Buying and then Flying on an RC plane is an ingenious way to have an exciting outdoor experience. It is a hobby that gives enthusiasts an exceptional perspective of the world. However, choosing and flying these airplanes it’s often a challenge for most beginners.
When buying an RC plane, it’s advisable first to research the types available, compare their prices, talk to experts, and read buyer reviews. After choosing a specific plane, it’s best to learn how to fly it, the different controls, and the regulations to follow when flying.
The rest of this article will explain the steps to follow when buying and flying an RC plane in greater detail. Read on for more insightful tips on how to choose an RC plane, what you need to fly one, the different controls, and the best radio-controlled airplanes on the market.
How to Buy an RC Plane?
When looking to buy an RC plane, I recommend following a systematic approach:
- Identify the type of plane you prefer.
- Research thoroughly the chosen type of plane.
- Compare the prices.
- Get advice from friends and experts.
- Read reviews from previous buyers.
- Read the warranties and return policies.
- Make the purchase.
By doing that, you not only end up with the plane that suits your skill level and needs, but also get a broader perspective of the types of planes available, and the ones to pick as you become a better pilot and acquire advanced skills.
In that regard, here is a detailed guideline that may come in handy:
1. Identify the Type of Plane You Prefer
The first step is to identify the type of plane that matches your specific skill level.
RC planes come with different features, depending on whether they’re designed for novice, intermediate or expert pilots.
Because of that, I recommend looking into these differences before picking one.
A beginner may be interested in an easy-to-fly model since, as the word suggests, they lack previous experience flying any aircraft or RC model.
Conversely, a more experienced RC operator may want a more sophisticated and advanced airplane.
Generally, beginner-friendly RC planes come with fewer, easy-to-understand controls.
Examples of RC planes a beginner would find easy and comfortable to fly include:
- A trainer. It’s typically small and has fewer controls than more advanced planes. This type of plane is often used to train beginners how to fly an RC model.
- Park flyers. Park flyers are lightweight RC models that are often flown in parks and fields. They single-prop planes and only have three controls: a throttle, elevator, trim, and rudder trim.
2. Research Thoroughly the Chosen Type of Plane
After choosing a specific RC plane type, the next step is to gather in-depth information about it. This will help identify the pros and cons of the plane and whether or not it meets your goals.
While doing the research, it’s also essential to pay keen attention to the following:
- Controls– RC planes have different controls. Some models will require a remote control, while others feature transmitters for control. It’s crucial to understand the functions of each control, and their ease of use.
- Parts of the RC plane– The parts of an RC plane vary depending on the type of plane. For instance, the fuselage of a glider is different from an RC plane with rudders and landing gear.
- Safety features – Some RC models include a parachute to help in case of an emergency landing. Other safety features in an RC plane include a throttle cut-off switch, a kill switch, and the use of lightweight material, which reduces the chances of the plane hurting you or damaging property in case it crashes.
- The Engine/Motor– Most RC planes either use an electric motor or gasoline-powered engines to run their propellers. I recommend picking one that’s more affordable — generally, driving on electricity is cheaper.
- Check on Battery Quality– Normally, most of these planes come with a battery. However, it’s best to check the battery quality and any relevant warranty information beforehand. Additionally, it’s advisable to pick a model with a battery that offers a flight time of at least 20 minutes.
3. Compare the Prices
The price of an RC plane may vary from one manufacturer or retailer to another. It’s best to look at all the options and compare the prices before deciding which one meets your budget, needs, and preferences, while also considering your experience level.
For novice RC pilots, I recommend choosing cheaper aircraft with basic features. If the plane crashes, it won’t hurt that much (at least from a financial perspective). Besides, the cost of spare parts and repairs won’t be as expensive as when you pick a more sophisticated plane.
However, make sure your pick is sturdy enough to withstand mild crashes and can serve you for a reasonable time. One way to do this is by checking reviews from other people who have already bought that type of plane.
For highly experienced flyers, purchasing a more expensive RC plane with advanced features is not bad at all. After all, the goal is to have the most fun while flying and testing their plane’s different capabilities. Besides, an expert is less likely to crash a plane.
4. Get Advice from Friends and Experts
The best people to ask for advice are those who have experience with RC planes. I recommend that you ask them about the best places on the market and their distinct features.
