The complete radio control model airplane FAQ.  



Links to Shipping Carriers

Which Shipping Carrier do you prefer?

How do I ship my airplane to the guy who bought it?


Crating and Shipping an AeroWorks 29% Edge, a DOCUMENTARY by Bill Pryor



Shipping Carriers

Airborne Express


Forward Air Home Page


USPS--United States Postal Service


Shipping Q's...

How do I ship my airplane to the guy who bought it?

   A friend recently had a 105" Edge shipped from Colorado to San Diego. The seller had about $30 invested in the crate, and the shipping costs were $63, using Forward Air. Roger had to go down to pick up the plane, but that's nothing when you consider the size of the plane and low cost of the delivery charge.

     I have also heard of Greyhound Bussing give good shipping prices. rcfaq


    Give Forward Air a call or check out their web site; I just used them to ship a pattern plane. Costs were very reasonable ($48 form (CVG) Cincinnati, OH to (IAD) Dulles, Washington, D.C.) I asked how much it would be to ship the same package to (LAX) Los Angeles, CA. Would have been about $10 more. It is not door to door though. The package must be shipped airport to airport. The guy at the loading dock said they had shipped 15 model airplanes in the last two months. Ken, from the Scale Aerobatics List.


    I was in the need to ship a framed up 30% Giles from Nashville to Denver. The crate turned out 60" x 32" x 22" and weighed 102 pounds.  I called around and got quotes that went all the way up to $295 (!!!).  I was not aware that most airlines will ship cargo and they were the "low bidder" at around $70- $100 until I contacted Forward Air.  They shipped the above mentioned crate, insured for $450, for $53.  The only "issue" is that they are not door to door.  They only ship airport to airport.  I had to drive an hour and half to Nashville to drop it off and so will the buyer on the other end.  Well worth the effort in my opinion. Dale, from the Scale Aerobatics List.


    The best firm I have found is Old Dominion Freight Lines. They charged $135 to ship my 40% Cap from FL to NJ. The box was 11 feet long by 3 wide by 4 high. A BIG box. Rich, from the Scale Aerobatics List.

Which Shipping Carrier do you prefer?

    Basically, I prefer either Airborne Express or the USPS, depending on the package being sent. Just like the advertisement says, if it "absolutely positively has to be there overnight," then I use FedEx. Each shipper has their strengths and weaknesses, so unless money is no object, you want to select the one that fits your needs. Note that every single carrier listed below has lost at least one of our packages at one time or another.


    Airborne Express is my carrier of choice for most things. Until just recently, they had a flat rate for their shipping prices, so one pound going all the way across the nation was the same price as a pound going across the street. Now, they have distance based pricing, and are cheaper locally, but a little more costly long distance, and it averages out. Their prices are still better than most carriers. For instance, I can send a 15 lb package in two days coast to coast for a better price than UPS will ship it ground delivery, sometimes taking up to two weeks! Airborne isn't perfect--but they at least have a real tracking system, and are reliable at paying for insurance claims. 

    Airborne Express's biggest hindrance is their small size. For many remote areas, you must select the Express Overnight, a more costly delivery method. They also have fewer offices and drop boxes than most carriers. On the other hand, Airborne allows their drivers to accept a package anywhere on their route--so if you learn learn it, you can hit them any time.


    FedEx--I can "ditto" all of the good things about Airborne Express here. FedEx has the absolute best tracking system in place, bar none. But...you certainly pay for that service! They are considerably more expensive than Airborne. I can send a package with Airborne 2nd day delivery for a lower cost than shipping it 3rd day with FedEx. On the other hand, when I have to get the package there, and I can't afford to lose it regardless of the insurance payoff, I use FedEx. They have an excellent service network, with generous delivery drivers and drop boxes. Coincidentally, with the exception of the Postal Service, FedEx is the cheapest method for shipping packages to Alaska. FedEx also has generous discounts for high volume shippers.

    FedEx Ground service--When the FedEx salesman called to inform me of their acquisition of RPS, I asked if they had changed any drivers or shipping processes. When he said no, then I told him he needn't bother calling me until they did. While they had incredible prices (especially when shipping to Alaska), RPS had the absolute worst service by far. Pickups had to be scheduled a full day in advance. Not only was my local driver a pain--one time he came for a pickup, he didn't even bother knocking on the door, but just left a note; I know this because I was working in the entryway the whole day--but their paperwork is a lot of labor, and leaves a lot to be desired. I try to be friendly with my delivery drivers, and get to know them by name. This one was very unfriendly, and should not have been working with the public.


    UPS--They do quite well. Their services are quite similar to Airborne Express's service. The biggest exception, however, is that they have the most comprehensive delivery network of the private carriers. Just about the only time I use UPS is for local shipping. Their ground prices are very competitive--often even cheaper than the US Mail. On the other hand, their prices go up considerably with distance. UPS also has generous discounts for high volume shippers. 

    Pickups must be scheduled a day in advance--unless it's a Next Day deliver, or you have a daily pickup schedule. I have a neighbor who has a daily pickup, and the UPS driver isn't allowed to take any packages from me, even if I walk down to the daily pickup. All pick-ups must be scheduled through the main office, or dropped off--and the nearest UPS office is about 30 miles away. This is a big contrast to FedEx and Airborne.

    Finally, they can be slow--one time a package from the East Coast took almost two full weeks to arrive here. (That wouldn't have been such an issue had the shipper bothered to return my numerous calls requesting the tracking number!)


    The US mail, or USPS, is useful for shipping items that have no value. I NEVER ship with this carrier if I can't afford to lose the item. (Even with insurance.) The USPS is reliable for the amount of mail they deliver--but they have lost more of my packages in a shorter amount of time than I was willing to accept. I still use this service to save money from time to time, just not on critical items. 

    The USPS Express service is really a rip off--they charge as much or more than the private carriers, but don't offer the same delivery record. They offer no guarantees regarding your shipment. That means that it could take weeks for your Express package to be delivered, and you will still pay the Express fee. When pressed, the ONLY guarantee that the US post office will give you is that the package will leave your sight! 

    Finally, the USPS does NOT offer ANY tracking service whatsoever, unless they have changed things. They claim to, but in reality, there is no ability to check the location of a package, or the last place the package was scanned. They merely offer a "delivery confirmation" service, which just tells you if the package has actually been delivered or not. Unfortunately, this is your only option if you are delivering to a PO box. rcfaq


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Revised: October 05, 2001 .

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