This discussion started with a grand in my pocket, a desire to learn and no pre-existing biases. I have explored the plane UAV but no-one has mentioned the arducopter. It seems that a ready to fly arducopter could be had for less than a grand and if one was willing to buy it in kit form, one could probably include the xbee telemitry and a cheap radio/receiver, for under a grand.
Would anyone venture to comment on the pros and cons of copter over plane or visa versa?
Places like RCTimer and Hobby king offer some great deals and ship from HK, not the US. If you build a quad, you can do your own frame, if you feel up to the task.
Thanks for all the help.
Still haven't decided on airframe but took the plunge.
Got the APM Kit from the DIYDrones Store
1 Xbee adapter
Also purchased a good soldering iron locally.