Kids and adults alike love RC planes, there is no secret. RC airplanes are a great way to relax, enjoy nature, learn new things, practice various skills, and have some real fun too. An RC plane is also a fantastic gift for your loved ones. Just let us help you get the right RC airplane from the best RC planes in the market we selected for you, no matter if you plan to sharpen your flying skills or simply want to offer a cool gift.
cheap radio control airplanes
best radio control plane
cheap rc planes
remote controlled airplanes for adults
best rc plane
Few hobbies can beat flying radio control airplanes if you are looking to have fun and feel some real excitement. Watching RC planes taking off and performing aerobatics is an experience most RC model aircraft enthusiasts never get tired of and for good reason.
Technology has progressed ever since the old RC airplanes. Nowadays, almost everyone can fly an RC plane right out of the box, without any prior experience.
Whether you are at the store, the flying area, or even at the workshop, you will have hundreds of options, making it very difficult to spot the best RC plane for you. The constant technological development is responsible for the huge offer nowadays. And that can be really intimidating, especially for beginners – different RC planes that come at various price ranges flood the market; some of them include sports aircraft, trainer airplanes, aerobatic planes, float planes, vintage RC aircraft, and warbirds.
There are also tons of different options on the market—these range from extremely expensive to reasonably cheap, and pretty simple to complicated builds. So, no matter what your budget is, you should find an excellent RC airplane.
While some are simple and easy to use, others are complicated and designed for people who have some experience in controlling RC plane models. Despite all these differences, the end goal of flying RC airplanes is to have fun, never forget that. Anyway, we are here to ensure that all these types do not confuse you and help you start on the right foot with the right plane so you will enjoy flying it as much as possible.
However, before you start your search, a good piece of advice is to ask the experts you can meet online, or in the RC flying clubs, and to pay close attention to what they tell you. If you approach the whole thing wrong, or if you try to do too much too soon, the experience can be far less than pleasant! But don’t worry, this article is going to help you get the right remote control airplane, so you will have fun with it as much as possible.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at the best remote control plane kits planes we have found.
What Are the Best RC Planes?
You will find below a list with our top 10 RC planes. All of them are good remote control planes, but, of course, each has its own pluses and minuses. However, we didn’t choose them randomly. We had some criteria to evaluate them. But if you are in a hurry, just scroll the list below to make yourself familiar with our selection.
Why are they the best RC planes?
Well, yes, all the RC planes from this list are different, but share a lot of similarities that make them great buying options. Here are the criteria we used to select, rate, and put them on our best of RC planes list:
- Quality – they are all made of high-quality materials – strong, flexible but also light.
- Strong – the planes listed are strong and can take a lot of punishment. This is a great thing not only if you are a beginner. Every pilot can experience some crashes from time to time.
- Top-level technology – all planes offer high-tech features such as gyro stabilization. This helps your plane be more stable during flight, a great feature if you are just starting flying RC planes.
- Ready to Fly – This will help you save a lot of time. But what does that “Rady to Fly” mean? If you are just starting out, and don’t have anything, you probably want to get a ready-to-fly completion level. Basically, you get all you need for your first flight.
- Easy to transport – all planes listed above fit in every car very well so you can transport each of them easily wherever you like. However, if you plan to buy a large RC plane, make sure it has easy-to-remove wings to avoid any transportation issues.
- Good for any skill level – every pilot can have fun with these planes, starting from beginners to more experienced pilots.
How did they get to our list?
Having a list of criteria wasn’t enough. We did our tests to make sure each plane we suggest really accomplishes each quality standard. But we felt we must go further to validate our conclusions. We loved the RC planes we tested, but we wanted to make sure others liked them too.
So, we expanded our research to see what other pilots are saying too. And it wasn’t hard work really, as our recommended planes seem to be very popular. We found lots of happy pilots who endorsed our conclusions with their videos and comments.
Still haven’t found the right RC plane for you? Here are some even more good RC planes you may like.
Table of Contents
- EFL Valiant 1.3m BNF Basic
- E-flite RC Airplane Turbo Timber 1.5m BNF
- VOLANTEXRC MiniTrainstar
- E-flite UMX Turbo Timber BNF Basic
- VOLANTEXRC RC Airplane 2.4Ghz 4-CH Sport Cub 500 Parkflyer
- VOLANTEXRC 4-CH RC Airplane P51 Mustang
- Top Race RC Plane 4 Channel TR-C385
- Top Race RC Plane TR-C285G
- E-flite RC Airplane Pitts S-1S 850mm BNF Basic
- E-flite UMX Timber RC Airplane Ultra Micro
- Top 5 Best RC Planes for Beginners
- Top 5 Best RC Planes for Kids
- Top 5 Best RC Planes for Intermediate
- Top 5 Best RC Planes in 2022
Best RC Planes Reviewed
This is another awesome radio-controlled airplane by E-flite. It sports a classic look, with many modern features and an impeccable response. You’ll get fully functional flaps right out of the box, and you’ll be able to add floats if you’d like.
- The flaps are one of the key features of this plane. They are fully functional. This allows for a great variety of performances. Whether you want to have a relaxing flight or do every stunt there is, you’ll be able to do it with this RC airplane.
