T Nation

RC Airplanes

I may get zero responses to this one, it might be a little more obscure than I think.

Anyone have any experience in this hobby?

My fiancee’s father let it slip that he’s always wanted one, and I thought it would make a great Christmas gift - but I have NO idea where to begin/what to look for.

Anyone able to lend some advice?

I’d start off with one of those cheaper airplanes/helicopters that you can get for $100 range. They get really expensive quick and you don’t want the first one you crash to be over $500.

I used to do some fly by wire model flying. These are the ones where you have two wires running to the plane to control the elevator(up/down). You then slowly spin in circles while flying it…unless you do acrobatics then you can stand in place. The advantages are that it is much much cheaper, shorter time to build, easier to fly.

Look into some clubs in your area…shit they may have some old beat up models that they’d sell or train you to fly on to see if you/father-in-law would like it.

EDIT Just remembered rubber band powered models. You generally have to fly these inside a gymnasium but they can be pretty cool. In middle school I was in an advanced science problem solving class. One of our projects was to see who could make a rubber band powered model fly the longest(time). Everyone else was like 5-10 seconds…mine was almost a minute. Then again my dad and I belonged to a club and those old guys showed us how to get it done. We had stock rubber bands but we had a special oil that would prevent it from drying out and decomposing. Not sure if you’d like this but I pretty much like everything involving flight.

You need more information, really. Does he want to build one – for many, the thrill is building something you can then fly. If he just wants to fly, consider something like this:


You can fly it inside the house, in a gym, anywhere there’s not much wind. It’s a good intro to flying. If you don’t have access to a place that seldom (if ever) has wind, try something like this:


Also, has he ever flown before?

Look around on the web for ‘park flyers’, and I’d recommend going electric over glow (and definitely over 4-stroke) for a beginner.

Hobby Lobby (not the craft shop, but the RC shop) is a great source. Stay away from helicopters – they’re tough to fly and a beginner can get frustrated quickly. Stay away from anything big, anything that looks like a jet or military, and anything that mentions acrobatics in the ad. You want a stable beginner plane to learn.

Happy to help, and feel free to PM me. I’ve been flying for years.

As far as the helicopters go they do have some easier entry-level ones that look/are very similar to the plane in the first link that Speeds listed. My dad has one that can be flown inside…I believe he got it from hobby lobby.