RC Airplane Information and Trends
This RC Airplane article assumes you are just getting started in the world of RC Airplanes. If you are here to shop please visit our RC Airplane department on our website.
Getting started in flying RC Airplanes is much easier today and requires very little building. If you ever wanted to get started in this exciting hobby but were turned off by the need to spend countless hours building and sanding we have good news for you! Many RTF or Ready-to-fly rc airplanes are available and are much more affordable than you think. Revolutionary computer technology affords the new airplane pilot to teach yourself to fly with no help from an instructor. What about crashes? The new high tech planes available now are easy to fix in case of a crash.
RC Airplane Terms and "Lingo":
When you shop for an RC Airplane you will notice that they are placed into 3 main categories. This is important because you don't want a surprise later thinking you are getting a complete kit if it is not designed that way.
(RTF) Ready to Fly! These airplanes come with everything that is needed to fly, and require very minor assembly such as adding the wing, tail and perhaps the propeller and then you are ready to fly. These kits include a radio system and no building is required. Today this category is the most popular because it offers new pilots a quicker path to the flying field.
(PNP) Plug N Play! This new style of kit is now becoming very popular with intermediate pilots. Plug and play RC airplane kits come factory built with most of the work already done for you. All you do is buy or provide your favorite radio system plug in the receiver and fly. These kits are a cost saving alternative to a ready to fly kit if you already have the radio equipment that is required.
(ARF) Almost Ready to Fly! These kits are designed for pilots who enjoy both building and saving money. ARF kits require some building and include a basic airframe and in some cases a motor. The builder is responsible for providing an engine, radio system, and other parts to complete the kit. These ARF kits are designed for very experienced pilots who enjoy the building process as part of the hobby.
How do you get started? Here are a few tips to help you get started in the RC airplane hobby. We recommend starting with an electric RC airplane if you are a first time pilot. We think it is best to start with an electric trainer. Our two best trainers can teach you to fly without any help, and are easy to fix in case of a crash. If you are just starting crashes will happen, there is no getting around it! Even very experienced rc pilots crash at times, it is just something you have to accept if you want to participate in this hobby.
Our two best rc airplane trainers are the Hobbyzone Firebird Commander 2 and the Hobbyzone Firebird Freedom. The Commander 2 offers 2 channel steering, meaning that you control throttle and left - right steering. The Commander 2 is perfect for younger pilots and is very easy to learn. Altitude is controlled by the amount of throttle you apply and you can coast to a soft landing without power and fly this plane in a pretty small field with no runway required. The Firebird Freedom has 3 channel steering meaning you have the same controls for throttle and left - right turning but you also have nose up and down control as well. 3 channel flying is a bit harder because it is easy to enter a spiral dive if you turn to sharp. On the other hand 3 channel control is much more fun after you learn the basics because you can start with simple aerobatics such as loops and stall turns. Both of these trainers are upgradable and capable of electronic combat, dropping a parachute, and even night flight as your skills progress. You even get ACT (Anti Crash Technology) which helps you keep from crashing in these two trainers!
*You may want to also consider these other two trainers which are also good but do not feature anti crash control technology. We have also found that these two planes don't hold up as well in a crash, but are also very good choices.
If you have access to a RC Airplane flying club, or know an experienced pilot you may want to consider a gas trainer such as the Hangar 9 Alpha Trainer
or Hangar9 Arrow trainer
. Both of these planes offer increased power and performance but they require a runway (no hand launching with gas planes) and they are very unforgiving if you crash because they are made from balsa wood that is coated. The advantages of a gas plane are that there are no airplane batteries to charge and they also offer flight times of almost 20 minutes on a tank of gas. They also are more stable in windy conditions and fly more like a traditional airplane. Both of our gas trainers come with flight simulators so you can fly the actual trainer on your computer before you ever leave for the flying field.
You may want to also consider an RC Airplane Simulator such as the G3, or the new FS One simulator. With just a few crashes, you could easily have the simulator pay for itself. You can also get your "flying fix" even when the weather is bad.