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HomeAircraftHelicopterSafety - RC Helis are not toys › A case for newbies learning on a micro fixed-pitch heli
11-28-2007 03:20 PM  10 years agoPost 1

rrKey Veteran

Indianapolis, Indiana

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I just want to chime in here regarding safety and my experiences learning to fly RC helis. It seems that quite a few newbie pilots are starting out with the larger helis, such as the T-Rex 600. I have read many posts on heli message boards posted by experienced heli pilots recommending newbies start out on a larger heli because these aircraft are much more stable than a smaller 450 size CP heli or micro FP heli. However, there should be a caveat to this advice. The caveat being that a newbie should only learn on a larger heli under the supervision of an experienced heli pilot. I don’t believe this point is being stressed enough because many of these newbies are learning on their own with these larger helis.

Another problem is that some of the experienced heli pilots are saying that FP helis are pieces of junk and are not “real helis” which we all know is just plain false. This attitude is very prevalent in many LHS’, including my LHS. This attitude needs to change.

I believe that if a newbie decides to learn on his or her own, then a micro fixed-pitch heli should be the aircraft of choice. Sure, the FP helis are difficult to learn to fly, but are much safer than the larger helis. Besides, if a person can learn to fly an unstable FP heli, then the transition to a larger heli should be a natural progression.

I chose to learn on my own and went with the fixed-pitch heli route and purchased the Esky Honey Bee FP (HBFP). I also purchased Phoenix RC simulator. Last December 2006 is when I first took up the RC heli hobby. I had no prior RC experience of any kind. The first month was spent practicing on the sim about 1/2 hour each evening learning to hover tail in. Once I had tail-in hovering mastered in the sim, I started learning tail-in hovering on the HBFP in my basement at home. That was in January of this year. I was surprised at the realistic flight characteristics of the simulator compared to the real HBFP. I was able to hover the HBFP tail-in almost immediately.

I then spent February and March of this year learning side-in and nose-in hovering. Again, once I had these hovering orientations mastered in the sim, I started performing these orientations on the HBFP. In April of this year, I started learning forward flight. Now I can fly the HBFP in pretty much any manner except inverted and 3D flying, in which of course the HBFP is not capable. However, I am currently learning inverted flight and 3D on the sim in preparation for my future CP helis.

There is no doubt that others have learned faster than me; however, I decided to take my time. I have also stuck to one simple rule...never attempt any hovering orientation or forward flight maneuver on the real heli until it is first mastered on the sim. This rule has save me much frustration, IMO. I still have experienced my share of crashes; however, I'm positive that without the sim training and patience, I would have crashed much more.

Now after one year of flying FP helis I am now ready to make the transition to the larger 450 size CP helis. I’ve purchased both the Esky Belt CP and TT Mini-Titan E325. Sure, I could have probably already been flying the CP helis, but I have remained patient and taken my time. Below are a few videos of me flying to give you an idea of my skill level. The first video is the most recent.

Sunset Flying - Stock HBFP w/AR6100 Rx

Backyard Flying with Slo-Max/DD Tail HBFP

HBFP w/Slo-Max 300, DD Tail and M24 Blades

Stock HBFP in 10-15 mph winds

Phoenix RC - Learning inverted flight

Flying the HBFP has also taught me a lesson or two regarding safety. One morning, when I was just starting to learn FF, I crashed my HBFP into my house, resulting in a hole in a piece of vinyl siding. I never would have believed the plastic blades from an FP heli could do that kind of damage. That incident was a real eye opener for me and I earned new respect for the HBFP. I can’t imagine what a 450 or 600 size heli would do to vinyl siding.

Anyway, that’s my 2 cents on the subject. If newbies choose to learn on their own, a micro FP heli should be the heli of choice. Also, regardless of what heli a newbie starts with, training on a high-end sim is also imperative, IMO.

