Most of the time when buying a ready-to-fly RTF RC plane, you get everything you need in the package and the plane is ready to fly, as the name states, nearly out of the box. Minimal build work is needed and you’ll be flying the plane very quickly as all that is needed is to charge the batteries (more and less all RTF RC planes are electric). All very good reasons to buy a RTF plane.
Getting a RTF RC plane is a great way to get flying the plane faster and cheaper. However, there are some factors that you should know when buying a RTF plane, as the different packages might be build-up differently.
Some packages come with quality parts and good RC transmitter for example, but other packages (namely the cheapest ones) might now, so make sure you know what you’re getting when buying one and consider these pros and cons of RTF planes too…
Why RTF RC Plane Might Not Be So Great? (-)
RTF planes are created to make it easy for anyone to get a plane and start flying, but of course, the sellers wan’t the packages to be affordable, so they can’t and don’t want to use the top-notch parts in these plains.
Because of this, unless the RTF plane is spesifically designed to include prime parts, there are some things you should know, so you won’t be unpleasantly surprised later. Note that these “warnings” do not ably to every RTF plane out there, but it’s common that some corners are cut, especially with the cheaper RTF planes…
- RC Transmitter included with the RTF plane has 2 or 3 channels, which is not suitable for more advanced plane in the future (requires at least 4 channels) (-)
- RC Transmitter might be configured differently in different countries, which might make learning the controls hard (-)
- The included transmitter might have more limited range than usual (-)
- The transmitter comes / uses normal batteries, not rechargeable ones (So you’ll be buying and using your own rechargeable batteries) (-)
- The receiver batteries might have low capacity, they might be heavy and only good for couple minutes of flight time (-)
- It can take 12-16 hours to charge the batteries with the standard charger coming in the RTF box (-)
- The parts on the RTF RC plane cannot be re-used in different kind, e.g. bigger plane (although some plane models are more modifiable than others) (-)
- The spare parts must be bought from third party vendors as the manufacturer might not offer or sell them (-)
Many RC manufacturer’s have started to improve their RTF planes and services during the last years, but like said, know what you’re buying.
With the above, the default transmitter will be fine for flying the plane it comes with, but it’s very likely not suitable for any other plane. In addition to the rechargeable batteries for the transmitter, you’ll probably want to get a faster charger and spare batteries for the plane at some point.
What Is Great About RTF Planes? (+)
As a general guideline, look for models that are sold both as RTF and ARF (Almost-Ready-To-Fly). With some plane models like this, the RTF plane is a readily built ARF, built from parts you can re-use or replace easily. Great for a beginner and good out of the box, but if you like, you’ll always have the chance to modify or upgrade the plane = Perfect.
- RTF Planes are quick and easy way to get flying (+)
- The price is right (RTF planes are the most cost efficient way to get into RC aeroplanes hobby) (+)
- No time goes to building the plane (+)
- The package includes everything needed to fly, no shopping around needed making sure you have everything (+)
- For an advanced hobbyist, RTF plane can be a good for start for a customised, more powerful RC plane for a very good price (+)
- Good RTF plane will serve you long time and enable you to do modifications you want to it (+)
RTF RC plane can always be improved by getting higher quality or more powerful parts, for example adding a brushless motor and higher capacity batteries to replace the factory parts is coming popular among the RC hobbyists.
With all the pros and cons, RTF RC planes are a great choice for a beginner who is not interested in model building and all things related to that or just wants to get into flying as soon as possible.
This was the part 1 in our “RTF vs. ARF series”. The second part, Are You Ready To Build an ARF Plane and Buy an ARF Kit, covers the pros and cons of almost-ready-to-fly, ARF plane kits.
Ready-To-Fly, RTF Plane Experiences
Do you have a RTF plane? What you like / don’t like about it?
If you’d get a plane now, would you choose otherwise?
Share your experiences by leaving a comment!