6 Superb RC Gliders and Sailplanes

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There’s something fascinating about gliders, also known as sailplanes. The greatest thrill is to fly one of these aircraft on natural currents of rising air. The next best thing is to pilot an electric radio-controlled (RC) model and enjoy the ride from the ground. Some models can fly in First Person View (FPV). That means you can see what the plane’s camera sees via an LCD screen or by wearing FPV goggles.

FPV delivers the ultimate immersive experience and is the closest thing to being in the pilot’s seat.

Budget
best-budget-rc-glider
Unique Models U-Glider
4.7/5.0
Wingspan: 1500mm
Flying Weight: 10.5 oz.
Ultra-slim wings, clear instruction sheet, brushless motor, carbon fiber tail boom.
Check Banggood
Best Value
best-value-rc-glider
Volantex 742-5 Phoenix
4.8/5.0
Wingspan: 2.6M and 1.6M
Flying Weight: 37 oz.
Durable EPO construction, plastic unibody design, 2-in-1 RC PNP Glider/Airplane.
Check Banggood
Top Pick
top-value-rc-glider
E-flite U2980 UMX Radian
4.6/5.0
Wingspan: 730mm
Flying Weight: 17.6 oz.
Quick assembly, indoor/outdoor flying, curved wing, brushed power system.
Check Amazon

What to Look for in an RC Model Sailplane

Novices tend to fall in love with the design of a glider and buy on appearance alone. That’s a typical beginner’s mistake. Yes, you want to buy something that’s visually appealing, but looks alone are not enough. Keep reading this short introduction if you’re new to the world of radio-controlled gliding. There are a few other things to consider before parting with your hard-earned cash.

Here are the seven basic pre-buy considerations for any RC sailplane checklist:

  1. Your budget
  2. Materials and durability
  3. Ease of assembly
  4. Ease of use
  5. Launching options
  6. Spares availability
  7. Flying and battery charging times where applicable

It’s easier to choose a glider if you’re a raw beginner as there’s less to consider. Beginners also look for smaller, simpler, less expensive models. Experienced pilots may want something that has exhilarating aerobatic potential and racing ability. Well, this guide has something for everyone but doesn’t cover the giant models the size of a small car. I’ll save those for another day.








About this Review Guide

There are six RC gliders in this guide ranging from less than 100 dollars to around 250. I selected these models based on personal thoughts, the views of industry experts, and user reviews. At the end of each piece is a simple 3-column table that highlights the basic tech specs, pros, and cons.

Here’s a quick list of the models as they appear on this page. The top three are Best Budget, Best Value, and Top Pick, in that order. The three below those are in order of price from low to high.

RC Gliders Comparison Table

Make and ModelWingspanFlying WeightPrice
Unique Models U-Glider PNP1500mm10.5 oz.Check Price
Volantex 742-5 Phoenix Evolution RC Glider1600 & 2600mm37 oz.Check Price
E-flite U2980 UMX Radian BNF Airplane730mm17.6 oz.Check Price
FLIITT DIY Balsa Wood RC Glider Kit1550mm24.64 oz.Check Price
XK A1200 3D6G RC Glider RTF1200mm17.6 oz.Check Price
E-flite Radian XL 2.6m Airplane2600mm79.5 oz.Check Price

1. Unique Models U-Glider PNP

Unique Models U-Glider PNPView on Banggood

Editor’s Rating: 4.7/5

My Best Budget pick is the affordable electric U-Glider by Unique Models and is a plug-n-play (PNP) sailplane. It’s made from lightweight, resilient expanded polyolefin (EPO) foam.

  • Best feature 1: Durable EPO foam structure
  • Best feature 2: Plug-in wing design
  • Plus points: Ultra-slim wings, clear instruction sheet, brushless motor, carbon fiber tail boom
  • Minus points: Subpar glue

The U-Glider is an attractive model with an ultra-slim 1500mm wingspan. Note that the plane is PNP and not ready-to-fly (RTF) out of the box. That means you should allow a few hours to assemble this puppy. Jump to the other reviews if you want something that’s RTF. Stay where you are if building the craft is all part of the fun as it is with so many glider enthusiasts.

It’s not difficult to assemble the U-glider if you allow yourself time and don’t try to rush. The instructions sheet is clear and self-explanatory. It’s a big plane once everything’s in place, but don’t let it intimidate you. The simple plug-in wing design makes it much easier to transport.

Flying the U-Glider

You must launch by hand to get this glider airborne. It then uses a powerful brushless 2208 2500KV motor to take it up and away. Once the model’s airborne it takes to the sky as a duck takes to water. The craft gives pilots the experience they hoped for when the conditions are right. Just be mindful that it’s a lightweight model, so it won’t perform well if conditions are too windy.

The plane is durable and reasonably crash resistant, but it can still break if it lands hard enough. The tail boom is carbon fiber, so that contributes to the lightweight and added rigidity. Overall, though, it’s a hard act to follow for a sailplane in its class.

The Not So Good

There’s very little to gripe about with this model considering its affordable price tag. One issue that some users complain about is that the included glue is hard to work with. The main problem is that it’s too dried out. I’m not sure why the manufacturers haven’t noticed it. It’s more of an annoyance than a major con, but it’s still a good idea to buy better glue in advance to save hassles later.

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Tech Specs
Model Type: U-Glider
Recommended age: 14 years up
Wingspan: 1500mm
Flying Weight: 10.5 oz. (300g)
Material: Durable EPO foam
Launch mechanism: Hand + motor
Maximum range: N/A
Battery: 3S 11.1V 25C 800mAH JST (Not included)
Radio System: 4CH 2.4G (not included)
The Pros
Beautiful looking model glider
Durable EPO foam structure
Plug-in wing for easy transport
Ultra-slim 1500mm wings
Easy assembly, clear instructions
Powerful brushless motor
Carbon fiber tail boom
Easy to launch
The Cons
Included glue not very good

2. Volantex 742-5 Phoenix Evolution RC Glider

Volantex 742-5 Phoenix Evolution RC GliderView on Banggood

Editor’s Rating: 4.8/5

The Best Value pick is the Volantex 742-5 Phoenix Evolution PNP RC Glider. It’s a versatile plane and an excellent choice for sailplane beginners to learn with. The craft sports unique features too.

  • Best feature 1: Unique interchangeable wings
  • Best feature 2: Quick assembly time, easy to construct
  • Plus points: Durable EPO construction, plastic unibody design, 2-in-1 RC PNP Glider/Airplane
  • Minus points: Needs a field or other wide open flying space

The Volantex 742-5 Phoenix Evolution PNP is a formidable model. It’s also quick and easy to assemble out of the box (no glue needed). Anyone familiar with building model airplanes should have this one ready to fly in one hour or less. It’s a lightweight model that combines EPO parts with a plastic unibody. The build makes the plane durable, or as durable as it can be for a model in its class.

Flying the Volantex 742-5 Phoenix Evolution

The glider has a choice of two wings. The shorter one spans 1600mm and the longer 2600mm. Exchangeable wings is a neat feature and the reason they call this their 2-in-1 RC Glider. The 2.6M wingspan is perfect for those longer gliding experiences. The shorter, 1.6M wingspan is better for aerobatic flight performance. The interchangeable wings make this sailplane rather special.

This is a large airplane for older kids and not ideal for preteens without supervision. The maker’s minimum age recommendation is 14 years and up. That’s quite typical for a model of this size. The overall length is 1150mm (45.7”) and the flying weight 1050g (2.3 lbs.). The glider is equipped with a powerful outrunner motor, a 30A brushless ESC, flaps, and a folding blade or prop.

It’s an incredible glider to fly, and it’s not difficult to grasp despite its size. Even so, maiden flights still need a degree of confidence, hence the sensible age suggestions.

The Not So Good

You need plenty of space to fly the Volantex 742-5 Phoenix Evolution RC Glider. Not everyone has local access to large open areas. The problem is that it’s not always easy to get a feel for the size of these planes from the ads. Although the craft is robust, it can still damage. Therefore, the fewer obstacles there are around, the better. The larger 2.6M wingspan is particularly fragile because of its size.

amazon

Tech Specs
Model Type: 2-in-1 RC Glider/Airplane PNP
Recommended age: 14 years up
Wingspan: 2.6M and 1.6M
Flying Weight: 37 oz. (1050g)
Material: EPO and plastic unibody
Launch mechanism: Hand launch + 4023 outrunner motor
Maximum range: N/A
Battery: 11.1V 1500mAh ~ 2200mAh 20C Lipo (not included)
Radio System: 6 CH 2.4Ghz (not included)
The Pros
Unique interchangeable wings for long gliding & aerobatics
Quick and easy to assemble (no glue required)
Durable EPO construction
Plastic unibody for added strength
The Cons
Needs lots of space to fly
Bigger wings more fragile

3. E-flite U2980 UMX Radian BNF Airplane

E-flite U2980 UMX Radian BNF AirplaneView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.6/5

E-flite’s U2980 UMX Radian is tiny compared to the first picks, but that can be a good thing. It’s easier to transport for one. This model also gives pilots an experience usually reserved for larger planes.

