Before buying your first plane there are a few things
you ought to know and consider. Your first decision on a trainer plane is to chose between an ARF, a kit or to build from
scratch using plans.
ARF stands for Almost Ready to FlyThese planes come 80 to 90 percent built with some
assembly required. These planes take anywhere from a 2 to 3 days to assemble, depending on which ARF you chose. Most of the
hardware needed is included, and some ARFs even come bundled with the motor and radio gear installed. A bottle of fuel, minimal
assembly, some support equipment and your ready to fly. These are not a bad choice if you do not have a lot of time to build
or want to get in the air ASAP. Also, unless you have a workshop or dedicated area to build in you might want to stick with
A kit on the other hand requires you to build the plane from a set of plans. A good kit
comes with an instruction book with plenty of pictures, helpful advise and all the balsa and lite-ply needed to build the
plane itself. A lot of kits these days even offer laser cut parts that will tab together perfectly making construction as
straight forward as possible. These kits can take from a few weeks to several months to build. During the cold winter months
though (which is usually the building season for most modelers) If you like to build and are good with your hands, this might
be the perfect choice. You’ll benefit from knowing the plane inside out. If you need to repair the plane, just take
your plans to a local copier and make a copy of the part you need and make a new one.
Scratch building is probably the most time consuming way to go, but offers a large sense
of accomplishment to the builder. Most will not chose to scratch build a plane to begin with. For those who are skillful woodworkers
or a real do it yourselfer, it’s not impossible. You can buy many different plans through many of the different model
magazines. After choosing your plan, you must cut out every individual part, basically making a kit first and then assembling
it. Most plans come with notations from the designer. Wood thickness and gear placement, but not with a set of instructions.
Sometimes a hardware kit will be offered with a set of plans, but in most cases you will have to chose what wood, wheels,
fuel tank, pushrods, landing gear ect. that will be needed to complete the project. Most scratch built planes are built by
modelers that have a bit of experience with R/C.
Now that you know what the different options are, you may still wonder which it the best way to go.
Ask yourself these simple questions. How soon do I want to be up in the air? Do I like to build? How much am I looking to
spend. The answers will defiantly influence the outcome of your decision.
How soon do I want to fly? If your looking to fly right away with as little as fuss possible
then an ARF is the best choice. Many R/C pilots that love to build start with an ARF and then build there 2nd or
3rd plane. The trainer you use will probably not come out looking as nice as when you started. There is also the
point if you didn’t build it, you won’t be as worried about crashing. This is a great point and can make your
flight training a much more relaxing experience.
Do you like to build? If you really like to build and don’t feel the need to be
in the air quickly. You’ll find a great sense of accomplishment in building. Things to take in to consideration are.
What time of the year is it. If its winter and you live in a colder climate, this is a great time to build, but if it’s
towards the end of summer, then your project may come out finished just as the flying season is at it’s end. For those
that live in warmer or hot climate this might not be a problem. Some modelers living in hot climates would rather fly during
the winter months.
How much do you want to spend? Though it used to be less expensive to build a plane,
with the markit being flooded with ARFs it is now cheaper in many ways to go with a ready build plane. building not only requires
purchasing the kit, glue, wood ect that is needed to build, but also the tools to build with. You’ll also need a perfectly
flat surface to build on. For those with a well equipped workshop already, your probably looking for an excuse to buy more
tools anyway J getting back to the point. Many ARF packages are hard to beat pricewise.
If You Still Don’t Know What To DO!!! My personal suggestion is to buy an ARF or
ARF Combo package. You’ll save money, be up in the air quicker and not be as emotionaly attached to the plane when normal
mishaps occur. I’ve seen pilots that were so frightened of crashing there painstakingly long building project, that
they crashed out of anxioty or never learned to fly. At the very lest their first R/C experiance was not as enjoyable as it