You CAN HOVER!

Flying traditional helicopters is rewarding, but it’s also unforgiving. Drones help level that learning curve. Even beginner pilots can fly with confidence! Check out the features and the variety of drones available and you’ll see why hobbyists think they’re the best thing spinning!

RealFlight 8 R/C Flight Simulator

Start Here.

No one jumps into a full-size aircraft and takes off without any preparation, so why should you with a drone model? You don't have to. There are R/C flight simulators that are as close to the real deal as you can get! RealFlight is the top-rated R/C flight simulator out there, and it has great new features drone pilots will love! Just having drone aircraft already sets RealFlight 8 ahead of the curve, but the pristine graphics, life-like physics and incredible skill-building challenges really put it in a class all its own. There are a number to choose from – one of the best is Great Planes RealFlight 8! In addition to a wide variety of airplanes, it also offers plenty of heli and drone aircraft options for you to fly. If you prefer to fly with a "real" model first, check out the helpful Starter Drones tab above.

Pick Your Power.

R/C aircraft are powered by many methods that can differ greatly on cost and difficulty. Many planes use 2-stroke and 4-stroke engines that burn a methanol/nitro-methane/oil mixture called "glow fuel." For beginners, it is often easier to start with quiet, clean electric motors.

How much does it cost?

The cost of flying depends on your budget. You will have to consider many accessories as well as the drone itself. We suggest starting off with an "RTF," or "Ready to Fly" aircraft. These will include everything you need to get in the air. Beginner "RTF" drones start at $29.99 and can go up to $1,000 or more, depending on included equipment (like FPV cameras, gimbals, etc.).

What You Should Start With.

There are many types of quad copters and multirotors out there but you should start with something smaller and simpler to master the basics. Much of flying involves muscle memory which is to fly without having to think too much about what you're doing. Something small and easy to fly will save you a lot of money when you inevitable crash. The best type of drone to start with is a smaller RTF or Ready to Fly. This will come with everything necessary to fly right out of the box and they are often the lowest cost to start with.

Choose a Flying Site.

Many small drones flown for fun can be enjoyed in or outside your home. A park or larger area allows you to explore the limits of your drone but keep safety in mind. Larger and faster drones like those for Photography and FPV racing will require larger areas. For flying site consideration and safety, check out www.knowbeforeyoufly.org. Research drones you like for the space required to fly them.

Where Can I Fly?

There are many flying fields located throughout the U.S. that offer great services and facilities for beginners and experts alike. You can check for local sites close to you here. If you don't have a local flying site, please follow the federal, state, and local laws regarding model aircraft. A helpful website to learn how and where you can fly safely is Know Before You Fly. They also have maps that show where model aircraft flight is restricted.

Find an Instructor.

There are many designated R/C aircraft flying clubs throughout the U.S. that are supported or chartered by the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA). Many of the clubs offer hands-on training and support for beginners and they're a great way to get started in the hobby. Find an AMA-chartered club near you and get started. https://www.modelaircraft.org/clubsearch.aspx

I Don't Understand Some of the Terms Regarding R/C Drones. Where Can I Find Their Meanings?

Here is a glossary of many of the terms you will see when choosing your drone and learning about the hobby: The Buzz on R/C Drones. While it doesn't cover everything you'll see, it will be enough to get you started.

Let Tower Hobbies Help.

Tower Hobbies' Phone Sales Staff and Technical Support Staff give you access to years of R/C modeling experience and information. Just call our toll-free number, 1-800-637-6050. We'll help you select a plane and accessories. Want to find out what Tower Hobbies has to offer? Request a free Tower Talk sales flyer.

MULTIROTOR COMPONENTS


Easy RC Drone Components

Motor

The motors are used to provide thrust allowing the drone to fly. They will speed up and slow down to manuever the drone. They are connected to an ESC.

ESC

The ESC or electronic speed control provides power and tells the motor how fast to spin. Each motor will have an ESC.

Flight Controller

The flight controller is the brains of a multirotor. It controls the rate at which the motors spin and also has other features like a gyroscope and accelerometer. It is connected and controlled by the receiver.

Power Board

This board receives power from the flight battery and distributes it to the flight controller and electronic speed controls.

Battery

A multirotor is powered by a flight battery. Most, if not all, will be powered by a Lithium Polymer (LiPo) battery. They require extra care when charging and storing them. When picking out a battery you will want to consider the voltage, physical size, and weight to ensure it works properly. RTFs or Kits will have some suggestions.

MULTIROTOR FEATURES

There are many features that help the beginner and expert alike. Below are some of the most sought after and helpful features to consider.

Actual Direction Control

An option available on select drones that allows pilots to fly their model in the same direction that they push the sticks on their transmitter, regardless of the drone's orientation.

Altitude Control Management (Altitude Hold)

A feature found on select drones that automatically holds your drone at a set altitude or limits flight to a preset distance while you concentrate on mastering other controls.

Dual (or Triple) Rates

Available on select transmitters, dual rates allow pilots to adjust the sensitivity of their radio so that it will be easier to control their drone. Low rates are best for beginners, while high rates are ideal for experienced pilots. This is often available on beginner, RTR drones.

