When you decide to spend your hard earned money on a RC plane, you want to make sure you get something you will be happy with. There are a ton of options out there, however, and it can be very confusing trying to figure out which plane best fits your needs.
To make sure you get a plane you will be happy with, you need to make sure you are looking at all the factors. Are you looking for a good starter plane or something more advanced? Do you need a plane that is pretty much ready to fly out of the box, or do you want the satisfaction of building your own model from a kit? Do you want freakish speed or insane maneuverability? You will need to answer these questions and more when looking to find the plane you want to buy.
While this is a lot to think about, I have a plan to help pick out the best plane no matter what category you fall into.
If you are in a hurry, CLICK HERE to see our top choice.
Finding The Right Plane
I have been researching RC planes and digging through all the reviews I can find to sort out the quality stuff from the not so great stuff. Now, I want use that information give you a list of my favorite planes.
I have selected my choices based on price range (you can spend anywhere from under $100 to several thousand dollars), functionality (speed, handling, etc.), and pilot skill level (ease of flight, assembly/maintenance, etc.).
Whether you are just starting out or into seriously high performance machines, into flying models of famous warplanes from history or just highly accurate models of real airplanes, I hope to be able to help you find the plane you are looking for.
As you go through the list below, I hope you find plane that fills your needs, and check back often as the list will grow over time.
Best Option To Learn And Grow With: The Apprentice S 15e
Learning to fly a radio-controlled airplane can be a little intimidating for some people. The thought of spending a few hundred dollars and then crashing and destroying the plane keeps them from entering this wonderfully fun hobby. That problem has now been fixed.
The E-flite Apprentice® S 15e RTF airplane has to be the best RC plane for beginners on the market today. It possesses a Sensor Assisted Flight Envelope (SAFE) technology that allows the beginner to learn at his or her own pace without the fear of crashing. SAFE provides for automatic leveling and assessed take off and landing among other things in the beginner mode. This leads to a worry free learning experience.
The airplane’s SAFE feature has three settings that will help you as you progress. The beginner mode limits the aerobatics that you can perform. You will not be able to climb too steeply and stall or bank in too tight of a radius. As you improve, you will switch to the intermediate mode. This will have looser restrictions on your bank and trim controls. Finally, there is the experienced mode that removes all restrictions from your control.
As you advance from one mode to another accidents are bound to happen. A momentary loss of concentration can leave you disoriented in your control. The plane is designed with this in mind. In all of its settings, you only have to press one button on the controller to return it to level flight. This will let you experiment with the craft as you improve.
The one difficulty that the plane does have is with the front wheel. The steering for it is not really designed for taxiing into position for takeoff. This is a minor issue and it does work quite well for keeping the plane strait during takeoff. Driving an airplane on the ground is no fun anyway.
For those that are interested in learning how to fly, this is the best RC airplane that you are likely to find. It assembles in only a few minutes, letting you get it into the air quickly. Once you are comfortable with the plane you will find that, it has some wonderful acrobatic skills. Barrel rolls, loops and even inverted flight are waiting for you when the time is right. There are even pontoons that you can purchase separately that will turn the Apprentice into an amphibious plane.
Here is an outstanding video review of the Apprentice:
Best Glider: The Art-Tech Minimoa
Cutting silently through the air, your glider catches the thermal updraft that you have been looking for. You bank smoothly into the warmer air and spiral your craft higher into the air. When it reaches the altitude that you want, you pilot away from the thermal, and go into the long slow glide, circling down to your landing field below. Finally, you bring it in for a soft touchdown on the smooth grass of the field. You set down the remote control on the table beside you and stroll onto the field to pick up your model aircraft.
If this sounds like something that you would enjoy, then you will love the Art-Tech Minimoa RC glider. It is modeled on the classic 1935 German glider of the same name and is a favorite of RC glider pilots. Many of the RC airplane reviews that you will find have nothing but praise for the lightweight foam craft. Once you fly it yourself, you will see why.
The Minimoa comes mostly assembled, with the motor and servos already installed. The wings attach in a matter of minutes with a support bracket and two nylon screws. All that is left is to get a feel for the glider.
The gull wings are reinforced with two rods to keep them strong. The rods are fixed in place and inserted when the plane was being molded. This adds extra strength to the design so that the wings will never move and throw the balance of the craft off. This helps to make this the best RC glider that you are likely to find.
Like most RC vehicles that you will buy, this one has its minor issues. The motor mounting bracket is made of lightweight plastic that has a tendency to melt and deform as the motor heats up. This is easily fixed by replacing the factory mount with one made of a heat resistant plastic or lightweight metal. The repair is minor and will prevent problems from happening later. You want to fly your glider worry free.
You will find that flying the Minimoa is pure joy. As you become more proficient and comfortable with the craft, you will be able to experiment with what acrobatics it will allow. Just imagine yourself in control as it soars through a clear blue sky.
Check out this video to see the Minimoa in action:
Best RTF Warbird: HobbyZone F4U Corsair S
Many people have yearned to experience the thrill of flight without ever coming any closer than being an airline passenger which isn’t really the same thing at all. With the Hobbyzone F4U Corsair S RC plane you can realize that dream without the time and danger involved in becoming an actual fighter pilot.
The Hobbyzone F4U Corsair S features SAFE technology and comes ready to fly with the plane, transmitter and rechargeable battery. The landing gear is detachable and can be replaced with a skid plate for belly landings. Lightweight, impact resistant materials are used in the plane’s construction and the exterior features an authentic paintjob and detailing. Control range is about .4 miles. In addition, there are multiple flight modes including beginner, making the plane one of the best RC plane choices for beginners. For the expert hobbyist, the plane can be modified to increase range and performance. The plane’s overall length is 35” with a 44” wingspan.
All model planes are somewhat fragile due to the nature of their construction and the lightweight materials which must be used. It would be nice if this model plane were indestructible but unfortunately this is not so. On the other hand normal repairs are exceedingly simple resulting in a minimum of lost flight time due to inevitable accidents. The previously mentioned beginner mode is a huge plus here where novices are concerned since it helps eliminate accidents due to inexperience.
One of the model’s most curious flaws is found in the plane’s engine cowl. It’s made from thin plastic. Very thin plastic. And because it’s plastic it isn’t quite as easy to repair as the body of the plane should it become damaged and should this happen it may even be necessary to order a replacement and wait for it to arrive. Fortunately, with a little forethought it can be reinforced to increase its strength one again, beginner mode can reduce the risk of this sort of damage by the inexperienced. Also, because of the plane’s range it isn’t too hard to fly it out of sight. Whether this last point is a pro or a con is up to the individual hobbyist to decide, however.
There’s a lot you can do with this plane. You can practice your acrobatics, dogfight with your friends or attach a lightweight camera and make an amateur historical documentary. You can even put on an air show.
All in all, the Hobbyzone F4U Corsair S is one of the best RC model planes available for beginner and more advanced hobbyists alike, or at least must be numbered among the best.
Here is a good video demonstrating the different flight modes (beginner, intermediate, expert) of the F4U Corsair as well as the effectiveness of the “panic/recovery button”: