Beginner’s Guide to RC Powered Gliders

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Gliders or sailplanes are lightweight aircraft designed to fly without engines for lengthy periods. Few can resist an upward glance on a warm sunny day when one of these magnificent birds sails overhead. My guide reviews 6 RC powered gliders, preceded by a no-nonsense introduction. Keep reading if you’re new and would like to learn more about this fascinating hobby.

The next section starts by looking at the types of RC gliders available followed by other essential points. The reviews will be much easier for beginners to grasp after reading this overview.

Budget
best-budget-rc-powered-glider
WL XK-A800 Glider
4.6/5.0
Wingspan: 780mm
Material: EPO Foam
Beginner-friendly, stunt capable, durable build, decent battery life.
Check Amazon
Best Value
best-value-rc-powered-glider
E-flite U2980 UMX Radian
4.5/5.0
Wingspan: 730mm
Material: Molded Foam
Ultra-lightweight, easy to fly, suitable for outdoors/indoors.
Check Amazon
Top Pick
top-value-rc-powered-glider
ParkZone Conscendo Advanced
4.9/5.0
Wingspan: 1005mm
Material: EPO Foam
Sleek airframe, brushless power, AS3X, quick to assemble, easy to store.
Check Amazon

Types of RC Gliders

RC gliders fall into many categories, just like other types of aircraft. The designs also vary a lot both in appearance and capability. Here’s a quick breakdown of what’s on offer:

  • Sports gliders
  • Hand launch gliders
  • Discus launch gliders (DLGs)
  • Thermal soarers
  • Combat RC gliders
  • Scale RC sailplanes

Sports gliders come in all shapes and sizes and are perfect for slope soaring and flat field flying fun. Hand launch sailplanes or chuckies are popular with beginners and the focus of this guide. Pilots simply throw the plane to get it airborne. Chuckies have small designs so that they’re easy to manage. The other types in the list are for intermediate and advanced users and not discussed on this page.

BNF, PNP, ARF, RTF Explained

Many RC sailplanes come with everything needed to fly in one box. Others require extra parts or components to complete. The latter are useful if you already have the extras, prefer to choose your own, or have more than one model. The buying options are BNF, PNP, ARF, and RTF.

Bind-N-Fly (BNF): Glider needs a transmitter (Tx)

Plug-N-Play (PNP): Glider needs a transmitter (Tx), receiver (Rx), battery + charger

Almost-Ready-to-Fly (ARF): Glider needs a transmitter and maybe some assembly

Ready-to-fly (RTF): The drone is ready to fly straight out of the box

Build and Materials

The build and materials of RC gliders are down to flying style, skill level, and preference. The size and materials also affect the weight of the model. You can find or build a kit plane using plastics, wood, and polymer foams. Lightweight sailplanes typically use EVA (ethylene-vinyl acetate) and EPP (expanded polypropylene) foam. Flying any type of RC glider is all about reading and responding to the wind.

How RC Gliders Work

A glider has 4 main parts, i.e., fuselage, main wing, vertical tail, and a stabilizer. RC sailplanes fly in much the same way as the real aircraft. The only difference is that they’re unmanned. The job of an RC pilot on the ground is to exploit the lifts produced by thermals and slopes.

There are 6 launch methods used to get RC model gliders airborne.

  1. Hand launching: ultra-lightweight with wingspans of 1500mm or less
  2. Discus launching: used for a specific type of glider
  3. Bungee or high-start launching: uses long elastic cord
  4. Aerotow: an RC plane tows the glider into the sky
  5. Winch launching: like bungee, but a powerful winch reels in the line
  6. Piggyback launching: hitches a ride on the back of RC powered craft

What method an RC glider pilot uses depends on several factors. They include things like the type of aircraft, flying style, and the location. Most novice-friendly gliders are the hand-launch variety.

Novice Glider Characteristics

Total newbies may want to start with a lightweight chuckie. Those who want something bigger can look for a glider that has high wings. It should also have a semi-symmetrical or flat wing section. Try not to buy something based only on appearance and cost. An entry-level model should be hard to break and easy to repair. Elapor foam is an excellent material that can withstand plenty of learner crashes.

Consider an ultra-lightweight model that can fly slow and is not too agile. Models like these won’t challenge experienced pilots, but they’re ideal for newbies.

About My ‘RC Powered Glider’ Guide

The models reviewed on this page are all simple designs and fun to learn. These 6 gliders are the result of personal thoughts and the opinions of industry experts. I also took the feedback of real users into consideration during the selection process. The first 3 reviews are the Best Budget pick, followed by Best Value, then the Top Choice. The table below shows the aircraft as they appear on the page.