- There’s a high output power system. If you accompany that with a nice 2200 mAh 3S battery, you’ll have a magnificent performance. You’ll also be able to put in battery packs ranging from 1300 to 3000 mAh.
- It has a really quick assembly
- It has some excellent stability when you’re flying it around
- It’s made of durable aluminum
- Fast when it’s in the air
- Adjustable Flaps for Optimal Experience
- Best Value For Money on the Market
- Even though aluminum is excellent, it’s also pretty heavy
- Not as easy to be flown by beginners
- Fairly Heavy
Assembling the EFL Valiant was a breeze. It could be difficult for some beginners to assemble it out there, but it should still be possible.
The first time we flew this one, it felt nostalgic. We were used to all the foam planes, but this one was more like the ones we used to have as kids. Well, the flight itself was an even more excellent experience than the ones we had when we were younger.
The landing was effortless. We enabled the SAFE mode (yes, there’s a safe mode in this one as well), and the landing was one of the smoothest we’ve ever done.
This is a good RC plane for those experienced who want to have fun with a great plane. It might be a little bit too heavy to carry around everywhere, but you can still fly it around at your local park.
The E-flite RC Airplane Turbo Timber is one of the best RC model airplanes on the market. Right out of the box, you’ll be getting a reliable product. It comes with tons of cool features, which allow anyone from beginners to experts to fly it around.
- An incredible STOL system, allowing seasoned flyers as well as newcomers to take off and land quickly. This will also allow you to pull off all the cool stunts you see on the demo videos.
- The flight controller is part of a newer generation that allows you to change between AS3X and SAFE mode. With the AS3X, you’ll be able to fly the Turbo Timber around without any limits.
- It includes Floats and NAV lights
- The STOL performance is incredible
- Comes with a SAFE mode for beginners
- You can fly for more than 10 minutes at a time
- Great STOL performance
- SAFE and AS3X mode
- The foam design isn’t the best
- The battery is mounted on the belly of the plane
The assembly was fairly easy. Compared to some of the competition, this one had simple instructions to follow. And we didn’t even need any glue.
Our first flight was a really nice experience. The takeoff was done in a heartbeat due to the STOL system. The plane had great control.
The landing was also really smooth. We tried landing it with and without the floats, and it was still incredible (on land and sea, respectively).
You will surely love the fact that this RC plane was built both for beginners and experienced pilots. The only bad thing is that the foam it’s made of isn’t the best.
This is another kit where everything you need to fly comes in the box. It is a fun little absolute beginners plane. You get the plane, the flight battery that goes inside, and also the transmitter system.
- The plane is made of EPP durable foam, which means it is lightweight and not very easy to break even if you crash it.
- It comes with a 2.4 gigahertz radio system which means it is a very low possibility of interference from anything else
- 6 axis gyro system pre-installed which means that it’s not going to take a lot of notice of turbulence and fly really well even if you fly in a little bit of wind
- Very strong and sturdy
- The stabilization system works great
- Easy to fly even in windy weather
- An ideal plane as a first-time trainer
- In some cases, the plane stopped responding to control
- Some kits had issues with their motors that stopped working after several weeks
All we had to do was to turn on the transmitter, plug the battery in, let the plane sit steadily for a few seconds, and hand launch the plane.
The plane is very stable, and even a beginner can fly very easily in stabilized mode. The stabilization system performed very well and the plane flew great even in very windy conditions in beginner mode. In expert mode, it performed all sorts of aerobatics
The landing was pretty rough, but the plane survived with no injury
This RC plane is similar to the first plane on our list. They’re both made by E-flite, so that is understandable. The UMX Turbo is a cheaper version of the Turbo Timber. Unlike the latter, it doesn’t come with floats.
- Just like the Turbo Timber, this one hosts an amazing STOL system. With this, even if you’re a newcomer to RC flying, you’ll be able to take off, land and control the plane quickly.
- The controller also has a certain feature for newcomers. You’ll be able to easily change it to SAFE mode so that you can fly around more easily.
- It includes some really lovely LED lights
- You’re getting an excellent STOL experience
- Comes with a SAFE mode for beginners
- Excellent STOL experience
- A little too heavy
Just like the Turbo Timber, this one is straightforward to assemble. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced flyer, you’ll have no problem with the assembling.
Flying around with this is fantastic. While it doesn’t have any floats, you can still fly around your local park or near the woods.
The landing is a bit more complicated. But, it becomes really easy with the SAFE mode on. Once you get used to it, it becomes much easier.
This is an RC plane designed for beginners. So, if you’ve never flown an RC plane before, this is your best bet. But, remember that it isn’t the easiest to handle and land.
This is an excellent choice by VOLANTEXRC. Unlike our other options, this is more affordable. It’s more geared towards a fun experience rather than a professional approach. This, however, doesn’t mean that it isn’t the right product for you.
- This RC plane’s controller comes with a three-mode choice. These three modes are: Beginner, Intermediate, and Expert. Depending on the mode you choose, you’ll get all the assists or no assists.
- There’s also a one key function. You’ll be able to push a button and control the plane with an analog stick. This way, anyone, young or old, can fly this plane around.
