Flying RC planes is a great way to get outside and enjoy yourself with the kids, but knowing which plane to choose is difficult.
Luckily for you, we have spent many hours in cold fields flying our own RC planes and spent hours reading reviews from other flyers. We have used that experience to choose the seven best RC planes for kids of all ages and skill levels.
- Easy set up
- Safe flying technology
- Panic recovery for beginners
- Oversize flaps for shorter landings & take-offs
- Capable of aerobatics
- Factory-installed led lights
- Compact, easy to store
- Ready to fly out of the box
- Has three-part propeller
- Safe technology
- Spare parts are readily available
- Float set available for purchase
- No additional tools needed for setup
- One key plane return system
- Can be driven on the ground to taxi spot
- Super easy to fly with few controls
- Durable construction
- Extra batteries & spare in the box
- Exceptionally cool styling
- Faster than your average RC plane
- Optional safe technology
How to Choose the Best RC Plane
When we look at RC planes, these are the things we consider:
Hobby-grade RC planes are usually made of foam. Of course, there are differences between the different types of foam, but they’re all pretty similar when it comes to durability.
More critical for durability is the landing gear — the wheels on which your plane will touch down on the ground. Some landing gears are solid, designed to be affixed permanently, and last as long as the rest of the aircraft. Others are lightweight and rated as single-use.
Single-use landing gears are often strong enough for multiple uses. However, manufacturers rate them as single-use because they are prone to breakage. So, the single-use designation minimizes the chance of customers complaining when the gear breaks.
Number of Channels
RC planes have one radio channel for each item you can control. The majority of beginner RC planes will have three channels, but simple planes can have two. More complex models can have up to 15 channels.
For our reviews we stuck to four-channel and under RC airplanes, which break down as follows:
2 Channel RC Planes
A two-channel RC plane will usually let you control the rudder for turning left or right and the elevator for pitching up or down. These planes will also have a single speed.
These planes are best for complete beginners and the youngest of flyers.
3 Channel RC Planes
Three-channel RC airplanes are generally the best for beginners and intermediate flyers. They give you plenty of control, without too much to think about.
The channels will control:
- The rudder to steer left and right.
- An elevator to move up and down.
- The throttle which controls speed.
4 Channel RC Planes
Confident flyers may want to move up to a four-channel plane. These have the same controls as their three-channel cousins plus:
- Ailions, to bank left or right
RC plane’s speeds come in at 20mph and up. The average RC club plane flies at 70mph, and speeds of over 110mph are thought of as fast (1).
To fly an RC plane, you need a certain degree of coordination, common sense, and maturity. The age guidelines on RC planes reflect these developmental requirements rather than age-appropriate safety concerns.
All of the options on our list use rechargeable batteries in the airplane and standard AA batteries in the controller.
However, not all RC planes come with the rechargeable battery included. When choosing which RC plane is right for you, consider whether the batteries are included and, if not, how affordable they are.
The smallest plane on our list needs just over one square foot for storage, while the largest needs almost three feet by four feet.
On average, expect your RC airplane to take up around 26 x 26 inches.
Ease of Installation
Smaller planes may come assembled, but most will require some assembly. We look for easy options for beginners, and more importantly, easy for the uninitiated parents of those beginners.
We also consider how easy, or otherwise, it is to remove and replace the batteries for charging.
Availability of Spare Parts
If you want to enjoy more than ten minutes flying, having spare batteries to swap into your plane is a must.
You’ll also want to consider how easy and cost-effective it is to buy spare landing gear, propellers, and even wingspans.
- RC planes with beginner, intermediate, and advanced modes grow with you as you learn to fly.
- Choosing a 2.4 GHz remote will allow you to fly more than one plane in the same area without radio interference.
- SAFE stands for Sensor Assisted Flight Envelope. RC planes with SAFE have:
- Panic Recovery, which automatically returns the RC plane to level flying.
- An auto-land feature that allows you to bring the plane to the ground by pressing a button.
- A virtual fence that confines the RC airplane to a predefined area. This is especially useful for enthusiastic or younger beginners who may not have a sense of how far away the plane is.
- A Holding Pattern function that will call your RC airplane back to a predefined GPS point.
The Best RC Planes of 2021
We combined our own experience, the purchasing criteria above, and information from other reviewers and chose these as the best seven RC planes for kids.
1. HobbyZone: AeroScout S 1.1m RC Airplane
The AeroScout from HobbyZone is often slated as the best hobby-grade RC plane for beginners, and we have to agree.
