There are two types of model airplanes: flying and non-flying. Both of these types of model airplanes can be further subdivided and classified based on their purpose, power source and the materials they are constructed from.
Many model airplanes are flown for sport. While some are radio controlled, some are free flying and fly in a straight line or a circle until they land or crash.
Model airplanes flown for sport can be classified based on propulsion method. The most basic method is rubber propulsion. A rubber-propelled airplane uses an elastic band that is similar to a long rubber band. This elastic band is attached to the propeller in the front and the body of the plane in the back. The propeller is then wound up, and the plane is released.
Gas-propelled planes are powered by tanks of compressed gas, usually carbon dioxide. Some gas-propelled planes use gas to directly propel the plane, while others use the gas to power a small piston engine.
Internal combustion engines are another way of powering model airplanes. These engines work the same way as automobile engines and are used to power a propeller.
Radio controlled planes are also categorized based on appearance, style of flight and difficulty of piloting. Some of the more common types are trainer airplanes, sport airplanes, aerobatic planes, warbirds, vintage planes and float planes.
In addition to their recreational uses, model airplanes are also created for engineering and scientific research. Finally, non-flying model airplanes are used purely for aesthetic value and are referred to as display or shelf models.