- It has a one key function
- There’s a gearbox that allows for longer flights
- It’s fully assembled right out of the box
- It’s beginner-friendly
- Super Easy to Fly
- Really Affordable
- Hardcore fans may not like its simplicity
Starting off, there’s no assembly needed. The plane comes fully assembled when you take it out of the box. This way, even beginners can start flying it right away.
The whole experience was amazing. The takeoff was really smooth and the plane handled great. The stability was similar to RC planes that cost much more.
The landing was as good as the rest of the flight experience. We’re sure that even the youngest of flyers will be able to land this.
This RC airplane was built for everyone, no matter their age and experience. The thing that some consider as a negative is the fact that it’s more kid-friendly.
- Similar to the original, there are three choices to choose from, when it comes to assist. If you’re an experienced flyer looking for a challenge, opt for the expert mode. If you’re starting out, select the beginner mode.
- We’ve already mentioned that the plane has a one key function. With this function, you’ll also be able to do any stunts you want with just one key. So, in reality, you can do stunts with only one finger.
- It has great stability, due to the Xpilot stabilization system
- You can do a U-turn with one key
- It’s made of durable material
- You’ll be able to fly around for record times, due to the gearbox
- Amazing Functionality
- No need to assemble
- Some consider it childish
- Bad Signal
Were you worried about needing to assemble this one? Well, there’s no need for that. That’s because this RC plane comes already assembled right out of the box. So, you won’t have to spend time reading the instructions and making it
Our whole flight was as good as the original. The takeoff and the landing were super smooth and really easy. The stability during the flight was extraordinary. This made it one of our favorite flying experiences.
This plane is the best gift for a kid, or an adult getting started on flying RC planes. Some say that the signal isn’t that good, though.
- One Key Aerobatics button
- New Propeller Saver Technology
- 6-axis gyro stabilizer enables resistance to altitude displacement
- Powerful engine,
- Strong and easy to learn plane
- Performs some quite impressive stunts
- Comes with three spare propellers
- Can be used by both adults and kids
- The Incorporated steerable tail wheel, allows for easy ground control
- Risk of losing control – if the plane is flying too high or too far
- If the plane is flown too high or too far, the controller might stop working
RC planes, as well as drones, suffer one common problem “altitude displacement.” Some planes can only be flown up to a certain level before the wind bangs it on a hard surface. However, but with the Top Race RC plane, limits have been eliminated no matter how high you wish to fly thanks to the in-built 6-axis gyro stabilizer that makes the bird resistant to altitude displacement.
You need some time to fully grasp the controls, and if you accidentally fly the plane too high, making it come back can be difficult for an inexperienced pilot. That’s why the Top Race RC plane has a one key return incorporated, so your plane flies back to you.
This plane is capable of spiral flying, easy stunts, and upside-down loops with just the push of a button. However, it seems to have problems getting off the ground sometimes, and once airborne, the return key button might be unresponsive if the plane reaches high altitudes.
The only way to be airborne for long with the RC Airplanes is by carrying extra batteries; the top RC plane 3 therefore, will have you enjoy flying for only 12 minutes on a single charge thus the need for some extra pair of batteries. The new propeller saver technology incorporated will enhance the lifespan of the Airplane protecting it from damage.
- New Propeller Saver Technology that protects the propeller from serious damage
- The self-stabilization of the gyro system allow flying in just about any weather condition even when the wind is strong
- Offers pilots three flying levels “easy, medium, and hard” so a good fit for every pilot, as it can match pretty every experience level
- Quite durable yet extremely lightweight plane
- It is very durable, able to take some severe punishment
- Long-lasting batteries that are also easy to charge
- Beginners and also experienced can have some very good time flying this plane
- The landing gear is quite fragile, especially the rear wheel, and hard landings can damage it easily
- Some kits had batteries with charging issues
- In some cases, the remote control lost contact with the plane
- Sometimes the batteries delivered with the kit didn’t last as expected or had charging issues
The airplane has been configured for use by both the advanced pilots and also the beginners, as we’ve said above, having incorporated 3 flying levels. If you are a beginner, the “Easy” level is exactly what you need, and as you progressively become more experienced, you can advance to the “Medium” and of course, the “Hard” level meaning that you will have mastered how to fly an RC plane.
The plane also allows pilots to fly the plane at an amazing distance of over 320 ft and has been equipped with an 8mm coreless motor.
New flyers could possibly crash the plane within 20 seconds being airborne; the E-flite RC Airplane, therefore, has incorporated an extra margin of safety (the optional-use SAFE flight envelope protection technology) as you orient yourself with the plane.
The safe mode that comes incorporated in the receiver, will limit the chances of the airplane rolling or pitching upside down. With the high chances of crashing for the new learners, the E-flite RC Airplane has been configured to minimize the excessive climbs or dive angles. The incorporated automatic self-leveling feature enables the plane to instantly return to and holds level flight when you release the sticks and leave them in the center position. Additionally, the feature will also assist in keeping the wings levelized during the takeoffs and landing
- Officially licensed RC scale plane replica
- Optional use-safe mode feature incorporated
- Good quality at a fair price
- Realistic and high detailed design
- Made with durable EPO material
- The airplane is easy to fly especially with the optional use-safe mode
- Features a tool-free wing assembly
- Flight performance is smooth with unmatched stability and precision
- The landing gear does not cope well with hard landings expected from a beginner so extra care is needed.