  • Best feature 1: Tiny size, ideal for beginners
  • Best feature 2: Removable one-piece wing
  • Plus points: Quick assembly, indoor/outdoor flying, curved wing, brushed power system
  • Minus points: Weak wing attachment, BNF, price

It’s easy to fall in love with the E-flite U2980 UMX Radian powered sailplane—at any skill level. It’s a pilot’s dream glider that provides plenty of flying fun. It seems to handle like a much larger model despite its smaller size. The way it copes with windy conditions and turbulence is nothing short of remarkable. Its curved wings deliver exceptional lift and extraordinary glide performance.

It’s super easy to launch this puppy. The lightweight brushed power arrangement and single-cell battery get it into the air with very little effort. I’d say the UMX Radian is one of the most enjoyable of the smaller gliders to pilot.

The Not So Good

The most common gripe with the UMX Radian is with its one-piece, removable wing. There’s not a problem with the strength of the wing as it has carbon fiber support. It’s the actual attachment that causes most concern. The two tiny screws that fix the wing to the body can come loose after a while. It’s easy enough to tape the wing to the fuselage but you shouldn’t have to, and that’s the point.

amazon

Tech Specs
Model Type: Bind and fly (BNF) powered sailplane
Recommended age: 14 years up
Wingspan: 730mm
Product Weight: 1.1 lbs. (17.6 oz.)
Material: Lightweight, molded-foam
Launch mechanism: Hand launch
Maximum range: 1 mile (1.6km)
Battery: 1S 3.7V 150mAh 25C Li-Po
Maximum flight time: 8–10 minutes
Radio System: 3CH 2.4Ghz Spektrum controller (not included)
The Pros
Impressive flight performance for smaller sailplane
Fast and easy assembly
Removable one-piece wing
Can fly in moderate winds
Can fly in larger indoor spaces
Curved wing
The Cons
Weak wing attachment
BNF: You must buy a transmitter
High price

4. The FLIITT DIY Balsa Wood RC Glider Plane Kit

The FLIITT DIY Balsa Wood RC Glider Plane KitView on AliExpress

Editor’s Rating: 4.5/5

This is an RC hobby glider kit. That means it’s a model for enthusiasts who enjoy building their sailplanes as well as fly them. It’s a fun and affordable project for anyone who loves a complex jigsaw.

  • Best feature 1: Full Do-It-Yourself (DIY) kit plane
  • Best feature 2: Three options to choose from
  • Plus points: Radio controlled, efficient folding propeller, carbon fiber tube reinforcements
  • Minus points: Needs hardware to complete

The FLIITT DIY Balsa Wood RC Glider is the only full kit on this RC glider review page. Some pilots love to know what makes their planes fly just as some motorists enjoy the mechanics of their cars. Model airplane enthusiasts who know their craft from the inside out also tend to make better pilots. This RC glider kit comes in three versions for the convenience of hobbyists aged 12 years and up.

What’s better than taking to the sky in an airplane you constructed from the ground up. It’s not everyone’s idea of fun, but it’s a fantastic achievement for those who enjoy building an RC glider. This beauty has a 1550mm wingspan, an 820mm fuselage, and an 8-inch folding propeller.

The Not So Good

The only downside to an RC sailplane kit like this are the items NOT in the box. You need to buy all the hardware separately. That can cost more than the actual kit depending on your chosen setup. Always factor these extra parts into the total cost. Unless you have one already, you need to buy a 4-channel 2.4Ghz radio control system. There’s also the brushless motor, 30A Brushless ESC, and four servos.

Other extras include an 11.1V 1300-1500mAh 20C LiPo battery. You need 3S Balance battery charger too if you don’t own one. It’s quite usual to have to purchase these items separately. Just make sure you know what the kit includes and what it doesn’t before you order anything.

amazon

Tech Specs
Model Type: DIY RC sailplane kit
Recommended age: 12 years up
Wingspan: 1550mm
Package Weight: 1.54 lb.
Material: Balsawood
Launch mechanism: Hand
Battery: 11.1V 1300-1500mAh 20C Lipo (not included)
Radio System: 4CH 2.4Ghz (not included)
The Pros
Full DIY sailplane Kit
Three buying options
Radio-controlled model
Folding propeller
Carbon fiber tube reinforcements
The Cons
Needs extra to complete, radio system, motor, ESC, etc.

5. XK A1200 3D6G Electric RC Glider RTF

XK A1200 3D6G Electric RC Glider RTFView on Banggood

Editor’s Rating: 4.6/5

The XK A1200 3D6G is a beautiful RC glider that’s almost ready to fly out of the box. The one here is the standard model, but there’s also a First Person View (FPV) version available.

