Radio controlled helicopters can provide hours of fun both indoors and out. Model helicopters can be found in many types and sizes, so you are sure to be able to find one you can enjoy that won't break your budget. Toy helicopters can usually be radio controlled (abbreviated RC) from a distance of 100 ft, which is approximately 30 m. This gives plenty of room for leisurely flying inside your home or aerobatic maneuvers. With so many kinds to choose from, how do you select one that is right for you? There are several major considerations, apart from price. These are:
1. Size matters. The smallest mini or micro sized radio controlled helicopters can fit in your hand, while larger ones are a couple of feet in length. The micro RC helis are wonderful for indoor flying, but can be hard to use outside except in gentle winds. Of course, big helicopters are hard to use indoors. Before purchasing, you should think about where you plan to use it. Ideally, of course, you can get two: a small one for indoor flying and a larger model for outdoor use!
2. Maneuverability. The speed and maneuverability of helicopters varies greatly among models. Helicopters with more advanced control systems are quite powerful and can be used for aerobatics. However, these are also much more challenging for novice pilots to handle. Since radio controlled helicopters with advanced controls are inevitably more expensive, crashing these is also more costly.
A quick way to tell whether an RC helicopter is designed for novice, intermediate, or advanced level radio control enthusiasts is to examine its transmitter system. Is it 2-, 3-, 4- or more-channel? As you might expect, more channels means more variables to tune. The single biggest difference between the entry level and advanced helicopters is that the basic models have fixed pitch rotors while the fancier choppers offer variable pitch. Some mini or micro RC helis come with just 2CH controls and these are the only helicopter models that just have 2CH. I suggest 3CH for novice radio control pilots. I advise 4CH for intermediate pilots and suggest that pilots not attempt to fly 6CH radio controlled helicopters until they have gained some experience flying a 4CH model.
3. Power source. Most ready-to-fly radio controlled helicopters are powered by electric motors with rechargeable batteries, but nitro gas models can also be purchased. Nitro gas is otherwise known as glow fuel. Nitro gas powered models have the drawback of being a bit louder. They also emit a gas trail and some people think the little plume makes them look cool. The main advantage of nitro vs. electric is that you can simply add more fuel to a nitro helicopter and resume flying, while an electric model needs to get its battery recharged first. All the cheapest helicopters are electric, so at the lowest price point you won't have a choice but to get an electric helicopter.
4. Special considerations when choosing for children. Simpler 2- and 3CH radio controlled helicopters do still require some patience to learn how to fly and hover. For this reason, smaller children may be happier receiving toy trucks or boats as presents rather than helicopters until they are a little older. Flight time is another consideration. The cheapest models of radio controlled helicopters may only fly for 5-8 minutes per battery charge.