- Servos and control surface hinges are a bit fragile and don’t last too long
- Problem with binding the AR6363 when the plane is not set at a level position
- The hardware lacks structural integrity
The E-flite RC Airplane offers high-performance thanks to the ESC, motor, and prop that integrates with the 3s Lipo battery to deliver an enhanced thrust. And in case you feel that the above performance is not up to par, you are allowed to install a 4C battery for ballistic and to achieve the rocket ship-like vertical powers.
And while other RC planes will take about 2hours of your time to assemble, the E-flite RC Airplane offers a tool-free field assembly, allowing removal and installation of the wings without tools. The plane also features pins to help with securing the struts into the wings; additionally, you will get an adjustable body clip and the locator pins.
The E-flite UMX Timber RC Airplane is the home of convenience and you don’t have to stress yourself on how to assemble the plane as it has been factory assembled and the only thing that you have to do is to install a charged battery and you are airborne. Installation of the battery has been made easy via the incorporated compartment at the front part of the aircraft.
- Optional floats that allow aquatic adventure
- Enlarged flaps that allow the plane to take off and land in narrow places
- It is a good flyer
- A lightweight and small plane that can fly almost everywhere, either outdoors or indoors
- The airplane is small in size thus best RC aircraft for adventure
- The incorporated NAV lights allow for night fun
- The plane is 100% factory assembled
- The Oversized wheels offer a cushioned landing
- Occasional there are issues with the landing gear as it digs into the fuselage during landing
- Some planes had problems with the trimming
- Only the engine is replaceable, the rest of the electronics are on a single board
If you haven’t had enough fun outdoors and wish to continue indoors then the UMX Timber is the best RC airplane because it features an adventurous size, thus can be used both indoors and outdoors. Don’t let darkness limit you from flying, because the UMX timber has incorporated the realistic navigation lights that are powered by the battery. You, therefore, don’t have to worry about losing sight of the plane given the incorporated landing lights, the beacons, and the wing-tip strobes.
The UMX Airplane has also been equipped with oversize wheels that will come convenient for beginners as they help cushion their landings and takeoffs, with this plane you can prepare for maximum fun since it can also be fitted with floats that are bought separately. And after installation, you can flex your flying skills.
Best Alternative RC Planes
How to Buy RC Planes
What Is The Best Radio Control Plane for Me and How to Find It?
First Things First
The very first step, prior to even thinking about spending a cent, is to decide what you are trying to achieve; the right answer will help you make the right future buying decisions. For example, if you want to just play around in your backyard with a small RC helicopter, that can be accomplished with a minimum of cost and experience.
But if your end goal is to fly an RC jet aircraft model, maybe joining a flying club and even entering competitions, then your end goal would be something entirely different. Again, neither approach is right nor wrong but you should understand it. Plus, there is always the chance that you might get so hooked on the hobby so your goals will change constantly! There is certainly nothing wrong with that either!
You also need to know how skilled you plan to become and what your drive is in the hobby.
So ask yourself what do you want to accomplish. Do you just want to relax by feeling the thrill and enjoyment of flying a basic model for a few weekends every year? If that is what you want, then you can get by with one of the smaller and less expensive RC planes. But if your goal is to advance through the hobby into the “big boys” league with some more complex aircraft, you might consider purchasing some better equipment in the beginning. This way you won’t have to buy all new equipment in 2 months.
Want to spend some great time on your own? Read our guide on building a plastic model airplanes, and start making one.
1. What to consider when buying an RC plane?
The design has a lot to do with performance and how you will handle it. If you are a beginner, you have to ensure that your first experience is with stable flights so that you can get accustomed quickly.
Just like the real ones, the RC planes have one wing (high-, mid-, or low-wing), or two wings (bi-plane); yes, there are also planes with three wings, but they are quite rare. Keep in mind that advanced RC planes have a mid- or low-wing.
Most RC planes come with ailerons, and have symmetrical or almost symmetrical airfoils, and have little or no dihedral. These characteristics allow maneuverable and aerobatic flight.
The dihedral is another feature you should pay attention to. The wings form some kind of upward “V” if you look at a plane from the front. Well, the dihedral is exactly that angle, and it has a great impact on the stability of a plane; more dihedral means more stability in flight due to the ‘pendulum’ effect of the fuselage that hangs under the wing. If you are a beginner, make sure that your first plane has the wing above the fuselage for extremely flexible flights.
Dihedral is a key feature for the airplanes that use only the rudder for turning and have no ailerons. The dihedral aids the turn in this case forcing the plane into a banked turn when the plane yaws to one direction after the rudder is applied.
You will note that RC planes with ailerons have a small dihedral compared to the ones without ailerons. A plane that does not have ailerons utilizes only the rudder and dihedral to facilitate its turning.
If you have ridden on a ship before, you may be familiar with the rudder. RC planes contain a similar feature that appears as a vertical flap located on the plane’s tail. It is the one that is responsible for the turning of the plane in any direction.
Remote-Controlled Airplanes configuration – important points to remember
- The dihedral is the upward angle of an airplane’s wings. It gives the wings a slight V-shape when observing the airplane straight-on from the front.
