The Best Ready-to-fly RC Planes for Beginners
Have you seen the cool plane stunts hobbyists do overhead in parks?
This inspires many to learn about flight and take to the skies. The modern-day capabilities of RC planes make the experience a memorable adventure. Some take it up as a competitive sport such as racing.
But as a beginner in the remote control world, where do you start?
Here is our ultimate guide for choosing the best RC planes for beginners. Whether you are out for some fun on the weekends or want a faster race plane, our expert team is here to help. This guide includes reviews, specifications, costs, and advice for novice RC pilots.
Intro to RC Planes
The beginner RC pilot requires experience to develop the skills of flight. A first-time pilot requires a durable plane. The hobbyist will need the plane to be stable, slower in flight, durable, and easy to operate.
These types of planes are trainer planes.
A first-time pilot doesn’t want to build their first plane. No one wants to see hard work smashed in their first two-minutes of flight. They don't want to rebuild it with every crash. Instead, the beginner wants to buy a Ready-to-Fly (RTF) plane.
Wing Placement and Scale
A high-wing plane is ideal for a first plane. This is when the wing is mounted on top of the fuselage. These types of planes are more stable in flight than low-wing planes.
The cool factor is also important to the new hobbyist. Planes that are designed like their full-sized counterparts always look cool soaring overhead.
The planes can't be manufactured at scale but at a semi-scale. This is due to the materials used to make the plane fly. The limitations force designers to create a simplified version of their real-life plane.
Number of Channels
RC Planes require a radio channel to operate each motorized or moving component. The channels typically include throttle, ailerons, elevator, rudder, Aux 1, and Aux 2.
Many beginners want to control as few motors as possible until their skill level rises. 3-channel planes include the throttle (power/speed), elevator (up/down), and rudder (steering). This stable configuration allows for all flight movement except for banking and rolling.
While a 3-channel plane has a smaller learning curve, the type of flight it allows is limited. Pilots tend to have more fun with 4-channel flight as it allows the plane to do acrobatics. But keep in mind that the goal of the trainer plane is to help the newbie pilot learn how to manage the controls.
The new SAFE® (Sensor Assisted Flight Envelope) technology limits the beginner’s control. This managed limitation is to keep the plane safe from crashing.
Beginner mode limits the pitch attitude of the plane. This mode incorporates a self-leveling feature. When activated, the mode moves the transmitter sticks to a neutral position.
The intermediate mode turns off the self-leveling mode. But it keeps the limited pitch attitude. Although many planes broaden the amount of pitch attitude allowed.
This gives the operator partial acrobatic abilities. The experienced mode turns off all stabilizing aids. The pilot has full unlimited control of the plane.
Another manufacturer has created the Anti-Crash Technology™ (ACT) for beginners. This allows the plane to quickly recover from any drastic attitude problems.
The logic is to keep the beginner flying, not frustrated. By avoiding dangerous crashes, the rookie pilot has more time to learn the needed skills. This self-recovery mode also helps to maintain a longer life for the plane.
Alternative Electric Gliders
A good alternative to the RC plane for beginners is an electric-powered glider. These planes have a significant amount of built-in stability.
A stable plane gives the pilot more time to react. Should a gust of wind hit, the user has time to make the necessary adjustments. This also holds true for approaching obstructions or obstacles. It even helps with other issues that need a quick reaction time.
The slower speeds of the glider help develop the pilot’s reaction time. The oversized fuselage also helps the beginner track his plane a distance away. Gliders are also more durable and can handle many crash landings.
First Person View (FPV) Equipment
Technology advancements have led to planes with cameras built into the cockpit. The view from the controller puts the pilot in the seat of the airplane. This is a great place to start for those who need practice before flying their 4K equipment.
Camera configurations can impact a flight. For safety reasons, self-recovery or stabilization modes should be used during initial flights.
Advice for Novice Pilots
There are a lot of YouTube shows educating beginners on RC plane flight. There are also a few good e-books available that walk a newbie pilot through the start-up steps. The best place to begin is understanding what is required of you by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
Federal Aviation Administration
The FAA has rules in place for the safety of all air traffic. The RC plane community must abide by those rules. While the rules reference drones, the rules also hold true for any unmanned flight device.
To become a registered pilot, you must be at least 16-years-old. You also must obtain a Remote Pilot Certificate and keep it current. To do so, you must pass a recurrent knowledge test every two years.
