ParkZone RC airplanes
For good-value electric radio control flying, ParkZone rc airplanes are an excellent choice for anyone looking to either start flying radio control from scratch with something more than a basic plane, or to progress up from simpler 1 or 2 channel planes.
ParkZone is one of the more popular rc product ranges developed and marketed by Illinois-based Horizon Hobby, one of (if not the) largest radio control distributors in North America.
The company's HobbyZone range, including the hugely successful Super Cub and Firebird RTF electric airplanes, provides a great way of enjoying some novice-level and low-cost rc flying, but the ParkZone rc airplanes are a step up in terms of size, airplane types and flying capabilities. With a good mix of non-scale, semi-scale and scale airplanes to choose from there is an airplane to suit most pilot's preference.
Popular ParkZone RC planes
Shown below (roughly in order of beginner suitability) is a selection from the range of ParkZone rc airplanes, with a brief description. Click through for more details on each, or use the link above to view the complete range...
An elegant looking Slow Flyer, suitable for some relaxing rc flying either indoors or outdoors on calm days. It's a carbon fiber stick based model with easy flight characteristics, but still capable of a loop or two.
The ground-breaking original Ember was one of the first RTF ultra micro airplanes and brought indoor flying in to a new era. This is the updated version and still very popular, its 2.4GHz radio system means interference-free flying for all! Also available is the Ember 2 BNF.
Following on from the original Vapor, this updated version incorporates an LED light system for flying in the dark. Lighter and slower flying than the Ember, this truly is an indoor RC airplane for around the house! Also available is the Night Vapor BNF.
|J3 Piper Cub
3 channel scale model of the most famous trainer in aviation history. Nice and stable in the air means that this Cub makes a perfect scale rc trainer, or it can be made to perform basic aerobatics with its powerful brushless motor.
ParkZone's first sailplane based RTF plane, this powered glider makes an excellent alternative to the faster planes. Slope flying and thermal soaring can be enjoyed, or flick the motor on for leisurely powered flight. Also available in PNP form.
|Stinson Reliant SR-10
ParkZone takes a step back to the past with this vintage classic. This high wing sport-scale airplane is four channel with an easy upgrade option to have flaps. As with some other larger PZ planes, the Reliant is only available in Bind-N-Fly and Plug-N-Play form, no RTF.
|P-51 Mustang BL
ParkZone have taken their original Mustang and shaken it up with a new scale livery and powerful brushless outrunner motor for better performance and smoother flying. I have one of these and can give it a big recommendation!
One of the most famous and feared fighters of the Second World War, this Spitfire is a hugely popular model. Equally as spectacular in the air as the other warbirds of the range, the 'Spit' comes with all the trimmings and is an excellent choice for an electric RTF scale fighter.
A larger and more powerful airplane, thanks to the brushless outrunner and Li-Po motor pack combination. The Trojan is a fully aerobatic low-wing scale trainer. Not a first model, but a great choice for when you've got some experience. Now only available in PNP (Plug-N-Play) form, not RTF.
A variant on the T-28 shown above, this T-28D is only available in Plug-N-Play or Bind-N-Fly form, not RTF. Similar performance to the Trojan above, a very nice plane indeed.
Another favourite subject to join the RTF warbird line-up, this is a 4 channel scale electric airplane supplied with the latest 2.4GHz DSM2 radio gear. Complete with scale 3-blade prop, the Corsair looks great in the air and outperforms many other electric RTF versions. Also available in PNP form.
A great addition to the ParkZone warbird range, this Grumman F4F Wildcat is available in PNP and BNF only (no RTF) and is 4 channel. Smooth flight characteristics, ideal for intermediate pilots.
Also available in just PNP and BNF (not RTF) forms, this ME109 is an excellent warbird example, with good scale detailing and great flight characteristics. 4 channel with an easy upgrade option to 5 by creating landing flaps, this WWII legend looks superb in the air and is a popular choice for intermediate pilots.
Powerful brushless motor and Li-Po battery combine to give ballistic vertical performance and level flight top speed of around 80mph. Looks good too! Pictured is actually the F-27C, the Q is the 3rd generation Stryker.
A great addition to the range for the stunt lovers, this fully aerobatic scale plane comes with powerful brushless motor and is capable of all the maneuvers in the right hands! Also available is the Extra 300 PNP.
