For Under $40, Swann’s Micro Hornet Has it All

I learned years ago that there’s nothing wrong with embracing your inner man-child; because of this, my love of toys, video games and RC has never dissipated. One particular segment that’s captured my heart in the last year is RC helicopters. Unlike radio control planes, helicopters can be flown indoors and are pretty easy to fly–and the prices are much more reasonable. So after getting a bunch of emails from you, our loyal readers, we realized that you were getting a bit confused and overwhelmed by the number of helicopters you’ve found at your local malls and hobby shops, and needed a little push in the right direction to help you find a great little heli for less than $50. Well guess what? Help has arrived–and our recommendation may surprise you…

Let’s cover a few of the basics before we dive right in. When you’re talking about an RC helicopter for less than $50, you’re probably looking at one that’s IR (infrared) controlled, as opposed to “radio controlled.” This means that much like a television remote, these infrared helis require line-of-sight in order to work; not really a problem, just something worth noting. In addition, you’re usually only getting “3 channel” operation with helicopters of this type. Each channel controls a different function; so with a 3 channel model, you’ll be controlling elevation (up and down), forward & back, and turning left or right. Again, there’s nothing wrong with this–you can do some amazing maneuvers with 3 channels; you’re just not getting the same level of control as you would with 4 channels. Ok…enough with the lessons; let’s get to the Micro Hornet…

Although Swann is best known as an industry leader in home security tech, they’ve started branching out and have made quite a splash recently in the world of RC. Though Swann does have a wide variety to choose from, we decided that we’d go with smallest heli they had–the appropriately named, Micro Hornet. Though technically a “micro” helicopter can be up to a foot long, the Hornet truly is a micro, measuring in at under 5″ (around 5.5″ if you measure from tail rotor to main rotor), and is for indoor use only. Honestly, when I first took it out of the box, I wasn’t even sure how it could fly being so small; and though the Hornet may be small in size, it’s packed with features you’d usually find on larger models.

Along with dual main rotors as well as the aforementioned tail rotor, you’ll find a solid metal frame, multiple LED lights (I’m a sucker for bright and shiny), a charger built into the remote, and perhaps the most important and surprising feature, a gyro for flight stabilization. To their credit, Swann has gyros built-in to all of their models, making them all “first-timer-friendly” right out of the box; I’m just amazed they were able to put a gyro on a helicopter this small. In addition to the technology on the copter itself, there’s something worth mentioning about the remote that I’ve never seen on a model selling for less than $100. While most remotes feature “spring loaded” elevation control (meaning you have to hold the control stick steady in order to hover), the Hornet’s remote has a control stick with free movement–meaning you can let go of the stick, and the Hornet will hover right where you left it. This makes a huge difference when flying, and truly is a difference maker when shopping for a helicopter.

As far as flying the Hornet? It’s genuinely a blast. Aside from the fact that it just plain looks cool flying, the gyro keeps the Micro Hornet stable at all times, and its diminutive size lets it go places that other RC helicopters dare not tread. Though the Micro hornet is controlled by an IR remote, I never once lost a signal–even when I didn’t have a direct line of sight. Though the landing gear, body and rotors are all plastic (Swann is also kind enough to include extra rotors in the box), the metal frame and overall light weight help ensure that the Hornet takes little damage. In fact, I’ve been using mine for weeks, and have yet to injure this thing–which is rare indeed. Another positive is the fact that the Hornet only takes around 20 minutes to charge when plugged into the remote, and yields 5 to 8 minutes of flight time, depending on how hard you push it.

In the end, it boils down to this: For $39.99, Swann gives you an RC helicopter that’s small, reliable, fast, and fun to fly…and let’s not forget the whole “twinkly sparkly” thing, thanks to the cool LED lights. Packed with features you’ll never find on helicopters in this price range, the Swann Micro Hornet will not disappoint.

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