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How Fast Can an RC Airplane and Helicopter Fly?

Wilbur Wright once said: ”It is possible to fly without motors, but not without knowledge and skill." Over a century later, his words are still valid, as it requires specific skills and accurate knowledge to take the skies with our RC aircrafts. Nowadays we enjoy a wide variety of models and features, in both airplanes and helicopters, as this hobby has considerably grown in popularity in the past decades. The aircrafts have evolved in every possible way – weight, engines, batteries, electronics, performance and even prices. Naturally, they also gained more speed. It has become a genuine challenge to see who creates the fastest RC aircrafts and what rapidity they could reach.

So how fast can we go? When it comes to RC helicopters, it is well-known that speed flying was focused on those larger models in the 700 mm blade size range. But the evolution of technology changed the aerodynamics of small helicopters, more country-wide available, and this has increased their velocity as well. Thus, the top speeds for helicopter classes, as measured in competitions in 2015, were:

  • 96.9 mph – 200-499 mm blades (unofficial record, 6S Goblin 380)

  • 133.9 mph – 500-630 mm blades (unofficial record, 12S Gaui)

  • 177.7 mph – 631-820 mm blades (official world record, 14S Minicopter Diabolo Speed)

  • 202.4 mph – 631-820 mm blades (unofficial record, 14S Minicopter Diabolo Speed)

In May 2016, an RC Helicopter Diabolo S managed to reach 193 mph in one direction; this happened during an RC speed meeting in Germany. The speed in the middle was of 177 mph. Another German RC aircraft pilot submitted his world record experiment in which the RC helicopter reached 179.3 mph. But in 2013, the fastest RC helicopter was considered to be the Eurocopter X3 which was then able to reach 293 mph in level flight. The Speed Banshee, as it was also called, was a modified version of a standard model and it was created by German fans who took the RC technology to a whole new level. The competition sharpened in this area, so more new-comers present themselves as pretenders to the first place in speed.

How about RC airplanes? The speed range in their case was usually set between 30 mph and 200 mph (with even lower rates for beginners). But experienced pilots always wanted more, and there are a few pioneers in this area who dream big – big enough for the entire RC flying community! Thus, recent experiments have introduced a somewhat unusual model to the world: the pink RC plane that can travel at 440 mph, which is more than half the speed of sound. It was invented by Niels Herbrich, from Germany, who broke the Guinness World Record with this device. The color bright-pink was specially chosen so that the RC doesn’t get lost in the clouds (and to be fair, the plane is not all pink, its bottom is black). The aircraft is very thin, and it has no landing gear; it is light, mid-sized, yet stable and the way it flies is just mind-blowing. It is nothing but an engine with wings; it has no propellers at all, but it surely doesn’t need any. I’ve watched it taking off in just 30 – 40 feet and then climbing almost vertically until becoming just a dot in the sky.

Imagine how amazing it would be to have an RC aircraft capable of reaching the speed of sound, one day! But since we already have this RC Speeder “Inferno” capable of such performances and training for even more records, it is probably just a matter of time until we break the barrier. Until then, let's only enjoy the ultimate freedom that flying holds out to us when we take our RC aircrafts to the sky; and remember that, we are all real pilots even if we fly an RC airplane or an RC helicopter.