HobbyZone’s Sport Cub S is an unassuming little flier. Its 2-foot wingspan is average for these sorts of RC airplanes, and its 320-foot range is likewise decent but far from stupendous. Hidden within its simple polystyrene frame is one of the best RC planes for beginners we tested – a plane that, thanks to its durability and integrated SAFE technology, can take crashes well when you’re just starting out, then grow with you as you become a better pilot. It’s a plane that can perform gorgeous loops and fun barrel rolls yet is light and portable enough to be easily carried and stored. For its flexibility, durability and beginner-friendly technology, the Sport Cub S earns our Top Ten Reviews Gold Award.
When we review remote control airplanes, one question stays at the forefront of our minds: How does it fly? The answer usually depends on the pilot, which is why we had three different TTR reviewers take control of the Sport Cub S. We all agreed it’s a blast to fly. Relatively small and lightweight, the Cub doesn’t reach breakneck speeds, but that’s a good thing – it keeps flying manageable and discourages you from soaring beyond the transmitter’s maximum range.
To be fair, the Sport Cub S isn’t the easiest plane we flew. But where other planes have size and stability, the Sport Cub S has dexterity, able to twist through the air with rolls and corkscrews. When one of us lost control of the Sport and crashed it, its unibody foam design kept it intact.
Between its impressive durability, nimble agility and easy handling – thanks in great part to SAFE technology – the Sport Cub S is easy to love. It would be even easier if it flew longer than about four minutes on a charge; it averaged four minutes and 10 seconds in our repeated tests. Fortunately, the Cub uses common and cheap 150 mAh LiPo batteries, which are available along with multi-battery chargers all over the internet. If you like to stay out flying for longer than four minutes between charges, you can always bring a few spare batteries with you.
The Sport Cub S’s kit comes packed with one of our favorite beginner-friendly RC airplane technologies: SAFE. Like most gyroscopic flight systems, the Sensor Assisted Flight Envelope helps to keep the Cub level in strong winds but takes the balancing act a step further by offering three different modes of flight. Beginner mode locks the airplane in to fairly level flight, letting you gracefully turn, pull up or push down with steady confidence. Intermediate mode gives you a little more control over the elevator and rudder; you can turn sharper and climb faster, but the system stops you before you stall the plane or roll into a dive.
Flick the system over to Experienced mode, though, and you have complete control of the aircraft: rolls, loops, corkscrews, dive bombs, you name it. Since the Cub has built-in ailerons, those rolls are tight spirals that twist through the air with invigorating precision.
Though the Sport Cub S doesn’t come with a camera, it does have a separate, purchasable FPV kit that comes with both a mountable camera and VR-style goggles. It’s one thing to fly an RC plane from the ground; it’s quite another to get a view that feels like you’re inside the cockpit. We advise against buying the kit until you are comfortable flying, though. Taking control of notoriously wobbly remote control planes becomes a very different challenge with those goggles on.
You control the Sport Cub S with an E-flite MLP6DSM transmitter. While the name’s a mouthful, what’s important are the powerful features it has, including a three-tier switch that’s necessary to shift between SAFE’s beginner, intermediate and advanced modes, and the SAFE system’s panic button.
Operated with a trigger on the transmitter’s right shoulder, the panic button is easily our favorite SAFE feature. At any point, regardless of what flight mode you’re in or what aerial catastrophe you’ve gotten your Cub in to, you can squeeze the panic button and watch as the onboard computer takes over, stabilizing flight and making it easy to get back in control of the aircraft.
We put the Sport Cub’s panic button to the test during our trial flights, and while it needs a decent amount of height to recover from the worst situations – several crashes occurred when we purposefully put the Cub into dangerous dives but waited too long to press the panic button – it otherwise worked perfectly every time. You can even squeeze the trigger with the throttle off to make landing easier, since the plane slowly drifts forward in an easy, controlled descent.
Of the numerous RC planes for sale from various manufacturers, HobbyZone’s Sport Cub S offers perhaps the most balanced approach to flying. There are planes with better aerobatics, but they don’t have the beginner-friendly teaching tools. There are also aircraft that are more stable in flight, but they aren’t as rugged and able to withstand crashes. The Sport Cub’s flexible capacity rises it above the competition, and makes it our pick for the best beginner remote control airplane on the market.