Pros / The Champ is remarkably durable and able to withstand numerous crashes without being noticeably worse for wear.
Cons / Without a built-in gyroscope, you can be at the mercy of the wind.
Verdict / With lengthy flight times and the ability to perform some decent stunts with practice, the Champ can live up to its name, as long as you stay out of the wind and give yourself time to acclimate to its controls.
The HobbyZone Champ is your quintessential, no-frills RC airplane. It offers a classic design, solid durability and great flight time while skipping out on modern conveniences like a built-in gyroscope and four-channel flight. This is a plane that’s simple to understand and easy to get flying, but it can be a bit temperamental in windy conditions or under the guidance of a novice pilot.
The aircraft itself is suitably impressive, built of an impact-resistant polystyrene that stood up to more than its fair share of crashes between our three test pilots. It doesn’t have ailerons on its wings, so you can’t perform any barrel rolls, but with enough practice, you can execute great loops and even nail a downward corkscrew or two before needing to level out above the ground.
Since the plane lacks SAFE flight assistance, there’s no panic button should you lose control. We think this feature should be included in all RC planes for beginners because it’s so handy, but as long as you maintain enough altitude and keep from overcompensating, you can usually pull yourself out of dangerous dives.
Between the RC airplane kit’s included transmitter and onboard receiver, expect about 300 feet of usable range from the HobbyZone Champ; we measured our test model at exactly 295 feet before its connection began stuttering. 300 feet is far from the longest range we saw during testing, but it’s still quite usable – if you were to stand in the middle of a football field that was as wide as it is long, you’d be able to fly over every part of it without worry.
The Champ’s battery life is one of its high points. After multiple flight and charge time tests, we found that you can consistently get about seven minutes and 18 seconds of flight time out of the flier. In our experience, that’s long enough to feel satisfied with a run, and the 45-minute charge time for the battery is, though long, not outrageously so. If you’re itching for more airtime, the plane uses standard 150mAh LiPo hobbyist batteries. They’re cheap and easy to find online, so you could always stock up on extras before heading out to the runway.
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The HobbyZone Champ is the best plane you can buy at its price point. It’s tough to recommend, however, when you can get so much more out of other planes for a few dollars more. If you’re locked in that price point and are looking for a capable flier, the Champ will satisfy, but there is much more aerial fun to be had than this model can provide.