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What is your favorite hobby? Piloting remote-controlled airplane is a thrilling, engaging hobby to get into for people of all ages! You get to show your skills as a craftsman when you build your own model, and you get to show off your piloting skills when you fly the plane across the sky. But, before you can do any fancy loops and flips, you must determine the best model to purchase. Where do you start?
How much do RC airplanes cost? Beginners can purchase a remote-controlled airplane for as low as $200, but the price will increase depending on the type, size, and design of the aircraft. The larger and more complex of a plane you want the higher the price to buy or build your RC plane will be.
We have put together a helpful buying guide for when you are getting started with RC planes. Check out some of our best shopping tips, as well as some examples of the best planes on the market.
Getting into RC Airplanes: How Much Do They Cost?
You have many options when it comes to purchasing a remote-controlled airplane. There are many options when it comes to design, size, engine type, and more. These can all be a little intimidating for beginners to learn and navigate the purchase process. Fortunately, there are great communities out there to help support novice pilots.
In the past, remote-controlled airplanes could cost as high as $500. They were often made of more expensive materials, which could make it difficult for some people to get started with the hobby.
Today, there are still some planes on the market that are this pricey. However, they often come with features that are complex and unnecessary for beginners. With the advancement of technology and the introduction of more affordable materials, there are many more affordable options available out there. You just have to know what to look for and have a budget set ahead of time.
Depending on what your budget is, you have many options when it comes to the different features on your remote-controlled airplane. RTF models, or “ready to fly” planes can come in great models from $200 up to $350 and more. These kits will include everything you need to get started flying. We’ve put together some great options for you below.
When it comes to choosing the right RC plane for you, people love to choose airplanes with a great design. Hobbyists love searching for the plane with the perfect lines and curves in cool patterns that will fit their personality and their style. Many pilots prefer buying RC planes that are designed after real-life planes as well.
The first step you must take before you go shopping for an RC airplane is to determine exactly what you want from your airplane. Do your research on the type of airplane you want to buy. Decide whether you want to assemble your model on your own, or if you would rather purchase a ready-to-fly kit and not have the hassle of assembly.
Keep Aircraft Design in Mind
Before purchasing your first remote-controlled airplane, you must first understand what to look for in your model. Planes can come in many different sizes, styles, weights, and designs. It is crucial for beginner pilots to understand the anatomy of a plane and how it affects flight. That way, you can determine what your individual needs are.
Here are some parts of the plane to consider when making your decision:
- Aerodynamics: The aerodynamics of the plane must be able to overcome gravity and stay in the air. You want your plane to be able to develop a lift that is greater than the weight of the plane. Take a look at a plane’s angles, curves, and its weight to determine its aerodynamic qualities. This feature is especially important for pilots who want to participate in aerobatic flying tricks.
- Wing location: Pay attention to the location of the wings. On a plane with high wing design, the weight is suspended below the wing. When the plane tilts, the plane’s weight will attempt to level itself. These planes tend to be more stable and a little easier to fly. Thus, they’re a favorite of trainers and are excellent for beginners.
On the other hand, low wing design means the weight will be above the wing. These can be less stable. These planes are ideal for advanced fliers who want to make their plane do rolls and loops.
- Wing Area: The wing area of the airplane is the amount of wing surface available to create lift for the aircraft. Related to this is wing loading, or the weight that a certain area of the wing can lift. These make a great difference in your flying ability. Light wing loading is best for beginners as it helps the plane fly better. These will be easier to control.
- Wing Thickness: This is also crucial to consider. This is the measurement from the top to bottom of the wing. It determines how much drag the plane will create. Thick wings create more drag, which can cause slower speeds and more gentle stalls. This is a good choice for beginner pilots. Opposite of this, thin wings permit higher speeds and sudden stalls. These are great if you want to get involved in racing and performing fun maneuvers in the air.
What Size RC Plane Should You Buy?
RC airplanes are modeled after real-life airplanes that fly in the sky every day. They come in various sizes based on the engine and the type of plane:
- Trainers: have high wing mounting and flat bottom airfoils. These planes are designed to be a first-time model. They fly slow, allowing the pilot time to think and react to what’s happening in the air.
