Flying an Electric Remote Control Helicopter

Challenges you to learn some new coordination skills – and the results are exciting!  A remote control helicopter – like the full-scale – has been described as a careful assembly of parts trying to shake itself apart!  True, there are more things to adjust (or go wrong) than on a simple electric park flyer, but with the advent of modern electric power systems, the complexity is reduced and the reliability is greatly enhanced.

Learning to fly these remote control helicopters can start with a stable, affordable, living-room or garage twin-rotor heli like the Sky Robo or the HouseFly. These helis allow you to learn the basics of hovering, turning, and forward flight.  Add to this a computer simulator like the Great Planes Real Flight  or the Ikarus AeroFly, plus a well-written book on helicopters (see the Appendix List) and you’re off to a good start.  With a simulator, you can actually learn to hover and maneuver the chopper without risking an expensive mistake.  With one of the indoor twin-rotor helis, taking off and landing as well as hovering  can be tried because these units are exceptionally stable.

Electric remote control helicopter flight controls are similar to those of an rc airplane, with radio servo control of turning, climbing and descending.  But instead of control surfaces on the wings and tail of a plane, on a heli the main rotor blades must together tilt left and right, and forward and back, as well as being able to individually change pitch for climbing or descending.  Also, the tail is controlled by a second set of smaller blades which can change pitch to either push or pull the tail of the helicopter in the required direction. Finally, we need to mention the gyroscope or gyro, which attaches to the tail rotor servo to dampen the pitch changes so that the helicopter will be directionally more stable. Confused yet? Well, I still am too..but every flight with a helicopter is a learning experience, plus lots of fun!

One of my favorite books on the subject is Ray’s Complete Helicopter Manual. While it is dated in terms of photographs and absense of coverage of the Electric remote control helicopter, it is a thorough explanation of the intricacies of helicopter design, structure and flight and is highly recommended.  Just as important as a qualified instructor is to teaching rc airplane flight, an experienced heli instructor can save you lots of time and money and have you flying your own helicopter safely and surely.