Best RC Plane - Buyer’s Guide

By Gareth Otwell · Last Updated April 11, 2018

RC airplanes are built for 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 seven best remote control airplanes of 2018.

The Best RC Airplanes of 2018

BrandImageProduct DimensionsCheck Price
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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HobbyZone Mini Apprentice S RTF 51.8 x 13.5 x 9.8"
Weight: 7.85 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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1. 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

2. 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

3. 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

4. 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.

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

5. 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

6. HobbyZone Sport Cub S RTF – The Sport Cub S BNF with an added Controller

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

RC 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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