Radio-Controlled Helicopters for the Beginning Pilot

rc helicopter
The art of flying radio-controlled helicopters is a sport both rewarding and challenging. In order to prevent frustration, you will want to be sure that the helicopter you choose is the right type for your skill level.

Types of RC Helicopters

There are five main types of radio-controlled helicopters:

  • Single Rotor Collective Pitch (micro up to monster)
  • Micro Single Rotor Fixed Pitch
  • Quad Rotor/Multi Rotor
  • Micro Coaxial
  • Toy (single rotor and coaxial)

Single Rotor Collective Pitch

These helicopters are the most expensive of the five. They require a significant amount of knowledge and skill to be able to fly them successfully. Pilots of real helicopters have said that, to a certain extent, it is more difficult to fly one of these helicopters than real ones. Single rotor collective pitch helicopters range in cost from $300 and up for electrically-operated helicopters and up to $9,000 and more for fuel-powered helicopters.

Micro Single Rotor Fixed Pitch

These helicopters rate second in terms of cost. They are easier to fly than single rotor collective pitch helicopters and feature a self-stabilizing 45-degree flybar. They fall in between the single rotor collective pitch and the quad/multi rotor helicopters in skill levels. If you already know that you enjoy flying RC helicopters, this micro heli will serve you well.

Quad Rotor/Multi Rotor

Also known as “quadrocopters,” quad rotor/multi rotor helicopters feature an unconventional design. These RC helicopters use four or more propellers to provide the necessary lift. They are relatively easy to fly as a first RC helicopter and are able to take off vertically and to hover. Some of these helicopters feature up to eight rotors and are called Octocopters.

Micro Coaxial

The next level of RC helicopter is the micro coaxial. These helicopters are able to be upgraded for better performance and have replaceable parts. The micro coaxial helicopter is a good choice when you want something a little more advanced than a toy RC helicopter and less expensive than more complex helicopters.


Toy helicopters are the least expensive of the five and are extremely easy to fly. Toy radio-controlled helicopters can handle a significant amount of abuse from crashes and from flying into objects. They offer the perfect starting point for those who aren’t yet sure whether RC flying is something they will enjoy.

Helicopters for Beginners

Those who are at the beginner level of helicopter flying will want to take into account how long you expect the helicopter to last. If you don’t mind spending a few dollars to throw away, toy helicopters may be your best bet. They tend to last anywhere from a week to a couple months, depending on how they are treated. If you want something more durable, consider purchasing a quad/multi rotor helicopter or a hobby-grade micro coaxial helicopter. These helicopters are often the same price as their “toy” counterparts and will last the budding helicopter pilot for many flights.

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