Types of Model Aircraft

There was a time when model aircraft were powered by only gasoline engines and the categories were as broad as well. Today, you have model aircraft that feature different types of engines that serve different purposes. Some are meant to showoff acrobatics, while others are used for training purposes. Deciding what type of model aircraft you should choose depends on your needs and intention.  You can also enjoy collecting diecast airplane models and other options to enjoy the world of aviation.

If you want something that is fast and robust, you should choose a model aircraft that is specifically designed for the purpose. However, if you are a casual flyer, then helicopters might satisfy the daily thrills. Therefore, in this article, we are going to discuss different types of model aircraft for you to consider. Let’s begin.

Model Aircraft Types

Free Flight

Free Flight models as the name suggests are meant to be flown with no pilot controlling the aircraft. These model aircraft can be powered by electric motors, CO2 motors, rubber-band motors, internal combustion engines, or no engine at all. Once they are off the ground and in flight, free flight model aircraft take directions from subtle angles that are built into the airframe during the construction. Usually, the angles direct the aircraft to fly in a circular path so that it does not go out of sight. If you are a beginner, free flight model aircraft will help you learn the basics of model flying.

Control Line

Control Line Model Aircraft are designed to move in a line or circular path around a pilot. Controlling such types is relatively easy as the flyer only needs to adjust the height setting. He/she can choose to either bring the aircraft close to the ground or fly it high in the air. Furthermore, the pilot holds a handle with lines from the aircraft attached to it, and by moving his/her arm up and down the altitude of the plane is adjusted.

Radio Control

Radio Control models can be divided into two categories, powered and non-powered gliders. In both cases, the aircraft is controlled by electronic signals received by an electronic device built inside the aircraft sent by the pilot through a handheld device called a “transmitter”. Since the remote control model aircraft utilize the same principles as a full-scale airplane, it is comparatively more complex in both operation and design. If you are someone who is new to such types, then you should take guidance and instructions from a professional before attempting to fly one. Although many people tend to be self-taught in this sport. However, a qualified instructor saves you money and time.

Let us now take a look at a powered RC model. If an RC model aircraft is powered by an engine, motor, or battery, the power source will most probably be installed in the front. Using a propeller, the aircraft is pushed through the air and the controller controls the direction of the aircraft. However, the most important factor when it comes to flying model aircraft is the experience level.

If you are a beginner, you should not attempt to fly a fast model aircraft. It is the same case with full-scale pilots who are not trained to fly combat-ready jetfighters. You cannot expect to fly a professional model aircraft using your basic skills. Therefore, considering that you are a new entrant to the world of model aircraft, consider purchasing an aircraft with a .20-.40 engine. As your skill level gradually improves, you can opt for more professional aircraft.


On the other hand, non-powered glider type RC is a new invention but many people often wonder how is it able to fly? To make it easy for you to understand, assume a vehicle standing on top of a hill and it does not have an engine. Once you release the brakes, the car will slowly begin rolling down. In such a case, you will be able to steer the car and break but you are doing all that without an engine, why? Because of gravity. The same principle applies to non-powered gliders as well.

These model aircrafts use gravity, which allows them to proceed through the air. In addition to that, most non-powered gliders tend to be comparatively slower than powered gliders. This makes them a good choice for beginners. Since the speed is slower, it gives the user more time to react and therefore, better results in a short period of time. Furthermore, it also helps the flyer prepare for any unexpected situations that might occur.

While choosing the perfect model aircraft is one thing, considering the right radio control systems is another. The reason being that radio control systems are the lifeline of model aircrafts. It is the only source of communication between you and the aircraft. Therefore, it is suggested that you invest in a good radio-controlled system so that your model flying needs and demands are met.

Basic RC aircraft types

Basic RC aircraft types

Trainer Airplanes

Trainer airplanes as the term suggests are specifically designed for learning and training. These are conventional airplanes that feature a basic design with a wing on top of the fuselage for maximum stability in the air. Furthermore, trainer airplanes are either electric powered or gasoline. The most popular type happens to be nitro-powered airplanes. These planes are offered in several varieties to allow users to strengthen their basic skills as much as they can.

Sport Airplanes

Sport airplanes have a fair share of contribution in the world of remote control model aircrafts. Furthermore, they are the next step to basic training, however, can also be used for people who have intermediate flying skills, especially low-wing training. In addition to that, sport airplanes differ in size and shape. They are constructed of light material to reduce weight. As a result, they are more capable of performing severe maneuvers. Since most of the sport airplanes are designed to be a mid or low wing, they tend to perform such maneuvers comparatively better than others.

Aerobatic Planes

Aerobatic Planes are specifically designed for performing advanced aerobatic maneuvers and ‘3D’ flying. Typically, these types of model aircrafts are mid-wing, featuring oversize control surfaces and motors, delivering more power than the plane actually requires. If the pilot knows how to fly such an aircraft, it does not fail to put up a show each time.


Jets are typically powered by an electric or glow plug ducted fan or miniature gas turbine engines. However, these types of model aircrafts require professional skills and a big budget. The engine alone for instance can cost thousands of dollars. Furthermore, these model aircrafts are exact replicas of the original aircrafts and even sound the same as well.


Gliders can also be divided into two categories, powered and non-powered gliders. The non-powered gliders tend to be the simplest form of airplane does not require complicated accessories either. Furthermore, if you are using a non-powered glider, you rely solely on the wind or thermals to keep the aircraft airborne.  Whereas, powered gliders are also called e-soarers. These types of gliders are essentially powered by electric motors.

The propeller blades fold back as well then the plane is not in use. Typically, powered gliders have their electric motors installed in their nose but they can also have the motor installed on a fold-away pod on top of the fuselage, behind the wing.

Final Word

The model aircraft industry is worth billions of dollars today due to the fact that this sport today has international coverage. With thousands of hobbyists entering the world of model aircraft every day, it is only right that we discussed each type in detail. You may enjoy snorkeling, biking or other hobbies but model aircraft can be for anyone and anytime.  Therefore, whenever you are out hunting for the perfect model aircraft, give this article a thorough read.