There is some basic assembly required but you do not need any tools, glue, or technical knowledge to put the AeroScout together. We found the instructions clear and easy to follow, putting the plane together in just a couple of minutes.
SAFE technology prevents enthusiastic new pilots from over-banking and accidentally sending their new plane into a disastrous spin to the ground. There is also a panic recovery facility that will reset the plane to a level flight, without having to figure out how to do it yourself.
However, it also allows you to gradually move from beginner to intermediate to advanced flyer as your skills improve.
The SMART battery charger determines how much to charge and at what rate, and it comes with a USB-C cable for convenience.
- Easy set up, everything you need is in the box.
- SAFE flying technology minimizes the chance of losing the plane.
- Panic recovery for beginners.
- Still requires basic assembly.
|Size||36 x 44 inches|
|Channels||Unclear but transmitter has six chanels|
|Power||2200mAh 3S 11.1V Smart LiPo rechargeable battery|
2. E-flite: UMX Turbo Timber BNF
The E-flite comes fully assembled. Therefore if you have a transmitter and fully charged battery ready, you can fly this RC airplane straight out of the box.
What makes this an especially good choice for teens is that it has an optional SAFE system. This allows teens new to the hobby to turn the system on and work up through the beginner, intermediate, and advanced modes.
Then, if your teen becomes a confident flyer, the SAFE system can be turned off and the pilot can perform exciting acrobatics. In addition, the E-flite Turbo Timber has recently been updated with a more powerful motor allowing you to climb out vertically and hover.
The landing gear is already in place and designed for multiple take-offs and landings. In addition, the STOL, Short Take-Off, and Landing system means you can fly with minimum runway space.
For maximum realism, the E-flite comes with LED navigation, landing, and simulated strobe lights which are powered from the flight battery.
- Oversize flaps for shorter landings and take-offs.
- Capable of aerobatics.
- Factory-installed LED lights.
- The recommended transmitter is more than the cost of the plane.
|Size||26 x 26 inches|
|Channels||Up to 6|
|Power||7.4V 200–280mAh LiPo rechargeable battery.|
3. Top Race: 3 Channel RC Trainer Plane
For younger budding pilots, the Top Race Trainer provides three channels of control. The three channels control the propeller, rudder, and elevator. Plus, there is a 6 axis gyro system that keeps the airplane stable, making it exceptionally easy to fly for young beginners.
Also important for graduated learning are the three speed control settings. These prevent those who are new to flying a RC plane from going too fast, losing control, and crashing. Not only can a crash be dispiriting, it can also cause expensive damage to your airplane.
But fear not. If you or your child do crash, Top Race has an extensive line of spare parts for repairs or upgrades. The spares are affordable and readily available, so you don’t have to worry about trying to track down a rare, expensive item.
Because the Trainer is relatively compact, and lightweight, it takes up minimal room at home and is easy to transport to your flying location.
- Compact, easy to store.
- Ready to fly out of the box — no assembly needed.
- The three-part propeller comes apart to minimize damage in a crash.
- Top Race’s customer service is not great.
- Some owners report controller problems.
|Size||14 x 14 inches|
4. HobbyZone: Sport Cub S-2 RC Airplane
The Sports Cub from Hobby Zone has beginner, intermediate, and experienced modes. This allows complete beginners to learn the ropes without becoming too overwhelmed by multiple controls.
The beginner mode on the HobbyZone limits the plane’s pitch and bank capabilities, minimizing the possibility of losing control. In addition, simply letting go of the control sticks will allow the airplane to return to level flight. This prevents discouraging crashes for newbies.
Panic recovery mode allows you to press a single button and have the plane return to level flying at a preprogrammed altitude. This gives new flyers some breathing room if they go a little beyond their capabilities.
You can launch this model by throwing it like a paper airplane, which is convenient if you do not have a suitable runway area for take-off.
The downside to this RC plane is that you have to buy the transmitter and battery separately, although that isn’t a budget breaker. Purchasing each item separately costs no more than buying them all in one—it’s just a few more steps you have to take.
Many good-quality RC companies sell their models, batteries, and radio units separately, so experienced flyers can buy the precise setup they want.
- SAFE technology.
- Spare parts are readily available and affordable.
- Float set, purchased separately to take off and land on water.
- The transmitter must be purchased separately.
- No battery or charger included.
|Size||16.3 x 24.3 inches|
|Power||3.7V 150–200mAh LiPo rechargeable battery|
5. Top Race: 4 Channel RC P51D Mustang
Inside the box of the Top Race P51D Mustang you’ll find everything you need to begin flying straight away. Although you will, of course, need to charge the battery up first. The battery takes roughly two hours to fully charge.
