Picking Your RTF Electric RC Airplane and Radio Control Equipment

Do you get really confused when you try to pick out the right components for your rtf electric rc airplane? Magazine ads and hobby shops and the Internet offer SO many choices – how do you know where to begin? Motors: brushed, brushless or cobalt? Batteries: Lithium Polymer (LiPo) or Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH)? Airplane: balsa or foam?

Let’s make it a little easier: here is a guide suggesting a cost-effective starting place for your rtf electric rc airplane journey.

Starter: a complete rtf electric rc airplane package of foam or plastic airplane, brushed motor, nickel metal hydride(NiMH) or nickel cadmium (NiCad) battery and charger, and 2 or 3-channel radio. Example: the Firebird. Price range $100-$150

Intermediate: again a complete package, with an aileron airplane and better brushed or cobalt motor, 4-channel radio, battery and charger for better maneuverability and speed. Example: the BeginAir. Cost $150-$250.

Advanced: Sometimes a complete package, but often you select your own radio, etc. Typical is a 6+ channel radio, brushless motor and controller, NiMH or LiPo (Lithium Polymer) battery with aerobatic sport-type airplane such as the electric Funtana. Cost $250-400+

Of course, everything with an electric rc airplane has trade-offs: the basic package trades a low price for sedate handling and almost guaranteed success. The intermediate package can also work well for a beginner, offering better flying capabilities, but a reduced ability to crash and be ready to fly again without some repairing at home. The advanced package offers much longer flight times (15-20 minutes!) and aerobatics, but needs considerably more care in assembly and flying.