FPV

Acronym for First Person View. Video is transmitted from a remote camera to a video monitor and viewed by the operator in real time. This allows photographers or FPV racers a view of what the drone see's through an onboard camera.

GPS

Acronym for Global Positioning System. GPS functions are offered with many aerial photography drones and serve multiple purposes. Some high-end drones use GPS to transmit real-time flight telemetry information to a video monitor or smartphone, allowing a pilot to keep track of the aircraft's precise location, altitude and air speed, along with presetting flight altitude and establishing GPS flight waypoints.

Return to Home/Return to Pilot

Found on many advanced drones, this feature uses internal sensors to bring the drone back to a preselected point in the event of signal loss or low battery power. Users can typically execute this feature in a few easy steps or a single button-push. Some drones rely on GPS for this function, while a few low-end drones use the transmitter's signal to return.

RTF (Ready-to-Fly)

A drone that includes virtually all the equipment required to fly it, including a radio, motors and batteries. Perfect for the "right now" flier. See also Rx-R and Tx-R.

Rx-R™ (Receiver-Ready)

A drone which requires the pilot to add his/her own radio equipment, which typically consists of a transmitter, receiver, battery and charger.

Waypoints

Programmable spots on a digital map which allow pilots to choose and plot their flight plan, available for select high-end drones. The drone will automatically or autonomously fly to the selected waypoints, which allows the pilot to focus on controlling a camera or other advanced features.

Master drone fun!

Drones can be a challenge, even for experienced pilots, but with the innovative features packed into the drones below, even beginner pilots can fly fearlessly. All drone aircraft have counter-rotating props which make them inherently more stable than standard helicopters. Many also feature control aids like Actual Direction Control, Intelligent Control, Return-to-Pilot and more. Couple that ease of flight with the ability to take pictures and videos, the fun of indoor flights and the durability of drone aircraft, and it's easy to see why so many hobbyists think drones are the best thing spinning!

Tower Hobbies strives to keep its prices low and its quality high. There is a heli for everybody, from the “fully flight-ready for under fifty” Dromida Verso to the decked-out Helimax 230Si! Check each product listing to see which drone is your favorite!


2.4GHz – One of the most common radio bands used for radio-control, it enables interference-free operation of several R/C drones in the same vicinity at the same time. Spread spectrum technology is a common feature of most 2.4GHz radios.

5.8GHz – A common radio band used in First Person View (FPV) equipment to transmit superior HD video in real time.

Accelerometer – A device that is typically used in conjunction with one or more gyroscopes to maximize a drone's flight stability. Accelerometers help correct unwanted movement and prevent drifting.

Actual Direction Control – An option available on select drones that allows pilots to fly their model in the same direction that they push the sticks on their transmitter, regardless of the drone's orientation.

Altitude Control Management – A feature found on select drones that automatically holds your drone at a set altitude or limits flight to a preset distance while you concentrate on mastering other controls.

AMA – The Academy of Model Aeronautics. The official national body for model aviation in the United States. AMA sanctions more than a thousand model competitions throughout the country each year, and certifies official model flying records at national and international levels. A key membership benefit includes insurance liability coverage for the operation of model aircraft, drones, boats, cars and rockets. Visit the AMA at www.modelaircraft.org.

Auto-Flip – A feature found on select drones that lets new pilots execute advanced flipping maneuvers, usually with a single button-push.

Auto-Upright System – A self-correction feature to keep a drone flying upright, found on select drones. See also: Accelerometer and Gyroscope.

Brushless – A type of electric motor. All drones have motors; brushless motors are more powerful and efficient than brushed ones.

DFDH – Acronym for "Don't Fly Drones Here," a website and interactive map that allows pilots to find and confirm sites where drone flying is prohibited. Affected areas include U.S. national parks and U.S. military bases. Medium-to-large airports also prohibit drone flying within a five-mile radius. To search for drone-free areas near you, visit https://www.mapbox.com/drone/no-fly/?embed=true#5/38.651/-96.504 and https://www.uasvision.com/2014/07/29/dont-fly-drones-here-interactive-map/.

Diagonal (measurement) – An easy way to determine a drone's size, usually measuring the distance between rotors on opposite corners. A 350-size drone is 350 mm diagonally (or 13.8 inches) between rotor motor shafts.

Dual (or Triple) Rates – Available on select transmitters, dual rates allow pilots to adjust the sensitivity of their radio so that it will be easier to control their drone. Low rates are best for beginners, while high rates are ideal for experienced pilots.

Fail-Safe – A safety feature found on select drones. Fail-safe keeps the drone at a secure altitude in the event of signal loss or low battery power. Once the hovering period is over, the drone slowly descends back down to earth.

First Person View – See FPV.

Flight Mode – A feature found on select transmitters that adjusts the radio's capabilities to match a pilot's flying ability, such as "Easy" or "Expert" modes.

