With the express train that is the holidays already barreling down the tracks, you can bet lots of folks are hoping they’ve been good enough this year for Santa to bring them a shiny new radio controlled aircraft. If it’ll be your first RC plane or helicopter, have you given much thought to what kind of plane or helicopter you want to fly? If space is at all a consideration--i.e., you don’t have a whole lot of it—or price or ease of operation, you should think seriously about starting out with a park flyer.
According to the AMA, the Academy of Model Aeronautics, park flyers are the fastest growing subset in radio controlled model flying (aka aero modeling). Because of their reasonable cost and ease of flying, they are particularly popular with younger people both as a sport and as a recreational activity. Powered electrically, park flyers are small and lightweight—most are 2 lbs. or less—with wing spans of 8-36 inches. Including both fixed-wing (plane) and rotary-wing (helicopter) models, park flyers are also quiet and because no fuel is involved, clean and non-polluting. They are also slow-flying, with speeds ranging from 20-60 mph, making them ideal for beginners to master the basics of RC flying.
In addition to being less expensive, simpler to fly and maintenance free, park flyers, unlike other beginner aircraft such as standard gas-powered trainers, require relatively little space to operate safely. Gas trainers like the Hobbico Nexstar are great planes but should only be flown at a flying field or similar large, unobstructed open space; local ordinances permitting, park flyers can be flown in public parks, or in gyms, practice fields, sports arenas, even good-sized backyards.
While you don’t need a flying field to enjoy your park flyer, there is no better or safer place to operate RC planes and helicopters. They are run by AMA-sanctioned flight clubs which follow proper RC etiquette and enforce strict safety standards. With over 2500 chartered clubs and better than 2000 flight fields in the US, there’s a good chance there’ll be one near you. To locate a club or field in your vicinity, visit the AMA’s site at www.modelaircraft.org/clubs.
RC Planes and Copters
Sky Eagle EP Park Flyer
Megatech Real World Police Airplane RTF
Megatech Sky Trooper RTF Helicopter