I get this question all the time: what's a good plane to turn into a UAV? The answer is that it depends on your needs, your budget and your RC skills. But here are some good electric candidates:
For RC beginners:
(see above) is roomy, slow-flying and comes with everything you need (including a RC flight simulator). It even has its own rudimentary flight-stabilization system with a Futaba PA-2
For DIY'ers on a budget:
The $110 SuperStar is a nice-flying four-channel plane with enough room for an autopilot and cameras strapped below. The ARF kit comes with a brushed motor and NiCad batteries, which are enough to get you started. When you're ready, you can upgrade to a brushless motor and LiPos. This is the plane we use for GeoCrawler 2
and will also be the basic platform for our ArduPilot-based UAV. You can hand launch it in a park, or take it off from a runway at an airfield. It's tough and can handle wind. All and all, a really comfortable plane to work with, especially once you upgrade the motor and battery.
[Note. This plane appears to be discontinued. You might want to check out the NexSTAR Mini EP
as a replacement. It's not quite as good, as it's more expensive and has less interior room, but it does the trick] For those looking for long flight times:
is a powered glider with a pusher prop, which means no propellers in the way of your cameras. This is the aircraft used by Marcus UAV
For those who want to carry heavy, high-resolution cameras, with unobstructed views:
If you're looking for something like the classic Pioneer UAV, with a twin tail and a pusher prop, you might want to consider starting with this Skymaster RTF. Skip the front motor (put your cameras there instead), double the size of the rear one, and you're pretty close. We've got one and the plane looks beautifully made. We haven't flown it yet, but the dimensions are encouraging.
[This one appears to no longer be available, although a larger gas-powered one
For an all-around great first UAV platform:
. The classic. Easy to fly, hard to break and plenty of room for electronics. Works best with a brushless motor upgrade
An even cheaper variation on this, with the helpful addition of ailerons, is the Dynam HawkSky
. Well worth considering as an EasyStar alternative,.