11-28-2007 03:25 PM  10 years agoPost 2


Louisville, Kentucky

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I strongly agree with you ! I learned by MYSELF on a fixed pitch heli and cant tell you how many times that little heli has bit me on the hands or I accidentally crashed into my leg. I learned to fly without the help of any experienced pilot and if I would have had a larger heli, I would probally be in a wheelchair.


11-28-2007 11:51 PM  10 years agoPost 3

rrElite Veteran

Smyrna, Delaware

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The biggest thing I see is people not using the sim as a tool, and using it more like a toy. Flying helis is a muscle memory thing, and if you do it on the sim, ie hitting yourself, violating a flight line, then you'll do it IRL. I taught myself on a 30 nitro w/ sim.

RIP Roman
Bill Jackson

11-29-2007 11:24 PM  10 years agoPost 4


Smithfield, RI, USA

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Howdy Racin06.

Great advice. Believe it or not, before ever reading your post or one like it, I am doing the same thing (albeit a bit faster). I started out with a fixed pitch Blade CX2 and I am having a lot of fun with it. I have gotten hovering down no matter which way the heli is oriented, and forward and rearward(and sideways) flight is a snap at this point. These helis are not very hard to fly, being of the co-axle type, but I must admit that when I first started with it, it got out of control fast! I would venture to guess that I have replaced well over 2 dozen blades.

I know that sounds like a lot of blades, but you must consider that I live in a fairly small apartment, with many blade hazards. Tables, chairs, refridgerator, stove, desk, coffee table, etc., are all blade eating items!!! I have the Phoenix flight sim. on order, but I also have a Blade 400 on order as well. I plan on following the path you took, and learn to fly well with the sim first. I see this as a money saving method as well as a safety first method. I am sure parts for the Blade 400 are going to cost a lot more to replace than those on the CX2, and I know for sure that the B400 will be capable of inflicting severe injury if mishandled. Getting a simulator seemed like a no-brainer.

Good post and good advice.


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11-30-2007 10:58 AM  10 years agoPost 5


Perryville Maryland-USA

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In my opinion, separation from self and obstacles and a healthy dose of respect are the keys to safe flight. I began heli's before sims were available. I wish they were because I highly recommend ALL pilots have a quality simulator to keep sharp.

I think fixed pitch mini's are fun but not a good replacement for a 450 class, collective pitch electric or better yet a 30-size nitro.

Setup the heli proper with no more than -1 at low stick. This keeps the heli from slamming to the ground on a panic decent. If you don't know how, find someone who can do it or help you do it. It is very frustrating to learn to hover with a good setup. Impossible with a bad setup.

Put a spider gear on the skids; find a club field, groomed park or school (2.4ghz). When you’re in a field, the only thing to hit is the ground and yourself. Following the below procedure reduces the risks of both. Spool up the heli until it gets loose in the grass. Play with the cyclic searching for a hover. Then lift her out with no intention of going higher than you knees. When you become disoriented or begin to loose control, simple reduce your power and let it come down. The spiders will save your machine for another attempt. The only thing left is buying fuel or charging batteries.

I have witnessed friends who are outstanding on sim but still have difficulties with first attempts at real flight. When they use the above technique they feel more confident and comfortable with their machines. Thus they progress rapidly.

Collective Pitch systems were developed for a reason. Better control. Use it you won't regret it.



11-30-2007 11:18 AM  10 years agoPost 6
Mr Tall


Coventry, UK

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I completely agree.

I learned to fly helis solo, using a Walkera Dragonfly 4 in my living room. I crashed it over and over again, but the little heli was indestructible, and didn't do any damage to me or the furniture.

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11-30-2007 11:44 AM  10 years agoPost 7


Perth Western Australia

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Well done on pointing these things out.

It's when you read posts like this you are glad that some people still have a great attitude and respect.

I learnt on a 50, then got a T-rex and then a CX2 - I love them all but strongly agree that the safety factor with the big birds is paramount.

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