People of all ages have been fascinated by flight since the first humans saw birds take to the sky. The Wright Brothers' success only increased that degree of fascination. It's no wonder that flying model aircraft, or aeromodeling, has endured as a popular children's toy and adult hobby.
There are three major categories of flying model aircraft:
The familiar glider, or free-flight plane, which requires no external controls or power source.
Tiny planes controlled from the ground by a cable
Free-flight model planes are usually made of a lightweight material like balsa wood, paper or foam. They are suitable for flying indoors and outside. There are also model planes powered by twirling a rubber band attached to the plane that spins the propeller. The larger versions of these model aircraft are popular with adult hobbyists. There are competitions in which these kinds of craft are tossed in the air to see which one goes the furthest. The smaller models, suitable for indoor flight, make good toys for young kids.
Models controlled by a cable wire are called control-line craft. The range of the aircraft is limited by the length of the cable, which may limit the model craft's fun factor outdoors, but smaller control-line craft could work well inside.
The radio-controlled models are popular among kids and hobbyists. There are tiny radio-controlled helicopters sold as a kids toy and scaled-down replicas of real aircraft. The toy radio-controlled models are made to withstand the bumps and crashes that come from everyday use, and are designed to be easier to control. Larger craft, sometimes known as "park flyers," are a good option for beginners. One popular version of the park flyer is the model built to perform aerial acrobatics.
While most radio-controlled models sold at major retail stores come already constructed, there are models available that you may put together yourself. These kits are available in varying degrees of flight readiness, but most of these models will require a significant amount of time to build.
Flying model aircraft are generally easy to operate and pose little danger to the pilot. However, if flying your plane outdoors, you should be mindful not to bash it into other people or their property. Young people who fly model aircraft should always have adult supervision.
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