Choosing Your First RC

Aircraft

Planes (powered)

No human being is born with a knack for RC flying. It's important to start out with something fairly slow, survivable (for when, not if you crash), and easy to fix if one of your crashes is particularly bad.

Probably the easiest way to get your feet wet in RC flight is with the Air Hogs Aero Ace by Spin Master. I've reviewed it here and put up some cheap modification tips here, and you can find more in the Ultimate RC Aircraft forums and at RC Groups. The Aero Ace is less than 9" long, charges from the radio transmitter, and can fly for 15 minutes (if not more) on a single charge. It has no moveable control surfaces, yet it can go left, right, up, and down. You can crash it in just about any way and it can survive, and it only costs about $30 US. It's available at Target, Toys R Us, and Walmart, in addition to some online stores. The biggest limitation is that it will not fly well if there is wind -- but this is the case for any starter aircraft.

If you want to spring for something a bit more realistic, pick up a trainer plane. The most popular models are those from Horizon Hobby's Hobby Zone brand. The wings are made of impact-resistant foam, but if you do happen to break one, you can just order a new wing and install it in minutes.

Helicopters

There are a number of very inexpensive helicopters on the market, but sadly, most of them don't work very well. Over time I will try out many of them personally to see if I can find a diamond in the rough, but for now, I have to recommend the well-tested starter helis that aremost frequently recommended by the pros, the E-Flight Blade CX and Hirobo Sky Robo. Each of these is a four-channel heli with dual counter-rotating rotors (one above the other). They are safe and stable, and extra-wide training gear are available for your early test flights.