Best RC Plane - Buyer’s Guide

Gareth Otwell By Gareth Otwell · Last Updated October 05, 2018

Modern drones and quadcopters have expanded the appeal and popularity of RC flight as a hobby. And they also have a lot of practical uses, like easy aerial photography and videography. So why would anybody want to buy RC airplanes anymore? They may not have the advanced flight characteristics of drones, but RC airplanes are built for one thing and one thing only: having fun. They are cheap and every bit as fun to fly as any other RC aircraft, if not more so. If you love aircrafts and flying stuff, you deserve to own one of these best remote control airplanes of 2018.

Best Radio Controlled Planes in November, 2018

BrandImageProduct DimensionsCheck Price
HobbyZone Duet RTF HBZ5300
(Editor’s Choice)
19.8 x 19.2 x 5"
Weight: 7 lbs
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HobbyZone Mini Apprentice S RTF
(Editor’s Choice)
51.8 x 13.5 x 9.8"
Weight: 7.85 lbs
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Top Race TR-C285
(Editor’s Choice)
15 x 12 x 4"
Weight: 1.52 lbs
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E-flite Timber 1.5m BNF 42.9 x 16.8 x 10"
Weight: 5 lbs
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HobbyZone 4480 Sport Cub S BNF 21.8 x 21.5 x 5.8"
Weight: 3 lbs
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E-Flite U2980 UMX Radian BNF31 x 10 x 4.3"
Weight: 2.09 lbs
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E-Flite Apprentice S 15E RTF 41.5 x 19 x 8"
Weight: 9 lps
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E-flite UMX PT-17 18.8 x 15.5 x 5"
Weight: 1.9 lbs
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ParkZone Sport Cub BNF Airplane39.5 x 18 x 6.7"
Weight: 5.6 lbs
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HobbyZone Sport Cub S RTF21.8 x 21.5 x 5.8"
Weight: 3.5 lbs
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HobbyZone Duet RTF HBZ5300 Airplane - Best Beginner RC Plane For Windy Conditions

The HBZ5300 is easy to fly and an ideal pick for beginner pilots. It arrives with everything you need; fully assembled plane, controller, and batteries. Those new to piloting can also use Virtual Instructor. The VI helps you navigate the RC plane, especially in windy conditions.

The plane itself is lightweight and can withstand minimal damage. It is also reasonably inexpensive, considering the fact that it arrives with everything you need.
This RC plane is very fragile, and you'll need to be extra careful when you navigate it. It is made of styrofoam that makes it lightweight, but also somewhat flimsy.
Fragilence aside, this plane is a lot of fun! It is fast and features a stabilizing gyro that helps you level the plane. It is also easy to charge (via radio control and uses propellers to stabilize itself during flight. We also have to commend the controller, for it is ergonomic and features simple controls.

All in all, the Duet RTF HBZ5300 flys nice and smooth, even in windy conditions. You'll have to be extra careful with it and avoid crashing, but other than that, you are good to fly!

Pros
  • Arrives fully assembled (with batteries)
  • Easy to fly
  • Excellent in windy conditions
  • Exceptional self-leveling
Cons
  • Fragile

HobbyZone Mini Apprentice S RTF – Best Remote Control Plane With Safe Flight & Easy Ground Handling

The Mini Apprentice is a well built and beautiful looking plane. It has the high wing, with SAFE technology to provide maximum stability in flight. And as this is a ready-to-fly package, you can start flying it right out of the box.HobbyZone Mini Apprentice S RTF

The RC plane does come with a Li-Po battery and controller, but you will have to buy batteries for the controller. Later on, you can even add floats to make this RC model aircraft a seaplane.

The Apprentice Mini is one of those rare RTF RC planes that seem to have no major flaws.

As a result, we have no hesitation in recommending this particular remote control aircraft from HobbyZone.

Hobbyzone Mini Apprentice S Unboxing & Build

Pros
  • Comes with SAFE flight technology
  • RTF package
  • Very durable build
  • Has a panic mode button
Cons
  • No major faults

Top Race TR-C285 - Best RC Airplane For Stable And Safe Flying

The TR-C285 is beginner friendly and extremely easy to fly. It uses a simple 3-channel technology and features a built-in gyro system for better stabilization.

The 6-axis gyro makes it very easy to fly and stabilize the plane in mid-air. It also makes landing much safer, which is suitable for beginner pilots. It arrives with batteries, charger, spare parts and a controller (but controller comes without batteries.)
Beginners should use Beginner's mode, which should help them navigate in normal and harsh conditions. And while the TR-C285 is made of durable EPP, you should still be careful with it and try not to crash it at high speed.

The plane also features Intermediate and Expert modes for more advanced pilots. Its control rods are robust (made of steel) and come pre-installed. It is also worth mentioning that this RC airplane uses a coreless brushed motor with 8mm in diameter, giving you enough power and control.

