I am very new in the Hobby. I note that using the Aura Lite hijacks the 3 pos gear switch on a Spektrum transmitter. Does that mean I cannot use retracts with Aura or I just need to program those to a different switch?
Depending on which receiver you are running, I think you can run some channels directly from the receiver and not through the Aura. They actually recommend this for the throttle on large gas powered models. Elsewhere they recommend running flaps directly off the receiver if you have dedicated flap servos. http://wiki.flexinnovations.com/wiki/Aura/FTAura5
This will not add extra channels to your transmitter or receiver, so you have to decide how many features you want. If you are new to the hobby, I suggest basic planes with 4 flight control channels. A budget 6 channel radio will still allow you to control the Aura and play around with flaps or retracts or bomb drip or lights or camera gimbal...
Also unless you are really in into configuring electronics and tuning flight control systems, I would suggest planes without the added complexity for a beginner. A gyro system will not make you into an able pilot, but it will make diagnosing flight stability issues much more complex.