The world's most common motor size is a 40, for casual flying you may never want more than a 4-channel radio. I prefer smaller planes, but most people would do well with the above setup.
When I got back into flying I started with electrics, and I'm loving it. Just go to the field and fly, and no gunk to clean off when you're done. I've seen cost breakdowns that show an electric breaking even with a gas plane after a season of buying fuel, but for me it's worth it just for the quiet and not having to worry about castor oil all over trunk.
Ted shuffled out of his cave and grunted these great (and sometimes not so great) words of knowledge:
What I am going to suggest is pretty much generic in nature since I don't know what part of the world you live in. These suggestions are based on United States.
Avoid the RTF (Ready To Fly ) packages. The engines range from having marginal power FOR A TRAINER to OK. Rarely do they have adequate power for use in a second plane. The radios are usually base level 4 channel radios.
Since the majority of trainers fly pretty much the same, I would suggest a 40 size ARF trainer. It is a readily transportable size, easy to see and is able to handle most wind conditions with no problems. An ARF will get you in the air quickly and you will not have to worry that perhaps you built in a warp or constructed something incorrectly.
For an engine I suggest a USER FRIENDLY BALL BEARING 46 engine. By user friendly I mean an engine that will start easy, be easy to tune, have excellent power and above all, be reliable. OS 46AX, Thunder Tiger PRO and Evolution engines all fit this category. 99% of them run great right out of the box. There are many good engines out there, however, quite a few of them require a bit of "fiddling" with to get to run properly. A ball bearing 46 will have more than enough power, not only for a trainer, but for use in future planes as well.
For a radio I would recommend a 6 channel (or more depending on the budget ) COMPUTER RADIO. Initially you will not be using a lot of the functions, but by the time you get to your 3rd or 4th plane you will probably be wanting things like flaps or retracts. The 6 channel can handle that as well as things like mixing of control functions, exponential, being able to save the trim settings for multiple models in memory and much more. Because different brands are popular in different parts of the country and the world, I would also recommend that BEFORE buying a radio, go to your flying field and see what brand is being used by the majority of the people there. When you have a problem (not IF, but WHEN ) manuals are nice, but a live person with knowledge of your radio is much better. While you are at the field, find out which are the LEAST USED CHANNELS and get the radio on one of those channels. It will minimize your waiting time for the channel to clear so you can fly.
With some careful shopping you should be able to come within 15% of the price of most RTF packages and a lot less than some of them.
An excellent source for information is RC Universe
If you're going to join a club and they have a buddy box you should seriously consider getting a radio that's compatible.
Ask if there's any bad channels. I don't think it's nearly as much of an issue with narrowband receivers, but 20 years ago it was always prudent to ask if there was any local interference on any particular channels.
has a very active beginners forum. Just about any question you have about beginning has probably been asked and answered there. Lots of threads on engine, plane, radio selection. The AMA has a club locator tool at
This is a good place to find a club and instructor.