RC Powered Gliders Comparison Table

1. WL XK-A800 EPO 5CH RC Glider | Best Budget

WL XK-A800 EPO 5CH RC GliderView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.6/5

The Best Budget pick goes to an RC glider called WL XK-A800. It’s a smallish, lightweight model with a wingspan of just 780mm. It’s possible to fly this puppy indoors as well as outside.

  • Best feature 1: Modularized design, easy to carry
  • Best feature 2: 3D/6G switchable system
  • Plus points: Beginner-friendly, stunt capable, durable build, decent battery life, fast charging
  • Minus points: A tad underpowered

WL XK-A800 Glider Feature Highlights

The modular design makes the WL XK-A800 easy to store, repair, and carry. The 3D mode lets pilots perform impressive stunts like somersaults, inverted flights, and rolls, etc. Learners can fly a more relaxed style using the sailplane’s 6G flight stabilization. Switching between the two modes takes a nanosecond. The size and durable EPO foam make the WL XK-A800 resistant to moderate crashes.

The flight time on a single charge is around 20 minutes. The charging time is also impressive and takes only 40 minutes to revitalize a flat battery.

The Not So Good

The only real criticism with the WL XK-A800 Glider is that the engine’s a tad underpowered. It feels weak, and it’s not brushless, but that also helps to keep the price down. It does the job, though. It’s just that the weak engine is sure to frustrate more experienced pilots.

View on Amazon

Tech Specs
Model: RC training glider
Recommended age: 8+ years
Wingspan: 780mm (30.7”)
Flying Weight: 3.8 0z. (110g)
Material: Durable EPO
Launch Mechanism: Hand
Battery: 7.4V 500mAh
Max Flight Time: 20 minutes
Max Charging Time: 40 minutes
Radio System: 2.4GHz Controller
The Pros
Modularized design
Easy to carry
Durable build
3D/6G switchable system
Beginner-friendly
Stunt capable
Decent battery life
The Cons
Tad underpowered

2. E-flite U2980 UMX Radian BNF Sailplane | Best Value

E-flite U2980 UMX Radian BNF SailplaneView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.5/5

Meet the E-flite U2980 UMX Radian. It’s a good-looking bind-n-fly (BNF) bird, and it makes our Best Value pick. It’s a powerful little sailplane that’s a joy to fly once you get the hang of it.

  • Best feature 1: Contoured spinner w/ folding propeller
  • Best feature 2: 3 channel (CH) control
  • Plus points: Ultra-lightweight, easy to fly, removable wing, suitable for outdoors/indoors
  • Minus points: BNF, some assembly, short battery life

E-flite U2980 UMX Radian Feature Highlights

This ultra-lightweight glider is an excellent beginner sailplane. It’s a smaller version of the famous and much larger, ParkZone Radian. The model has a contoured spinner with a folding propeller to enhance its glide efficiency. Radian’s 3CH controller and curved wing provide flying simplicity with breathtaking lifts. The one-piece wing is quick to remove, which makes the bird easy to store and to carry.

The smallish size and straightforward handling characteristics let you can fly indoors or outside. Indoors means a spacious area, and not inside the home, unless you live in a mansion.

Items needed to complete include:

  • compatible 4CH+ DSM2/DSMX transmitter

The Not So Good

This is a bind-n-fly (BNF) sailplane, and so it needs a transmitter to complete. That’s also a pro if you already have a compatible 4+ channel DSM2 or DSMX transmitter. The glider also requires some assembly that takes around an hour or just over. The battery life is 8–10 minutes at best. That’s quite typical for an RC glider in this class but still disappointing.

View on Amazon

Tech Specs
Model: UMX Radian
Recommended age: 14+ years
Wingspan: 730mm (28.7”)
Flying Weight: 1.50 oz. (43g)
Material: Molded-foam
Launch Mechanism: Hand
Battery: 1S 3.7V 150mAh 25C LiPo
Max Flight Time: 8 minutes
Max Charging Time: 30+ minutes
Radio System: 4CH+ DSM2/DSMX compatible Tx (not included)
The Pros
Contoured spinner w/ folding prop
Small scale design
3 channel (CH) control
Curved wing for enhanced gliding
Easy to fly
Ultra-lightweight
One-piece, Removable wing
Suitable for outdoors/indoors
The Cons
Needs a transmitter (BNF)
Needs assembly
Short battery life

3. Conscendo Advanced BNF Basic Sailplane | Top Pick

Conscendo Advanced BNF Basic SailplaneView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.9/5

ParkZone’s Conscendo Advanced takes the Top Pick slot. It’s a BNF Basic glider with a 1.5-meter wingspan. This sleek acrobatic performer is ideal for advanced beginners and above.

