I was curious to hear from pilots with comparison experience using ArduPlane as an autopilot, vs. other autopilots? I just built an ArduQuad copter and have it flying. Not far but after crashing it a few times I'm getting the hang of it ;-) . Now I am curious about a fixed wing build, with the APM 2.0/Arduplane as the flight computer.
I don't have any experience flying an RC fixed wing, just the multicopter so far. Just wondering if the APM/Arduplane really makes for an easy flying experience?
I can't compare APM to any other autopilot. But I can tell you, APM can't compensate for your lack in flying skills!
I'd suggest you to get a flight sim and practice until you feel confident to launch a real plane. Then get yourself an Easystar or Bixler or whatever and fly it with the standard setup. As soon as you reliably manage a soft landing, a loop, a roll, maybe inverted, then you can think of adding APM.
If you crash an Easystar with basic equipment, you lose a few bucks in the worst case. If you crash it with APM, you might lose quite a bit more. And you will crash it, with APM or without. Everyone did... :)
Just my 0.02 swiss francs :)
I agree with the recommendation for a simulator. Even a cheap simulator with non-perfect physics will be very useful. Of course it's best if you pick a sim that actually has a model of whatever plane you choose.