Do you want to learn how to fly RC planes but having trouble finding the correct plane for you? In this post we’ll discuss : what is the best RC plane for beginners? Like most of our other buying guides, this guide is split up into two sections –
- Buying considerations like price, availability of parts, durability and performance, features and the quality of transmitter, signal and flight range.
- A list of best RC planes for beginners, based on our experience and research. This subsection is further split into two: beginner RC planes under $100 and beginner RC planes under $200.
Selection Criteria for the best RC planes
Price and availability of parts
As a beginner you are likely to crash. A lot. Therefore, these have to be the most important criterion of all. First, the RC plane has to be cheap. Sure, you could go ahead and buy a $500 plane but don’t tell us we didn’t warn you!
To us, the best RC plane for beginners would ideally be under $100 (it could even be a glider). There are a few amazing planes under $200, if you are up for that investment. These planes are pricier, but would last longer in your RC career.
Second is the availability of extra parts and the ease of getting them. You are likely to crash, but crashes are likely to damage individual parts than the plane as a whole (unless a road roller runs over it or something).
Foam made planes are much easier to repair since the replacement parts often come cheap. Likewise, LiPo battery powered planes are much easier to
Durability and performance
Durability is just as important as price and parts availability. It is better if your plane can withstand crashes and rough use and not get damaged at all. Most RC planes under $100 and $200 are not the most durable, but we have tried our best to suggest (based on our experience and research) the most sturdy ones in the list of best RC planes below.
Second to durability comes performance. By performance, we don’t mean the ability to dish out “power packed” performance. Rather, the plane should be able to do basic aerobatics – loops and rolls.
As a beginner, it is important to practice basic aerobatic moves (after mastering basic flying of course) before upgrading to a costlier plane. Otherwise, we think that a slow flyer is all you need as a beginner.
What about the features while looking for the best RC plane? RC planes comes in different channel varieties. Usually, 4 channel and 3 channel versions. A 4 channel RC plane comes with 4 different controls – Throttle, Rudder (rotation), Aileron (side to side tilting) and Elevator (Up and down).
A 3 channel (or less) RC plane is usually enough for a beginner to feel challenged! These planes either lack Rudder or Aileron. In most cases, they have the Throttle, Rudder and the Elevator controls. Ideally, master flying around with these controls first before getting a 4 channel RC plane capable of more manuevers and aerobatics.
Quality of transmitter, range and signal strength
Do you need to buy a transmitter that costs upwards of $500 and above as a beginner? No. Most RTF RC planes come with transmitters. However, it is important that these are quality ones and provide decent range and signal strength.
As a beginner, your lack of skill is enough liability. Having a poor transmitter and signal strength is asking for trouble. In the list below, we’ve tried our best to filter out to the ones that INCLUDE good transmitters in our list of best RC planes.
RTF RC planes
The easiest and the quickest way to get up in the air is to get a RTF (Ready to fly) RC plane. This is simple. Go to a local hobby store or an online web store and buy an RC plane that comes in a box, ready to fly as soon as you charge up the batteries and bind your transmitter to the receiver. These are the best RC planes for beginners
You can definitely get a BNF or ARF version and often these are cheaper. With the BNF though, you have to purchase a separate transmitter that is compatible with the receiver that is included. If you already have a compatible transmitter, definitely go for a BNF version. With the ARF, you’ll have to purchase servos, motors, batteries and the like.
For an absolute beginner, we definitely recommend the RTF RC version.
Another more challenging (but rewarding) path to take is to build your own RC craft! This has the added benefit of not only making it less daunting and easier to repair your own RC plane in case of crashes, but it also serves as a skill development exercise in RC plane building!
Flying RC planes are fun but trust us, building is fun in its own right! There are plenty of resources out there in the internet that will help you with the process. For example, you can find RC plane plans made by someone else and follow it, possibly adding your own ‘spice’ to it.
Best RC plane under 100
Hobbyzone Champ RTF
Certainly not the cheapest among the best RC plane under $100 list, but certainly the most recommended and popular among beginners. The Champ is a 3 channel, high wing RC plane that is durable and high performing (even moderately windy conditions). The parts are very easily acquirable in case you crash and damage them.
They are very easy to fly and the transmitter range goes for up to 400 feet. Flight times go up to 6 or 7 minutes. The Champ is not the “Champ” per say, when it comes to aerobatics and advanced manuevers, especially because it is built with a high wing configuration. It is however, great for a beginner learning the ropes and certainly the best RC plane for beginners according to many.
|Center of Gravity||Approximately 28mm from leading edge of the main wing|
|Charger||USB 3.7V Li-Po charger (included)|
|Flying Weight||1.3 oz (38g)|
|Landing Gear||Fixed main with steerable tail wheel|
|Wingspan||20.3 in (515mm)|
Here is a video demo by FliteTest:
Top Pick: Wltoys F959 SKY-King
The F959 Sky-King is not your regular RC plane. It is a 3 channel glider! Glider planes are perfect for beginners getting into any type of RC flying, especially the 2 channel ones. However, 2 channel gliders are motor-less and require using environmental forces to keep you up in the air.
The F959, like the champ are very easy to fly. The transmitter range however, was limited to about 300 feet in our tests. This is plenty for beginners though. The best thing about a glider is that once you are up in the air, you can turn off the motors and watch it “soar”, before it descends down. If you know how to spot thermals, all the better. You can potentially be up in the air for hours! This craft is pretty good at flying even in windy conditions.