Aerodynamically, the dihedral makes your airplane more stable by restricting its roll movement.
- An airfoil is the shape of the curve of the wing. You can notice the airfoil on the wings of various types of airplanes by looking at the wing from its end.
An under-cambered airfoil looks like this:
An unsymmetrical airfoil looks like this:
symmetrical airfoil looks like this:
Under-cambered and unsymmetrical airfoils have more lift and more drag than symmetrical airfoils.
Remote control airplanes come in various stages of completion – kit, ARF, and RTF. You can either go for an assembling kit, a plane that is not entirely ready to fly, or one that is fully assembled.
Now let’s talk about several popular types of RC airplane kits available on the market.
- Kit – a kit consists of different parts that come in a box you will have to put together to build your own plane. Not only it will require some experience in building model aircraft, but sometimes can also be extremely time-consuming. It also means you are going to buy separately the engine, electronic speed controllers (ESC), battery pack, radio system, etc.
Kit RC planes require the most amount of assembly before they are ready to fly. They are meant for those who are in a creative mood and feel satisfaction in flying an airplane that has taken some time and skill to build. Kit airplanes are initially less expensive, but there are some additional costs in terms of tools and other necessary materials. Many modelers enjoy them because they can make sure the airplane is built solid and is customized to their own liking.
These kits will generally include everything to finish the airplane included in the box, you will need to provide consumables like glue, paint, or covering materials, you then add your own engine and electronics to complete the project.
There are many kit gas-powered RC planes, but not so many kit RC planes. This is because kits are normally made from balsa parts, and most remote control airplanes are made from foam or plastic. RC planes are more abundant in ARF and RTF formats. However, many independent designers make RC planes in kit form.
- ARF/ARtF stands for Almost Ready to Fly. An ARF remote control airplane needs some assembly but not nearly as much as one in kit form. It is almost 90% complete when you buy it, even though, just like in the kit, you will have to buy the motor, ESC, battery pack, and the radio gear separately. They require just a small amount of assembly and are the perfect place for a beginner to start.
ARF airplanes are very popular for several reasons:
- First, the manufacturers can produce them quickly and inexpensively. Second, customers can, therefore, purchase them inexpensively, and can have them ready to fly in a relatively short amount of time.
- One of the biggest ARF RC airplane manufacturers is GWS (Grand Wing Servo). These ARF airplanes are sold in almost every hobby store and can be easily found on-line.
- RTF means RC airplane Ready to Fly. With these airplanes, the owner simply attaches the wing and they are ready to go. RC ready to fly planes are popular with beginners who want to simply go to the park, toss an airplane in the air and start flying. Actually, that is not such a good idea since most beginners will just crash it right away. It is best to have an experienced pilot first check out the airplane and then do the taking off and landing for a while.
Most RTF RC planes come with everything necessary to fly, whereas, with the kit and ARF RC planes, you need to purchase the electronics separately.
However, the electronics for RTF airplanes are dedicated to that specific airplane and are not easily transferred among multiple airplanes. If you are interested in collecting several airplanes, it is a good idea to purchase the electronics separately and buy RC airplanes that don’t come with the electronics.
Some basic assembling has to be done, such as attaching the wings to the fuselage, charge and install the battery and just start flying! There are many companies that produce RTF remote control airplane kits. Some of the popular brands of RTF RC planes include Great Planes, HobbyZone, Hobbico, E-Flite, Hangar 9, Hobbico, GrServo-Tech, Airhogs, and ParkZone.
Don’t forget to have a look at the Electric Powered (EP) RTF planes. These RC airplanes have become immensely popular since they are affordable, convenient, tough, and easy to repair, in case of any unfortunate accidents.
Satisfaction of having built it yourself
You can upgrade or customize hardware more easily
You can customize your color scheme
Knowing how it was built makes repairs much easier
You can spread the expense over time (Buy kit now, covering, wheels, tank, etc. later)
Takes longer than ARF assembly
More tools required
Requires building skills
You need to supply accessories (Covering, Wheels, Tank, etc)
Fast, easy assembly
All hardware included
They all look alike
They were not built by fliers, so there may be hidden flaws
Some of the hardware may be of poor quality
Engine and radio pre-installed
Usually ready to fly in less than 1 hour
Same as ARFs, plus – you have no choice in which engine or radio you would like to use
- Ready to Cover (RTC), is a crossbreed between an RC airplane kit and the ARF, in which most of the parts are assembled, however, the covering is left to be completed by the pilot, so that a customized version of the aircraft can be made.
- From a set of plans, this is the most demanding option and is the traditional way to build an RC Plane, and very rewarding if a little time-consuming. You will purchase all balsa wood and composite materials individually and craft your model from scratch, there are many great resources available on Amazon to help you with your research.
So as you can see, they each have their pros and cons, but then some of these differences can go either way. In other words, one man’s “Pro” can be another man’s “Con”. For example, with a Kit, you need to purchase a tank separately, but then, you have the option of buying a tank of better quality than that which usually accompanies an ARF, The same goes for wheels. Also, the fact that a Kit takes a long time to build is a blessing to many of us because we enjoy building.