  • Best feature 1: 3-leaf propeller
  • Best feature 2: Easy to pilot
  • Plus points: Pre-everything, stable flyer, brushless motor, acrobatic capable, FPV available
  • Minus points: FPV version expensive

The XK A1200 is a Ready-to-Fly (RTF) plane that’s good to go right out of its box. You may want to consider this capable little glider if assembly and tinkering are not your thing. The factory has preinstalled all the electronics and hardware so that you don’t have to. They’ve even sorted out the tail and wing. That means no messing around plugging in connectors or securing loose wires, etc.

Flying the XK A1200 3D6G

The first thing new users notice is how stable this glider is in the air and how easy it is to fly. That’s thanks to its 3D6G System, 6G mode. The 3D makes light work of aerial acrobatics like inverted flight and rolls, etc. The three-leaf propeller is another nice touch that adds to flight efficiency by saving power and increasing flight time.

The airplane also has a reliable and powerful brushless motor and a durable EPO foam construction. This model has a bulkier build than other lightweight gliders, but it still has plenty of endurance. The control distance is around 80-meters and the flight time an incredible 45-minutes.

The Not So Good

There’s very little to fault with the XK A1200 3D6G. The main gripe is perhaps the extra cost for the First-Person View (FPV) version. The price is around 70% more than the standard option at the last check. The FPV model comes with a 1080P camera, and a 600mw AV image transmitter.

amazon

Tech Specs
Model Type: Ready-to-Fly (RTF) Sailplane
Recommended age: 12 years up
Wingspan: 1200mm
Flight Weight: 17.6 oz. (500g)
Material: Durable, lightweight EPO
Launch mechanism: Hand + 2212 brushless motor
Maximum range: 800m
Battery: 7.4V/2000mAh LI-PO
Maximum flight time: 45 minutes
Radio System: 4CH 2.4Ghz
The Pros
More efficient 3-leaf propeller
Easy plane to fly and control
Stable flyer
Powerful brushless motor
Acrobatic capable
First Person View (FPV) option available
Long flying time
The Cons
Pricy FPV version

6. E-flite Radian XL 2.6m Airplane

E-flite Radian XL 2.6m AirplaneView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.2/5

Most RC hobby gliders are straightforward to fly compared to the models of yesteryear. This 2.6m wingspan motor sailplane from Radian is super easy to pilot even at the beginner level.

  • Best feature 1: Assembles and disassembles in minutes
  • Best feature 2: Efficient brushless motor
  • Plus points: Easy to learn, simple to store/transport, horizontal stabilizer, AS3X technology
  • Minus points: Fragile build compared to some models, BNF

Assembling, disassembling, and transporting the 6 E-flite Radian XL is quick, easy, and hassle-free. The large 2.6m (120”) polyhedral wing with proportional spoilers makes it stand out in a crowd. The size can be both impressive and intimidating for first-time flyers. There’s nothing to fear. It’s as graceful as they come once it leaves the hand; hovering overhead like a majestic bird of prey.

Simple Sophistication

This large electric RC glider is exceptional for a model in its class. It boasts simplicity in design and sophistication in flight performance. The elevator, rudder, throttle, and spoiler controls are easy for novice users to grasp. Newbie pilots are soon riding thermals with very little practice. The glider’s flying horizontal stabilizer gives this bird near-perfect pitch response at all speeds.

The E-flite Radian XL makes use of brushless technology like all the better RC gliders. The combined brushless power, lightweight Z-foam material, and lightweight airframe are significant. They provide the airplane with the ideal power-to-weight ratio. The result of that is thrilling launches and high-altitude efficiency.

The Not So Good

The Eflite Radian XL 2.6m is a big sailplane yet robust for its size. Even so, its broad construction also makes it more fragile than most smaller RC gliders. There are also concerns that the fuselage is too weak for the model. Experienced pilots may perform a little DIY to strengthen it, but you shouldn’t have to. Yes, it’s easy to fly, but we all have the occasional crash landings, so prepare to repair.

This is a Bind-N-Fly (BNF) model which means it doesn’t include a transmitter. That’s more of an observation than a con. Some people even prefer to choose their electronics. Make sure you factor the cost of a handheld radio transmitter into the price if this model makes your shortlist.

amazon

Tech Specs
Model Type: BNF RC Sailplane
Recommended age: 14 years up
Wingspan: 2600mm
Product Weight: 79.5 oz. (2254g)
Material: Z-Foam
Launch mechanism: Hand
Battery: 3S 3200mAh LiPo (not included)
Radio System: 5+ CH Spektrum DSMX/DSM2 transmitter
The Pros
Large glider, gorgeous design
Quick to assemble/disassemble
Super easy to fly
Efficient, reliable brushless motor
Easy to store and transport
Horizontal stabilizer for improved pitch control
AS3X technology improves flight stabilization
The Cons
Fragile compared to some models
Bind-N-Fly (BNF) sailplane (transmitter extra cost)
5/51 rating