So, you wan to get an RC airplane?
first thing that you will want to know is that there is not ONE SIZE
airplane for everyone. Very often, people's situations are unique. That
is not to say that there are not a few popular choices. You must first
determine what your
choices are based on your own personal situation. The 3 main things you
need to look at are:
1) Where will you fly?
Are you flying in your
backyard (I hope it's big!), Indoor gym?, A sanctioned AMA flying
field? a local park? or maybe an open field? Will you fly off
grass? What kind of grass? or a Paved runway?
2) What is your
starting budget? $100?, $300? $500? and do you plan to
expand on the
hobby once your able to command basic flight?
3) How often and for how
long will you be able to fly? Only on the weekends? During
the day or after work?
AMA sanctioned field vs.
Often at an AMA
sactioned flying field (CLICK
HERE TO FIND A FIELD),
there are training programs. Each club is different. Many will have
designated times during the week for students to come and train. Some
clubs will require you to provide a buddy box and others will have
instructors with them (for certain radios). An AMA sanctioned
field will also have rules and restrictions on aircraft for safety
reasons. The most common type of aircraft used at AMA
fields is a .40 or .60 sized NITRO TRAINER. If you have an
sanctioned field near you, good chance is that there is a Local Hobby
Shop (LHS) near you as well that can outfit you for what you need.
Learning on a Nitro trainer will prepare you well for the
airplane you get (Yes, Next, because few people stick with the trainer
and keep flying it once they get proficient with it) . Not to say that
you can't pick a different plane to learn on at an AMA field. Some
people do learn on electrics. Some will decide to fly and learn at a
park at their own pace, then move on to fly a bigger (and more
expensive) plane at an AMA field. Some have learned to fly at
sanctioned fiels with SMALL ELECTRICS, ELECTRIC GLIDERS or ELECTRI
GLIDER-LIKE airplanes. Note that AMA fields will want you to join the
AMA which provides additional insurance coverage for accidents that can
happen at a field.
For Park flying or flying in
smaller spaces, your restrictions are often governed by size and
availability. Some parks/schools do not allow RC aircraft to fly. You
should check with your local county to find out. Parks are
used up by kids sports during the school year or camps during the
summer so you may not have them always available to you. YOU SHOULD NOT
FLY AROUND OR ABOVE OTHER PEOPLE!!! Many people park fly
lunch when baseball fields are not in use. When park flying,
most common type of aircraft are SMALL ELECTRICS, ELECTRIC GLIDERS or
ELECTRI GLIDER-LIKE airplanes.
One thing that people ask is "How much does it cost?" The
simple answer is as little as less than $100 to upwards of $800
or more depending on how you start out. At organized AMA
sanctioned fields (one of the best ways to learn IMO) you will be asked
to join the AMA as well as the club itself. Some clubs
have a training program where THEY provide the plane and you pay a fee
(this is very rare though) Most of the time you supply the plane.. I
try to tell people DON"T spend alot on your trainer equipment unless it
is for something that will carry you to the next plane (like a Radio,
Engine or Servos). I often tell people keep the trainer as a
backup or a plane to come back and use when you want to relax so don't
worry about the quality of servos and such. You do want a mid range
Engine though if you are using Nitro. OK, so What are some
you have to buy?
of the less expensive RTF (Ready to Fly) kits come with EVERYTHING you
need to get into the air. Airplane, Glue, Transmitter, Airplane,
Battery and Charger. Most of the small Electrics are often foam and
have very inexpensive radios. Those radios are incapable of
connecting to an instructor via a buddy box but if you don't have
anyone to help you, that does not matter to you. Many 3 and 4 channel
electric trainers go for $100-$250 complete. You can
unbox, build in an hour or two, charge and start flying (well, learn to
fly). Electric airplanes are quite often the quickest route.
Some people like this because it gets their FEET WET to
what to do next. Maybe you end up busting up your first electric
trainer, just to get a 2nd (or 3rd) before you are flying at a level
that allows you to go to the next size plane.
the time you have a Kit, Engine, Servos, Radio, Starting equipment
(glow driver, starter etc), you looking at $400-$600. That also depends
on where you get it. If you want to jump in and get help from a local
hobby shop, you will pay more, but you will get (usually) personal
service and help setting things up. If you get something on
internet, expect to jump into an online forum like rcgroups.com or
rcuniverse.com and get help from people there.
the most part, flight time goes to the Nitro. Often when training, you
are flying at 1/2 - 3/4 throttle and most Nitro trainers can fly 10-15
minutes. The Electrics will tend to fly 7-10 minutes. With
you refuel, and go. With Electric, you buy extra batteries or wait
while field charging (which still can take 30-60 minutes per pack OR
Now that you have all that to think about, here are some suggestions on
ARF = Almost Ready to Fly.
(we'll let you be the judge on what ALMOST means). Airframe
usually supplied with tank and engine mount, Required equipment is
often posted on the vendor's website or manufacturers. These will
typically NOT include servoc, Reciever battery, Transmitter or Reciever
RTF = Ready to Fly.
Don't take this litterally, often it means you get MOST of what you
need to get in the air. Expect it to come with motor/engine, servos and
often a Transmitter and Receiver. Assembly is nearly 100%
required and may take several hours depending on how big the plane is.
at Nitroplanes.com (Just the Airframe ARF)
Nexstar .46 RTF (very great combo)
Hobbistar .60 RTF (very great combo)
ELECTRIC High Wing:
Nexstar Electric RTF at HobbyPeople.
Nexstar Electric RTF at RC Planet
55" Sky Trainer RED
55" Sky Trainer BLUE
ELECTRIC GLIDERS OR
EzHawk (like HawkSky but hand launch and belly landing, no landing gear)
Tech Wing Dragon (fly only in a gentile breeze)