Additionally, you should ask about the following:
- What to look for in a plane
- The cost of a particular plane
- Requirements to flying an RC plane (Licensing)
5. Read Reviews from Previous Buyers
It’s important to read reviews from other people who have previously bought your preferred RC model. As you read the reviews, look at the photos of what they’re talking about.
This will also help understand how the plane is made and if it’s worth the money.
It may be tempting to buy an RC plane because it looks nice, but don’t forget that most models have different features that affect how well they fly, the ease of controlling them, and their safety.
While reading the reviews, it’s also essential to look at the videos of the RC plane as it flies. It will give an idea of how well it flies and help decide if it’s the ideal choice.
6. Read the Warranties and Return Policies
A warranty guarantees that a product is well made and free of defects, whereas a return policy allows you to return or exchange the product after you’ve bought it.
Before making a purchase, ensure you’ve read through all warranties and return policies of your preferred models.
Ensure the warranty is not so strict that it won’t allow you to enjoy the full benefits and capabilities of the plane. It should cover damages that can happen while in use, mishandling, and damage due to natural disasters like strong winds, and specify the circumstances in which the manufacturer will repair or replace it.
Regarding the return policy, you should check the time frame within which you can return the plane, and whether any restocking or other fees will apply.
7. Make the Purchase
After choosing the type of RC plane, researching, comparing the prices, and reading reviews, warranties, and policies, it’s now time to make the purchase.
You may decide to either purchase online or from a physical store. You can buy an RC plane directly from the manufacturer or through a retailer like Amazon.com.
While making a purchase online, chances are you will need to click on a purchase link and get directed to a different site.
NOTE: Before providing your credit card details, ensure the link is authentic (It’s from the manufacturer’s official site or a renowned retailer) to avoid falling prey to fraudsters.
How do You Choose and Fly an RC Plane?
If you’re just starting as an RC enthusiast, then buying your first RC plane can be challenging. For example, the types of aircraft on the market and their features may be difficult to distinguish.
Flying a model aircraft can seem daunting at first, but it becomes much easier after consistent practice. Specific controls need to be used for the plane to fly correctly. This will vary depending on the type of RC plane and the pilot’s skill level.
Currently, you can fly an RC plane without a license in the US. However, you must follow several restrictions, like not flying in controlled airspace or near airports. Also, FAA Regulations state that you can only fly for recreational purposes.
Additionally, the maximum altitude an RC plane can fly is limited by law for safety reasons. For instance, it cannot go higher than 400 feet (122 meters) above ground level (AGL).
That said, flying an RC plane requires a certain amount of skill, which amateur pilots can attain through reading the manual or by taking lessons.
This step-by-step guide will help any novice on their way to choosing the right RC plane.
What You Need To Fly an RC Plane?
- The model aircraft itself. The aircraft is the most critical requirement. If you’re an amateur, then a plane best suited for amateurs would be ideal.
- A transmitter. The transmitter should have a frequency that matches the receiver on the aircraft. A good transmitter will have a minimum of three channels, one for each control surface (aileron, elevator, and rudder), but some expensive transmitters will have more.
- Receivers. A good RC airplane should come equipped with two receivers: a high-voltage battery-powered receiver to handle servo signals from the transmitter and a low-voltage receiver to handle the signals from the control surfaces.
- A battery pack. The batteries need to be the correct size for the receiver, motors, and transmitters. The battery pack will need to be large enough for the number of hours you’ll need to fly – ideally, each battery should provide at least 12 volts.
- An open space (Authorized). The available space should accommodate takeoffs, landings, and flying. You should only fly a plane within an authorized area.
How to Fly an RC Plane? (Step by Step)
The key things you need to understand before flying a plane are its primary controls, throttle/flight controls, and wing type.
You should also have some insights into the ins and outs of the transmitter, like how it sends commands via radio waves to the receiver on your model aircraft, and its importance in banking, turning, and altitude control.
Did you know that you can program the buttons on a transmitter to do different things like activating ailerons, elevators, or rudders?
It’s also crucial to know that there are two types of wings: delta-wings and straight-wing planes:
- Delta winged RC planes have three parts; front, center, and rear, making them more stable with less drag than those with straight wings.
- Straight winged RC planes fly at higher speeds but are not that sturdy because they mainly rely on thrust to keep them in the air (rather than lift from their wings).
