There are a lot of the small coaxial helicopters that use infra-red controllers. They are meant for indoor use only. These copters do not have collective pitch. They use changes in motor RPM (a seperate motor for each rotor) to rise (ascend), lower (descend), rotate left (yaw left), rotate right(yaw right). They have a small horizontal tail motor/prop for pitch (forward/reverse flight). There is no roll control.
In fact one of these would be a perfect first project for remote control. The only caviat is that they are definintely LOS (Line Of Sight). But the copter itself would not have to modified to be controlled. These coaxial helicopters with gyros are very, very stable.
I would reccomend the "SYMA 107G" ($20 to $30)
or if you want it with a camera get the "SYMA 107C" ($35 to $50). The camera is the black box between the skids.
Both are pretty quiet and fly around the house terrorizing dogs and cats (watch out mooncake).
Collective pitch copters are constantly having to be FLOWN. They need almost constant small corrections to maintain altitude and attitude. It can be done but you would have to build in telemetry to keep it where you want it. Even if you incorporated a flight control board,
http://www.hobbyking.com/hobbyking/stor ... O_ACC.html
they may not be as stable as that cheap little coax copter. They are also much more expensive.
order of ease in flight;
Coaxial rotors with a gyro (infrared and radio)
Coaxial rotors without a gyro (infrared and radio)
Fixed pitch rotors (radio)
Fixed pitch rotors with three axis gyro and accelerometers (Radio)
Multirotor (quadcopters all have a flight control board with at least gyros)(infrared and radio)
Collective pitch with 3 axis gyro.(radio)
Collective pitch rotors with single gyro ((heading hold) one gyro for tail rotor)(radio)
I have not delved into python yet, guess I am lazy, but that is where I would look for a start. Start with a heli that pretty much flies itself and then work on more complicated projects after you get that licked and working!