The way we look at it is this: flying is a sport, and building is a hobby. Kits are great for those of us who enjoy spending hours in the basement gluing and sanding. But many people do not have the time, patience, or desire to build, so for them, an ARF would be a better choice.
Scale and Silhouette Remote Control Airplanes
As you look around the hobby store, you will notice that some remote control airplanes look quite realistic with a full fuselage, while others have a flat two-dimensional fuselage. The first ones are replicas of real airplanes – scale RC planes – and the second type is silhouette RC planes.
RC scale airplanes are nice to look at and give you a nostalgic feeling because they look like the real thing. They have lots of detail with paint schemes and markings close to the actual airplane flown in combat or another situation in history. These airplanes are popular because of their emotional appeal and are exciting to use to recreate flights from history.
A silhouette RC airplane looks plain in comparison to the scale version, but once they are in the air, it is quite difficult to tell the difference. Most silhouette airplanes are what are called 3-D airplanes. 3-D airplanes are used for hovering in place and performing amazing aerobatic feats within a small area. They are intended for experienced pilots.
Traditionally, the landing gear consists of three wheels – one at the nose of the aircraft and two-way back, below the fuselage. Known as the tricycle landing gear, the control that activates of the rudder also turns the wheel at the nose to the left or the right, allowing the pilot to maneuver the plane on the ground.
In a tailwheel type landing gear configuration, there are two wheels below the fuselage, and the third one, or a taildragger, is below the rear end of the plane; the tailwheel usually can be steered to the left or right to move the plane in the needed direction.
Generally, pilots find the tricycle landing gear more helpful as it makes it easier to control the aircraft.
Trike, or Tail Dragger?
If you’re not familiar with the terms, a “Trike” is an airplane with a tricycle landing gear, where there are two main wheels and a nose wheel. A “Tail Dragger” has two main wheels and a tail wheel.
We suggest starting out with a trike configuration, but there are several excellent airplanes that use a tailwheel, and in some cases, you have a choice of building the plane either way. But trikes are all alike, where some taildraggers can be a lot more difficult than others (And all of them are more difficult than a trike). For an easy explanation of why see the picture below. Which cart would YOU rather be rolling down a hill on?
When you apply power for take-off, you usually need to apply some right rudder (Which also controls ground steering) to overcome the torque of the engine.
With a nose gear, as you add power, the plane exerts more pressure on the nose wheel thereby giving it a good grip on the ground. So the steering is controlled by solid, wheel-to-ground contact. Turn the wheel, and the plane turns with it.
But with a tailwheel, it’s a whole new enchilada! As you add power, you need to hold full UP elevator to keep the plane from nosing over. As speed increases, you need to relax the elevator input or the plane will lift off before it has sufficient airspeed (Which can lead to several heart-pounding scenarios that all end with picking balsa splinters out of the dirt). Also, once the tail wheel leaves the ground, you no longer have positive, wheel-to-ground steering, so aside from having to keep the tail at the correct up-and-down attitude, you also need to steer it right and left. It’s a very tricky balancing act that is known as “Flying the tail”.
Now granted, someday you may very well want to graduate to a tail dragger, mainly because so many really cool planes ARE tail draggers (Piper Cubs, Mustangs, Corsairs, etc.) But there’s no need to complicate matters right now. We’re not telling you to avoid tail draggers, we just want you to know the facts to help you make the right decision for what best suits your needs.
2. Engines – The Type of Power
The power type of RC planes is either an electric motor or a gas engine. While both are convenient not all of them will work perfectly for the different categories of pilots.
For example, the planes that utilize electric power will work best for beginners as they can be flown in public areas as they don’t produce a lot of noise and utilize few accessories.
The following are some key features for each type:
- Electric Engine
- Require several accessories as the engine needs them to survive in the long run.
- Fewer accessories are needed
- They don’t make much noise so you can fly them in public places.
- A more suitable option for beginners.
- Internal Combustion Engine:
- Require several accessories as the engine needs them to survive in the long run.
- Additional fuel costs.
- More expensive.
- Not a good idea to fly them in public places as it creates a lot of noise.
Electric RC Planes
Electric RC planes are the new craze in RC flying. They are so much more convenient than gas-powered remote control airplanes. They are safe, lightweight, clean, and can be flown in the neighborhood park. No more gas residue to clean up or driving all the way to the model park.
What’s more, electric RC planes are a lot of fun to fly, and with a little information from this article, you will be flying like an expert in no time.
So, it is a good idea for beginners to opt for the electric engine due to the advantages listed above. This type is also advantageous when you need a plane you can use in a public area since it is quieter than internal combustion-powered RC planes. But if you enjoy the smell of burned fuel and the noise, then the Internal Combustion Engine might do the trick.
Brush and Brushless Electric RC Motors
As you look for electric RC motors at the hobby store or on-line, you will notice that there are two main differences. There are the less expensive brush motors that come stock with many airplanes, and there are the more expensive brushless motors.
Brushless motors come in various shapes and sizes. In addition, there are two types of brushless motors – regular and outrunner. With a regular brushless motor, the shaft is connected to the armature and both of these spin inside the casing which remains stationary. With an outrunner brushless motor, the armature remains stationary and the shaft spins with the casing with which it is connected.
