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02-08-2008 05:48 PM  11 years ago
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rrKey Veteran

North Bend, WA

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The Beginners Dilemma
Hey All.

I was sitting here at work this morning, trying to avoid actually having to do anything productive, and reflecting on this perplexing issue. I don't believe that the answer everyone is looking for exists.

The scenario is almost always the same:

You're sitting at home, minding your own business, and some nano-particle of cosmic dust crashes into your brain, and you suddenly have the mad urge to throw your hard earned dollars into a fan, just for the fun of it. The next thing you know, you're out shopping for Helicopters.

Then comes the dilemma: The average beginner wants to buy a "cheap" heli to practice on, and learn. After all, the average beginner isn't about to invest $2,000+ in a serious heli that they know is beyond their ability to fly, and besides, they're just experimenting to see if they WANT to stay in the hoby. So they go shopping for a small, inexpensive heli to "try out". What the neophyte heli pilot fails to ask themselves at this point is: "If that big, expensive, stable heli is beyond my ability to fly, what makes me think a small, cheap, unstable toy is going to be any better?"

The trouble is, the little helis that the beginner is apt to buy, don't fly well. They're small, they're built with cheap parts, and they will challenge the skills of an experienced pilot (similar syndrome exists in the fixed wing world). The simple fact is, their small size is probably their biggest selling feature, and their worst flying feature. In airborne objects, small = unstable (dare I say: Twitchy!). Every little breeze will upset them, and it takes very little control change to have them bouncing across the yard shedding parts along the way. They're just no place to start (this is as true in fixed wing as it is with rotary).

So the poor beginner is faced with a problem.
Should s/he "invest" in a hobby that s/he may not even stay in?
If the little cheapo helis don't fly well, and the big ones can be intimidating to an experienced pilot, then how is the beginner to learn?


Okay, the SIMs are good for sharpening skills, but personally, I have a difficult time taking them seriously. Yes I have one, and yes, I've been using it to practice helis. But it doesn't feed the need to fly.

Years ago, when I made the decision to learn to build & fly fixed wing, I just dove in, and made the investment in a decent sized "trainer" type aircraft (40 sized), and headed to the field.
I was fortunate enough to happen upon a skilled pilot who "took me under his wing" so to speak, and spend the next several week-ends at the field with me teaching me to fly it (in all honesty, I spent most every week-end of that summer with him!). I spent several week-ends tethered to a buddy cord. But that buddy cord afforded me the opportunity to not only fly my own plane, but several of his (he was into 1/4 scale gas powered birds! I have to admit that I had a much easier time flying his 1/4 scale piper cub than I did flying my 40 sized "trainer"!). I can't say enough about how much I was able to learn from him in a very short time. I really owed my success at R/C Fixed wing to him.

I think the answer to learning to fly Heli lays in the same territory. I don't know why people seem to so badly underestimate what it takes to fly a heli. Folks seem to get the naive idea that because they'll hover, and stay in one place, that they'll be easier to fly than a fixed wing, and not need all that space! (bwhahahahahahaaa!). That thought is usually dashed to the ground the first few nano-seconds of flight.

So what's a begnnger to do?
Most come here wanting to "try out" the hobby. They want to spend $100 and buy a cheap heli, just to see if they'll like it. Well, I can almost guaranty that the $100 heli would challenge, if not frustrate a seasoned pilot, and most certainly doom the neophyte heli pilot to frustration, and failure.
Your best bet with that $100 is to take your wife out to dinner. You'll have a much nicer time.

I guess what I'm trying to say to all the would be beginners is:
You really can't just "try out" this hobby. You either need to dive in, or just drive by.
The only possible way to "try it out" first is to head to the local flying field, and hopefully convince some of the pilots there to let you fly their helis (with appropriate training, and buddy boxes of course).
going out an buying a $100 heli to try it out is like going out an getting a $5 hooker to see if you'll like being married. You either need to dive in, or just drive by.

Cheap little helis are no way to "try out the hobby". They fly horrible under the best of conditions, and would only prove to the would be heli pilot that they're not cut out to be one.
Yes, the larger helis are intimidating, and expensive. But with the proper training, they also bring the greatest hope of success. They fly better, are far more stable, and even more forgiving than the "twitchy little bastards" (as they're affectionately called).

