Which RC helicopters are best?

Radio-controlled (RC) helicopters have been around for about 50 years. What started as a serious hobby has turned into something in which even casual flyers can participate. Today, there are RC helicopters that feel more like toys but still offer the same excitement of flying a chopper through the air. They’re also much more affordable with the evolution of cheaper technologies for RC vehicles.

The best one is the Syma S37 RC Helicopter, which is moderately expensive but offers several high-end features, such as altitude holding that allows the chopper to hover midair and quick-charge batteries.

What to know before you buy an RC helicopter

Channels

Channels refer to the different areas of control for an RC helicopter. For example, on a four-channel device, you’ll be able to control the throttle, pitch, rudder and elevator. The more channels a chopper has, the more complex the controls are. That said, more channels also mean more control for experienced flyers. Most intermediate RC helicopters have three to three-and-a-half channels. This is a good place to start for beginners looking to understand the basic mechanics.

Coaxial

Most beginner RC helicopters utilize what’s called the coaxial model. This form of the electric choppers use simplified controls made to make the flying process easier. There is a fair amount of complicated flight jargon that goes into this explanation, but the main understanding is that it reduces the rotational torque from the blades. This allows for a quicker response time, making coaxial helicopters better for beginners. These devices also are better for indoor use because they are easier to control.

Controller

For entry-level choppers, most manufacturers use easy-to-understand controllers. More often than not, these controllers mimic joystick-style video-game controllers with a directional stick on one side and an elevation stick on the other. This allows you to easily control the height and direction of the helicopter without worrying about messing with several more-complex buttons.

What to look for in a quality RC helicopter

Altitude hold

Altitude hold is just what it sounds like: It gives pilots the ability to hold their choppers at any given height without them losing altitude. This feature doesn’t come with every RC helicopter, only certain high-quality ones. If you’re a beginner or you’re purchasing a chopper for a child, having altitude hold is crucial to the learning process. While holding the chopper in the air, you can easily practice steering and other maneuvers to get a better grasp on the controls as a whole.

Distance

If you’re curious how far you can fly an RC helicopter, the answer is simple. In the United States, no remote controlled device can legally fly higher than 400 feet off the ground. This law is in place to prevent devices from potentially entering commercial air space. If you’re purchasing a beginner RC helicopter, you won’t need to worry much about flying that high. Most beginner to intermediate helicopters are best for indoor use. They are lightweight and won’t stay afloat in high winds. However, on a calm day, you can fly them outdoors, where they can reach up to 165 feet off the ground.

Smartphone control

Some high-quality RC helicopters have smartphone compatibility, which lets you operate the device from your phone. If your chopper is compatible, simply download the manufacturer’s app in the Apple App Store or Google Play Store and connect it to your helicopter. From there, you’ll see controls on your screen much like the ones on a traditional controller.

How much you can expect to spend on an RC helicopter

RC helicopters cost $25-$90.

RC helicopter FAQ

How old should a child be to fly an RC helicopter?

A. It’s recommended that children no younger than 8 years old operate an RC helicopter. Most inexpensive choppers use very simple remotes those just older than 8 years old can understand.

Is it difficult to learn to fly an RC helicopter?

A. This really depends on the type of RC helicopter you purchase. If you go for an inexpensive one, it will likely be fairly easy to learn. The more expensive you go, the more complex flying the chopper will become.

What are the best RC helicopters to buy?

Top RC helicopter

Syma S37 RC Helicopter

Syma S37 RC Helicopter

What you need to know: This high-powered RC helicopter from Syma is both easy to control and comes with high-end features.

What you’ll love: The biggest feature is the altitude hold function, which allows you to steadily hover the copter in the air without worrying about balancing the blades. It comes fully assembled and ready to fly out of the box. Two rechargeable batteries are included so you’ll always have a fully charged backup battery.

What you should consider: It’s not suitable for outdoor use if there’s significant wind.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top RC helicopter for the money

DE54 RC Helicopter

DE54 RC Helicopter

What you need to know: This middle-of-the-pack RC helicopter is affordable and great for a beginner looking to learn to fly.

What you’ll love: There are two interchangeable face plates that give the copter a different look. Two speed levels are included, which gives children the ability to fly the copter at lower speeds. You can fly from 50 meters away from the remote, giving you plenty of distance to explore the skies.

What you should consider: It requires some quick assembly before flying.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Syma S107G RC Helicopter

Syma S107G RC Helicopter

What you need to know: This high-grade RC helicopter is built for precision handling and excellent stabilization.

What you’ll love: The added tail blade gives this chopper great control. The metal frame allows you to fly without worrying about a crash that could destroy the build. There’s an added frequency that lets you fly two seperate choppers with the same remote.

What you should consider: There is only about a 10-minute flight time for a single battery charge.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

 

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Jordan Beliles writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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