11 Cheap RC Planes: Flying On A Budget

Ever since the dawn of time, man has wanted to fly, and though we have managed it, flying still requires licensing and intensive training courses. Furthermore, even the smallest planes are very costly. That is why RC airplanes are so important. They can give you the feeling of being able to fly your own plane without necessarily breaking the bank, though some RC planes are also terribly expensive.

If you are just getting into the RC hobby, we here at the Elite Drone want to help. We have compiled our list of the best cheap RC planes for beginner and intermediate pilots. All of these planes are durable, easy to fly and won’t blow your budget sky-high.

#1 HobbyZone Duet RTF HBZ5300 Airplane

hobbyzone-duet-rtf-hbz5300-airplaneSometimes, getting into the RC plane hobby can be very difficult. Where do you start? What plane should you buy? With the duet, the fine folks at Horizon Hobby have answered that question for us.

The Duet 5300 plane comes with everything you will need to learn to fly, and that even includes four AA batteries for the transmitter. All you will need to do is charge the plane, put the batteries in the transmitter and get ready for fun.

However, anyone who has ever flown an RC plane knows it isn’t that easy. There is trim to worry about, wind conditions, and a lot of fine tuning that needs to be done. However, the Hobbyzone Duet takes care of that, too. This plane features a virtual instructor mode. What this means for you as a pilot is that the plane will auto-correct to compensate for wind conditions. It will also fix the trim for you until you learn the proper configuration of the controls.

When you have learned, simply switch off the virtual instructor mode and start flying on your own.

When you are first beginning to fly, crashes are almost a given. The Duet is made of a light, flexible material which makes it less prone to breakage. This aircraft can take a crash without a scratch.

The Duet also features a 2.4GHZ radio system. This means that the transmitter will latch onto any open frequency available, allowing you to run more than one plane at a time for flight games and races with friends. The transmitter also includes a built-in charger. No more needing to run back to your computer every time you need a charge.

#2 E-flite UMX Spacewalker BNF Airplane

e-flite-umx-spacewalker-bnf-airplaneMany RC planes are best flown outdoors or in large indoor spaces such as gymnasiums and auditoriums. So, what is a hobbyist to do if they would like a smaller plane that is easy to fly in their own backyards?? That’s where the E-Flite UMX Spacewalker comes in.

This plane features slow flight capabilities, meaning that it will not be overly fast for flight in a yard or other small space. It is also very easy to control, due to the included three-channel system. Having only three channels means that you do not have to worry about controlling the ailerons. All you have to do is control the throttle, the rudder and the elevator in order to have a successful flight. This radio system is also 2.4GHZ. This means that you can use it with a wide variety of transmitters without interference or jamming.

The Spacewalker comes out of the box fully assembled. You can be flying in the length of time it takes you to charge the included battery pack, so about twenty minutes. The included battery will also provide seven to nine minutes of flight time.

The detail on the Spacewalker is second to none. The plane features details like molded wing ribs and exposed engine cylinders, quite remarkable for a plane of its size. Even more amazing, there is also a pilot figure perched in the open cockpit of this plane, evoking the image of bygone days with homebuilt planes.

#3 E-flite U2980 UMX Radian BNF Airplane

e-flite-u2980-umx-radian-bnf-airplaneAnother durable little plane is the E-Flite Radium BNf. This plane is made of a molded break-resistant foam, perfect for bouncing back from crashes. This one can even stand some full-speed crashes without breaking. If you do break a part, simply glue it back on with a strong-bond glue, and you’re ready to go again.

For improved stability in the air, the Radium BNF features an AS3X stability system which makes this plane super user friendly, even for a beginner by smoothing out the turbulence from any wind you might be flying in. In fact, with the AS3X system, this plane recovers quickly from being tossed around, even in a moderate wind.

Seeing as this plane is BNF or bind and fly, no transmitter comes with it. However, this means that you can use any compatible controller, therefore giving yourself a bit of freedom if you are a hobbyist who prefers a different size or type of radio. If you are looking for an affordable controller for this plane, we would recommend a Spectrum Dx5E. We would also recommend buying extra battery packs to prolong your flight time. This plane comes with a 1S 3.7V 150mAh 25C Li-Po battery and a USB cord for easy charging.

The Radium is packed with  features to increase your glide efficiency, including a foldable propeller. The ESC is specially designed to work with this propeller, allowing it to snap open and closed easily to make the aircraft more streamlined.

#4 Top Race Cessna C185 Electric 2 Ch Infrared Remote Control RC Airplane, Ready to Fly

top-race-cessna-c185-electric-2-ch-infrared-remote-control-rc-airplane-ready-to-flyThe Top Race Cessna C85 is the perfect plane for indoor flight. This plane is built of a strong, bendy material. That way if it crashes, it will bounce right back without serious damage.

The C185 is almost ready to fly right out of the box. All you have to do is snap in the landing gear and charge the battery. Charging time is about an hour and flight time is fifteen minutes. The range of the transmitter on the Cessna C185 is about forty feet, which means that you have a nice, large range in which to fly.