An important thing to know about the brush and brushless motors is that you need the corresponding electronic speed control. That is, a brush motor must be connected to a speed control meant for a brush motor, and a brushless motor must be connected to a speed control meant for a brushless motor.
An easy way to tell the difference between brush and brushless electronic speed controls is that the brush version has two wires in the lead going to the motor and the brushless has three.
Internal Combustion RC Airplanes
Those who are used to flying different remote control airplanes, go for the internal combustion type. This needs a lot of accessories due to the maintaining and starting of the engine. The high fuel cost and a lot of noise are some of the disadvantages of this power type. They are also large and costlier than powered planes. They, however, provide smooth flights for outstanding performance.
If you decide to choose a gas plane, make sure you get a club membership that has an area dedicated to such planes as they are quite noisier.
Two strokes or four-strokes?
When you start looking at the engines for your remote-controlled aircraft, you will commonly come across two kinds of the engine – the two-stroke or the four-stroke engine.
The two-stroke engine generates power on the second stroke of the piston inside the cylinder head. They create a high pitch ‘whine’ sound and are generally more simple and reliable. Beginners are advised to go with this engine when they begin as they are affordable and more user-friendly.
The four-stroke engine is more expensive. The power is created on the fourth stroke of the piston and is more complicated and heavier than their two-stroke counterparts since they give you a more real aircraft engine experience.
Some of the best manufacturers of two-stroke engines, used in trainers that are commonly used by beginners are Tower Hobbies, O.S., and Thunder Tiger.
Horizon Hobbies, another popular maker, recently launched the Evolution Engine and the maker claims that these engines have been tested in the factories and well-tuned to ensure quick and smooth running straight out of the box.
You cannot go wrong with these makers as they provide you with excellent craftsmanship and products at reasonable prices. You can expect to find both the 0.40 and 0.46 sizes.
Another thing to look out for when examining which engine to buy would be to find out if the engine uses ball bearings or not.
Bearings provide longer support to the crankshaft and will be more powerful when compared to a similar engine that doesn’t use ball bearings. It is advised that beginners should go for engines that use bearings since they will help your engine perform better and last longer.
Even though they tend to be more expensive than the non-ball bearings one, considering the long life your engine gets, you definitely get back the value of your money.
3. RC airplane remote control
This is an important factor that can affect your experience in the flying world. While single and two-channel planes are available, they are more toys than anything.
While the newspapers and magazines are filled with second-hand radio choices that are available for a steal, the best choice would be to buy a new radio. Modern radios work at 72 MHz on almost 50 different frequencies, and the channels are separated from each other by just 20 kHz and lock into its receiver properly. However, prior to 1991, the rules were different so stick to the modern radios that are built using the correct system.
When we talk about RC radios, we are including within that broad term the following electronic components: RC transmitters, RC receivers, servos, and electronic speed controls. These components can be purchased individually or in various packages. For example, a transmitter usually comes packaged with a receiver and two or more servos. If you purchase this package, then all you would need is to purchase an electronic speed control (ESC).
Further, if you already own a transmitter, you can buy the receiver and servos separately from the transmitter. These items together are called a flight pack or airborne pack because they are the electronic components that are installed on the airplane and go airborne.
In addition to talking about the above electronic components, there is an important thing to notice when purchasing RC radios. An RC radio for an electric remote control airplane may either be on the 72 MHz band or on the 27MHz band.
The 27 MHz band is subdivided into channels 2 through 6. These channels are also for other RC toys such as cars and trucks. Many ready-to-fly airplanes come packaged with a radio that is on this band. These radios are less expensive and more simple. They are meant for beginners who want to have everything ready to go and are not yet ready for an advanced radio.
Furthermore, these package deals consisting of an RTF remote control airplane and a 27 MHz radio are not easily separated and intermixed with other packages.
On the other hand, RC radios that are on the 72 MHz band (channels 11 through 60) come separately from the airplane. The channels on these radios are dedicated to RC aviation. Also, there are various models with different features that can be purchased.
Whether a beginner or not, if you are interested in getting into the hobby seriously, you will want to purchase one of these 72 MHz radios. Not only can you purchase a radio with the features of your choosing, but you can also use this radio for multiple remote control airplanes.
The number of channels (or controllable functions)
So in essence is that you will have to get a three-channel flyer as it will best suit the needs of the serious flyers, however, be prepared to dig a little deeper into your pocket.
Make sure you can control at least the motor, elevator, and rudder of your plane. Remember that your personal preference is what determines the configuration of your remote control airplane is. For this reason, we will explain each channel type and leave you to decide.
A 2-channel control means that the plane only has the rudder and throttle control. A 3-channel RC airplane is also referred to as the park flyer. It contains the throttle control, the elevators, and either the rudder or ailerons. A 4-channel is like a 3-channel, but the only difference between them is that this type includes both the rudder and the ailerons. There is also a single channel control which is only common in toys.
Since a four-channel allows you to control the engine power, ailerons, rudder, and the elevator, it is suitable for aerobatics. It can give you the satisfaction of flying, but it is not the most comfortable RC plane to learn flying.
This type requires a lot of coordination as you use all the four controls and that really makes the learning curve steep. That is exactly the reason why beginners should avoid the four-channel RC planes and choose those with three channels – rudder, engine, and elevator.
