Pros / The Delta Ray’s impressive range gives you the freedom to take full advantage of its blistering speed.
Cons / Due to its size and weight, crashes at high speed can cause almost catastrophic structural damage.
Verdict / So long as you have enough space to take advantage of the Delta Ray’s raw power, its nimble acrobatics and SAFE-assisted flight are a joy to use.
The HobbyZone Delta Ray is unique among entry-level RC airplanes: it’s big, it’s fast and it can perform aerial stunts that wow any onlooker. This combination may seem to put it squarely in intermediate-flier territory, but thanks to onboard SAFE technology, the Delta Ray remains one of the best RC planes for beginners we flew. True, its speed and size can be a weakness – if you don’t push the panic button in time and suffer a crash, you can easily tear the nose right off the plane – but so long as you’re careful, the flying experience is well worth it. For its spectacular aerobatics and thrilling speed, the Delta Ray earns our Top Ten Reviews Silver Award.
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Specifically designed to tear through the sky, the Delta Ray’s speed can easily startle new pilots; it certainly surprised us. Two differentially thrusted propellers drive the triangular aircraft, and while they’re not gas-powered, they’re still forceful enough to let the Delta Ray cross the length of a football field in a matter of seconds.
With two motors to drive, the Delta Ray’s battery life isn’t superb but remains average, consistently netting about six minutes and 20 seconds of dependable flight. The bad news is charge time – it takes over an hour to charge up a depleted battery, and the charger only works with car cigarette lighters. If you want to charge up a spare battery without keeping your car running, we recommend buying an inverter that converts the car charger to a regular two-pronged plug.
As long as your Delta Ray is in the air, you’re in for a wild ride. With sweeping loops, tight barrel rolls and one of the best panic button recovery times we saw during testing, it might lack a rudder and elevator, but this RC airplane kit is still extremely capable. Between its differential thrust motors and wing-spanning ailerons, it has plenty of maneuverability.
Of course, all that maneuverability and aforementioned speed has a downside: If you crash, you crash hard. We gave the Delta Ray to a new pilot who didn’t know the panic button was there, and he promptly smashed the plane into concrete. As photos we took of the results can attest, the damage was almost catastrophic.
When you’re just starting out with the Delta Ray, be sure to keep your left index finger poised on the panic button, and don’t be afraid to use it. The Delta Ray’s panic mode can get you out of any hazardous situation, so long as you press it in time and have enough height off the ground. You can even use the panic button when it comes time to land; just squeeze it, throttle down and let the aircraft glide to the ground.
Spektrum’s DX line of radio transmitters are the de facto gold standard in radio control, so it was pleasing to learn that the Delta Ray comes with a DX4e four-channel remote. Most of the remote control airplanes we reviewed use various E-flite transmitters. They’re capable and do the job, but they can’t match the Spektrum’s range, which tops out at 900 feet – almost three times what the competition boasts. Given the Delta Ray’s speed, that range is welcome, but it also necessitates a warning: Unless you find a very large treeless field, you can easily lose track of your plane behind foliage. That’s a surefire ticket to a crash, so try to fly the Delta Ray in the biggest field around.
Even though there are so many RC planes for sale from different manufacturers, the Delta Ray manages to stand out with its eye-catching silhouette, impressive speed and delightful maneuverability. It boasts the best range of any plane we tested, great features like SAFE flight and the panic button, and moderately decent battery life. Had it a better charger and some built-in breakaway pieces that could mitigate crash damage, it would probably be our top pick; as it is, the Delta Ray makes a grand showing and is well worth consideration.