The Wright Flyer may have been the first successful powered aircraft but it was not the easiest to build or fly. I use two rules of thumb when picking good flying models -
The easiest, most basic kits are
It takes very little time to build these models and they are very easy to fly. I highly recommend these kits for the first time builder/flyer. When my sons were young teens each built an Imp in about 45 minutes and flew them at our local indoor contest. My son, Chris, won with a 2 minute flight! A really fun airplane, the kids learn very quickly how to tweak it for the best flights. When you order these kits to build with your kids be sure to ask for our "seconds" free TissueCal™ markings. Kids love to decorate their planes!
For beginners wanting a model with a built-up wing and fuselage, I recommend these kits.
These are all endurance type models with great flying characteristics. They were designed for both fun flying and competition.
For scale model kits that are still fairly easy to build and have good flight characteristics, I suggest -
In order to guide you in choosing kits, we ve indicated the difficulty level in the following way - type of kit/building difficulty/flying difficulty. The type of kit is either a scale model, a sport model (designed for competition or fun flying), or a display model (not designed to fly but it can be if modified). Building difficulty is either easy or experienced. Stick with easy kits until you are comfortable building from the plan. Experienced kits are for those with several successful models completed or with plenty of help nearby. Experienced builders usually make small adjustments as they build and don t follow the plan exactly. Flying difficulty is also either easy or experienced. Easy to fly airplanes require little tweaking to fly - they want to fly. Those recommended for experienced fliers will need encouragement to fly right. You ll have to play with finding the center of gravity, getting it balanced, adjusting the wing warp, etc. A soft landing area is very important for this stage.
So, if you are just starting out, or if you re looking for a great Christmas gift, and especially if you do not know anyone with model building experience to assist you, I strongly encourage you to add a copy of Don Ross books Rubber Powered Model Airplanes and Flying Models to your bookshelf. These comprehensive books are packed full of useful information and enjoyable reading too.
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