Last updated: 16/10/2022

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There is so much more to life than simply being a passenger. Piloting a new RC helicopter for the first time can be a little scary, but makes for extremely fun in the first place.

With our RC helicopter test 2023 we want to help you find the best RC helicopter for you. We have compared different helicopters with each other and listed the respective advantages and disadvantages. This should make your purchase decision as easy as possible.




Summary

  • Remote-controlled helicopters can be fun for young and old. Depending on the individual experience, there are many different models.
  • Basically, a distinction is made between 3-channel, 4-channel, 6-channel RC helicopters and quadrocopters. Each model requires different know-how and is suitable for different applications.
  • For beginners, 3-channel coaxial helicopters and quadrocopters are particularly suitable. Advanced and professional pilots go for 4-channel or 6-channel RC helicopters.

The Best RC Helicopter: Our Picks

Rc Helicopters: Buying and Evaluation Criteria

In the following, we will show you which aspects you can use to decide between the many possible RC helicopters. The criteria that you can use to compare RC helicopters with each other include:

In the following paragraphs, we will explain to you what is important in the individual criteria.

Control

Of course, a remote-controlled helicopter also needs a solid transmitter and a receiver. In the RC (Radio Controlled) heli sector, 2.4 GHz radio technology is used almost exclusively today. However, there are also other transmission techniques, e.g. infrared transmitters.

These transmit in the infrared range. Visual contact between transmitter and model is always necessary. The range is only a few metres. These transmitters are suitable for toys and only for very small mini helicopters.

Radio transmitters are available in different frequency ranges with different ranges. In the meantime, the 2.4 GHz technology has become established, which ensures good connection quality by means of frequency hopping.

The range of good 2.4GHz transmitters is usually over 2000 m, depending on the transmitter, transmission power and environmental conditions.

Maximum flight time

According to the manufacturer, how much fun can be had in one go? RC helicopters usually have only small battery charges. These are usually sufficient for 5 to 9 minutes of flight time.

Once the battery is empty, the helicopter has to be plugged in for 20 to 60 minutes to recharge.

However, modern batteries are getting better and better and with a second battery you can achieve the same result in the end. Factors such as flight time and performance are of great importance when you decide to buy a remote-controlled helicopter.

Give the motor a few minutes to cool down between battery changes.

However, you will get the longest flight time with a petrol engine. These engines are often found in so-called scale helicopters. These are detailed replicas of the original models.

There are several specialised manufacturers in this field. The largest model helicopters can weigh up to 20 kg and cost several thousand euros.

Ready-made models vs. kits

Kits are mainly suitable for young people with model building experience and, of course, interested adults. Prefabricated models are also suitable for younger children. There is no need to tinker carefully, set up the remote control and create a flight mode.

These RTF “Ready To Fly” packages offer immediate flying fun. Make sure that the required batteries are included.

Ready-to-fly models are usually characterised by great robustness and little complexity. They are best suited for young pilots and flight beginners. Kits, on the other hand, offer more points of intersection with the material and allow more individualisation.

Size

If you look at the remote control helicopter offerings on the internet, you’ll quickly notice that there are many different sizes. From miniature versions to XXL helicopters, everything is available. Which size you should choose depends very much on the area of use.

You should ask yourself whether you want to fly indoors or outdoors, because in light winds your remote-controlled helicopter should be able to withstand some weight. The bigger and heavier the model, the more difficult it is to control.

Therefore, it is recommended to start with a smaller model. While small models have an overall length of 10 to 30 cm, the really “big” ones can be up to 1 m long.

The weight of a typical remote-controlled helicopter ranges from 50 g (smallest helicopter with a rotor diameter of about 20 cm) to 5 kg (about 1.50 m rotor diameter). However, there are also smaller versions that weigh even less than 50g when ready to fly and have a rotor diameter of less than 15 cm.

RC helicopters: Frequently asked questions and answers

In the following, we would like to answer the most important questions about RC helicopters. We have selected the questions for you and will answer them shortly.

After you have read through the guide, you will know all the essential background information about RC helicopters.

Who is a RC helicopter suitable for?

RC helicopters are suitable for anyone who is at least 14 years old. There are RTF models for those who just want to fly around a bit.

RC Helikopter

RC helicopters are something for everyone. No matter if young or old. (Image source: william bayreuther / unsplash)

Alternatively, there are model helicopters to assemble yourself. These are best suited for hobbyists and those who want to invest a little more love in the RC helicopter hobby.

If you have no flying experience at all, you can take lessons for RC helicopters at one of the many flying schools.

What types of RC helicopters are there?

Depending on where you fly, there are different types of RC helicopters. If you want to get an RC helicopter, there are two alternatives you can choose between: Indoor RC helicopters and outdoor RC helicopters.

We have compiled the most important advantages and disadvantages of both types below:

Type Advantages Disadvantages
Indoor RC helicopter Small and beginner-friendly Limited flight routes
Outdoor RC Helicopter Space for many manoeuvres There must be good flight control

Indoor RC helicopters are characterised by never lacking wind resistance. Indoors, it is definitely an advantage to have high ceilings and a room that is not too crowded.

A remote-controlled helicopter is always a welcome change from the stress of everyday life, even in the office.

The absolute top class are the so-called scale helicopters. These are true-to-detail replicas of the original models. There are several specialised manufacturers in this field. The largest model helicopters can weigh up to 20 kg and cost several thousand euros.

Outdoor RC helicopters are not quite as susceptible to wind. If you want to use your remote-controlled helicopter outdoors, you should focus on the following features.