Maybe some local flying clubs need to resume the old "introductory days". Years ago, it was fairly common for some of the local flying clubs (fixed wing), to hold an "open" fly. They'd invite the public to come on down, and give it a try. We'd bring the club trainers, or just one of our own to field, and get people in the air (flying with buddy boxes). It was always great fun for us, and we brought a lot of new people into the hobby that way, that may not have done so otherwise. It also let them know where we were, and that there was help available. I don't think I've ever refused an honest request for help from a beginning pilot. I always remember back to the guy who extended his hand to me when I was starting out.

So maybe that's the answer to the beginning pilot.
Just as you would not go buy a full sized heli, and hop in to "try it out" without training, neither should you go buy a small sized heli and try it out, without some help and education. Seek out the assistance of someone who knows what they're doing. I know that's not possible for everyone, and sometimes, it's just darned inconvenient. But it's well worth the effort in lessons learned, and parts saved. Heck, you could probably save enough in busted parts alone to fund that next heli!

Well, work is calling me now, so it's time I returned to my real work-a-day world. As I said at the beginning, I was just reflecting on this today, and thought I'd jot down a few thoughts.
Yet Anohter IT Worker
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02-08-2008 06:01 PM  11 years ago



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I'd rather learn on something that's hard to fly and cheap. This way when I buy something more expensive i'm not still learning.

Same with a sim, don't just mess around...treat it as boot camp, at least I do.
02-08-2008 09:53 PM  11 years ago



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Wow that was a lot of thinking you did. In fact I have forgotten most of my thoughts. I do agree that the sim is hard to take seriously. I have a hard time staying focused and well the sim allows one to crash with no price involved. So the fear of the price doesn't keep me as focused as one should be.
02-08-2008 10:36 PM  11 years ago


Jeffersonville Ga

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I find the sim helps you to learn to fly the heli and the heli helps you to learn to fly the sim. By themselves, either is hard and frustrating to learn but used together they greatly decrease that huge learning curve.

The Blade CP Pro is close to being the most frustrating thing I've ever had my hands on but the more I fly my 450's, the more I appreciate that Blade experience. When I got my first 450, I had gotten where I could hover the blade pretty good and fly it out about 50 feet and turn it around and bring it back with little problem. After almost two months of flying the 450's, they are so much easier to fly and so much more stable, I've actually lost some of that since of feel I had with the Blade. I drug the Blade out a couple of weeks back and I couldn't even hover it in one general area.

Now, I'm starting to think a good 450 size heli is the best beginner heli to start with, because of how easy they fly. When you get ok with that one, then buy a micor heli to improve you flying skills. I still wouldn't recommend a Blade because of it's tail motor (they suck) but one that has a belt would be a great second heli.
02-08-2008 11:33 PM  11 years ago

rrKey Veteran

North Bend, WA

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Personally, at the moment, I'm doing alright with my CX-2, and the SIM.
But I'm longing for a real conventional Heli.

I'm eyeing a Blade 400

Or, I'll do something really dumb, and buy a $100 FP. lol
Yet Anohter IT Worker
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02-09-2008 12:05 AM  11 years ago

rrKey Veteran

Chipping, Lancs, UK

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Buy a USED fp for 60 bucks

I'm with you 2old in that I prefer the more visceral enjoyment of seeing and operating a real flying contraption rather than a sim, even though that IRL route is longer and/or more expensive in attaining a given goal. have $5 hookers over there? Surely they're not good looking girls? They must be real swamp donkeys

Managed to get a quick flight in today after many days of crap weather. I felt a little rusty and got disorientated a couple of times, but managed to recover. Was it luck or muscle memory or both? I'll never know. At least it wasn't doing a 3D manoeuvre. If my heli does those with my current skill level, then I'll be the one running away because it's out of control
EDIT actually I'd be watching it crash whilst hitting throttle hold and probably swearing...
Little Spinning Bundle of Joy® DON'T DISS THE DINO!!
02-09-2008 06:23 AM  11 years ago
tom dubya



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yea yea yea i hear a lot people talk about if you don't spend 800 bucks or more on a heli don't bother with it. I bought a rtf belt cp for around $200 and have lots of fun with it. On my third attempt flying it i got it up 6 or 7 feet for a few and landed it safetly. Yea they are probly a lot less stable than most other expensive helis. but they are definetly worth buying and will keep you addicted if you set them up right and take your time getting used to it with slow steps. Now i will say if you have the patience of a 2 year old your better off staying out this hobby.
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02-09-2008 09:56 AM  11 years ago


Spokane, WA

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I'm in the same boat as you.

