This would be one of the most commonly asked questions we hear at Modelflight – rightfully so, there is a lot to consider when making this decision and with so many options available, which trainer plane is the correct one for you? We can’t make up your mind for you, but we can point you in the right direction. Here are a few key pointers which can help you make your decision and a few things to look out for.
Try to keep the aircraft as simple as possible by starting off with a three or four channel plane. This will generally consist of throttle, elevator and rudder, with ailerons something to consider if you will be flying outdoors in a windy environment.
We strongly recommend going with a high wing model with some dihedral to start with. Something that looks a bit like a Cessna or a Piper Cub. This will ensure the plane is well balanced and more likely to remain in an upright position. It is the dihedral or the 'v' shape of the wing which will hold the aircraft steady in the air whilst the wing position reinforces the stabilising and levelling action. A lower wing position would make the aircraft more agile and a little harder to handle.
Electric motor over a combustion engine? An IC aircraft is more complex because of the engine. So this just comes down to making it as easy as possible for the user. An electric set up requires almost no real maintenance as far as the motor is concerned so the only thing the user needs to worry about would be charging the batteries and going flying. If you are comfortable with internal combustion engines (chainsaws, lawnmowers etc) then don’t discount the IC engine alternative.
Foam over balsa. At the end of the day, when you are learning to fly, the possibility of a hard landing is very real. Whilst covered balsa aircraft generally look better, they can be tricky and expensive to repair after a crash. A foam aircraft is much easier to repair with some reinforcement and foam safe CA. Not only that you will find that we carry a huge range of spare parts for the majority of foamies we have on offer!
You will also notice that we have various packages marked as either RTF, BNF or even PNP. The RTF package (or ready to fly) will come as a complete package generally consisting of an aircraft, transmitter, batteries and a charger. This tends to be a very good option for the soon to be pilot that does not have any equipment and would like to cover all bases in one purchase. The BNF option or bind and fly will generally come as a package consisting of an aircraft with a receiver a battery and a charger. This will be aimed at a customer who either already has a Spektrum radio that will bind to the aircraft or it can leave the door open for you to make the BNF purchase and then choose a radio that will suit your upcoming flying career. With recent advances in miniaturised technology, a number of trainer planes now come fitted with sensors (or gyros) that help to keep the plane flying level. SAFE (Sensor Assisted Flight Envelope) is a very popular and effective technology that can really help a beginner pilot. If the choice comes down to a model with SAFE or one without, you can be certain that you will have more success with the SAFE equipped model. The extra cost is minimal and the extra security it offers is well worth the money.
Hopefully, this helps point you in the right direction of what to look out for in making that important first choice. And of course, we are always here to help if you need a hand in making that final decision.