The helicopter should be large and heavy enough. For beginners, the coaxial rotor is best.

Outdoors, it is advantageous to look for a large and clear area with as few obstacles as possible. Meadows and fields are very suitable for the first flight attempts. Here you always have an overview and no big obstacles when flying.

To ensure that your remote-controlled helicopter can withstand light winds, you should make sure that it weighs at least 400g. The lighter and smaller e-helicopters can also be flown outdoors. However, you should make sure that it is as windless as possible.

How much does an RC helicopter cost?

There is a wide price range between the different RC helicopters. Depending on the quality and functionality of the helicopters, the cost varies. The range can go from about 30 to several 1,000 euros.

Such prices come into question for the so-called scale helicopters. These can be a good 1.60 m to 2.50 m in diameter and are usually one-offs.

Type price range
Indoor RC helicopter approx. 23 to 50 euros
Outdoor RC Helicopter circa 60 Euro, open to the top

The more complex and larger the model of your choice, the more expensive it can become.

Which RC helicopters are suitable for beginners?

If you are looking for a helicopter for your 8-year-old child, you will quickly realise that most offers are only aimed at children aged 14 and over. This means that there is not much choice for younger children.

Basically, however, it can be said that children from the age of 8 are capable of flying a remote-controlled helicopter with 3 channels.

The advantage with these beginner models is clearly that flying is the main focus. Advanced manoeuvres and their control are left out.

You should definitely make sure that there is as much space as possible for the first flight attempts.

If you are practising outdoors, the RC helicopter should be sufficiently heavy and large, as mentioned above. Finally, the range of the remote control is also important.

Especially when flying outdoors, it is important to know what the range is. As soon as the connection is lost, the remote-controlled helicopter quickly crashes.

Basically, you have to have a certain spatial awareness and also a little dexterity to move the remote-controlled helicopter in the air. Children from the age of 8 can handle the complexity of a beginner’s model.

It depends in particular on the design and thus the demands on the controls. From the age of 14, of course, there are even more possibilities with advanced products.

What do I have to consider before flying an RC helicopter?

You don’t want to hurt people or animals, or destroy your new aircraft. It is easy to launch helicopters, but having full control requires skill.

RC helis are very fragile compared to RC planes. With a little patience and perseverance, you can achieve a lot here.

  • Always make sure that you only take off with full fuel or battery.
  • Never fly your helicopter around people, pets or other animals.

Make sure you know the maximum battery life (flight time) of your heli. RC copter manufacturers measure battery life in minutes. Typically, a charge lasts between five and ten minutes.

Also note the charging times of the batteries. Be sure to factor this into your flight plans. You may want to invest in a spare battery or two beforehand to continue the fun and training between charges.

How do you control an RC helicopter?

The remote control puts you in the pilot’s seat. Its functions are very similar to a real cockpit. However, the design, layout and options can change between models. It is important to familiarise yourself with the control unit so that you know how to react in emergencies.

All RC transmitters (toy and hobby) have the following flight controls in common:

  • Throttle: to control the height of the helicopter
  • Trim: used to control left/right lateral movement
  • Rudder: used to control forward/backward movements

The more channels a remote control has, the more likely it is that your helicopter will have additional functions. An RC transmitter with only 2 to 3 channels is perfect for beginners.

With additional channels you can travel in more directions, but this can be confusing at the entry level. You can always learn elegant flight manoeuvres in 3D flight later.

What should I look for in my first RC helicopter?

We recommend picking something inexpensive to start with – maybe even toy quality. Every beginner experiences collisions and crash landings as they develop skills.

It’s better to have something sturdy flying through your living room first than to buy a nice, expensive, hobby-quality model straight away. You can then fly these later with more confidence. That way you don’t have to worry so much about knocks, scratches or broken parts.

Toy helicopters are not as impressive or as powerful as hobby models. Still, the basic flight principles are the same, and that’s what matters.

Where is the difference between coaxial and single rotor RC helicopters?

It’s easy to overlook this when buying and rather choose the plane that you like best visually. Coaxial helicopters have two rotors, one sitting above the other on a concentric shaft.

If you’re still an RC heli beginner, it’s better to find one of these. The helicopter may be less manoeuvrable, but it is much more stable in the air than a single-rotor helicopter. A stable bird is exactly what you need in the beginning.

How do I get better at flying an RC helicopter?

The quickest way to get really good at flying is with time and relaxation. Perseverance always pays off in the end. Think in baby steps and develop your skills naturally. It’s best to start low and keep the helicopter close to you.

Always keep the maximum flight time in mind. You will want to fly further and higher as you gain experience, but recognise the limits. You don’t want to be too high or too far away when you run out of power.

First practice the following basic manoeuvres in the order listed here:

  1. Take off
  2. Landing
  3. Take off, fly in a straight line, land
  4. Take-off, turn right for a full circle, land
  5. Take-off, turn left for a full circle, land
  6. Take-off, figure of eight, land

RC helicopters with more than three channels can perform additional manoeuvres. Some examples are changing the nose direction, translational lifts and other more complicated manoeuvres.

The options available to you depend largely on the capabilities of the model and your controller.

Conclusion

RC helicopters are an exciting and intensive hobby. There are no limits and every pilot is free to act according to his or her imagination. There are various models that are aimed at beginners as well as more experienced pilots.

It is advisable for beginners to always start with a simpler model first. There is less disappointment if an accident should occur and the stakes are lower. There are many very beginner-friendly indoor and outdoor models with which you can teach yourself to fly.

Image source: Ken226 / 123rf

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