This plane isn't the most sturdy or durable one on the list, and it should be navigated carefully. It is intended for beginner pilots due to its restrictive flying capabilities and speed limitations.
Pros
  • Suitable for beginners
  • Made of quality EPP
  • Boasts several flying modes
  • Excellent gliding capabilities
Cons
  • Fragile
  • Limited maneuverability

E-flite Timber 1.5m BNF - The Most Sophisticated RC Airplane With Landing Floats

The BNF Basic is sturdy, sporty and crazy! It has slotted flaps as well as slats, but not just for decorative purpose. Indeed, the built-in flaps and slats are here to enhance your piloting experience and grant you fantastic control over your RC airplane.

This RC airplane also arrives with functional landing floats with attached functional rudders, so that you can land it on water. And should you opt for the main landing, you can rely on well built Thundra-inspired wheels.
This plane also features LED lights for safer landing and navigating. Plus it also looks cooler with the lights! The core is hollow, making the airplane very light and maneuverable. The plane is also Z-foamed to increase sturdiness and durability.
It is expensive, and comes without batteries and controller. It also requires assembly, which might confuse beginners. There's no doubt that the BNF Basic RC Airplane is high-quality and sophisticated, but it is intended only for experienced pilots and hobbyists.
Pros
  • Extremely sophisticated
  • Can land on water and mainland
  • Sturdy and lightweight
  • Exceptional maneuverability
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Not recommended for beginners

HobbyZone 4480 Sport Cub S BNF – Best Remote Control Aircraft with Powerful Motor

The best part about the Sport Cub S BNF is the fact that it combines a beginner friendly design (high wing and dihedrals) with a more demanding 4-channel control system. The trainer aircraft design makes this plane incredibly stable mid-flight. It also has a powerful motor, and a handy panic recovery button that can help you avoid collisions.HobbyZone 4480 Sport Cub S BNF

This craft is a replica of a real aircraft, the Cub Crafters Sport Cub. When you buy this model, you will have to buy a transmitter separately. It should work with any DSM2 or DSMX compatible 4-channel transmitter.

The 4-channel controls and the absence of a remote in the package make this slightly problematic for beginners. Binding the craft to a new transmitter is not without some hiccups.

In our opinion, this mini Sport Cub is a fantastic RC airplane. It is fun to fly and not too hard to put off beginners. Its flaws are minor and not related to the actual flight dynamics.

Pros
  • Has high wing and dihedrals for a stable flight
  • Panic recovery button is very useful
  • Has a powerful motor
Cons
  • Does not come with remote transmitter
  • Somewhat steeper learning curve

E-Flite U2980 UMX Radian BNF – Best Radio Controlled Plane For Beginners With Glider Wing

The sailplane design of the UMX Radian is a very reassuring feature for a beginner. Sailplanes tend to be very forgiving and easy to fly. And this powered sailplane combines those flight dynamics with a 3-channel control system that is perfect for beginners. The glider also has a built-in stabilization system to smoothen the flight further.E-Flite U2980 UMX Radian BNF

The E Flite UMX Radian uses rechargeable Li-Po batteries. One is provided along with the craft. You will need to buy a DSM2 or DSMX compatible controller to fly the plane.

The lightweight foam construction is a necessary evil in these RC planes. The UMX Radian tail section is very fragile. And the body and wing are also vulnerable to higher temperatures.

A sailplane with motor offers excellent flight time and learning experience for beginners. Sure it is also more fragile and lacks durability. But these planes can still give a lot of satisfaction.

Pros
  • Sailplane design is fun to fly
  • 3-Channel controls are easy to master
  • AS3X technology for improved stability
Cons
  • Body is fragile
  • Does not come with controller

E-Flite Apprentice S 15E RTF – Best High Wing Trainer Plane With Safe Flight Modes

The very versatile AS3X safe flight feature is what makes the Apprentice so special for beginners. You can choose between beginner, intermediate and experienced modes. In the easier modes, the pitch and roll features are limited to avoid unstable flight.E-Flite Apprentice S 15E RTF

As this is an RTF model; you don’t need to make any other purchases to fly the plane. If you ever lose control of flight, you can press the panic button to stabilize it.

The batteries are the Achilles heel on this otherwise solid trainer RC model. They simply fail to hold the charge for any meaningful duration. There have even been reports of sudden uncontrolled nosedives.

For training new RC pilots, the Apprentice can be considered a solid option. But it is very expensive. And for the asking price, we have to expect better batteries. They ned to fix that on this otherwise splendid flyer.

Pros
  • AS3X settings is excellent for training beginners
  • Comes with a panic button
  • Is a Ready to Fly package
Cons
  • Very expensive
  • Poor battery performance

E-flite UMX PT-17 - Best RC Airplane For Advanced Pilots

The E-flite UMX PT-17 features advanced AS3X flying technology, allowing pros to fly crazy and beginners to navigate safely. The plane communicates via Spektrum DSMX 2.4GHz, a technology that is both highly responsive and reliable.