- Biplanes: popular in aerobatic shows. These two-winged models are a favorite of experienced hobbyists because they can do cool flips and performances at RC airshows.
- Scale planes: recreation of a full-sized aircraft. These models are intended to look close to the real plane, so these kits require some serious craftsmanship skills. Get one of these after you have mastered flying a trainer.
- Warbirds: fall under the umbrella of scale planes. These planes are based on the design of wartime planes. They’re great for experienced flyers.
- EDF Jets: exciting planes with a distinctive look. It is thrilling to fly these models because they have quite a unique sound and speed. The powerful electric motor provides great performance for its price.
- Giant Scale: life-like details in a huge size. Its wingspan can be as long as seven feet. These planes come at a higher price and require a lot of time, skill, and patience to pilot it. They aren’t a great idea for beginners, but they can be a fun, challenging undertaking for seasoned RC pilots.
- Sport Models: any plane designed to perform aerobatic tricks and movements. These planes’ wings are often mounted at the middle or bottom of the fuselage. These planes have symmetrical airfoils, which means the top and bottom surfaces of the wing are curved, allowing more maneuverability. This would be a great second level for beginners to evolve to.
- Park Flyers: give you the fun and excitement you’d get with larger models, but in a smaller size. These planes are affordable, and their assembly is quick and easy. The plane comes in a compact size with clean, electric power. You can fly them almost anywhere.
- Sailplanes: stable plane with a slow flying speed. These planes ride of a mass of warm air called thermals. They are a great choice for beginners, but it can often be a challenge to locate thermals and use them to your flying advantage. You can toss these from a hill or slope to give it momentum and find those great flying spots.
Choosing the Best Remote-Controlled Airplane
Here are some tips for you to consider when you start shopping for a remote-controlled airplane:
Determine the amount of power you want. These planes can be powered in many different ways. You can choose a 2 to 4-stroke engine that will burn glow fuel, or you can purchase an airplane with a cleaner electric motor.
Consider the speed of your airplane. Most models can fly around the speed of 25-30 mph. But, some more complex models can fly up to 200 mph. Start with a speed that’s comfortable for beginners. Don’t buy the fastest plane on the market for your first plane! The faster it goes the faster it will crash too!
Determine how far you want your plane to fly. Many modern RC planes can fly up to a range of one mile. In order to keep your control and visibility of the plane, however, it should probably stay closer. Think about how far you want your plane to be able to travel, and remember to keep it within your line of sight while you are out flying.
Do you want a trainer model? Many manufacturers design planes that are designed to support beginner pilots. Consider purchasing a model like this when you are first getting started flying.
Avoid buying a plane that looks cool or expensive but is difficult to maneuver. When you first start learning how to fly, it is almost inevitable that you will crash. Move past the top-shelf items, and look for a more budget-friendly option. That way, you won’t feel as bad if you damage the plane. Novice flyers can risk damaging their plane early on in their training; one small mistake can make a big impact on the condition and longevity of your plane, so it can be ideal to start out with a budget plane.
It may be surprising, but you can accidentally end up spending more money when you buy used equipment. The initial cost may be low, but you must take into consideration the amount of repairs or part replacements the plane may need in the future.
Your Buying Guide for RC Airplanes
Ready to get started shopping for your remote-controlled airplane? Here’s our list of some of the top beginner RC plant you can buy at reasonable prices:
Hobbyzone Mini Apprentice
As seen in the video above the first recommended RC airplane for beginners is the Hobbyzone Mini Apprentice S BNF. This model is an excellent, well-rounded plane for beginners. It is made with safe technology and comes with 4-channel control.
The plane comes ready to fly, with everything you need in the kit, including a powerful brushless motor. The Hobbyzone Mini Apprentice has various flight modes for beginner, intermediate, and experienced pilots. It is a great plane for beginners to start with and advance as they learn. Its tricycle landing helps with easy ground handling, and the plane has panic recovery at the push of a button. This allows you to avoid damage when you’re first learning how to handle flying.
This plan is in the 200-300 dollar range which is a good price for a middle of the road plane.