The test is a tool to prove that you understand the regulations. It also covers operating requirements and procedures for safely flying drones/planes. For instance, RC planes must be flown under the 400 ft. mark.
The initial aeronautical knowledge test includes regulations relating to small unmanned aircraft systems. They also cover the effects of weather on small unmanned aircraft performance. Emergency and Radio communication procedures are also tested.
While this seems like a bit much for a hobbyist, it is the same information that all fliers of any size craft must learn. In other words, flying an RC plane uses many of the same skills as flying a full-size plane. More importantly, pilots need to know the airspace restrictions.
The odds are your first training plane will come with a cheap controller. With a few exceptions, initial controllers have little value beyond your first plane. Most pilots consider investing in a high-quality controller to use with future planes.
One of the best ways to improve flight techniques is to become familiar with your controller. Using the same controller with every flight increases your skills and reaction time. Finding the right controller for you can rapidly increase your skills.
Ideally, you want to purchase a controller that connects to flight simulators. This gives you the opportunity to practice all kinds of moves, all while not damaging any of your actual planes.
The repetition of flight will turn much of your flight techniques into second nature. Some techniques will also translate to flying drones.
When looking for a transmitter, consider a device that can use rechargeable batteries. Experience will show you how fast your flight equipment burns through batteries. Purchasing new batteries for every flight is cost-prohibitive.
Transmitters range in price from $50-$300.
The device must have an LCD screen. As a beginner, you may also want one that has a buddy box connector. This connector allows your experienced friend to get your plane out of a jam.
There are many other add-ons to consider. Some upscale transmitters use sensor readings to engage attributes. An example is a landing sensor that helps your plane land gently every time.
Considerations of an RC Plane
Here are a handful of items to consider before making your first plane purchase, including anything that helps keep your first aircraft whole and reusable:
- Price—plane and accessories
- Wings—wingspan, high-wing
- Batteries—flight and charge times, extra batteries
- Flight Modes—SAFE, ACT, and other stabilizing technologies
- Flight Range—Flight distance
The wind can also be a key factor in your flight. Learn how your chosen plane handles the wind, and then check for wind before heading out to fly your plane.
Top Beginner RC Planes for 2021
The RC plane arena introduces new planes and packages every year. Sometimes a certain plane comes with different elements based on the label it carries. As a result, this guide is a snapshot of what we tested and not an exhaustive list of all possibilities.
Also, note that not all of the information was available at the time of our tests. Some measurements were provided in the imperial system and others in the metric system. To avoid mistakes, nothing was translated.
Instead, the below was based on what was provided.
Top Race TR-C285G—RTF
This is overall the best first-time plane for those wanting fun. This is based on the combination of capabilities and price. There are three-speed controls so you can move from a beginner pilot through to an expert.
The 6 Axis Gyro System makes it super simple to fly for the beginner.
The plane comes with new propeller saver technology and extra parts. The propeller system makes sure the blades survive your first few dozen crashes. And, once your skills kick in, the expert mode allows for stunting.
Rating: 4.4 of 5
Channels: 3 channels 2.4 GHz—Propeller, Rudder, Elevator
Mode: Beginner, Intermediate, Expert.
Material: EPP Durable Material
Plane Flight Time: 12 min. (actual 14-16 min.)
Plane Battery: 3.7v 180mAh, 2 Batteries Includes,
Special Feature: New Propeller Saver Technology, 6-axis gyro for easy flyingTRANSMITTER
Remote Control: Included
Flight Time: 14 to 16 min.
Charging Time: about 60 Min.
Transmitter Flying Distance: 320 ft.
Transmitter Battery: 4 AA Batteries
Frequency: 2.4GHz Radio Control distance of over 320 ft.
GoolRC FX801 Cessna 182—RTF
This plane is super easy to control since there are only two controls available. The stability and gliding performance is good. In fact, this plane is ideal for the youngest first-time fliers.
The parts assemble without glue so you can rebuild when needed after big crashes. There have been numerous reports of pilots wanting to move up to a better plane after they can fly this one consistently for a half dozen runs.
Rating: 3.6 of 5
Channels: 2 channels
Plane Flight Time: 15-20min
Plane Battery: 3.7V/300mA
Special Feature: 3-axis gyroscope flight auto-stability systemTRANSMITTER
Remote Control: 2.4Ghz 2 Channel
Flight Time: 15-20min
Charge Time: 35 min.
