Acronyms and Assembling of RC Airplanes: From Kits to RTF



Acronyms and Assembling of RC Airplanes: From Kits to RTF



One of the earliest bits of knowledge every radio control pilot learns are the various acronyms with RC aircraft, such as RTF, PNP, and ARF. These completion levels are essential in understanding the aircraft type and how much assembly will be required to get it up and flying. Horizon Hobby’s remote control aircraft lineup features many of the RC flying hobby’s most popular names, including E-flite®, Hangar 9®, Blade®, and HobbyZone® and completion levels. From these brands, you can select model planes in sizes well-suited for any building skill level and flying site — from compact ultra-micro RC airplanes to mid-size park flyers to jaw-dropping giant-scale RC planes.

For those of you just getting started in the RC hobby, Horizon Hobby has easy-to-fly trainer plane models with unique, built-in technologies for piloting success. We also have fast EDF (electric ducted fan) jets, scale military RC warbirds with authentic trim schemes, scale civilian RC aircraft with working lighting systems, sailplanes for thermal soaring, unique RC planes such as flying wings, and much more. This wide variety of types and levels means hundreds of aircraft perfect for your flying skill proficiency and building expertise.

You can choose from various completion levels — deciding how much assembly you want to undertake and what items you want to be included with the RC model plane. A beginner pilot who selects a fully assembled and fully equipped Ready-to-Fly (RTF) radio-controlled trainer plane can be confident it is built correctly and outfitted with well-matched radio and power systems. Pilots with more experience or who already own a transmitter and batteries can save money using our Bind-N-Fly® Basic (BNF® Basic) RC planes or Plug-n-Play® (PNP) aircraft if they would like to use their own receiver as well. Both include power systems and at least some electronics. Though largely factory-assembled, Almost Ready-to-Fly (ARF) hobby RC aircraft require pilots to buy their motor or engine and radio system separately. At the same time, RC Kit airplanes must be built and equipped almost entirely by the modeler.

As a general recommendation, the more building and decision-making a remote-control airplane requires, the more experience or assistance you may want to have before trying it. E-flite, HobbyZone, Hangar 9, and other Horizon Hobby brands offer RC airplanes in various completion levels so that all hobbyists can find an ideal match for their needs.


Ready-To-Fly (RTF)


If you want to fly immediately, an RTF model is the radio-controlled plane to buy. Straight out of the box, RTF RC airplanes are complete and fully equipped. A radio transmitter and receiver, motor or engine, servos, battery, charger, and all other required items are included and installed at the factory. Nothing more is needed. An RTF remote control plane will almost always be entirely assembled with only a few minor construction steps left for the modeler, like connecting the wings.


Ready-To-Fly (RTF) Basic


Ready-To-Fly Basic RC airplanes include almost everything needed to fly except for a battery and charger. This allows you to choose a convenient and money-saving Spektrum Powerstage bundle or compatible battery and charger of your choice!


Bind-N-Fly (BNF)


If you already own a Spektrum™ radio transmitter, there’s no quicker, easier, and more successful way to get in the air than with Bind-N-Fly (BNF) Basic hobby RC planes. These radio-controlled airplanes come out of the box factory-assembled and finished with the power system, servos, and a Spektrum 2.4GHz receiver already installed. All you need to do to enjoy the best control experience possible is bind the receiver to your compatible Spektrum DSMX®/DSM2® transmitter, install your charged flight battery, and fly. RC planes with Bind-N-Fly simplicity are available in virtually every size and type.


Plug-N-Play (PNP)


If you strongly prefer the radio equipment you use to fly your RC aircraft, Plug-N-Play (PNP) hobby airplanes are designed for you. These remote control planes are similar to Ready-to-Fly (RTF) models in that they come nearly fully assembled and finished, with a factory-installed power system and servos. Everything you need for flight is included except a transmitter, receiver, battery, and charger. Install your choice of a compatible receiver, plug in the servos, charge and install your battery and that’s it. You’re ready to fly!


Almost Ready-To-Fly (ARF)


Almost Ready-to-Fly (ARF) radio-controlled airplanes feature factory-built and finished main structures, such as the wings, tail surfaces, and fuselage. But the modeler must purchase the power and radio systems separately and install them — along with hooking up the control linkages, attaching the landing gear, and completing a few other final assembly tasks before the remote control plane is ready for takeoff. This level allows for more building, assembly of several needed accessories and is not recommended for beginners.

An ARF model allows you to assemble an aircraft exactly how you want. Buying your motor or engine and radio apart from the ARF RC plane has advantages. You get to choose the items you prefer and don’t pay for any included equipment that you won’t use.


RC Airplane Kits


RC airplane Kits are the earliest form of radio control planes. Kit hobby planes offer noticeably little prefabrication. Open the box and you’ll find a well-packaged assortment of parts, a detailed instruction book, and a manual to guide you step-by-step through the building of your RC airplane. RC airplane Kits require pilots to add their own motor or engine, radio system, ESC, batteries, charger, and other accessories.

Only modelers with advanced craftsmanship and aviation knowledge should attempt a Kit plane. Because they require the modeler to complete all the building and finishing, Kit model planes are most popular with hobbyists who enjoy putting a model together almost as much as flying it. Kits can take months or longer to build.

Not all airplane kits are RC. There are also a wide variety of static-display kit airplanes out there. If you enjoy putting together static models and you enjoy flying RC airplanes, you might excel at RC airplane kits. If you've never assembled an RC airplane kit or static model kit, you might want to start with an ARF RC plane and get some experience in selecting and installing electronics before getting into a more in-depth project like building an RC airplane from a Kit.


Choosing Your RC Plane Completion Level


These are the most common types of RC airplane completion levels. When choosing the one that's right for you, think about what supplies you already have to put towards building an RC airplane, like a transmitter or ESC, then think about how much you want to customize your flying experience by selecting your own power system and/or electronics. That will narrow down your choices and help you shop for the right RC airplane for you based on its completion level.

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