lot of gliders/glow jobs that way, both powered and not when living on lake Erie waterfront. Just don’t know a lot about your frame. If servos and control horns on top your probably OK. Fresh water not a real problem, but if any salt water- be careful as electronics can fry with only a drop of water.

PS Just my 2 cents.

This is great advice. Thank you for sharing your experiences!