I liked the idea of the hobby. So i got a cx-2.

I got bored with it in a week, other than tormenting my family, and pets. Which i still do.

I got the blade 400, flew it 20 bats, crashed due to letting it get to far away. Had my lhs fix it and started up again.

Every day i learn more about it and helis in general, like radio configuration, swash/pitch curves, servos. All the good stuff. Im still not brave enough to rebuild it myself. But i promise myself the next crash i will be going to the lhs for the parts, not the repair.

You can even upgrade it in the future for better blades.

And I'm sure you'll be able to get a metal head upgrade in the future. If not somebody will make the mod for it. And you can put your better gyro / servos on it. (which basically turned it into like a trexV2SE)

There you go, you just got the next step heli, which comes with a radio batt and RTF KIT. If you dont like it, sell it , cut your short $$ losses. If you do like it. Keep it, learn it, then upgrade later.

I think i will be upgrading this 1, before i buy a new one. Im paying for my PPL ( well half ) and i don't have the $$.

Keep in mind im new to this as you, and im 17. But hey, its just another opinion for ya to chew on. Good luck!!!
02-09-2008 11:05 AM  11 years ago


Hills of the Blue Ridge VA

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Very in depth thought there, bet you did not get much accomplished at work all that
There is a method to this madness, I'll share. Those cheapys were perfect to start with, hard to fly, and more than likely got you good hands on in fixing them (increased mechanical skills),etc. That being said, you must answer the following to yourself:
1- Are you having fun anyway?
2- Do you think about flying a lot?
3- Does it relieve the stress from the daily grind?
4- Can you fly the cheapys that you have now?
5- Do you want something nicer?
If you answer yes to the above, then you have found a harmonious relationship with the hobby. A vent, excitement, a challenge, something to look forward too. Insert fish hook here.
Ok so much for the Zen side of things. The more expensive helis are soooo much easier to fly than the cheap stuff. I have a 30, 50, and a 90. They hover hands off, seriously. Its like a ballet with them compared to a Chubby Checker twist and shout record. They fly as fast as you want them too, and also as slow. The cheapys did everything they were supposed to do for me, got the hands moving all the time, keeping me "ahead" of the heli, that being the key (ahead). So I cleaned them all up and put them on flea-bay and recouped most of my money and bought a real bird. Actually, bought the real bird first and then sold the cheapys. I remember the first time I hovered that first big bird, and it was the 90 for gods sake (what was I thinking), I was shaking, scared, oh my god what I have I got myself into, until she broke ground, hovering, those 690's cutting the air, moving with the grace of a ballerina. Man, look at that, that thing would cut your head off....lmao! There is only so much time to have fun on this earth, and you can't wait to the end to try and have it. Its only money, and as long as you don't take away from the needs of the family, screw it man, go have fun. Just get a gas bird and hover it till the cows come home, until your ready to let her move away into forward flight, a little leash at a time. There is a hell of a deal on rr in the classifieds right now, 2 Hirobo Sceadus (thats what I fly), a 30 and a 50, complete ready to go, and he will work with you with his radio too, ready to fly man, field equipment too, $1000 less radio.
That is a great deal. Call him, jump on this, and tell me your happy you did after you hovered your first tank of fuel, and your sitting back in the chair looking at her sitting in the grass, the smell of nitro in the air, a cold beer in your hand and possibly a smoke too, with the biggest proudest smile on your face. And to think, its only the beginning of something new.....
Oh, and one more tidbit, after you make your purchase, take the wife out to a superb wine and dine expierience, maybe buy her a gift while you are out too, do not talk about helis at dinner unless she brings it up, and then ravage her when you get home....worked for me
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