Airplane For My 3 Year Old? - RC Groups
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Dec 24, 2004, 01:31 PM
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Airplane For My 3 Year Old?

Hello -

New to this group and I could use some help.

Does anyone out there have any suggestions for a simple 3 channel model for my 3 (well, 3 1/2 actually) year old son? He's prety good on a Fisher Price video game I bought him a month ago so I thought I could start him off flying early.

I am concerned, however about prop rotational speed (tender fingers!) so a slower moving prop scheme would be more suitable.

My other concern is the size of the Tx. It needs to be small enough so he can handle it. I saw some radios that were very large even for my hands.

The last concern is a way to limit the range of the control inputs. I saw som Tx units with a "high/low" switch. I would think it would be best to limit his input a bit for the beginning.

If anyone has a plane to fit this criteria, I would appreciate your input. I am willing to modify as necessary as well.

Thanks to all and have a great holiday!
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Dec 24, 2004, 01:57 PM
Registered User
I have had the same thought myself. My son is 5 and I have a daughter who is 8 but I dont have anything suitable to give them lessons on. I met a guy at the local flying field flying a stick type plane he made out of fan fold that was really easy to fly and also cheap to replace. It used an ips motor with a large ratio and I think about a 12" slowfly prop. I was trying to think of something in a pusher configuration so that those nose down landings dont end with a $3 broken prop. As for the controller, I'd get him used to the standard style radio so his skills will transfer. Perhaps a neck strap would make holding it easier. Truthfully most flying is done on the right stick anyway. Perhaps a search will be able to pull up plans for something easy to fly. I know it had about a 3ft wingspan with an undercambered airfoil made by putting the fan fold in the oven after attaching it to a form.
Dec 24, 2004, 02:08 PM
Registered User
aeropal's Avatar
It would be helpful to list the planes that you have already rejected. Might be "jumping the gun" a little at that age, but look at the Park Shark.

Flying Model Simulator - Park Shark File
Dec 24, 2004, 02:10 PM
build, fly, crash, repeat ...
Stuart Linfoot's Avatar
Hi George and Roberts, welcome to RC Groups, your going to find a lot of great helpful people here.

I have a 4 year old that actually flies a little; it's a lot of work teaching someone that young how to fly, this year for Christmas, I think I came up with a simple solution for him.

I bought 9 of those Wattage Micro flyers to give away as gifts this year (one goes to my 4 year old), well I ordered one more then I actually needed (My miscalculation) anyway, I took the thing to work the other night, and test flew the spare plane I have.

here's my findings: it's a very simple to fly plane, while the transmitter is quite small, it will easily fit in the hand of a 4 year old, it has throttle control, and left and right rudder control, I don't think Sollamon is going to have any trouble at all handling the plane, and it's almost indestructible.

We were able to take off right from the ground (didn't need to hand launch) and the plane will gently fly in a large circle by just holding the throttle button, and if you want to turn the plane, just a tap of left or right is all you need.

I think it's going to be a good way to get my 4 year old used to the reversed controls when the plane is coming at you.

This is just my opinion, others may think of some other suggestions.

The plane retails for 40 bucks, so I think it's a good deal.

Dec 24, 2004, 02:11 PM
ronmar1's Avatar
Come on guys be honest here! I use to use my grandson as an excuse to buy a new plane, but everyone really knew I was getting it for my self! But then what ever works!!!

If you're really serious, I'd be real careful with a real young child around a RC Plane. Even the slow flyers can remove hide and even flesh if a finger or hand gets to close to the props.

You might want to consider a Buddy box and jumper. That way you can get the plane up and going and he then can take contol. That way you can regain the contols at any time you feel necessary.

You might also be better advised to start the RC experiance with a RC car or a flight simulator program for your PC, and move on to planes later.
Last edited by ronmar1; Dec 24, 2004 at 02:18 PM.
Dec 24, 2004, 02:17 PM
build, fly, crash, repeat ...
Stuart Linfoot's Avatar
that's why it's a lot of work teaching a 4 year old how to fly, there's a whole lot more involved then just flying the plane, spinning props, proper handeling, you name it.

a small "Toy" type plane that can at least teach the basics helps a lot.

does this look like a 4 year old that might be interested in RC?
Last edited by Stuart Linfoot; Dec 24, 2004 at 07:55 PM.
Dec 24, 2004, 11:23 PM
Registered User
I am concerned about propeller damage as ronmar1 said. Is there some kind of soft rubber prop arrangement that will stop if his hand gets in the way? I saw a fan that worked the same way in a Shaper Image store.

Or, how about a break-away prop? If he gets hurt, my wife is gonna be sore.

By the way, he doesn't want a car or simulator. He wants a plane.
Dec 25, 2004, 10:11 AM
Frequent Flyer
wattsup_kz's Avatar
Welcome to the group, George!

I have yet to see a 3 year old with sufficent attention span to keep a plane in the air.
If your son is 3 1/2 now he may be a lot further along by this summer.

With my kids, age 5 was the minimum for me to take my hands off the TX, or hold down the trainer switch for more than 10 seconds.

