has become one of the fastest growing hobbies in the world. RC (radio-controlled) planes are models of an aircraft that is controlled remotely, using a hand-held transmitter and a receiver within the aircraft. RC planes as a hobby has been growing steadily ever since the advent of more efficient motors, lighter and more powerful batteries and less expensive radio systems. In addition to being a hobby, scientific, government and military organizations are also utilizing RC aircraft for experiments, gathering weather readings, aerodynamic modeling and testing, and even using them as spy planes.
There are various ways to construct an RC plane. Kits are available, requiring different amounts of assembly and varying levels of skill and experience. Planes can also be built from scratch using published plans, which supply full sized drawings with detailed instructions. Parts are normally cut out from sheet wood using supplied templates. Once you have finished making all the parts, the plane is built up like another kit. Model planes built from scratch offer more choice of plans and materials than with kits, and the latest and more specialized designs are usually not available in kit form. The plans can be scaled to any desired size with a computer or copy machine, usually with little or no loss in aerodynamic efficiency.
Ready to Fly
Ready to fly (or RTF) planes come as pre-assembled kits that usually only require wing attachment or other basic assembly. Typically, everything that is needed is already in the kit. RTF planes can be up in the air in just a few minutes and have all but eliminated assembly time (at the expense of the model's configuration options.) Among traditional hobbyist builders, RTF models are a point of controversy, as many consider model assembly, fabrication and even design as integral to the hobby.
Almost Ready to Fly
Almost ready to fly (or ARF or ARTF) kits are similar to RTF kits; however usually require more assembly and sometimes basic construction. The average ARF aircraft can be built with less than 4 hours of labor, versus 20–50+ hours (depending on detail and desired results) for a traditional aircraft kit. The fuselage and appendages are normally already constructed. The kit will usually require separate purchase and installation of servos, choice of motor (gas, or electric), speed controller (electric) and occasionally control rods. This is an advantage over RTF kits, as most model aircraft enthusiasts already own their equipment of choice, and only desire an airframe.
Balsa kits come in many sizes and skill levels. The balsa wood may either be cut with a die-cut or laser. Laser cut kits have a much more precise construction and much tighter tolerances, but tend to cost more than die-cut kits. Die-cut kits can work and look just as good with a little sanding, cutting and use of basic woodworking principles. These kits usually contain most of what you need to assemble the plane, except the necessary tools, which have to be purchased separately.
RC jets tend to be very expensive and commonly use a micro turbine or ducted fan to power them. Airframes are constructed from fiber glass and carbon fiber. Inside the aircraft, wooden spars reinforce the body to make a rigid airframe. They also have kevlar fuel tanks for the Jet A fuel that run them. The micro turbines start with kerosene, then burn for a few seconds before introducing the jet fuel by solenoid. These aircraft can often reach speeds in excess of 200 mph and require quick reflexes. The FAA heavily regulates flying of such aircraft to only approved AMA (Aeronautical Modelers Association) sites, in where certified turbine pilots may fly. Some military bases also allow such high tech RC planes to fly within limited airspace.