Transmitter Flying Distance: 300 ft.
Transmitter Battery: 2pcs AA battery (Not included)
Frequency: 2.4 GHz
Fineser XK X520 Glider
This plane has the capability for vertical takeoffs and landings (VTOL). This is another no-wind plane that fails to function well once the wind picks up. However, the fun factor does kick in when the weather conditions are right.
The plane has three modes of hover, constrained flight, and 3D flight. Hover allows for vertical takeoffs and landings. The constrained flight keeps the plane level, thereby limiting any attempted stunts.
The 3D flight removes all limits on the aircraft so loops and barrel rolls are possible. These three modes can be switched at will. This keeps the craft safe whenever an issue arises.
Many pilots lift off using VTOL and then switch to constrained flight to shift into plane mode. Once in flight, pilots can shift to 3D flight and have fun stunting. Should the plane get out of control, just shift back to constrained flight and the plane will quickly recover.
Rating: 3.8 of 5
Channels: 6 channels 2.4 GHz
Mode: Mode 2 / Mode 1 switchable
Material: Strong EPP
Plane Flight Time: 10-12mins
Plane Battery: 2S 20C 950mAh Li-po battery
Special Feature: Vertical takeoff and land, no need for a runway, 2 * 1307 Brushless motor.TRANSMITTER
Remote Control: Small Model Controller 2.4GHz 6CH
Flight Time: 10-12mins
Charge Time: ~50mins
Transmitter Flying Distance: 150m
Transmitter Battery: 6×AA (not included)
E-flite RC Airplane Apprentice STS 1.5m—RTF, with minor assembly required
Lots of technical bells and whistles on-board this plane to make sure the pane flies easily and doesn’t crash. Even the landing assisted sensors make sure the plane is safe at all times. Plus the package includes a $100 DX5e transmitter/receiver that can be used with future planes.
Rating: 4.3 of 5
Channels: 4 channels— rudder, elevator, motor, and ailerons
Speed Control: 30-amp brushless (installed)
Mode: Beginner, Intermediate and Experienced, and panic mode
Plane Flight Time:
Plane Battery: 15 min.
Special Feature: Landing Assist Sensor (LAS), SAFE (Sensor Assisted Flight Envelope) with self-leveling and stabilization technology, and AS3X technology.TRANSMITTER
Remote Control: Spektrum DX5e with 2.4GHz technology included.
Charge Time: Unknown (2-3S LiPo balancing charger, 0.5-3.0A included)
Transmitter Battery: 11.1V 3S 3200mAh LiPo (included)
Funtech RC 611—RTF
This plane was designed for a windless day. The manufacturer suggests that if the pilot struggles with the landing, they should turn down the motor speed or turn it off. This will allow the plane to glide in for a landing.
The battery is not to be charged overnight, and the manufacturer recommends the owner keeps an eye on the battery while charging. While this might sound like a scary legal comment, the company offers a confident 12-month fix-it or replace-it warranty and lifetime support guarantee on all parts.
Slowing the throttle levels the plane. Also, making one engine higher than the other helps bank the plane.
Rating: 4.1 of 5
Channels: 3 channels 2.4 GHz— Elevator, Rudder, and Throttle.
Mode: Beginner level with a full assist, intermediate with a partial assist, and expert for manual control.
Material: EPP foam
Plane Flight Time:
Plane Battery: 3.7V 180mah LiPo Battery
Special Feature: six-axis gyro for stability and leveling, the over-grade motor system allows for stunts.TRANSMITTER
Remote Control: Infrared remote 2.4 GHz
Flight Time: 12-15 min.
Transmitter Flying Distance: 320 ft.
Transmitter Battery: The transmitter requires 4 AA batteries (Not included)
Frequency: 2.4 GHz
Gool RC F949 Cessna 182 Fixed Wing
The “V” shaped wing creates a stable and smooth flight. The wings can be disassembled for storage. Overall the plane is very durable in a crash situation.
Any wind makes the plane unstable. The low-quality landing gear is of little use. Also, you might want to consider putting tape on the battery door so it doesn’t pop open.
Rating: 3.7 of 5
Channels: 3 channels— elevator, rudder, and throttle.