More flight time = more practice. You can also get into slope soaring and dynamic soaring with these. Perfect beginner craft! We love gliders and this is certainly one of the best RC planes we’ve ever played around with
Given Specs Range 200 meter
Flight Time 12-14 Minutes (Motors continuously on)
Flying Weight 95Gram
Channels 3 channels
Battery 7.4V 300mAh Li-Po
Size/Scale Ultra Micro
Compatible Modules Yes, 720P HD camera
The F959 Cessna 182 by WLToys is the cheapest in this list of best RC planes for beginners. Don’t be fooled though, these fly almost as well as all the other planes listed here. The F949 is a 3 channel, foam made high wing RC plane driven by 3 motors. Pretty durable, but not as good when it comes to performance relative to other crafts such as the Champ.
Flight range may not be as great either (Similar to the F959), but it is plenty if you are a beginner. We think that the WLtoys transmitters that come with their planes are great for the price!
|Flight Time||10 minutes|
|Flying Weight||58 Gram|
|Battery||3.7V/130MA lithium battery|
Hobbyzone Duet RTF
The Duet RTF by HobbyZone is another great Micro plane that we recommend. In terms of performance, it is comparable the F949 by Wltoys. Flight times go up to about 8-12 minutes, transmitter range up to 320 m and fly well in mild wind conditions.
The only downfall with this plane is that the yaw control is made via changing the relative speeds of motors placed on either of the wings, making it difficult to control if you cut the throttle. The plane is built with a slightly better quality material than the F949 which is the main reason why it is worthy of inclusion in our list of best RC planes for beginners.
|Flight time||10 minutes|
|Charger||Charger integrated in transmitter|
|Flying Weight||1.34 oz (38g)n|
|Motor Size||7mm (x2)n|
|Recommended Battery||3.7V 1S 150mAh LiPo|
|Wingspan||20.6 in (523mm)|
Video review :
Best RC plane under 200
The planes listed under $100 are mostly toy grade. Above that mark, you are entering the realm of hobby grade planes!
Top Pick: Hobbyzone Sport Cub S RTF
The Hobbyzone Sport Club S RTF is FPV ready (with additional purchase) and ought to be one of the most popular RC planes out there in the RC plane community. It also happens to be our favorite! These aren’t 3 channel like the ones we’ve listed in the under $100 list, they have 4 channels meaning you can do barrel rolls! The BNF version is around $100 and the RTF version comes at around $120-140 (at the time of writing this).
Unlike most of the previously listed toy grade RC planes, these run on a 1S LiPo battery that is included with the RTF version. Flight times go up to 8 minutes and control distance is about 350 – 400 feet, like the HobbyZone Champ RTF.
The Sport Club S comes with Gyros, SAFE mode and beginner mode which makes it pretty easy to fly and practice on, despite it being 4 channels. They are pretty “sporty” so the name is justified. Definitely one of the best RC planes for the money
|Charger||Fast DC Charger with USB port connectivity|
|Flying Weight||2.0 oz (57g)|
|Landing Gear||Fixed main with steerable tail wheeln|
|Recommended Battery||150mAh 1S (included)|
|Wingspan||24.3 in (616mm)|
ParkZone Night Vapor RTF
The ParkZone Night Vapor RTF is a 3 channel, indoor plane. The design is pretty lightweight and minimalistic. It is not too good at flying outdoors, but we’ve included it in our list of best RC plane for beginners regardless, because it is the easiest to fly and easiest to repair.
The ‘Night Vapor’ also comes with a built-in LED light, making it extremely flyable at night. The Night Vapor is definitely not an aerobatic craft, but it can certainly handle basic loops, rolls and inverted flight well enough for you to practice on.
The battery that comes with it is only 70 mAh, but due to its extreme lightweight nature, it can dish out flight times of about 10-12 minutes regardless. The bonus here is that smaller battery = faster charging.
|Approximate Assembly Time||No assembly required|
|Flying Weight||0.6 oz (16.4g)|
|Wingspan||14.8 in (376mm)|
Hobbyzone Super Club S RTF
The HobbyZone Super Club S is very much like the Sport Club S, but with 3 channels. It is also more expensive (the most expensive in this “best RC plane for beginners” list). Like the Sport Club S, it has all the beginner friendly modes like the SAFE mode.
So why should you pay extra for this? Why not just go for the Sport Club S? The following qualities are far superior to the Sport Club:
- Better flight times (10-15 minutes vs 6-8 minutes on the Sport Club S)
- Longer range (800 feet vs 350-400 feet on the Sport Club S)
- Slightly better build quality
|Charger||DC 3S LiPo balancing charger with AC power supply|
|Flying Weight||25.2 oz (714g)|
|Wingspan||47.7 in (1212mm)|
To summarize, consider the following before making a purchase:
- Price vs durability and performance.
- Availability of spare parts (just in case you crash and damage your RC plane).
- Features – 3 channels are all you need as a beginner
Research thoroughly and watch video reviews. You’ll get a better idea of what to expect!
That’s all folks! We hope this guide on the best RC plane helps you with selecting the best RC plane for your needs as a beginner. If you have any questions or suggestions, please drop them below and we’ll be sure to answer and love you for it!