Once you have all that straight, you’re more or less ready to go.
Here’s how to fly an RC plane (step by step):
- Charge the batteries.
- Find an environment to work with the RC plane.
- Understand the different controls.
- Practice in an open field.
The first flight might not be the most enjoyable as you’ll likely still be learning. Plus, these types of planes can be pricey, so you’ll want to take care.
But once you get the hang of it, you’ll be flying high in no time.
1. Charge the Batteries
The first step is to ensure that the batteries are fully charged. It’s advisable to charge the batteries for about an hour before checking their voltage using a voltmeter.
If the voltmeter reads above 12 volts, then the charging was successful. If not, plugging in an external charger may help fix the problem.
2. Find an Environment To Work With the RC Plane
Ideally, you should fly an RC plane in a flat, paved, or grassy area.
Clear the ground of any debris that may get in the way of the RC plane’s control surfaces and propeller blades.
Before flying in an enclosed field, such as a stadium, it’s best to seek permission from the club officials. Some clubs have restrictions on the types of planes you can fly inside their stadiums.
It’s important to give plenty of room for the RC plane to take off and land and also prevent crashing into objects.
3. Understand the Different Controls
An RC plane has different control surfaces that allow you to change its direction and speed.
- Throttle. This control helps regulate the plane’s speed. An operator can slow the plane down by easing back on the throttle, or speed it up with a push of the throttle stick forward.
- Rudder. The rudder controls enable the airplane to make sharp turns. They also keep the plane straight.
- Elevator. It controls the pitch (angle) of the aircraft’s nose relative to its fuselage. This control will lift or drop the RC plane.
- Flaps. They regulate lift, like when landing or taking off from an airfield with a low ceiling. Additionally, the flaps control the speed and direction of the plane.
- The aileron. These control surfaces will change or adjust the bank angle when you turn left to right; think of them as little airplane wings that can help guide your flight path.
- Landing gear. The landing gear is used during takeoff and landing.
4. Practice in an Open Field
Practicing is a sure-fire way to learn how to pilot an RC plane. However, you can’t do that anywhere!
An open, authorized field is the best place to practice your piloting skills. Areas with trees and tall buildings are less safe – the plane may easily hit an obstacle, crash, injure others, or damage their property.
Besides, by practicing, you learn new skills and develop stronger chemistry with the plane – you’ll get to learn its characteristics, like how much speed and elevation it can handle without compromising stability.
Common Problems When Flying an RC Plane
That RC planes are fun to fly doesn’t mean you won’t face occasional drawbacks flying them.
- Out of range – In some cases, you may find it difficult to control your plane’s movement. This mostly arises when the plane is out of range. To solve this, I recommend ensuring the plane is near the controller.
- RC plane doesn’t take off – Another common problem is when the RC plane doesn’t take off. Suppose you set the throttle stick too low. In that case, the amount of power each propeller receives may be insufficient, preventing the plane from taking off. When you experience that, try adjusting the throttle stick settings. Additionally, the Plane may become too heavy for the speed of the propeller to give it an upward thrust.
- RC Plane often crashing – Other problems you may encounter include crashing, the throttle stick not being in the correct position, and difficulty landing. When these problems arise, I recommend staying calm, consulting the user manual, or asking a more skilled pilot to help fix the problem. In other cases, you may need to change the plane’s altitude or direction or stop the propellers.
That said, an effective way to avoid some of these problems is by practicing until you’re sufficiently confident and can fix minor issues without damaging your plane.
Best RC Plane Models for Beginners
Arguably, identifying the best RC plane isn’t an easy task, especially if you’re doing it for the first time. To make your work easier, let me pinpoint the best plane to get started with:
The best RC plane for a beginner is the TOP Race RC plane. It’s safe and easy to fly without previous experience, highly stable midair, and the propellers will not break when it crashes. It’s designed with three channels, making it easier to control.
However, I wouldn’t recommend the TOP Race RC plane if:
- You plan to fly higher distances. For that, I recommend the Volantexrc RC Glider Airplane Ranger600
- You want to fly for long hours and use the four channels of control. Go with F4U RC Airplane
You may ask: What informs these recommendations?