Mode: easy to fly
Material: Environmental EPP Foam
Plane Flight Time: ~25 minutes
Plane Battery: 3.7V 500mAh Li-Po Battery, 2 batteries included.
Special Feature: Built-in gyroscope creates stability and can be turned off for stunts, an adjustable rudder allows for stunts.TRANSMITTER
Remote Control: 2.4 GHz
Charge Time: 40-60 min.
Transmitter Flying Distance: 200m
Transmitter Battery: 6 * AA Battery (not included)
Frequency: 2.4 GHz
Hobbyzone Sport Cub S 2—RTF
This plane is our second best choice for beginners. While it's a bit more costly than our first choice, the plane's attributes make it an excellent choice. The various modes also make it a plane that will be valuable to the pilot for years.
This compact foam plane has SAFE technology and a panic recovery mode. If the pilot runs into a problem in intermediate or experienced mode, hitting the panic button instantly downgrades the plane to beginner mode.
The beginner mode includes limited pitch and bank angles. The airplane returns to level flight when the control sticks are released.
The intermediate mode increases pitch and bank but prevents over-control. The experienced mode has no limits on the pitch or bank angles. This allows the plane to invert for loops, rolls, and stall turns.
Rating: 4 of 5
Channels: 6-CH DSMX 2.4GHz Spektrum— throttle, rudder, elevator and aileron
Mode: Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced
Plane Flight Time:
Plane Battery: 150 mAh 1S 3.7V LiPo
Special Feature: SAFE technology, Panic RecoveryTRANSMITTER
Charge Time: USB DC Fast Charger
Transmitter Flying Distance:
Transmitter Battery: 4 x AA Alkaline Batteries
KKmoon F949S Fixed Wing
This plane is promoted for beginners and intermediates. It is designed like a Cessna 182. The material it’s made out of should endure many crashes.
Should any of the plane break off, glue will get it back in place. Should the poor-quality wheels break off, they are not needed for takeoffs.
Rating: 3.7 of 5
Channels: 2.4 G 3Channels
Material: EPP Foam
Plane Flight Time: 10 min.
Special Feature: Capable of stuntsTRANSMITTER
Flight Time: 25 min.
Charge Time: 40-60 min.
Transmitter Flying Distance: 650 ft.
Frequency: 2.4 GHz
E-flite Turbo Timber 1.5m—BNF Basic
This plane is recommended like many other turbo planes as a great beginner plane. This is due to its incredible features that force the pilot to fly well. Some of the capabilities are more for a beginner versus intermediate with a simple change.
For instance, the 3s battery that is typically included is ideal for the beginner. Once the pilot's basic skills are learned, there is a desire to upgrade the batteries. A 4s battery is required to do all of the things the plane does in the demo video.
Also, epoxy is needed after every crash, while most beginner planes can take numerous hits. However, this plane rarely crashes due to its special features.
The plane is loaded with features including oversized flaps for shorter takeoffs. It also has sport and aerobatic capabilities, which most beginner planes avoid.
While most beginner planes are made of solid foam for crash durability, this plane uses a hollow-core EPO material because it just doesn't crash.
Rating: 4.6 of 5
Price: $135-$300 (Search for the $140 version)PLANE
Channels: 6 channels—Spektrum AR636 6-Channel Receiver
Material: Composite-reinforced, hollow-core construction with EPO material.
Plane Flight Time:
Plane Battery: 2200- 3200mAh 3S (or) 4S 11.1 - 14.8V LiPo Battery (EC3 or IC3 Connector) (Sold Separately)
Special Feature: SAFE protection, Short Take-Off and Landing (STOL), AS3X, Factory-installed brushless power system features a 50-amp ESC, realistic-looking LED landing lights and shock-absorbing landing gear.TRANSMITTER
Remote Control: 6+ Channel DSMX/DSM2 transmitter (Sold Separately)
Select the Right RC Plane for You
After assessing many planes and their flights, the Top Race TR-C285G is the best overall beginner airplane. The price is low compared to its rich features that will keep a beginner's plane airborne. The plane has three modes to make it fun for beginners, intermediates, and experienced.
To learn more about this great beginner plane, check out its features. You'll enjoy exploring several planes and learning more about your taste. You can be confident that these planes will help you develop flight skills and generate a lot of fun.
Take flight with your search to learn more about top RC Planes today.