Three Things to Consider Before Buying an RC Airplane
Remote-controlled planes are a lot of fun to fly and can help you learn basic aerodynamics.
Ready to soar with the birds, swoop and glide over fields, and wow a group of spectators? Well, pump your air brakes there, Captain, because learning to fly takes some time. Yes, even learning to fly a remote-controlled (RC) plane takes a lot of skill and finesse, but it’s a great way to learn the basic principles of aviation. The thing is, not all RC planes are created equal. If you accidentally choose one with features that are too advanced for your skill level, then learning is going to be impossible, and you’ll be quickly going down in flames. The good news is there are some RC planes that are built for beginners, but still fun for advanced users. Here are a few things to think about before you buy.
When you’re just learning how to fly there’s a lot to remember and keep track of. For this reason, planes with advanced safety features may be your best bet. Some RC planes have GPS capabilities, which means you can create an invisible fence to keep your plane from going out of range or into dangerous airspace. Some can fly into a holding pattern until you relocate them in the sky, and some can even land themselves at the exact same place they took off from.
There’s a reason real pilots spend a lot of time in flight school and have to log thousands of behind the stick: flying isn’t easy. Many RC planes have smart features to help you learn the nuances of flight, including beginner modes that prevent you from accidentally stalling or going into a nosedive. As you get more confident with the controls you can move on to more advanced modes. A plane with multiple settings will last you longer as your skills progress.
RC plane motors use a lot of power, which means many designs are capable of flying for only a few minutes at a time. Seven to eight minutes is a decent amount of time in the air, and 12 to 15 is quite good for an entry-level plane before needing to recharge. It’s worth doing your homework on how long a battery is expected to last, and you’re probably better off bringing a few spares afield that are charged and ready to go. Some planes even come with a second battery.