Introduction to RC Model Planes

New to world of radio control airplanes? RC Planes comes in all shapes and sizes and are designed for different types of flying sites and pilot skill level!


With glow and gasoline-powered ("GP") RC planes, "size" usually refers to the engine displacement necessary to fly them successfully. Most range from small, .049-powered craft up to massive, giant-scale gasoline models.

The most popular glow/gas plane sizes are 20 (requiring a .20-.36 cubic inch engine), 40 (.40-.53 engine) and 60 (.60-.75 engine).

Electric-powered ("EP") planes have rapidly gained popularity in recent years. You’ll see GP planes most often at RC-dedicated airfields, while EP models are flown in almost any open area — even indoors! They come in a variety of sizes, too, but tend to be smaller so they can be launched in parks and similar settings. EP model size most often refers to wingspan.


Practically every full-size airplane has been reproduced as an RC model. Most of us will never actually pilot an Air Force Thunderbird or Blue Angel, but we CAN fly an RC model that looks like one!

Of course, real jet pilots go through extensive training before they're able to handle such a powerful machine. Again, there's a parallel in the RC. Some models are just too demanding for beginners.

When you browse through Horizon Hobby airplane offerings or visit your local airfield, you'll see RC models that fit into all of the following groups. Stick with the hobby and eventually, you'll be able to fly any of them — and it'll be some other newcomer whose jaw drops when YOU take off!


RC Trainers, with their high wing mounting and flat-bottom airfoils, are specifically designed for first-time modelers. They fly slowly, giving you extra time to think and react. If you momentarily lose control, you can simply release the transmitter sticks — your trainer will return to straight, level flight. Trainers also have a very slow stall speed, which means that their wings can generate enough lift to stay aloft even when just creeping along.

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Park Flyers

Electric-powered Park Flyer models offer all the fun and excitement of larger RC airplanes, in a smaller size with several advantages. They're very affordable. A wide variety of styles are available, and most are ready-to-fly with no assembly needed. You can fly them almost anywhere: at a park, in a football field, or in your own backyard!

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Sport Models

"Sport Model" refers to any plane designed to perform aerobatic maneuvers. Most have wings mounted at the middle or bottom of the fuselage. The top and bottom wing surfaces are shaped in a curve — called a "symmetrical airfoil". That increases their maneuverability, while sacrificing some stability.

"Sport Trainers" combine characteristics of basic trainers with sport planes. The wing might have a semi-symmetrical airfoil, but be mounted above the fuselage like a trainer. These are a good "next step" after you’ve mastered your basic trainer.

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Bipes (Biplanes)

Staple of aerobatic airshows, two-winged biplanes never fail to win over an audience. RC versions deliver the same "barnstorming" performance, making them a favorite of experienced hobbyists.

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RC warbirds bring dogfight excitement directly to your local flying field! Some of aviation's greatest advances came during war years — and some of the most colorful plane nicknames, too (such as "Whispering Death" and "Butcher Bird"). Through RC warbirds, experienced modelers can join their love of history with their favorite hobby.

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Giant Scale

Giant Scale models, like the name suggests, combine lifelike detail with immense size. Imagine controlling a model whose wing spans as much as seven feet or more! As you'd expect, such aircraft are higher priced and demand a great deal of time, patience, and skill. These planes are for experienced modelers.

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RC sailplanes ride on rising masses of warm air, called "thermals." Their stability and slow flying speed make them a good choice for first-time hobbyists. The challenge is learning to locate those invisible thermals and using them to your advantage.

Some sailplanes are equipped with electric motors for easy, powered launches. Others are launched by tossing them from a hill or slope; by using a slingshot-like device called a hi-start; or by towing them in a fashion similar to launching a kite.

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