Anyway, if you are seriously considering flying then you might want to keep away from the single-channel RC aircraft, as it works best for the small-time flyers or the toys thus cannot suffice the serious flyers. The two-channel is not any better as it will limit you with regards to what you can do with the Airplane.
What should you stay away from?
Finally, you must select a radio that is meant for being used with an RC aircraft. The pistol-grip style transmitters operate on a different frequency compared to aircraft radios and are more suitable for cars and boats.
If you are thinking of buying two-stick transmitters as they are easy on the pocket, you should know they have a limited range and can be used mainly for model sailboats and ground vehicles.
The best option for you would be an FM or a PCM system that is specially used for RC model planes. Now that small electric indoor or park flyer RC aircraft models have become so popular, several systems are being designed for these models, and their receivers and servos are not very powerful and will not be able to handle the flight load of a 40 or 60 sized trainer.
4. RC Batteries
As you look for RC batteries at the hobby store or on-line, you will notice that there are three main types – NiCd, NiMH, and LiPo.
NiCd stands for Nickel Cadmium and NiMH stands for Nickel Metal Hydride. Each cell of NiCd and NiMH batteries produces 1.2 volts so a 6-cell battery produces 7.2 volts and a 7-cell battery produces 8.4 volts. These batteries are heavier, less powerful and have less flight time than the newer LiPo batteries. That is why LiPo batteries are becoming more popular.
LiPo stands for Lithium Polymer. Each cell of a LiPo battery produces 3.7 volts so a 2-cell battery produces 7.4 volts and a 3-cell battery produces 11.1 volts. Note: it is very important to use a LiPo battery charger for LiPo batteries, otherwise damage to the battery and possible fire can occur.
5. The availability of spare parts
RC airplanes don’t come cheap and truth be told you will probably crash it more times than you can count, so to be on the safe side, ensure that the RC airplane that you are getting has spare parts available. However, mistakes are good teachers.
So, do not get an RC model aircraft that lacks a back-up in case a part breaks. It can cost you expensive repairs that can interfere with not only its performance but also safety. This may make you start looking for another plane altogether. How frustrating! In such cases, having those spare parts you need to repair your broken RC aircraft will keep you loving this hobby,
As you check out different models, consider how easy it is to find the spare parts. Your desired brand should have lots of available spare parts for secure fixing.
We recommend that you consider brands like ParkZone and HobbyZone since they have a lot of spare parts. If your plane is ready to fly, you will be lucky to get cheap spare parts from either a local store or an online shop.
6. Where to buy RC plane kits?
There are hobby shops that sell these planes locally. Before choosing the most beautiful RC plane you see on display, talk to the owner of the shop. This will help you find out more information regarding the different models they offer. Going beyond looks is what guarantees you a high-quality RC plane.
You can also choose to buy your RC plane online. You must be careful to avoid buying from untrustworthy dealers who may not deliver the best RC airplanes. Sites such as Amazon or eBay are great online places to buy your plane.
Check out the ratings as you compare the pros and cons of each model. You can also visit forums to get more discussions before making a purchase. Fortunately, the internet also offers YouTube videos that can teach you how to fly your RC plane.
Buying RC Planes – Extra Tips
Here are some more points to consider during your research to find the best RC airplane kit. for your:
- Experience in assembling and operating an RC model airplane will help determine what radio-controlled model airplane kit you purchase. There are various skill levels that are produced to meet practically every skill level, from the beginner to the highly experienced. Some RC plane kits have very few controls, while others may have several, including special controls to release parachutes and other types of payloads.
- You can buy RC model airplane kits in balsa wood, foam, or plastic construction. RC airplanes kits made of foam or balsa wood are much lighter and are easier to repair when your radio-controlled model airplane takes a nosedive.
- The weight of the finished radio-controlled model airplane is something to consider, especially because you will be adding gas or electric motor weight to your model airplane. If your radio-controlled model airplane is too heavy, when ready for its premier flight, you may have a difficult time getting it off the ground or may have problems in controlling its flight path.
7. RC Flight Simulators
RC flight simulators have become very popular, and are a fantastic way to cut the learning curve of learning to fly an RC Airplane.
With an RC simulator, every crash will be financially painless. Just put in a few hours on the simulator and you will be able to control the plane, take off and land safely. You will certainly save money that otherwise you would have flushed down the drain to repair your plane.
After you have bought your first remote-controlled airplane you need to check all of your equipment. Even if you are an experienced modeler, nothing can save you from faulty equipment or incorrectly rigged flight controls.
Remember to make sure when you select up the elevator the control surface moves in the correct direction, I know it sounds silly but it happens! Check and double-check everything before you send the model into the air.
RC planes are fun even if you are not thinking of getting into serious flying. The above-reviewed planes are the best RC airplane kits in the market and if you can get one of them then you are in luck. However, if you want to do your own research, now you have this guide that will help you buy RC airplane kits in the future and get the ones that are right for you.
- Top 10 BEST RC Planes & Jets of the Year
- Top 10 Best Remote Control Planes on Amazon!
- How to Buy your first RC model plane!
- Buying Guide to Your First RC Plane