You can set the plane to Beginner, Intermediate or Advanced mode. Then the six-axis gyroscope will kick in — or not — to keep the plane level and stable in flight.
The four channels control the propeller, rudder, elevator, and aileron and you can control the plane on the ground as well as you can in the sky. This enables you to drive this RC plane to your taking position, giving it an additional layer of realism.
There is also a stunt button that causes the Mustang to perform aerial stunts. This gives new flyers the thrill of stunt flying sooner than if they were learning to fly stunts themselves.
- No additional tools needed for setup.
- One key plane return system.
- Can be driven on the ground to taxi spot.
- Foam gives the impression of a flimsy build.
- Some planes have been lost due to controller failures.
|Size||14 x 14 inches|
|Power||3.7v 360mAh rechargeable battery|
6. Hawk’s Work 2 CHannel RC Starter Airplane
For the youngest would-be flyers, the Hawks Work 2 channel airplane is an affordable, simple option. Two sticks on the remote allow you to control left and right and up and down but there are no other functions to master.
The simplicity of the plane makes it an excellent choice for younger children who are excited by RC planes but haven’t yet developed the dexterity and coordination required for a more complicated model.
It’s also great if your little one is the kind of kid who is deeply passionate and focused about something one minute, only to lose interest 20 seconds after they try it. For those kids this is just expensive and solid enough to work, but not so costly you waste a lot of money if it’s not a hobby that sticks.
The landing gear is rated as a single use part, but we found it was solid and in workable condition after 12 take offs and landings.
- Super easy to fly, with few controls.
- Durable, for more than the designated single use.
- Extra batteries and spare in the box.
- Doesn’t allow for learning to fly more complex models.
- No SAFE technology.
|Size||12 x 14 inches|
|Power||300 mAh Li-Po rechargeable batteries|
7. E-flite: MiG-15 EDF Ducted Fan Jet RC Airplane
We, and our RC friends have always found E-flite to be a solid company for hobby grade RC airplanes. So we were a little disappointed in their MIG-15 model. Not because it isn’t great but because it didn’t provide a fun experience for new flyers.
To be fair, this model is not aimed at first-time or even newer pilots, but that information isn’t immediately obvious. So even though it has SAFE technology with beginners, intermediate, and advanced settings, you’ll want to give this a miss for younger first timers.
However, if you have a teen who is patient or has some previous RC plane experience, this model is extremely fun to fly and reaches incredible speeds.
Because the MIG-15 can achieve speeds of up to 130mph, it is relatively easy for a newbie to feel like they are losing control of the plane. This can cause a lot of frustration and put your budding flyer off of their new hobby.
- Exceptionally cool styling.
- Faster than your average RC plane.
- OPtional SAFE technology.
- Battery and controller not included.
- Too fast for the inexperienced.
|Size||16 x 16.5 inches|
|Power||280mAh 2S 30C Li-Po rechargeable battery|
|HobbyZone: AeroScout S 1.1m RC Airplane||Most Durable RC Plane||12 years+||36 x 44″||6||2200mAh 3S 11.1V Smart LiPo rechargeable battery|
|E-flite: UMX Turbo Timber BNF||Best RC Plane for Teens||14 years+||26 x 26″||6||7.4V 200–280mAh LiPo rechargeable battery.|
|Top Race: 3 Channel RC Trainer Plane||Best 3 Channel RC Plane||8 years+||14 x 14″||3||3.7v 180mAh|
|HobbyZone: Sport Cub S-2 RC Airplane||Best for Beginners||12 years+||16.3 x 24.3″||4||3.7V 150–200mAh LiPo rechargeable battery|
|Top Race: 4 Channel RC P51D Mustang||Best 4 Channel RC Plane||12 years+||14 x 14″||4||3.7v 360mAh rechargeable battery|
|Hawk’s Work 2 CHannel RC Starter Airplane||Best Budget RC Plane||6 years+||12 x 14″||2||300 mAh Li-Po rechargeable batteries|
|E-flite: MiG-15 EDF Ducted Fan Jet RC Airplane||Fastest RC Plane||12 years+||16 x 16.5″||4||280mAh 2S 30C Li-Po rechargeable battery|
Come Fly With Us
Flying RC model planes is a fun hobby that gets you outside and can be enjoyed either on your own or with other flying enthusiasts. This makes RC planes a good option for the introverted or those who have difficulty making friends.
The best RC planes for beginners will only require a certain amount of control from you, leaving you free to concentrate, build skills, and carry on enjoying your plane as you become experienced.