Most of the time when buying a Ready-to-Fly Radio Controlled (RTF RC) model aircraft, you get everything you need in the package, and the plane is ready to fly, as the name states, nearly out of the box. Minimal build work is needed, and you’ll be flying the plane very quickly as all that is needed is to charge the batteries (more and less all RTF RC model planes are electric). All very good reasons to buy an RTF plane.
Getting an RTF RC plane is a great way to get flying the plane faster and cheaper. However, there are some factors that you should know when buying an RTF plane, as the different packages might be build-up differently.
Some packages come with quality parts and good RC transmitter for example, but other packages (namely the cheapest ones) might now, so make sure you know what you’re getting when buying one and consider these pros and cons of RTF planes too…
Why RTF RC Model Aircraft Might Not Be So Great? (-)
RTF scale airplanes are created to make it easy for anyone to get a plane and start flying, but of course, the sellers want the packages to be affordable, so they can’t and don’t want to use the top-notch parts in these planes.
Because of this, unless the RTF plane is specifically designed to include prime parts, there are some things you should know so that you won’t be unpleasantly surprised later. Note that these “warnings” do not apply to every RTF plane out there, but it’s common that some corners are cut, especially with the cheaper RTF model airplanes…
- RC Transmitter included with the RTF model aircraft has 2 or 3 channels, which is not suitable for more advanced plane in the future (requires at least 4 channels) (-)
- RC Transmitter might be configured differently in different countries, which might make learning the controls hard (-)
- The included transmitter might have more limited range than usual (-)
- The transmitter comes/uses normal batteries, not rechargeable ones (So you’ll be buying and using your own rechargeable batteries) (-)
- The receiver batteries might have low capacity; they might be heavy and only good for couple minutes of flight time (-)
- It can take 12-16 hours to charge the batteries with the standard charger coming in the RTF box (-)
- The parts on the RTF RC model aircraft cannot be reused in a different kind, e.g. bigger plane (although some plane models are more modifiable than others) (-)
- The spare parts must be bought from third party vendors as the manufacturer might not offer or sell them (-)
Many RC manufacturers have started to improve their RTF scale model planes and services during the last years, but like said, know what you’re buying.
With the above, the default transmitter will be fine for flying the plane it comes with, but it’s very likely not suitable for any other plane. In addition to the rechargeable batteries for the transmitter, you’ll probably want to get a faster charger and spare batteries for the plane at some point.
What Is Great About RTF Model Aircraft? (+)
As a general guideline, look for models that are sold both as RTF and ARF (Almost-Ready-To-Fly). With some plane models like this, the RTF plane is a readily built ARF, built from parts you can reuse or replace easily. Great for a beginner and good out of the box, but if you like, you’ll always have the chance to modify or upgrade the plane = Perfect.
RTF Model Aircraft are quick and easy way to get flying (+)
- The price is right (RTF planes are the most cost efficient way to get into RC aeroplanes hobby) (+)
- No time goes to building the plane (+)
- The package includes everything needed to fly, no shopping around needed making sure you have everything (+)
- For an advanced hobbyist, RTF plane can be a good for start for a customised, more powerful RC plane for a very good price (+)
- Good RTF plane will serve you long time and enable you to do modifications you want to it (+)
RTF RC plane can always be improved by getting higher quality or more powerful parts, for example adding a brushless motor and higher capacity batteries to replace the factory parts is coming popular among the RC hobbyists.
With all the pros and cons, RTF RC model airplanes are a great choice for a beginner who is not interested in model building, and all things related to that or just wants to get into flying as soon as possible.
This is a slightly edited and updated version of an article originally published on “The Radio Controlled Aeroplanes Blog” – radiocontrolledaeroplanesblog.com