Well, here are the main factors I’ve considered to recommend the planes above:
- Safety features
- Ready to Fly (RTF)
- Number of channels (3 or 4)
- Control Range
Here’s a table highlighting how the planes I’ve mentioned score in the four areas:
|Plane||Safety Features||Ready to fly (RTF)||Number of channels||Control Range||Score|
|Top Race RC plane||Propeller saver technology6 Axis Gyro Stabilizer||RTF||3||320 ft. (97.5 m)||9/10|
|F4U RC Airplane||X Pilot stabilization wings designed to fall (when crashing)||RTF||4||656 ft. (199.9 m)||8/10|
|VOLANTEX RC Glider Plane||X pilot stabilization||RTF||3||656 ft. (199.9 m)||6/10|
Best Overall: Top Race RC plane With Upgraded Propeller Saver
The Top Race RC Plane from Amazon.com is a highly durable and easy-to-fly model. An excellent option for any beginner RC plane enthusiast.
It’s perfect for practicing your skills, thanks to its control distance of 320 ft (97.5 m) and a flying time of up to 12 minutes.
It comes equipped with a remote control, a two-cell battery pack, and a charger.
The small size makes this model easy to fly in smaller spaces without worrying about crashing into anything. Notably, the plane has a wingspan of 14 in. (35.56 cm), which is the perfect size for a beginner
Bottom line: For any novice RC plane enthusiast, I highly recommend the Top Race RC Plane. It’s a powerful and easy-to-fly model with the ability to withstand damage in case of a crash. If you handle and maintain it correctly, this plane should last for at least eight years without its performance deteriorating.
- RTF. This plane is ready to fly within 2 minutes of unboxing.
- Speed Control. The plane has three levels of speed control. The first level is ideal for beginners, the second level is intermediate, and the third is best for experts.
- Small Size. The wingspan measures about 14 in. (35.56 cm). The plane has a smaller body. This makes it easier for a beginner to control, maneuver, and perform stunts midair.
- It has advanced safety features. The propeller saver technology minimizes damage to this plane in case it crashes.
- Short flying time. This RC plane can only fly for about 12 minutes when the battery is on a full charge.
Best For Flying Higher Distances: Volnatex RC Glider
For a more challenging and exciting flight, the Volnatex RC Glider is the best option. This plane is perfect for flying at higher altitudes – it can cruise as high as 656 ft (199.9 m).
With its sleek design, it’s easier to glide through the sky.
The gyro stabilization system in this airplane offers the stability that beginners need to get started flying any remote control aircraft
Bottom Line: The Volnatex RC Glider Plane is an excellent choice for beginners and experienced pilots alike. The pilot can control this plane even when it’s as high as 656 ft (199.9 m). I highly recommend it if your goal is to fly higher.
- XPilot stabilization system. The Xpilot stabilization feature makes it possible for any novice to fly this Plane without the fear of crashing it.
- Special EPP material. It’s designed with a unique EPP lightweight material to provide stability and minimize damage if it crashes.
- Powerful motor. It uses a powerful motor that makes landing and taking off effortless.
- Great remote control. The 2.4GHz RC control makes it possible for more than 20 planes to fly simultaneously.
- Lacks batteries for the transmitter. This plane doesn’t come with batteries for the transmitter, which means they have to be bought separately.
Best For Longer Flying Time: F4U RC Airplane
The F4U RC airplane is the best choice for beginners who want an aerial experience similar to a full-sized aircraft.
This plane comes with two batteries, with each taking a flight time of about 15 minutes when fully charged. Armed with both, you get up to 30 minutes of flight time.
This RC plane was designed as a trainer, and it offers high performance at high and low altitudes, making it perfect for learning how to fly RC planes before taking on more advanced designs.
Bottom Line: For longer flight hours, I highly recommend this F4U RC plane from Amazon.com. The two AA batteries will keep the plane in the air for more than 30 minutes while still giving the pilot a memorable flying experience.
- Longer flying hours. The two fully charged batteries guarantee longer flying hours.
- Easy to control. With a single press of a button, the plane can do aerobatic stunts midair.
- Ready to fly. Within a minute after opening the box, you can take the plane for a test flight.
- Portable package. The packaging is portable, making it the ideal choice when you need an RC plane you can fly in competitions or other outdoor activities.
- Uses four channels. Beginners may find it challenging to use a four-channel control as it’s best suited for experts.