5 criteria to select a plane
What a pleasure to enter a RC Plane Hobby Shop or
some Web shops on the Internet. Due to this big
choice, it is not easy to differentiate what to buy,
in order to avoid getting a wrong plane to start
with. We will try here to show the
important sides that one should look at, in order to
select a 1st plane.
We found the 5 categories, explained below, that
matter for purchasing a plane. We will
in the methodology, dig in each of them, to create related sub-categories.
Not too much money invested as who knows if you will remain in the hobby
Around $200 is required as a first investment so knowing that you have a
plane that will survive your crashes, as well as possible, is for a beginner a
big advantage. You actually realize how important this is after you first few
- Easiness, in general. Easy to build, fly, repair, carry, etc...
New comers don't need any extra pain as all the first necessary steps, are
more than enough already. So for example, when selecting a plane, the fact that the User
Manual is easy to understand, in your own language, is a plus. Building steps
should also be clear, and simple and so on.
Maybe one of the most important criteria, as
beginners will for sure crash their plane. How easy will it be to continue,
after a crash is highly related to the toughness of the plane, in many
cases. Of course, a vertical full speed crash will hurt most planes, but
most crashes are not that deadly, so toughness is the key to survive here.
This is also why EPP/Elapor/Carbon reinforced planes are leading the most,
in this category.
Not critical, to say the least, despite that many
beginners find it important. You later understand it is not important for
your first plane, as anyway, crashes will damage any good look it used to
have... But this is already after sometimes into the hobby that you realize
Price is not only important to start but we
also included in it, the fact that you can re use the parts you put in your
first plane, in future planes. This decreasing significantly the price for
your second plane.
more aspects to consider
Now that we already covered some ground, there are
still few questions you need to ask yourself. Your
initial budget, how much you think you will want to
invest, in time and efforts, in shorts, what are
your goals ? Is it just an season hobby, and you are
used to switch hobbies often, or do you find
yourself usually investing in what you start ? It is
also true that before you try it, it is not easy to
anticipate how much fun you will have and by the
way, a lot of the fun you will have, is based on
your initial choices here.
To be or Not to be ARF ?
Some people will tell you how important it is to build, as part of the
learning phase, which will help, when you will also need to repair your
planes. Other will tell you that not everyone likes to build or have the
talent and time to do it, and ARF is the solution, and repairing is a MUST
while building is just an option.
Also, many people love to build, like a work of art almost.
And it is not like if it is made of foam/EPP/Elapor, you won't have to build
and if made of balsa, you will. Some balsa planes are extremely ARF while
some EPP/Foam who claim they are ARF are just NOT. So, just decide for
yourself how much time you think you want to dedicate for building and go
Recommendation: Go for as ARF as possible, for your first plane.
Learning how to build well is not trivial and requires time and patience. A
badly build plane won't fly well, so since it will be your first plane, go
for limiting the variables that may impact your flight.
Foam or Balsa ?
That's again an ongoing open discussion. Many people think Balsa
flies better, has a cleaner shape and is easy to repair. Others think that
EPP/Elapor/Foam has enough good shape for a 1st plane, and there is no need
for perfection at this point, they also report excellent flight behavior and
easiness to repair so what to decide ?
Recommendation: We said that
we consider for this article that you learn alone, and Balsa planes, even ARF, when they require repairs, need some good knowledge, for the repair,
and then for the covering of the broken part. Just decide for yourself if
you want to go this way and actually make the building part of your learning
phase. I personally would prefer strong EPP/Elapor planes, as easiesr to
repair, in cases of crashes
Glider or Regular
Electric Plane ?
Some RC pilots don't think a glider is in the league for training
someone. An Electric standard Plane would usually look fine, would behave
with some level of nervousness and would require some motor as it won't
glide too well which means that Flight time is more limited. They also
usually have good responses to pilot's inputs.
Glider are slower, glide well meaning require less battery and can usually
remain airborne longer. Their landings require more space as well as the
area to fly in compared to Regular planes.
Recommendation: Because it is easier to have a slow plane, which
remains in the air longer and have easy landings, I would recommend a glider
to start with. Now, many "Regular Planes" share these "gliding"
characteristics as well, but are not categorized as Gliders so the search
maybe be a little tricky here but the concept remains. Get a Plane which is
either a glider, or has the positive characteristics of it.
Tough to provide an answer to this question,
as there are pluses and minuses in each one, for someone who starts. For this
reason, we will enumerate some of points for each category
2 axes (Rudder + Elevator):
- Faster and easier Learn
- Less parameters to control
- Concentration and coordination levels less needed
- Easier to learn, when alone
- Will require, when moving to 3 axes, some more work
- Possible to have to switch Stick controls when moving to 3 axes
- Less Tendencies to react promptly at a wrong and fast input
3 axes(Rudder + Elevator + Ailerons):
- Longer and more difficult to lean
- More parameters to control
- Requires more coordination and concentration
- Some people say it is more difficult to learn on 3 axes, others disagree
- Won't require more work, to learn later 3 axes
- Cleaner trajectories of the plane
- Possible risks of having the plane rolling fast, if the pilot over control the
plane. Most crashes happen here