It is a pretty common question every prospective RC pilot runs into when he is making the decision to buy his first radio control system, “Should I buy a Mode I or Mode II transmitter?” In the US, the vast majority of pilots fly on Mode II, but just what does that mean?
The Mode II configuration is very similar to the layout in a full-size airplane. The “stick” controls the Aileron and Elevator functions. Rudder is controlled by the “rudder pedals” and the Throttle is controlled with the pilot’s left hand on the side of the cockpit. A Mode II RC transmitter controls the aileron (roll) and elevator (pitch) with the right hand, while the rudder (yaw) and throttle are controlled by the pilot’s left hand.
Mode I moves the throttle function to the right stick and the elevator control to the left stick. This separates the primary controls so that there is less accidental “mix” when moving one control or the other, as is common with Mode II. The Mode I pilot will be controlling the throttle and aileron with his right hand. The rudder and elevator will be controlled by the left hand.
This discussion of transmitter configurations has been going on since the first RC transmitter was equipped with “sticks” instead of “switches” (some time in the 1960s). Mode II is by far the most popular, but your final decision will likely be based on the recommendation of a friend or instructor pilot.