More about the Extra 300 within this website.
The Ultra-Micro™ ParkZone planes
Leading the way in affordable micro flight, ParkZone's innovative technology found in the Ember and Vapor rc airplanes shown above has been developed further, to allow for some very cool ultra micro 4 channel, fully proportional rc airplanes. Not all are available in RTF form though, some are BNF only.
The Ultra Micro range is growing all the time, and the planes available are mostly scale or semi-scale.
Above: the Ultra Micro rc planes have really taken the hobby by storm.
Ultra Micros are great fun and perfect if you're on a limited budget and/or have limited flying space.
Despite their size (typically 16", or so, wingspan) not all micros are suitable for indoor flying venues - some fly very fast and so require more airspace than you might think. But if flying them outdoors, do so on calmer days; the low mass of these rc planes means that they are easily effected by wind, even a breeze of 5mph might be too much for some.
But with that said, read about the AS3X technology below...
Given the rapid advancements in radio control technology in recent years, it was only a matter of time before miniature stabilisation systems found their way into our rc planes.
AS3X technology arrived in 2012, in a few of the ParkZone Ultra Micro rc airplanes, and it works by taming down the sometimes inherent twitchiness of the planes, particularly when they're being flown on windy days.
The technology works on the same basis as a rc helicopter tail rotor gyro, but on a much smaller scale. In other words, constant minute corrections are continually made to the ailerons, elevator and rudder of the plane, to ensure a much smoother flight path. The corrections don't interfere with the pilots stick inputs, they just dampen out any unwanted movements.
The video below shows an AS3X-equipped Ultra micro GeeBee Racer in action...
Although AS3X technology was the first of its kind to appear in such small rc aircraft (planes and helicopters), it was soon cloned in the Far East, as most things inevitably are, and is available in non-ParkZone aircraft.
"One Box Purchase"
With all ParkZone rc airplanes, their One Box Purchase motto says it all - no other purchase is necessary to get your new plane into the air as ParkZone intends it to be. This is unlike many other RTF electric rc airplane manufacturers, where the batteries for the radio control gear almost always have to be purchased separately for a few extra dollars on top of the cost of the aircraft.
A field charger is standard so that you can charge the airplane's motor battery pack from your car cigarette lighter outlet. The charging time is around 40 minutes, but purchasing an extra battery pack is highly recommended - there's nothing more frustrating than having to wait for flights between charges!
The majority of ParkZone rc airplanes are constructed from tough but lightweight EPO foam (Expanded Polyolefin) which Horizon Hobby has branded as Z-foam™. This type of foam makes them very durable and easy to repair if necessary.
The RTF airplanes are complete in every way, other than the very basic wing-fuselage assembly and battery installation.
PNP vs. BNF RC airplanes
The rc airplanes shown above are mostly sold as RTF airplanes, where everything that you need is in the box.
But for those pilots who don't want to build up a collection of transmitter with each RTF purchase, and want to use just a single radio, there are two alternatives to RTF - these are Plug-N-Play (PNP) and Bind-N-Fly (BNF),
Both types of rc aircraft are assembled to the same level as an RTF one, but a PNP rc plane is sold without the receiver, transmitter and motor battery pack. All other electronics - motor, ESC and servos - are installed and ready to go. So you just need to supply your own transmitter, receiver and flight pack, and you're good to go. You can read more about Plug-N-Play rc airplanes.
A Bind-N-Fly rc airplane is the same, in terms of assembly, but is fitted with a DSM2/DSMX receiver and comes with a battery pack. All you need is a compatible transmitter, something like a Spektrum DX5e, DX6i, DX7S etc.
It takes just a few seconds to bind the receiver to your transmitter, and then it's off to the field. Read more about Bind-N-Fly RC here.
Both PNP and BNF options are good ones to have, but buying a BNF plane means that you need to have a compatible Tx. A PNP airplane will let you use any brand of radio equipment.
When you're shopping around, do make sure that you check whether the plane that you're considering buying is RTF, PNP or BNF.
So hopefully this page has introduced you to ParkZone rc airplanes and the different ranges available. I do own several of them and can give them a personal recommendation, they really are excellent value for money and far superior to some of the questionable brands out there.
Horizon Hobby customer support is, generally speaking, very good and all the aircraft are backed up by a complete range of spare parts.