The UMX PT-17 was modeled according to the US PT-17 biplane, a plane that was used during WWII. It requires no assembly and is ready-to-use as soon as you unbox it. It is very well-crafted and beautifully designed.
Apart from looking realistic, the radial engine runs very smoothly. And since the plane is very lightweight, it can achieve high speed and pierce through the air like a bullet. You will, however, have to be extra careful with it for it is very fragile.

This plane comes without remote controller and batteries, so you'll have to buy them additionally. It is incredibly entertaining and unique, and also very durable. It also comes with a repairing tape which you can use to fix minor damage.

This plane is challenging to fly, especially for beginners. It is compact and features short wings that make landing somewhat tricky. But aside from tricky landing, we have no complaints regarding this plane.
Pros
  • Modeled after famous PT-17
  • Features Spektrum DSMX 2.4GHz
  • Durable and powerful engine
  • Uses AS3X technology
Cons
  • Comes without batteries and controller
  • Difficult to land

ParkZone Sport Cub BNF Airplane - Most Durable 5-Channel Plane With Advanced Optional Features

The Sport Cub from ParkZone is a proper big boy RC airplane. It comes with a lot of optional customization features, and attachments. The flight dynamics are perfect, and this is a very tough plane that can take a lot of punishment.

This BNF RC plane will work best with 5-channel DSM2/DSMX controller. You will need to buy those and the batteries separately. You can even buy functional flaps for an even more advanced flight experience. ParkZone Sport Cub BNF Airplane

The only flaw that we can mention here is the fact that this, not a beginner-friendly plane. To make the best use of its features, you should probably buy it as a second RC aircraft.

If you are looking for a more serious RC aircraft experience after your first brush with a small 3-channel craft, we would highly recommend the ParkZone Sport Cub. It is a very solid plane with excellent features.

Pros
  • One of the most durable designs
  • Advanced customization and upgrade options
  • Excellent intermediate level RC plane
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Not very beginner-friendly

HobbyZone Sport Cub S RTF – Best Electric Radio Control Plane

The Sport Cub S RTF is an award-winning plane from HobbyZone. It has all the advanced features like Panic Button, 4-channel controls, and SAFE flying modes. It is the perfect option for beginners.

The description says it all. The Sport Cub S RTF shares all the positives with the other Sport Cub S from HobbyZone. It just happens to have a controller added for a premium pricing. It is an excellent craft for beginners.HobbyZone Sport Cub S RTF

The styrofoam construction on this plane makes it rather fragile. This can be an issue due to the rather premium pricing.

If you like the HobbyZone Sport Cub model and want an RTF version, this is the plane to get. We have already discussed the features of the Sport Cub in the first review. If you like that plane, you will like this one as well.

Pros
  • The RTF version of the Sport Cub S
  • Comes with SAFE controls and Panic Mode
  • Very beginner friendly plane
Cons
  • Rather fragile styrofoam construction

Radio Controlled Airplane Buying Guide

When you are new to a hobby, the most important thing to learn new stuff while having fun. So it is important to buy equipment that is suited for beginners. This is doubly true in the world of remote controlled airplanes, when a crash is always a possibility.

So here are the features that you need to look for in your first RC airplane as a beginner:

1. Best Design

By this, we do not mean the color or looks of the plane. Buying your first RC aircraft based on looks is a big mistake. Instead, look at the structural features of the plane. There are a couple of features that can easily help you identify a beginner-friendly plane.

High Wing: in this design, the wing of the plane will be located above the fuselage (body). Such a design is more stable in the air. They are also very forgiving.

Dihedral: Again, look closely at the wings from a front or back angle. Dihedral wings have a slight upward curve, like a very flat “V”. This feature also promises a more stable flight.

2. Power

Look for electric models as a beginner as they are easier to learn and maintain. They also have fewer fuel costs than IC engines which need gas. EP planes are also quieter and will cause less of a nuisance in public spaces.

3. Number of Channels

In RC model aircraft, the number of channels denotes the number of control mechanisms you can manipulate.

Single and Double Channel: If you plan to make RC flying a serious hobby, these are probably not worth it. They are toys and have very limited flight features.

3-Channel: Also called “Park Flyer” these are the ones you ideally want to fly as a beginner. In these planes, you will have to control the motor, elevator, and rudder. They are easy enough to master but give you an authentic taste of RC flight as well.

4-Channel: If you want a challenge, a 4-channel aircraft will provide you with just that. Along with the three controls from beginner planes, this craft will also have a channel for ailerons. You will need more coordination to balance all four of these controls. But when you get it right, a 4-channel plane will give you the most satisfaction.

Conclusion

Beginner RC planes are very forgiving, and incredibly fun to fly. And you can also find some very cheap radio controlled planes in the current market. And with the evolution of technology, the prices are bound to keep on dropping. We can also expect modern RC planes with increasingly smarter features and possibly digital smartphone app connectivity.

Gareth Otwell

About Gareth Otwell

Gareth Otwell is a 28-year-old tech geek. Currently working at a big IT company. He chooses to widen the topics he writes about so as to provide his readers with an all-in-one go-to platform that they can use to research for just about anything. Read more

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