I highly recommend the Frog as a kid trainer.

Good luck,
Dec 25, 2004, 10:49 AM
Registered User
just a suggestion, but i have seen some relatively cheap ($60) airplanes at Toys-R-Us....I think the brand is airhogs or something like that. They have push button controls for throttle, and a stick for turning. it has two props, and uses differential power to turn. very simple airplanes that fly for maybe 3-5 minutes on a charge (charger is included). and unless you step on the thing, it will not break. i think it is the perfect idea for a small child.....for $60 it's worth a shot.

good luck.
Dec 25, 2004, 10:54 AM
Registered User
crashingagain's Avatar
My youngest son was 4 when I started him on the buddy box and I'm sorry to say that he no longer has any interest in flying rc. I think I ruined it for him, it's just something everyday and ordinary to him. Let your kid watch you and eventually let him fly a little, it will help retain the magic of flight.
Dec 25, 2004, 12:33 PM
Gravity is a harsh mistress.
Tim Wolff's Avatar
I'm not a big fan of foam, but a properly setup GWS LiteStick or Tiger Moth should be ideal. A Stevens Aero DiddleBug is even better (balsa), but not as expendable.

My six year old did about a dozen big ovals with a litestick one day this past summer. He than said "this is boring" and went off to play.

I'm going to keep trying. I hope flying will "take" once he can fly w/o help. I remember that I was about 12 when I started.

I use top quality radio gear to help minimize the chances of unexpected motor starts. Speed controls that require an arming sequence etc.. A few simple checks are all that is needed. But, 3 1/2 is too young for that. You should be supervising every second.
Dec 25, 2004, 09:46 PM
Registered User
Yes, there is one thing you cant teach them and that's how to be interested in flying. They either are or they arent. I've taken all my kids to the field and tried using an old Seniorita (glow) with a buddy box but it still went entirely too fast for a young mind to keep up with. I like the 5-7mph idea and foam doesnt hurt either. I've thought of tethering the plane so that it flew in circles like control line so the kids would only have to worry about throttle and elevator. It also greatly reduces the risk of losing the plane or buying a window ect. As far as safety goes simply teach them the safety rules we all use (uh or should use). Obviously close adult supervision would always be required but thats part of the fun if you ask me. A Tigermoth may be doable if you used a buddy box. They wont take too much abuse. Dorking it hard once could be the end of that days lesson.
Dec 25, 2004, 10:18 PM
Registered User
Aten W Arthog's Avatar
The safety issues boggle the mind: for the kids as well as everyone else around the field and the nearby homeowners... Unless we're talking strictly indoor RC, that is... For most 3 and 4 year olds, I would say rc panes are premature in a couple ways. One, you want to foster an intial deeper understanding of the structures od the plane and how they inter-relate: how the thing can be made dynamically stable. I'm not talking lectures here, simply hands-on discovering of relationships, of weight and balance, of forces and basics of aerodynamics, etc. Without understanding some of those principles, commanding an aircraft via RC feels like voodoo magic to a newbie. Secondly, I think going right to RC takes some of the fun out of the learning process: instead of presenting a hobby you can progress up in steps, you're offering them the top-tier experiences right out of the box. This may be psychologically daunting to them, and instead of telling you it's too scary or too stimulating they just say they're bored. Finally, yes, I think you can burn out a kid's interest in flying models with too much, too soon. You're also not giving them much emotional investment in an ARF model they have not built or even decorated. What I would offer instead to a 3 and 4 year old are free-flight wood and also foam chuck gliders and 2-dollar Guillows rubber-band wind-ups and catapult gliders, stuff they can have fun building and master at their own pace. There's lots for them to learn about just moving the wing and CG forward and back to get a certain result in flight. The walk-behind airsurfer gliders I buy at Walgreens would be good, The kids have plenty of energy to chase them and control them with their body's wake. They also fly incredibly slowly indoors, and are safe to play slow-motion "catch" with. This is a good thing: they want to play with you more than the toy itself, the toy plane is just the vehicle between you. my kids are bored by my RC planes, but they love playing airsurfer round-robin catch on the front lawn with me any chance they get. If you want to insist on the RC thing, at this age, let them do it on the simulator where they can really show off to you and even show you up. Then let them attack a box of balsa sticks and sheet with some CA (under supervision) to make their own stuff.
Dec 25, 2004, 10:36 PM
Vamooska's Avatar
Welcome George......short and Sweet? I completely agree with Stuart...get the Wattage Micro flyers.....perfect.
Dec 26, 2004, 12:36 AM
Registered User
Thanks for all your input. Some really well thought-out responses and advice.

It's clear to me that he wants his own plane and he's quite stubborn about having a 3 channel system like mine. He didn't like the WMF when I showed him a picture on He gets bored with the sim program on my PC and free flight is, I think "below him" because it isn't a real airplane.

I got a PM from a flyer with a 3 year old who flies a Wingo. The kid crashed it many times but his Dad just keeps gluing it together. I have concerns about a 400 motor and the dangerous prop scenario. The pusher prop concept seems to be best as I can imagine he will be nosediving it in the beginning.

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