I just got what might the best entry-level UAV platform yet. It's the Busy-Bee RTF
from HobbyKing and at first glance it looks practically perfect for our needs. It comes totally ready to fly (just ten minutes of attaching things), with a brushless motor, ESC and all servos and pushrods installed, all for $70! Just add RC gear and a battery.
It's got all the elements we need for a UAV platform:
--Four channels, with ailerons
--High-wing trainer style, so should be easy to fly and relatively slow
--Steerable nose wheel (gear is removable for grass landings)
--Loads of room in that cockpit! The tinted window is a bit unfortunate for camera use, but otherwise it's perfect: easy to get to and easy access to the rest of the equipment area in the body
--Easy to repair foam
A few notes: The picture on the product page shows that it comes with a JST battery connector, but it actually comes with a standard Deans connector. The box says that it comes with cheap FM RC gear, but thankfully that's not the case (it comes with no RC gear at all). The included propeller is actually black and pretty good looking, not the yellow toy in the picture. If you want to upgrade the motor to a more powerful outrunner, it's easy to do; it uses the standard mounting holes. The motor is rated at 8.4v, so a 7.4 20c LiPo battery is probably safest. But if it seems really underpowered with that, I may try pushing it with a 11v battery.
Overall, it's hard to beat this one for the price, features and ease of assembly. I'll fly it this weekend and see how it performs.