ChopperAddict's Blog & General Musings



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Not sure where to start here, but I have added this page to the site to allow me to put down my thoughts and musings on all things helicopter connected (or maybe not sometimes) and that don't really fit in to the site layout in any other place.

I hope that some of you will have a browse thru here from time to time to see what is on my mind, you never know, you may just find something interesting ? 

Moderators interfering in the helicopter help forums     January - 2010

Hopefully, many of you that are reading this know who I am, and that I spend a lot of my time in the beginner and setup forums of various forums. I do this solely to TRY TO HELP newer pilots who are struggling to understand about RC helicopters, along with quite a few others who do exactly the same.

I also introduced this (my own) web site, at totally my own cost, to try to help these new pilots out even further, and based on the feedback I have received, that has certainly proved to be the case.  However, I am sure that most people today realize that running web sites that include large downloads such as my training tutorials are costly in terms of the bandwidth used by each copy that is downloaded.  We all have to pay for bandwidth eventually, and in my case, right now, I need to provide a minimum of 15GB per month to keep the site alive. This is liable to grow, and therefore so will my costs

However, I was amazed this weekend to have been asked NOT TO INCLUDE my WEB SITE in my Forum SIG LINE as "someone" apparently considers that is being too commercial.

Yes, it is very true that I do now offer some selected items for sale, and the small profits made from those sales help to pay the monthly bandwidth costs, and other costs involved in keeping the web site up to date and growing with information.

I must say I have the found the "order" to remove mention of my web site from my SIG line to be offensive in the extreme. If people do not know about it, they cannot find the tutorials, and many have told me how useful they have been to them, so the moderators are damaging the new pilots by restricting the information we try to help them with. 

Surely, as is the case with me, a forum poster is not JUST posting to generate sales with sales advert style posts etc, but is truly helping out other pilots, forum moderators should not be so biased as to assume that my web site is the same as other web sites that are totally commercial in their intent.

Someone, for their own reasons I am sure, clearly objects to the fact that I am able to obtain heli parts and even kits at a small discount, despite the fact that the truth is that those supplies actually come from the helicopter supplier who runs the forum I am talking about, and they were very willing to help me out when I first approached them.

The costs of flying helicopters    November 2009

Having recently been commissioned to build a wonderful McDonnell-Douglas 900 NOTAR helicopter based on the VARIO kit, which will be over 6 feet long, it set me thinking about the costs of building/flying RC helicopters.

Most of us fly something like the Esky Belt CP, or Trex 450, CopterX 450 or similar clones, and in the larger nitro market, the Trex 500-600 and Raptors come immediately to mind.  These ARTF kits come in at anything from ~200 up to maybe ~700, plus radio and servos etc quite often.

I believe that most RC helicopter pilots/owners are over 20, and many, like myself, are still doing doing it, and loving it, at ~65.  We do not mind the costs, although we certainly complain from time to time, but we probably only spend an average of ~500 per year on the hobby after the initial outlay.

So what is it that makes some of us want to spend out 3,000 - 4,000 for a helicopter ?

I know for sure that I WOULD DO SO, if I could justify that sort of expense, but sadly that price range is beyond me.  You all know what I am talking about of course, the very large multi bladed Vario and similar kits that take at least 3 months to build, you need a trailer to take it to the field, and at least one other body to help you load and offload it and prepare it for flight.

What is the attraction of these 6 foot + monsters ?

Well, to me at least, one of the major things I like about them is the satisfaction of building them as well as you can.  They are certainly not simple, and require a good workshop, plus various skills many other modellers may not have.  However, the joy of watching something of this size take shape in your hands is totally unbeatable.

The maiden flight is another true high.  Can you imagine having to setup a 5 bladed head using electronics to control the pitch and phasing each rotor blade separately ?  To see one of these lift of with the tracking spot on and hover there in front of you is a wild high.

So why do I fly smaller helicopters myself ?

Well, cost is the first factor, I cannot afford Vario kits and the stuff that is needed to go with them, although I will freely admit I would love to own (almost any) one of these beasts myself.

The second is "horse for courses".  I REALLY LIKE FLYING SMALLER HELICOPTERS, solely because I can pop them in the trunk of the car, scoot off to my flying area anytime, and fly off a few batteries, and I am very definitely a "pig in s...t" when doing so.

To me, all the different types of helicopters provide their own particular challenges, both in building and maintaining as well as in flying them.  We can all choose the type of helicopter that best suits our pockets and our targets in flying.

The really important thing I guess I get from this particular rambling of mine is that no matter what type of helicopter we can either afford, or maybe want to afford , or maybe it's just the helicopter that we feel suits the style of enjoyment WE WANT from our helicopters.

