The world of RC Airplanes use to be out of reach for the Average person. They would have to go and get plans balsa wood glue and spend a good few months or years building a model. All the models had engines which meant messing with fuel and oil which made flight preparation time consuming and messy.
Now days thanks to miracle of Epp foam and modern battery technology you can be up and flying in minutes (well after a bit of practice ). Electric RC Airplane models have made it a lot easier to get into the air now due to their small sizes and the convenience of just charge and fly. Assembly is lot quicker in most case you just have to screw on the wings attach your battery and you are in the air. Some of the terms that are used if your are buying a model is RTF (ready to fly) or ARTF (almost ready to fly ).
To be honest I got some RTF models that were not RTF but if you buy them from reputable shops in most cases you dont go too far wrong. Best models for beginners are 2 or 3 channel which means on 2 channel you have throttle and rudder and depend on the lift of the main wing to increase height or decrease height by controlling the speed. 3 channel is the same as the above but you have an elevator control as well.
Don't be tempted to go out a buy the best looking model out there. The best RC airplane model to start of on should have a high wing and not be too fast or you could end up bringing home a bag of spare parts. Most of the electric foam type RC Airplanes can be repaired with tape and glue which makes them ideal to learn on. Another thing you can do is buy an RC Airplane simulator for your computer which lets you plug in a controller and simulate real RC model flight. This is an excellent way to learn and will save you a lot of heart ache in the end.
My first electric model that I assembled was a gws tiger moth - this was a 3 channel light weight and a slow flyer. The parts you needed for that were A battery pack, 2 servos, a speed controller a micro receiver and a radio.
This cost about 160 dollars but now you can get a model ready to fly for nearly half that.
So try out this rewarding hobby because you will be hooked.