This little plane, due to its small size can go anywhere you do. The wingspan is only nine inches, making this perfect to tuck into your car when you head out to a friend’s house. Remember to fly it only indoors and you will be golden. Because of its small size, the Cessna C185 will fly in any size room. However, the bigger the room you fly in, the more fun you will have.

There is only one downside to this plane. Though it is durable, it is also quite light. This means that if you are going to fly it, it is a good idea to make sure that there are no stray breezes or air currents in the room. Also, turn off all ceiling fans, as they will make flying this plane impossible.

#5 HobbyZone 4480 Sport Cub S BNF Vehicle with Safe

hobbyzone-4480-sport-cub-s-bnf-vehicle-with-safeThe Hobbyzone Sport Cub is an attractive plane. The amount of detail for the price is amazing. In fact, this one looks like an actual tiny sport cub in the sky, for all that wow factor you desire. This little plane isn’t all about the wow factor, however. It features a proportional four-channel radio system and working throttle, rudder, elevator and ailerons. This means that every part of this plane is controllable, making for a smooth flight for those of a more intermediate skill level.

Normally a four-channel aircraft like this would be rather hard for a beginner to master. However, this one comes with SAFE technology, which means that the mystery is taken out of RC flight. SAFE technology works to keep the plane stable in the air, adjusting trim and other settings for you as you go, until you can learn to adjust them yourself. This technology also offers the ability to learn to adjust those settings, as if your plane becomes unstable, simply pull the panic trigger on your remote. The plane will adjust and correct itself to stabilize in the air.

This plane features a steerable tail wheel. This means that you can get superb ground control. Also included is a powerful electric motor which provides excellent speed and climb control and all the power you will need to do pretty much any acrobatic maneuver you want.

As a note, this plane is bind and fly, which means you will have to furnish your own transmitter.

#6 UMX PT-17 with AS3X BNF Airplane

umx-pt-17-with-as3x-bnf-airplaneDuring World War II, the PT-17 biplane was built and used to train American fighter pilots, and many of them still fly today as crop dusters, given radial engines that double the horsepower. They are tough and well-mannered fliers, and the UMX PT-17 is no different from the full-sized plane in this regard. Also, this plane features a large amount of scale details including a real-looking radial Engine. It is modeled after a particular PT-17, the one owned by Pat Hartness, the founder of the Joe Nall event at the Triple Tree Aerodrome in South Carolina.

This plane comes fully assembled right out of the box. All you have to do is charge the battery, bind your favorite transmitter and you are off.

As a note, this plane is recommended for intermediate pilots. It requires a 4+ channel transmitter with spectrum DSM2 or DSMX 2.4 GHZ technology to fly properly.

Once you are in the air, prepare for a smooth, exquisite flight. The E-flite PT-17 features advanced AS3X stabilization. This means that your plane will feel rock-solid in the air. It will feel as if you are flying a much larger model.

This plane is incredibly durable. It can stand nose-dives into a road, downdrafts and other crashes with ease. If you are going to fly it hard, we would recommend getting some foam-safe glue. However, even with hard flying, this plane can stand up to a lot and can deal with wind of up to six miles per hour.

#7 KKmoon F949 2.4G 3Ch RC Airplane Fixed Wing Plane Outdoor toys Drone

kkmmoonf949For those of you who would rather fly your planes outside rather than being always stuck in a room, we have the perfect plane for you. The KKmoon F949 aircraft is designed to look like a real Cessna airplane. Meticulous attention has been paid to detail but pretty graphics are not all this plane has to offer. It is a very speedy aircraft for its size, going a whopping ten miles an hour. Since it uses 2.4 GHZ technology in the transmitter, you can also race this one with your friends without worrying about interference.

The KKmoon F949’s small size also means that it is quite portable. If you want, you could keep this in your car for those times when you are out and the wind just seems perfect for a flight. The charge time on this plane is about an hour, and you will get a solid fifteen minutes of flight time if you are cruising.

The F949 is comprised almost entirely of foam. This makes it very light which means that if it crashes, the chances are much higher that it will simply bounce and not break. If something does break, however, you can employ a little packing tape or some glue and be back to flying again in no time.

The downside to this foam construction is that though it isn’t likely to break due to a crash, it will break if you mishandle it. Be careful to not bend the wings or put anything on top of the plane if you are transporting it.

The other downside of this plane is it has three joysticks instead of two. This kind of control tends to be a little harder to master than a two-stick remote.

#8 GoolRC F949 Cessna 182 Remote Control 3ch Fixed Wing Drone Plane Rc Toys Airplane Aircraft

goolrc-f949-cessna-182-remote-control-3ch-fixed-wing-drone-plane-rc-toys-airplane-aircraftWhen making the F949, Ghoul RC paid enormous attention to detail. This RC plane is designed to look exactly like an actual Cessna 182 for realism in flight. It also features 3 coreless motors for more driving power. This means that the plane will become airborne much more quickly.