  • Best feature 1: Optional SAFE Select flight mode
  • Best feature 2: Sporty aerobatic performance
  • Plus points: Sleek airframe, brushless power, AS3X, quick to assemble, easy to store
  • Minus points: Thin fuselage, BNF

Conscendo Advanced Glider Feature Highlights

The Conscendo Advanced is a capable sports glider with a sleek airframe and a brushless power system. Assembly and disassembly are quick and easy thanks to the plug-in wings. That also makes it convenient to store and transport. This easygoing bird is ideal for anyone with a little experience.

The Optional SAFE Select flight mode gives new users a margin of safety. SAFE Select features include pitch and bank angle limits and automatic self-leveling. Or, pilots can enjoy the thrill of sporty aerobatic performance with SAFE Select disabled. AS3X 3-axis artificial stabilization technology works quietly behind the scenes. AS3X does an excellent job of smoothing out wind and turbulence effects.

Items needed to complete include:

  • Full-range, 5CH+ DSMX®/DSM2® Transmitter
  • LiPo Flight Battery 11.1V 1250–1350mAh 3S 20C
  • LiPo Charger 3S compatible

The Not So Good

The fuselage on this plane seems incredibly thin and vulnerable. I haven’t come across any shared complaints about it damaging easily, but it feels weak. This is a bind-n-fly (BNF) version which can also be a pro if you have the parts needed to complete the kit. You must buy a transmitter, battery, and suitable charger if not (see above for details).

View on Amazon

Tech Specs
Model: Conscendo Advanced BNF
Recommended age: 14+ years
Wingspan: 1005mm (39.6”)
Flying Weight: 22.9 oz. (650g)
Material: EPO
Launch Mechanism: Xxx
Battery: 1250–1350mAh 3S 11.1V 20C LiPo (not included)
Max Flight Time: 10 minutes
Max Charging Time: Depends on battery and charger (not included)
Radio System: 5CH+ DSMX®/DSM2® Transmitter (not included)
The Pros
Optional SAFE Select flight mode
AS3X technology
Sleek airframe
Folding propeller
Sporty aerobatic performer
Ideal for advanced beginners
Quick to assemble
Easy to store
The Cons
Brushless power system
Thin fuselage
Bind-n-Fly (also a pro)

4. Leoie XK A800 780mm RC Sailplane

Leoie XK A800 780mm RC SailplaneView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.2/5

The Leoie XK A800 is an affordable RC Sailplane with a 780mm wingspan. The model comes with a big and small rudder volume setting. Skilled pilots can switch to the larger rudder for acrobatic fun.

  • Best feature 1: 3D6G stabilization system
  • Best feature 2: Detachable wing structure
  • Plus points: Affordable, quick assembly, aerobatic capable, decent flight time, fast charging
  • Minus points: Not ideal for raw beginners, nose heavy, average durability

Leoie XK A800 Feature Highlights

The glider has a convenient detachable wing structure for quick assembly and easy transport. Its main highlight is the 1-key switch 3D6G stabilization system. You can perform several exciting stunts in 3D mode that uses a 3-axis gyro. The 6G mode exploits a 6-axis gyro that makes the glider ultra-stable and ideal for advanced-beginners.

Flight time on a single charge is around 20 minutes or slightly more. The fast 40 minute charging adds further to the value of this XK A800 780mm sailplane.

The Not So Good

The Leoie XK A800 780mm RC Sailplane provides excellent value for money, but it’s not for everyone. It’s too small, fast, and agile for the raw beginner despite its 6G stabilization. Skilled pilots love it for the same reasons, though. The glider tends to be a little nose heavy too. Its EPO foam construction provides average durability at best. That’s another reason it’s not ideal for novice fliers.

View on Amazon

Tech Specs
Model: Leoie XK A800
Recommended age: 14+ years
Wingspan: 780mm (30.7”)
Flying Weight: 3.8 oz. (110g)
Material: EPO
Launch Mechanism: Hand
Battery: 7.4V 300mAh
Max Flight Time: 20 minutes
Max Charging Time: 40 minutes
Radio System: 2.4Ghz controller
The Pros
Affordable, low cost sailplane
3D6G stabilization system
Fast and agile
Detachable wing structure
Quick assembly time
Aerobatic capable
Decent flight time
Fast charging
The Cons
Nose heavy
Average durability
Not suitable for raw beginners

5. VOLANTEX Ranger600 RC RTR RC Sailplane

VOLANTEX Ranger600 RC RTR RC SailplaneView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.3/5

VOLANTEXRC is a well-known brand in the world of RC. This model is its Ranger600; a ready-to-fly (RTF) glider with 6-axis gyro stabilization. It’s an excellent choice for first-time glider pilots.

