Which RC plane for beginners is best?
The act of flight has mystified, entertained, challenged and motivated human beings for thousands of years. While no longer viewed as a supernatural feat, thanks to advances in both technology and the understanding of physics, the act of flying an airborne craft is still a compelling notion for many.
The HobbyZone RC Airplane Apprentice S is a great entry point to RC plane piloting. Its large size and stability options allow for easy operation. In addition, it requires little assembly and includes everything budding pilots need for takeoff.
What to consider before you buy an RC plane for beginners
Wide availability of models
As RC planes have gotten more popular and less expensive, the market has become flooded with options. Because of this as well as the complexity of RC technology and flight in general, describing every nuance of the hobby would fill volumes. To start simply, research how RC planes function and determine what type of plane will allow you to dive into piloting without bogging you down with complications or control features that have steep learning curves. Next, consider what aspects of flying an RC plane are the most interesting to you and select a model that will allow you to explore the areas of remote control aviation that excite you.
Beginner RC plane types
RC planes built for beginners are generally referred to as “trainer planes.” While the term may imply that these models are not fully capable, many of today’s trainer planes allow for excellent maneuverability and tight control. There are three main types of trainer planes available:
- Gliders provide the highest flight stability. They allow ample time for the pilot to react to changes in the wind and control the craft accordingly. These RC planes feature forgiving handling, are less expensive than alternative models and can operate for up to 1 hour in some cases. They are usually “hand-launched,” which means they are thrown by the pilot as opposed to launched off the ground.
- High-wing RC planes feature wings at the top of the craft above the fuselage. These planes are not as stable as gliders, but they provide a more complex, authentic flying experience.
- Low-wing RC planes are more challenging to control, as their wings are placed below the fuselage. These planes look like the bombers and fighter jets people are accustomed to seeing at airshows and are capable of acrobatic flight patterns when controlled by an experienced pilot.
- Electric-powered (EP) RC planes are less expensive and generally easier and more convenient for those just getting into the hobby. It is recommended that beginners select an EP model.
- Internal combustion (IC) RC planes feature a fuel-powered engine. These planes are more popular with experienced pilots, although some trainer models are available.
What to look for in a quality RC plane for beginners
As with many hobbies, the construction of your own craft is part of the interest for many. There are many RC planes that require assembly, with some needing to be completely built from the ground up. Beginners should select a Ready To Fly model that requires little construction. This will allow you to try out flying as soon as possible without the risk of making an assembly error that could result in a frustrating malfunction.
Beginners should select an RC plane made from foam. Foam is light, inexpensive and easier to fix than models made out of wood.
Ease of repair
Crashes are a fact of life when it comes to RC plane piloting. Beginners especially will often find themselves retrieving their craft from the ground after diving from the sky. Select an RC plane model that is easily repaired. The availability of spare parts will also allow you to replace any broken components with little hassle and downtime.
The number of channels a plane features determines how many aspects of the craft you can control. Single or two-channel RC planes are available, but a three- or four-channel plane will allow you to feel more connected to your craft and better understand the nuances of flight. More experienced pilots will use models with as many channels as possible, giving them a great deal of control over their plane’s systems but also increasing the complexity of operation.
Small planes are more challenging to control. Larger models with wider wingspans provide more stability but are more expensive and require more room to operate and transport. Consider where you plan to fly your plane and your budget when determining the craft size you should purchase.
Flight stabilization technology
Flight stabilization technology puts a limit on how much control you have over your plane, preventing you from putting the craft into positions that could cause it to crash. Different RC plane manufacturers have different names for their proprietary flight stabilization features. Some models allow you to customize the degree of stabilization your plane uses, allowing the craft to grow with your experience.
If possible, select an RC plane that includes a radio transmitter and battery pack. Unfortunately, some models require you to buy these separately, resulting in additional costs.
How much you can expect to spend on an RC plane for beginners
Beginners can expect to spend $100-$350 on an RC plane geared toward those new to the hobby. Additional expenses may also be required depending on what accessories are included with the model you select.
RC plane for beginners FAQ
Do you need certification to fly an RC plane?
A. While no license is currently needed to fly an RC plane recreationally, you have to register your craft with the FAA. You also need to be mindful of local no-fly zones, safety regulations and any rules specific to your area.
How high can you fly an RC plane?
A. You are legally allowed to fly your RC plane up to an altitude of 400 feet above ground level.
Can you mount a camera to your RC plane?
A. Yes. Some models allow for camera installation, while others include built-in cameras that allow you to capture video or take photographs during flight.
What’s the best RC plane for beginners to buy?
Top RC plane for beginners
What you need to know: With its large wingspan and simple assembly, this plane is a great entry point into the hobby.
What you’ll love: This plane is “Ready To Fly,” with very limited assembly needed. It features three flight stabilization settings and is large in size. It includes everything you need to get flying right away.
What you should consider: The size of this model may make it hard for some to transport and store.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top RC plane for beginners for the money
What you need to know: Small and inexpensive, this RC plane features three channels and includes a battery and transmitter.
What you’ll love: This plane is light, easy to use and features a propeller that disconnects in the event of an impact to prevent damage. It also includes stabilization control technology.
What you should consider: Some users report that they have lost their planes after their craft broke communication with its radio control.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
What you need to know: This compact RC plane comes with everything you need to get started and features stabilization technology.
What you’ll love: Great for beginners or those with experience, this foam RC plane features three levels of stabilization and a special panic mode that immediately returns the plane to level flight. Additionally, it’s small in size and easy to store and transport.
What you should consider: This plane does not include a transmitter or battery.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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Derek Walborn writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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