Choosing your first UAV can be a tricky process, not only are there increasing numbers of brands and models out there competing at different price points, there are different types of aircraft. The first instinct for many newcomers is to go for a drone.
These quadcopter models are big, flashy and are very popular right now – especially if they are top models with the best cameras and controls. The problem is that buying a high-end drone is a little like jumping off a cliff for the first time.
The safest option is to go for an RC helicopter and this buying guide will highlight 6 of the best helicopters.
Why Are Helicopters A Better Choice Than Quadcopters For Newcomers?
These single rotor helicopters, with a single spinning blade, are an excellent entry point for those that want to get into flying. This is simply because they are not as complicated to operate as the quadcopter drones.
The abilities of the different products depend on the channels that are available and other capabilities, and some are more complex than others. It is great fun flying helicopters once you get the hang of them because they can perform some pretty tight aerial maneuvers and can be agile.
Some say that these choppers are easier to crash, but the best options in our guide are designed to withstand a little rough treatment, again making them ideal for newcomers.
6 Top Models For You To Choose From
1) Helizone Combat Fighter
The first model on this list is one that does look like a toy helicopter that you would give to a child, rather than an impressive flying machine. At under $50, it is also pretty cheap compared to the more capable models – although not the cheapest.
This higher price could be down to the fact that it is a dual-speed model, and it provides the opportunity to shoot missiles at unsuspecting targets.
To begin with, this 8.9’’ long model is made entirely from plastic and requires 6 AA batteries, which can be a problem. It is also terrible outdoors because of the wind and takes nearly an hour to charge.
2) Griffin Helo TC
The HELO TC by Griffin is one of the cheaper models here, at under $20, but, as was seen above, the problem is that affordability comes at a price. It has just the standard 3.5 channels – three for flight and a half channel for the lights – and even though it promises 8-10 minutes of flight, the reality is closer to 6.
Another issue is that the use of infrared means it is no good in the sunlight – the same as with the Helizone and Syma models.
The bonuses here are the use of USB charging and the fact that it is designed to be used with iOS and mobile devices, which makes it more user-friendly for new buyers.
3) Syma X3
Syma X3 is one of the best-known names in the world of drones and UAVs and here we have another cheap option available at a price range of $20 – $40 depending on where you order it. Despite being about the same in price as the models above, some say that it is easier to fly this one.
There are warnings to be careful with the throttle, but it is aerodynamic with rail skids for landing and the promise of a precise flight.
On top of this, it is pretty durable with the metal frame, relatively quick to charge at 50 minutes and has a decent flight time of 8 minutes. This makes it the ideal budget model.
4) Esky E-500
Esky E-500 provides something different – a good looking copter that just sneaks in right at $100 mark. This price tag is justified in many ways as it offers 11 minutes of flight, four channels, and it is the first one that can be used outdoors.
This is because there is a the2.4 GHz signal type. This needs to be noted that this is a big, heavy model – 21.25 inch long and 14.65 oz – and it takes as much as 130 minutes to recharge, this is a shame because it is such a joy to fly and pretty stable. Batteries are also included, which never hurts.
5) Hero iRocket
This one you should shop around for the prices varies greatly anywhere from $100 to $40 online. This helicopter has a cool appearance and will grab the buyer’s attention, but there is more to this model than you might expect.
Buyers may only achieve about 5 minutes in the air at a time, but any say that it is pretty easy to fly.
Furthermore, this model can again be used both indoors and outdoors, although it is not very good in the wind, and it uses four channels. It also comes with an extra battery, which is a nice touch.
6) Walkera Super CP
This Walkera model arguably comes out on top because even though it is more expensive – ranges from $90 – $110 – it provides a lot of great features. This is a great looking model with the aerodynamic shape, and cool paint job and the makers claim that it has been made to be “crash-resistant.”
The carbon frame is designed to make it light but also seems to be pretty tough. Also for an 11.1’’ long model, the 1.6 oz weight is impressive.
The 6.5 minute flight time is not brilliant, but the 45 charge time is decent, and there is the added benefit that the battery is upgradable.
This multi-speed helicopter also has the most impressive number of channels on the 2.4 GHz transmitter, with 6, and it has an internal gyroscope for greater maneuverability, unlike the crossbar model seen on the other models.
This RC helicopter buying guide was designed to showcase some of the pros and cons of the top models out there to not only show why these devices are a great tool for learning to fly but to show the diversity in the options. There are fun toys with missiles, high-end choppers with multiple channels and some surprisingly sophisticated models in-between.