FPV – Acronym for First Person View. Video is transmitted from a remote camera to a video monitor and viewed by the operator in real time. This enables aerial photographers to view and capture video or camera shots from the camera's perspective. Video monitors include smart phones, radios with built-in video screens, or independent video monitors. FPV set-ups are commonly found on radio-control drones and fixed-wing aircraft. Independent FPV cameras such as the Tactic DroneView 1080p (TACZ1020) camera can transmit real time video to smartphones or store videos with a micro memory card. The DroneView can be mounted in radio control vehicles, bikes, skateboards, or ATVs, along with many other creative uses. Extreme sports enthusiasts mount FPV cameras to their helmets to give viewers an immersive, "you are there" experience.

Gimbal – Used as a camera mount by some aerial photography drones. Gimbals enable camera rotation, and some gimbals include camera stabilization to make smooth, stable images possible. Multi-axis gimbals let pilots tilt and swerve the camera for more dynamic video shots, while a single-axis gimbal only allows up-down or left-right camera movement (depending on the gimbal's orientation).

GPS – Acronym for Global Positioning System. GPS functions are offered with many aerial photography drones and serve multiple purposes. Some high-end drones use GPS to transmit real-time flight telemetry information to a video monitor or smartphone, allowing a pilot to keep track of the aircraft's precise location, altitude and air speed, along with presetting flight altitude and establishing GPS flight waypoints. Other drones may use GPS for simpler features such as "Return to Home" or "Position Hold." See also Position Hold, Return to Home and Waypoints.


Gyroscope (a.k.a. Gyro) – Found on most drones, a gyroscope helps keep the aircraft oriented during flight.

Hexacopter – A drone with six rotors.

High-Definition (HD) – High-resolution video shot and/or transmitted by an aerial photography drone, commonly in 720p or 1080p. See also Standard Definition (SD).

Know Before You Fly – An education campaign founded by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) and the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) in partnership with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to educate prospective users about the safe and responsible operation of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS). https://knowbeforeyoufly.org/

LiPo Battery – Lithium Polymer Battery. Compact in size and light in weight. Must be charged with a LiPo-compatible balancing charger.

mAh (Milliamp Hour) – A measure of a battery's total capacity. The higher the number, the more charge a battery can hold – resulting in longer run times overall.

Pitch – Position of drone that maneuvers it forwards and backwards.

Position Hold – Available on select drones, this feature hovers the drone in an exact spot until the operator instructs it to move.

Quadcopter – A drone with four rotors.

Return to Home/Return to Pilot – Found on many advanced drones, this feature uses internal sensors to bring the drone back to a preselected point in the event of signal loss or low battery power. Users can typically execute this feature in a few easy steps or a single button-push. Some drones rely on GPS for this function, while a few low-end drones use the transmitter's signal to return.

Roll – Position of drone that maneuvers it left and right.

RTF (Ready-to-Fly) – A drone that includes virtually all the equipment required to fly it, including a radio, motors and batteries. Perfect for the "right now" flier. See also Rx-R and Tx-R.

Rx-R™ (Receiver-Ready) – A drone which requires the pilot to add his/her own radio equipment, which typically consists of a transmitter, receiver, battery and charger. See also Tx-R.

Secure Link Technology™ (SLT) – A superior, interference-free radio protocol found on drones such as the Transmitter-Ready (Tx-R) drones, which makes it compatible with select radios – including many Tactic™ models.

SLT™ – See Secure Link Technology.

Standard Definition (SD) – Lower resolution video shot by an aerial photography drone in 480i or 480p. See also High Definition (HD).

TAGS-FX – Triple-Axis Gyro Stabilization, coupled with a 3-axis accelerometer to correct unwanted yaw, pitch and/or roll movement.

Throttle – Used to adjust a drone's altitude or speed via a transmitter or mobile device.

Transceiver – A unit that combines a receiver with a radio transmitter. As the name implies, transceivers can receive and transmit data, such as First Person View videos/photos or GPS flight coordinates.

Transmitter-Ready (Tx-R) – A drone which includes a receiver, battery and charger, but requires a radio that is compatible with the installed receiver.

Trim – A feature found on most drone transmitters that allows pilots to make very fine control adjustments.

True Direction Mode – See Actual Direction Control.

Tx-R – See Transmitter-Ready.

UAV – Acronym for Unmanned Aerial Vehicle.

Waypoints – Programmable spots on a digital map which allow pilots to choose and plot their flight plan, available for select high-end drones. The drone will automatically or autonomously fly to the selected waypoints, which allows the pilot to focus on controlling a camera or other advanced features.

Wi-Fi® – A common way to wirelessly connect a drone to a smartphone or to the internet for Google Map access. Many drones utilize Wi-Fi to access GPS coordinates for waypoint flights, or to transmit First Person View videos and photos to a smartphone or video monitor from a compatible camera such as a GoPro or the Tactic DroneView 1080p. Drones utilizing Google maps require Wi-Fi access to a wireless internet router or a smartphone with a data plan.

Yaw – Rotates a drone so that its nose points in a new direction.

Need more info? Check this out!

Is there a word or phrase that you see on this page? You can probably find it on our R/C Dictionary!
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