E-Flite UMX Radian
Seen in the flight test above is the E-Flite U2980 UMX Radian BNF. This plane has a sleek and attractive design. Choose this plane to get a stable and easy experience. With this model, beginners will have a good time learning how to control their planes. It comes with 3-channel control and it has a lightweight, foam construction. Even if you make a mistake and crash, the plane can withstand it. The E-Flite Radian offers smooth flying, even through turbulence and wind. Its curved wings deliver great lift and glide. After you finish its quick and easy assembly, this plane is loads of fun to fly.
This plane can normally be found from 75-125 dollars in many online stores or hobby shops.
The Hobbyzone Champ is another great model for beginners, simply because it comes with everything you need to teach yourself how to fly. It is an affordable option and has a great design. This model is small and light but still durable.
The plane’s design includes great details that look like a real plane. The Champ can withstand a bit of wind, so it’s a good idea to fly in more open areas like a park or gymnasium. The plane comes completely assembled and ready to fly/ It comes with a scale wing with rub detail, a steerable tail wheel, a battery, and a charger. In case you need to upgrade or replace parts, spare parts are sold separately.
This plane is in the 75-125 range at most RC shops.
The Hobbyzone AeroScout S 1.1m BNF Basic is a great trainer plane that makes learning to fly fun and easy. This model is durable and equipped with SAFE technology that works to prevent overcontrol, loss of orientation, and crashes. Beginner pilots of all ages can learn to fly safely with this model.
The Hobbyzone AeroScout also comes equipped with different flight modes for beginner, intermediate, and experienced flyers. With these, you can choose the stability and control you need to fly more efficiently. All it takes is the simple flick of a switch on your airplane. This plane is not only great for novice pilots, but it is also capable of performing stunts like loops and flips.
This plane is normally 175-220 dollars at most retail stores but can be found cheaper if you purchase a used one.
If you are a history buff or love vintage things, check out this next model. The ParkZone F4F Wildcat BNF Basic is another great option for beginning pilots. It has an authentic warbird design that was modeled after the Wildcat planes flown during World War II. Enjoy the details like its realistic paint scheme and molded wheels tucked into the fuselage.
The ParkZone Wildcat has easy assembly and can be ready to fly in minutes. The durable construction and precise technology make this plane a stable and safe choice for novices. You can also purchase this model with optional SAFE technology that helps with stabilization and self-leveling for pilots of any skill level.
This plane model will run 150-200 dollars depending on the shop and what extras it has.
VolantexRC Glider Plane
Beginners who are just getting the hang of controlling an RC airplane will have tons of fun with this next model. The VolantexRC Glider Plane is a ready-to-fly beginner RC airplane. It comes with a 6-axis gyro stabilizer that makes it easy to control.
Even beginners can try their hand at some aerobatic flying. The plane also comes with a 3-level flight system control assist, with the beginner level allowing full assist. These features help pilots learn how to fly, step by step. The VolantexRC Glider is great for flying outdoors. You can even save power with this model. Its pusher glider design allows you to fly slowly in the sky without power support. Fly for longer sessions and have fun!
This plane is right around the 100-150 dollar mark which is a great starting price for most beginners.
FMS Sky Trainer
The last beginner RC plane on our list is the FMS Sky Trainer 182 PNP. This upgraded model has many improvements from its older version. It comes with shock-absorbing nose landing gear, and it also has flaps, a carbon wing tub, and a higher power motor than older models. It is fun to fly even at night, as the plane comes with five LED navigation lights.
The FMS Sky Trainer has a great scale model design with a glass canopy, ribbed control surfaces, steerable nose gear, reinforced wing struts, and a chrome spinner. With its high-power motor and larger battery, you can fly with added power and more speed.
This plane is a little on the higher side with most stores having it from 175-220 dollars.
Where Will You Fly Your Plane?
Flying remote-controlled planes is a fun and exciting hobby for people of all ages. Getting started with RC airplanes is easy once you know what to look for in your model. You simply need to determine what you want from your plane, whether it is speed, durability, lightweight design, or the ability to perform aerobatic tricks.
Take these tips into consideration when you’re purchasing your first remote-controlled plane. Then, once you make your purchase, all there is to do is find the best place to fly. Make sure to practice, practice, practice until you master your skills!