How much will it cost to get started?
There are a couple of ways to get started. You can buy new equipment and get started for around
£450. Alternatively you can purchase used equipment and get started for as little as £200. There are a lot of advantages in
building a kit from new. You will understand exactly how it goes together, how it works and what needs maintenance. However,
second hand equipment can save you a lot of money, but do make sure you either see it fly, or it has come from someone in
your local club, or someone that you know or trust.
What do you recommend as my first helicopter?
The number one rule here is to go along to your local club before you buy anything. See what the
majority of members are flying because they will be far better positioned to help you set up your new model. Many times we
have had people turn up wanting to learn with the most inappropriate models.
We generally recommend that you start with a .30-sized machine. Two very popular machines at present
are the Hirobo Sceadu and the Thunder Tiger Raptor. The Raptor tends to be the slightly cheaper model but some say the Sceadu
is better engineered. There are great many Raptors being flown but since its launch the Sceadu is growing rapidly in popularity.
Spares for both are easily available. The .30-sized machine is less intimidating to the new pilot than a .50 or .60 size machine
and engine. The initial cost is less and the cost to repair the machine is also less. Both of the models mentioned above are
made of high tech plastics, which are, in general, more forgiving of the abuse that a beginner is going to give them.
Before you turn up at your local field wanting to fly you will need:
A 30-60 sized helicopter with appropriate servos, gyro and receiver, fully completed.
A digital transmitter designed for helicopters. You get very much what you pay
A good starter, starting battery, glow plug battery, fuel, and some basic hand
A training undercarriage. Essential for those first hops and hovers.
Are they hard to build?
The quality of kits has come a very long way in the past few years along with the instructions
to put them together. Most kits are just basically down to following very carefully, the bits that need to be bolted together.
They usually come in carefully numbered bags, and providing you can read and have a few good quality basic tools, it is straightforward.
If you do have problems, this is where making friends at your local club before you buy will pay off. The last phase of assembling
your machine is the “final setup”. Follow the instructions carefully all the way they will try to ensure your
model is virtually ready to fly. For the very last phase go to your local club and ask an experienced helicopter pilot if
he would do the final set up for you. Do not attempt to fly the model yourself until this has been done. A helicopter that
is not setup correctly can be very dangerous, and almost impossible, or in fact impossible to fly.
Is it hard to learn to fly an R/C helicopter?
When your helicopter has been setup properly and test flown, the next step is to learn to fly it,
this requires dedication, practice, patience and more practice. One of the first manoeuvre's to learn is one of the hardest.
The hover! This basic manoeuvre is the start and finish of every flight and calls upon the pilot to control every function
with precision. The good news is that unlike a plane your first flight will be a gentle 1-second hop into the air. Your next,
2 seconds in the air, and so on. With the help of a training undercarriage your risk of damage is greatly reduced. There are
some people that will not be able to pilot a helicopter because they don’t really have the desire. If you do have the
desire, and you are willing to put the time in to learn and practice, then in all probability you’ll be successful.
How long will it take me?
amount of time it takes is purely down to how much time you put into practicing. A great way to speed up the learning process
is by using a “Buddy Box” system, this is a method where an instructor is connected to your transmitter, with
a lead attached to his transmitter, this way if you do make a mistake, the instructor can regain control of the model immediately.
What can you do with an R/C Helicopter?
The great thing about helicopters is that there is always something new to learn. Helicopters can
do virtually everything a plane can do and a lot more. Helicopters can fly inverted, hover inverted, perform loops, pirouettes,
rolls, stall turns, and virtually any combination you can imagine. Although they can’t glide, they can certainly be
brought down with the engine off in an autorotation.
How far away can they fly?
has to be one of the most common questions, but one that is the most unimportant to the pilot. Modern transmitters and receivers
will operate over a mile way, but your model would be a dot by then. Most helicopters are flown between a few yards and a
few hundreds of yards away and the range capability of the receiver and transmitter acts purely as a safety margin.
Where can I fly them?
the limitation on where you can fly is down to local regulations on the use of the land. A very large open space with no obstructions
is essential. Many newcomers have tried hovering in their back garden with expensive and dangerous consequences. As with any
powered model, consideration does need to be given to neighbours. Again, your local club will have spent considerable time
and effort in finding the ideal site.
clubs in the UK will require you to join the British Model Flying Association. The club can
usually make you a member immediately by paying a modest fee. One of the many advantages of being a member of the BMFA is
that you have third party insurance cover for up to £5,000,000. The club will also ensure that members fly in a safe manner.
Are they dangerous?
A model helicopter is very far from being a toy. It has the potential of being lethal, but if proper
safety precautions are exercised mishaps can be prevented. The models are built to stringent safety margins and provided damaged
parts are replaced with proper replacement items little is likely to go wrong. The safety precautions for flying a model helicopter
are based on common sense and if the BMFA safety guidelines are followed pilots and spectators can minimise any risk. We have
established rules for flying at our field and we police ourselves to ensure that they are followed.