I am wanting to get into RC and I am looking for a good plane to start off
with. I enjoy the building process and I'm not in a hurry so I am looking for a
kit. Although I have experience building balsa and tissue planes and rockets, I
have never built an RC plane. Therefore, I am looking for something with good
quality cut components and thorough instructions for beginners. I am also
thinking about an electric plane rather than gas; however, I am not completely
persuaded in either direction.
I have looked at the following kits which seem to match what I am looking for.
Any thoughts on these kits? Or suggestions for others to consider? What about
the pros and cons of electric vs gas?
Great Planes "PT Electric Trainer." At around $60 (including the motor) this
seems to be a good deal and the kit looks like there is plenty to build.
Great Planes "PT 40MKII" The reviews I've read seem to rate this plane pretty
high for beginners.
Thanks for your input.
On 6/19/2004 10:37 AM Ted shuffled out of his cave and grunted these
great (and sometimes not so great) words of knowledge:
For a 1st trainer to learn How To Fly, I would suggest an ARF (Almost
Ready to Fly). The reason is that you will have difficulty learning
this new skill and you want to minimize the problems you may encounter.
As someone starting out, it is easy to make an error in building a
plane and not realize it. This potential error can cause flight
problems and you will not be sure if it is you or the plane. With an
ARF, you know the plane is built straight and correct.
I suggest avoiding the "Package Deals, aka RTF". The majority of them
have BASE level radios and engines. The NexStar in particular, I feel,
is a waste of good money. The plane and engine are fine, but you are
paying a premium price to get the "AFS". The AFS has caused many
problems and most people turn it off. At that point you have paid for
something you can not use. Do a search on RC Universe
for NexStar and you will see what I am referring to.
I highly recommend the following:
1. Find a local club. Your LHS (Local Hobby Shop) should be able to
help you with this.
2. Go out to the club field or flying site and talk to some people. I
HIGHLY RECOMMEND an instructor. Clubs provide instructors at no charge.
You will most likely have to join the AMA and the club - total for the
2 is about $110. When you consider that most people trying to teach
themselves to fly have a 1st flight of about 30 seconds (or less) and
USUALLY wind up damaging the plane, it is not that bad.
3. I know you said you were interested in electrics. I fly both.
Electric trainers are USUALLY 3 channel (rudder, elevator, throttle OR
aileron, elevator, throttle), where glo trainers are USUALLY 4 channel
(rudder, elevator, aileron and throttle).
Pros and cons. Electrics are quiet, can be flown in a smaller area than
glo planes, and are clean. The "stock" setup for electrics frequently
has marginal power and flight times of 4 - 6 minutes. Many electrics
(trainers in particular) do not like wind much over 3 mph. Glo planes
are larger and heavier than electrics and require a substantially larger
area to fly in. They are noisy and require cleaning at the end of the
flying day (no biggie - 5 minutes with some Windex and paper towels).
The glo planes handle 10 - 15 mph wind easily. The engine provided with
the RTF is "adequate" for the trainer, but not for a second (non -
4. This will cost more initially, but save you money in the long run.
I recommend the following:
Get an ARF trainer. Hobbico SuperStar, Sig LT-40 are excellent. You
want a FLAT BOTTOM AIRFOIL. This will allow the plane to land slower
and fly slower. When you are learning, you want slow and stable.
Get a good Ball Bearing 46 size engine. Thunder Tiger Pro, Evolution
and OS FX/AX series are excellent USER FRIENDLY engines that will have
plenty of power not only for a trainer, but for use in later planes.
Stay away from the OS LA series and MDS brand of engines. Do a search
on RC Universe
for MDS and you will understand why I say this.
See what brand of radio is used at the area you want to fly (one brand
will be used by a majority of the people) and get that brand. If you
have a question or problem, the manual is handy, but having a real live
person who can answer the question and/or correct the problem is often
better. You want a MINIMUM of a 4 channel radio. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND
getting a MINIMUM of a 6 channel COMPUTER radio. The 6 channel is a
radio you will not out grow in one season.
What I suggest will cost about $100 - $150 more than an RTF, but you
will have quality components that you can use in other planes later.
You should also inquire at the club about a used trainer setup. Many
times a club member has a used setup they will sell for about 1/2 of
what it would cost you new.
Hope this helps.
No experience with electric here. If you're considering a glow plane, there
are no better trainers than the Great Planes PT-40 and the Goldberg Eagle.
Both are easy to build, have great instructions, look good, and fly great! If
you've built balsa planes before, you can build either of these.
Good luck, and keep on asking questions!
"There's a Hun in the sun!"
I agree with 95% of what Ted said except for settling for an ARF. Personally
I feel that an ARF as a first plane can be counter productive. My reasoning
for this is that you will most likely have a few mishaps in the learning
process that will necessitate the repair of the airframe. With the ARF, you
will have no idea how the thing was put together and no plans from which to
shape replacement parts. Since you already have some experience building,
both of the planes you are looking at would probably suit you just fine. You
may also want to consider the kit version of the SIG Kadet LT-40 or even the
Kadet Senior. The Senior is more of a stick and tissue type plane but they
are hard to crash and are extremely stable. I have trained several people
including my own father with the Kadet Senior.
ARFs of course get you into the air quicker with less emotional attachment
but I have seen too many that were repairable and just tossed because the
person didn't know how or didn't want to take the time to repair the
Just my .02 worth
I agree. I started out in model rockets and made some free-flight balsa
gliders, and I had very little trouble building a Balsa USA Stick 40 Plus as
my first plane. They have a wonderful piece of wisdom in that plane's
instructions: "When you crash your Stick 40 (notice we said when, not if),
don't worry. You built it, you can fix it!." Another great trainer kit is
Hobby Lobby's Telemaster 40. However, the instructions aren't as good as
some of the others mentioned. You may need the help of someone who has some
building experience on that one.
The two most popular trainers that show up our flying field is the Alpha
Trainer and the Nextar.
The Alpha is CLEARLY a better flying aircraft and is better designed for
training. The Nextar is a piece of junk. Stay away from it and it's "auto
crash" feature that, if you DO end up with one, disconnect it immediately.
I taught (teach) people to fly on both the Nextar and the Alpha (you
gotta dance with the one that brung ya), and as an experienced R/C pilot AND
teacher who has not only flown both, but taught with both, I can assure you
that a direct comparison of the flight behaviour of both leaves the Alpha a
much better aircraft for training.
That's my personal experience and not just a "review" of only one of
them. I don't own stock in either company so I have no axe to grind other
than how well, or not, the aircraft handles specifically with regard to
As a second aircraft, go with either one.
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