The hobby of flying model airplanes with remote radio control and electric power has become very popular with the advent of efficient motors, batteries and inexpensive radios. Ready to Fly (RTF) planes and helicopters can be so inexpensive that almost anyone can afford to buy one. But, of course, you get what you pay for and sometimes a very cheap price leads to a disappointing product.
The magic dollar amount for a RTF electric airplane is around $50 with offerings below that being mostly toys that fly for very short times and with minimal control. If you are starting out, you'll want to get an RC plane that will withstand the rigors of harsh landings, that can be repaired with spare parts available from the manufacturer or retailer, that has a good battery - motor - radio package included and that is also big enough to be seen at a distance!
The challenge of learning to fly these electric rc airplanes is that unlike cars and boats, they are moving in 3 dimensions and unlike a computer game can't stop in midair! So recommended is starting with an experienced instructor - pilot who can take over control before a disastrous crash occurs. This pilot can explain how the controls affect the path of the airplane through the sky and can give you tips on how to keep oriented to the plane as it moves around the field. After a very few lessons, you'll be able to go up (and back down) on your own - a very satisfying moment!
What RTF electric plane would I recommend as a start? A Piper Cub is hard to beat - easy colors to see, flies great and there are several available that come with good motors and batteries and a very solid performing radio also included. All you need to do is charge the battery (with the included charger), attach the wing with rubber bands (to allow it to come off in a crash) and you can be ready to go in minutes rather than hours.
Because the power comes from a quiet, reliable, instant-starting electric motor, your flying field can literally be your front yard - the local park or schoolyard! Now, often for considerably less than $200, people of all ages are getting involved with the same hobby that originally introduced the Wrights, Lindberg, Earhart, Aldrin, Rutan, Yeager and so many other famous pilots to manned and powered flight.
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