So you’ve seen people flying those fun Radio Control (RC) planes in the park or in a field and think you’d like to get into the hobby. It truly is a fun hobby, quite exciting and satisfying. The people that you meet flying RC planes are interesting and more than willing to share tips and tricks they’ve learned. Locating a local RC Airplane club would be a big asset to the beginner. I’m sure you are already looking through magazine advertisements and on the internet for have noted a lot of the advertisements say “building from RTF kit into a fully flying plane is simple and easy”. Building from an RTF kit into a fully flying plane takes some work on your part, but much less work that building the frame and all items from scratch.
An RTF kit usually comes with a fuselage, or body of the plane, and wings that you attach. The tail may require mounting and the engine will almost certainly have to be installed. Building RTF Kit planes is really a misnomer, since Ready to Fly would indicate that you take the plane out of the box and go fly! That’s never the case when the advertisement indicates building RTF Kit.
You will find a few RTF kits that indicate the wings are already attached, or the motor is already installed. If you are wanting to get into the air really quickly, the more RTF kit features that are already completed, the less time it takes to prepare you place using the RTF kit building method.
The plane above, built from an RTF kit would come in several pieces: the wind shield, the motor, the fuselage, the wheels and struts, the propellers, the stick (thin part of body) and the tail section. The tail section may require assembly or may come in a single piece, the advertisement did not specify. Nor did the advertisement specify whether the plane in the RTF kit comes painted or if you have to do the painting. Many of the newer RTF kits, being made from new polymer resins, do not have to be painted but have the colors in the resin. I would expect, if painting were not required, to take 8 hours or more to have this craft ready to fly. Those can be very enjoyable hours, but be aware that RTF really means ready to get ready to fly.
The simple RTF kit plan pictured above is one of the easiest to have ready to fly and is perfect for a true novice. Some solid information about this “stick plane” is that it needs 2 hours to prepare for flight. It is an electric plane, so common these days, and it’s very simple stick design makes this a truly simple RTF kit to build. In fact, the single piece wing fits through a slot, and the tail mount on the end of the stick so no tools are required, just some glue and a bit of time. The foam construction requires no painting.
This view of the bottom of an RTF kit built into the plane indicates the areas you can see construction must have been done after receipt of the RTF kit plane. This plane requires engine mounting, wheel mounting, push rod mounting (control sticks), and stick and tail mounting. It is pre-colored foam, so no paint is required. I expect this particular RTF build would take on the order of 3 to 4 hours to be flight ready.
Carefully read the information about the RTF RC plane kit you are thinking of buying. Some include the RC control panel, as some require purchase of control equipment separately. It would be very disappointing to receive your kit and then have to order and wait for the FM transmitter RC control panel to arrive before you can begin flying.
A beginner would do well to look for an RTF kit that indicates a spare wing set and tail since crashes will occur and you would like to have the parts on hand to repair your plane quickly.
There are many, much more complex RTF kits. This article is addressed to someone thinking of building an RTF kit plane for the first time. If you find you enjoy the RTF kit and wish to try some of the more complex models, you may wish to do so later. A first RTF kit plane should be an easy to assemble and inexpensive model. RC planes can run into 100’s of dollars, but a simple RTF kit plane can begin in the price range of $100 or even less. If you get hooked on the hobby, you’ll find your next RTF kit plan to be larger, more complex and more expensive, but first a first-timer, select a small, easy to assembly RTF kit and you will be very satisfied with the results of your efforts while you learn to fly RC planes. After all, you do have to learn to fly the RC planes that you don’t want to begin with expensive planes since you may have a few crashes learning to launch and land your RC plane.
If you are seeking a more ready to fly out of the box plane, rather than purchasing an RTF kit plane, you should look at the ARF, Almost Ready to Fly planes which require the absolute least assembly and knowledge to assemble properly, then move up to RTF kit planes, and eventually to planes that you fully build from a kit, assembling all the parts.......