The body is made of an EP composite material. It will bend and flex but it is durable and does not easily break. If you do happen to break a component, however, they’re easy to fix or replace.

Unlike most planes for beginner and intermediate pilots, the F949 can be flown both outdoors and indoors with ease. This versatility means that it will fly anywhere you choose to take it. To assist in outdoor flight, the control range on this aircraft is two hundred feet. You no longer have to follow your plane to keep it in range. Now you can simply sit and watch it fly.

Speaking of the transmitter, it is very simple to use. Even a child as young as eleven or twelve could operate this transmitter, though they might need assistance. The transmitter has throttle on the left stick and rudder and elevator on the right stick, as opposed to a more complex design that includes control of the ailerons as well.

Another benefit to this particular plane is its stability. Seeing as this is a starter plane, stability and ease of flying are key. This plane has a high wing design, as well as a lot of dihedral. The upward bend of the wings causes this Cessna to be much more stable in the air than it would otherwise have been.


#9 ParkZone U2480 Ultra-Micro P-51D Mustang BNF Airplane

parkzone-u2480-ultra-micro-p-51d-mustang-bnf-airplaneSome hobbyists prefer fighter planes of ages gone by to anything modern. If this is you, then the Parkzone Ultra Micro Mustang BNF plane might be right up your alley. This plane features an extremely good amount of detail, including gun and exhaust details. It also features molded panel lines and a clear canopy. This tiny plane even features a pilot figure for that added realism.

As far as flying goes, the Mustang flies like a dream. It is rock solid in the air, and features the recently added AS3X stabilization system. This system helps to counteract the effects of turbulence and torque.

Flying time on this plane runs at about six minutes, and charging time is 40-60 minutes.

Being a micro plane, the Mustang BNF is super portable. This plane can be flown in a much smaller space than a larger model, meaning that you can easily fly one of these indoors.

Also, the Mustang BNF is quieter. This means that you are less likely to get noise complaints from angry neighbors while flying this model.

There are only a couple of very small downsides to this plane. Firstly, the leading edges of the wings and the nose are a little fragile. We would recommend putting a bit of clear packing tape on the nose and leading wing edges for reinforcement.

Another downside to some people is that this plane is bind and fly. This means that you will need to purchase your own transmitter.

#10 Wltoys F959 SKY-King 2.4G 3CH Radio Control RC Airplane Aircraft RTF

wltoys-f959-sky-king-2-4g-3ch-radio-control-rc-airplane-aircraft-rtfIf you are looking for a model plane that is simple to fly and perfect for a beginner, then the Wltoys F959 Skyking is perfect. It comes with everything you will need for a successful first flight straight out of the box. You can have this little plane ready to fly before the battery is even charged.

Further, the Sky King is very light and durable, meaning it will rebound from crashes without breaking apart. If you do break a component, simply tape it back together. This plane also comes with some spare parts to make replacing components easier. Also, if it is damaged too badly to repair, the price is inexpensive enough to allow you to replace it without difficulty.

The Skyking is also very stable in the air, perfect for a beginning pilot. The controls are easy to master with just a little practice. Once you get the hang of it, this plane has a very predictable glide slope, just like a well-tuned paper airplane.

The transmitter also comes with a display. The display shows you trim settings and battery charge level. No more guessing how much charge you have left. Speaking of charge, this plane gets about fifteen minutes of flight time for an hour charge.

There is only one downside to the Skyking. It is a little tail-heavy. Therefore, it may be necessary to add a washer in the nose to help it balance.

#11 Hobbyzone Sport Cub S RTF RC Airplane with SAFE Technology

best_cheap_RC_Planes_hobbyzone-sport-cub-s-rtf-rc-airplane-with-safe-technologyThe Hobbyzone Sport Cub S is just plain impressive. It is a micro plane that packs a lot of features into a tiny package. Perhaps the most useful of these, if you are a beginner is the SAFE technology. SAFE technology means that your plane will adjust itself as you learn to fly. This kind of adjustments are needed because four-channel systems are a bit harder to learn on than the typical three-channel systems beginners wind up with.

SAFE technology also helps you learn the controls by experimentation, and keeps your plane stable until you’ve gotten the hang of flying. If for some reason your plane starts flying erratically, pull the panic recovery trigger. The plane will destabilize itself. When you have properly learned how to control the plane, switch over to intermediate mode and start doing acrobatic maneuvers. Eventually you’ll be able to disable SAFE entirely and fly alone.

Another bonus of this aircraft is that it is ready to fly. You don’t need to purchase anything to complete this plane. It comes fully assembled and even includes a transmitter so that you do not have to buy your own. Simply charge the batteries, find a suitable flight field and you’re set to go.


If you would like to get into the RC plane hobby, or do not know if it would be a hobby you would be interested in, this list is a good resource to consult. These planes are durable, inexpensive, and a lot of fun to fly. Furthermore, most are perfect for beginning pilots and they are inexpensive enough to be good trainer or starter planes, so what are you waiting for? Go grab one of these cheap RC planes and you will be exploring the wild blue yonder in no time.

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