Flying remote control airplanes is a great hobby for children and adults alike, and there’s a wide variety of models for all ages depending on the level of skills and experience.
However, some remote control airplanes are more suitable for adult pilots due to the characteristics of the rc airplane, and we’re focussing on these in this article.
We’re defining “adults” here as 14 years and up, but we do recognize that there are advanced flyers younger than this.
So, what is the difference between an rc airplane for adults, and a toy for children?
In essence, rc airplanes for adults tend to be bigger in scale, are more representative of the full size aircraft, and more complex than models for younger children. There are exceptions, one of which is the category of “micro remote control airplanes” that is popular amongst adult flyers.
We’ve looked at the various rc airplane models on sale for adults, and we’ve picked out several that you might want to consider as an adult for the reasons we set out below, depending on your level of expertise.
These RC planes have a reputable history and are easy to control for beginners and experienced pilots alike. The rest of this article will walk you through the difference between a toy plane and an adult RC plane and how to shop for your next RC plane.
What Makes an RC Plane Suitable for an Adult?
Some remote control airplanes that you’ll find on the market today are obviously designed for kids―cheap, simple, and crude representations of the real thing.
In contrast, the mark of an RC airplane that is designed for adults is often in size, accuracy and function.
Adult RC Planes Tend To Be Bigger
Remote control airplanes for kids are usually smaller and are generally more durable than adult remote control airplanes, to withstand hard knocks.
The increased size of the adult models indicates a more complex design with more control options, allowing the pilot to have a more challenging experience.
Some of the most expensive and scale-accurate radio control aircraft are designed to be flown by more experienced flyers and hence adults.
Having said that, there is a category of rc airplane that is popular among adults called micro radio control aircraft that are often smaller than 12 inches in wingspan, some even fitting into the palm of your hand.
These are often ideal for indoor flight, due to their slower flight speed.
The HobbyZone Sport Cub S 2 is a good example of a micro RC airplane for adults who are starting the hobby. Here’s a great video showing its capabilities.
Adult RC Planes Tend To Be More Accurate
In contrast to toy planes, adult remote control aircraft tend to accurately model the full-size aircraft they represent. From warbirds to jets, you can find an RC airplane scale model with lots of realistic details.
These come in a range of styles and sizes, but a popular scale model is the realistic VolentexRC P51 Mustang. Here’s a video showing off this model that is suitable for adults:
While toy RC planes might have a nod to their design inspiration, they are often not as accurate or to scale when compared with adult RC planes.
A fantastic RC airplane that is certainly not a toy is this Flying Fortress which has a magnificent 19 ft wingspan shown off in the video below:
Adult RC Planes Tend To Be More Complex
In addition to the intricacies of detailing, remote control aircraft for adults typically have 4-5 channels that can control different aspects of the plane while it’s in flight including the roll, pitch, yaw, and throttle control.
With more channels, you as the pilot can exercise individual control over how the plane will behave in the air, and affect its flight performance. Of course, the complexity of a 4 or 5-channel plane comes with a learning curve, which is more suited to adults.
Even more complexity comes with sophisticated models exhibiting an onboard camera. Often termed FPV, or first-person view, these require additional equipment, such as goggles, that probably make them more suitable for adult, or at least older, flyers. More detail on these can be found in this post, here.
An RC Plane Suitable for Adults Can Be a “Beginner” Plane
Don’t think beginner remote control airplanes are not for adults. Everyone has to start sometime, and many of us start the hobby as adults.
You don’t have to dive into the deep end of RC planes by starting out with a 4 or 5-channel plane. In fact, if you’re just getting into the hobby, then a 2 or 3-channel might be the right pick for you.
Don’t worry! There are plenty of accurately modeled, beautifully designed beginner planes out there that are still lots of fun to fly. We’ve written more about remote control airplanes for beginners in other articles, specifically RC Planes for beginners, and the best glider for beginners.
Here is a selection of remote-control planes for adults that you might consider:
E-flite RC Airplane Valiant
The Valiant™ 1 3 m park flyer has the inherent stability of an old-school high-wing design but with more modern lines, bigger control surfaces, and better-handling characteristics than most traditional models. It would make a great RC airplane for an adult who is beyond the first stages of learning.
This Bind-N Fly® version comes with the additional benefit of an included Spektrum™ A2S4X receiver featuring SAFE Select technology. Further explanation of these features – which are a boon to novice and experienced flyers alike – can be found in this article.
It’s made from durable EPO material so it has a versatile performance – sometimes you just want to fly simple touch and go’s. Others, you want an aerobatic plane that pushes the limits. This does it.
Funtech RC Airplane
A 3-channel RC plane that comes pre-assembled, the lightweight and aesthetically pleasing design of the Funtech makes it a great remote-control plane for adults. Durable in the event of a crash, the Funtech is great for smooth horizontal flights.
This RC airplane is lightweight and boasts durable EPP construction, which makes the plane durable and prevents breakage.
This RC plane comes with 6 Axis Gyro, 3 Channel Remote Control(Elevator, Rudder, Throttle).
Pretty cheap for its price, the Funtech is also pretty easy to fly, making it great for beginners looking for some practice.
VOLANTEXRC Ranger RC 400
The VOLANTEXRC Ranger RC 400 is a great remote-controlled plane for adults, particularly those starting out in the hobby. It has the XPILOT stabilization system which allows you to tailor the flying difficulty – and the ability to do aerobatics – to your level of skill.
It is relatively cheap and provides a great flying experience. Here’s a short video showing its capabilities:
Remote control planes for adults are aimed at more mature model flyers and are different from those intended for children in both their appearance and their complexity.
Nowadays, RC planes are designed to accommodate beginners and experts alike with different difficulty modes, so don’t feel embarrassed about starting off with a beginner plane that only has 2 or 3 channels.
The important thing is to enjoy flying and maybe learn a thing or two along the way.
The great part about all of the RC planes on this list is that they have different difficulty settings that can increase or decrease the amount that the onboard computer controls the flight.
That way, you can take it easy for your first few flights as you’re still learning the ropes but still have the option of increasing the difficulty if you want.