Whatever our reasons they continue to give us endless hours of enjoyment in many different ways, 
and there is always a challenge we haven't yet faced up to, either in flying or building, 
that will always keep our interest in RC helicopters alive

Scale -v- Pod & Boom  (What I think about current flying techniques)     October 2009

Another topic that is close to my heart is flying scale helicopters.  There is something magic to me in managing to get an RC helicopter of whatever size to fly in the same manner as real helicopters fly.

This means really nice gently take offs, usually a slow pirouette to check for other traffic in the vicinity, and then a gentle climb out at something approaching scale speed and climb rate.

It is amazing just how hard it is to do this type of flying successfully and well, as you require the skill and ability to hover very well indeed, without changing altitude, and to do so in ground effect a lot of the time.  Equally, try flying a SLOW figure 8 at scale speed as if you were piloting on of the Police Air Support helicopters performing a search for someone in fields and woods.  True air speed would be 10 knots or thereabouts.  I have found that this is one of the hardest and most skilful bits of flying to learn to do properly, as maintaining the same altitude and performing Figure 8's at this sort of forward hovering speed is really not easy.

Equally, the approach and landing should be prototypical, as I am sure you will agree, you have very probably never seen a real helicopters thunder in flat out, stop at 200 feet, and then hover down to the ground.

A good helicopter landing involves a carefully calculated angle of approach to the intended landing spot, with a gentle slow down to the hover at about 15 feet or so.  Then quite often a slow pirouette to check again for conflicting traffic, and a gentle descent to the helipad in one smooth movement.

While in Florida in the States, I was fortunate enough to be able to watch the Medivac Bolkow come and go from a parking lot right next to my apartment.  This parking lot was only just about large enough, and for some of the time, was also surrounded by power lines on poles at around 25 feet up.

These medivac pilots would come in during day or night, make a wonderful slow, 35 degree approach in, and then bring the helicopter to a dead hover at 40 feet.  The winch man hung out the side to let the pilot know where the wires etc are and the pilot then gently adjusted his position over the parking lot and dropped the helicopter down so gently in between all those power wires.  One touch and guess what...

I take my hat off to the skill of those pilots, they are just brilliant, as are our own SAR and medivac pilots as well.

Now you do not have to have a scale heli to fly your Pod & Boom like it is a scale helicopter, just the will to want to try and achieve that level of precision in your helicopter flying.  A P&B can do exactly the same as a scale model, although to me most scale builds are typically heavier and therefore have rather more stability in the air, especially in the stable hover.

P&B's however are great for flinging around the sky a bit at times when you just want to let off some steam, and I often do exactly that, taking a Belt CP or my CopterX 450 SE V2 and doing some really rapid circuits, Figure 8's, stall turns and Immelman turns.  They are also great to watch afterwards if you have a Fly-Cam mounted on board.

I often wonder, watching others fly, if they ever think about flying their helis under some level of real control.  The typical club pilot seems to like to pop it off the ground rapidly up to 3-4 feet, check it's tracking etc out, and then thump the throttle up and the nose down and scream away as fast as the heli can fly.  Equally on the helicopters return, it is brought down from height pretty rapidly to about 20 feet And then dropped to the ground in a vertical hover.  Nothing very classy in that to my mind ?

I just wonder why flying clubs do not provide a suitably sized Helipad, and insist that the helicopter pilots at least use it for all their take off and landings. This would perhaps focus them on at least trying to make more elegant arrivals and departures ?

As for 3D, well, I won't comment, but I am sure you can guess from my views above what I think about that style of helicopter flying... 

What do RC helicopter pilots do in the Winter in cold countries such as the UK         September 2009

As all of us that live in the UK know only too well, the weather is a constant source of irritation for us, being beautiful when we are at work, and downright terrible at weekends etc, when we have the chance to fly our precious aircraft.

We also suffer from this clock changing process that means we loose any chance of flying after work, as it is dark by 4-4:30pm.

So, back to my question, what do we RC pilots like to do in the winter, when we CANNOT FLY OUR AIRCRAFT.

Well, in my own case, I guess I am lucky, as I also thoroughly enjoy building, repairing and setting up helicopter of all different types. That is the reason I run my free Heli-Hospital, as there are always pilots who need some help to get their helicopters to fly correctly, and of course, the only way that is ever going to work is if they are setup correctly from the beginning.

I also undertake larger helicopter builds, such as the Schweizer 300 I built some time ago, and my current large aircraft project, a 6ft long Vario McDonnell-Douglas 900 NOTAR helicopter powered by a .70 OS motor, and running a 5 blade scale head.

I also have an Esky Kob Co-Ax (honest) which I like to take up into the master bedroom, as there is lots of room up there, and then loon around with it.  Nose in practice etc.

I also enjoy flying real (GA) aircraft, mostly single engine types such as Cessna, Pipers etc, whenever I get the opportunity, but I have to rely on other people who own such aircraft to offer me a seat.  

So if anyone out there wants a co-pilot (license lapsed currently) with 1500+ hours P1
 and is around the Blackpool area, please do get in touch with me