  • Best feature 1: 6-axis gyro stabilization system
  • Best feature 2: 3 level flight control
  • Plus points: Ready to fly (RTF), backward pusher, durable, 1-key return, long flight time
  • Minus points: Hard to access motor, poor paint job, long charging time

VOLANTEX Ranger600 Feature Highlights

VOLANTEX’s Ranger600 has an integrated 6-axis gyro. Its ultra- steady self-stabilization arrangement makes it an attractive choice for beginners, but that’s not all. The 3-level flight assist feature helps new pilots to progress in stages. The Beginner Level has full assist. There’s partial assist for intermediate fliers, and full manual control at the Expert Level.

This model uses a backward pusher arrangement which has two benefits. One is that it enables the plane to glide slowly like a bird of prey soaring on thermals. The other advantage is that it’s more protective toward the flight propeller in the event of a crash. And it’s good to know the special EPP foam material is there to protect the model if it does crash. EPP is ultralight, durable, and flexible.

The One Key Return is a welcome function not usually found on RC sailplanes. The reasonable 20 minute flight time is also worth mention. The battery charging time is less impressive (see below).

The Not So Good

The designers of this glider have wired the motor into the main controller. That makes it impossible to service without cutting the wings out of the fuselage. It’s doable, and the wings will glue back on, but what a palaver. Another gripe is that the paint on this model comes off way too easily. Finally, the charging time is around 2 hours, so most pilots will want at least one extra battery.

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Tech Specs
Model: Volantex RC Ranger 600
Recommended age: 14+ years
Wingspan: 600mm (23.6”)
Flying Weight: 2.4 oz. (70g)
Material: EPP Foam
Launch Mechanism: Hand
Battery: 3.7V 360mah Li-Po
Max Flight Time: 20 minutes
Max Charging Time: 2 hours
Radio System: 2.4G 3CH
The Pros
6-axis gyro stabilization system
3 level flight control
Ready to fly (RTF)
Durable, flexible EPO
Backward pusher design
1-key return
Long flight time
The Cons
Hard to access motor
Poor paint job
Long charging time

6. E-flite 2.6M Radian XL BNF Basic RC Glider

E-flite 2.6M Radian XL BNF Basic RC GliderView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.4/5

Big gliders can be daunting for new pilots, but this bird is easy to handle even at the entry-level. The model has a 2.6M polyhedral wing with fully-proportional lift spoilers.

  • Best feature 1: Big glider, easy to fly
  • Best feature 2: Horizontal stabilizer
  • Plus points: AS3X technology, brushless motor, transportable/storable, Z-foam
  • Minus points: Needs better reinforcement, BNF

E-flite 2.6M Radian Feature Highlights

E-flite’s Radian is the biggest bird here, but don’t let the size intimidate you. It only takes a few minutes to assemble and disassemble making it easy to store and carry. The craft combines a lightweight Z-Foam construction with brushless power. Its power-to-weight ratio is spot on.

This beautiful sailplane is known for its pilot-friendly flight characteristics. Even novice users can learn how to ride thermals in no time. The plane’s flying horizontal stabilizer provides an effective pitch response irrespective of speed. AS3X technology also adds to the stable flight experience. It keeps the glider smooth and responsive even in higher winds.

Items needed to complete include:

  • 5CH+ Spektrum™ DSMX®/DSM2® transmitter
  • Flight battery, 3S 3200mAh LiPo w/ EC3™ connector
  • Suitable charger

The Not So Good

E-flite’s 2.6M Radian XL is a big beautiful bird which is also a negative. Its foam construction and large size could use better reinforcement. I doubt the foam body will cause any issues if pilots respect the glider’s limitations. However, expect things to break if you fly outside its flight envelope. It’s a BNF model, so it needs a transmitter, flight battery, and charger to complete. BNF is also a pro for some.

View on Amazon

Tech Specs
Model: Radian XL 2.6m
Recommended age: 14+ years
Wingspan: 2600mm (102.40)
Flying Weight: 79.5 oz. (2254g)
Material: Z-Foam
Launch Mechanism: Hand
Battery: 3200mAh 3S LiPo (not included)
Max Charging Time: Depends on the charger
Radio System: 5+ CH Spektrum DSMX / DSM2 transmitter (not included)
The Pros
Big glider, easy to fly
Horizontal stabilizer
AS3X technology
Brushless motor
Transportable
Easy to store
Durable Z-foam
The Cons
Needs better reinforcement due to its large size
Bind-n-Fly (also a pro).
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