Thursday, January 5, 2012

Where to Start with RC Helicopters

Piloting RC helicopters can seem like a harrowing hobby to take up. Some of them are quite expensive and if they crash they may need replacement parts, plus they can be complicated. Many aspiring pilots have given up after spending $400 on a collective pitch helicopter and immediately crashing and destroying it. However, if entering the hobby is done properly, it can be fun, exciting and hassle free. The key is to know exactly what you are buying and to take a slow approach.

The first step to understanding which type on RC helicopter is best for a beginner is to understand the main types of RC helicopters. There are three kinds of RC helicopters, and they operate very differently. The three types are coaxial, fixed pitch and collective pitch. Coaxial helicopters are generally recommended to beginners for two major reasons. Coaxial helicopters are both the cheapest and the easiest to fly. Coaxial helicopters have two main rotors and a single rear rotor. Fixed pitch and collective pitch helicopters only have one main rotor. The extra main rotor makes coaxial helicopters inherently more stable.

The advantages of coaxial helicopters to a new pilot are numerous. The flight is more stable and easier to control, with a gyro taking care of changes in yaw automatically. The learning curve is much lower and the skill to fly a coaxial helicopter can be picked up in as little as 20 minutes. They also tend to be less powerful than fixed or collective pitch helicopters which makes them less susceptible to broken parts. As a whole they also cost much less than the other options which also makes them more attractive to beginners.

One of the best starting helicopters is the Phantom S107. The S107 is the most affordable high quality hobby grade coaxial helicopter on the market, is easy to learn and an absolute blast to fly. It is a micro helicopter and small enough to fit in the palm of a hand. The controls are so precise that within the first couple of flights even beginners will be able to land the helicopter in their open palm.

The Phantom S107 is also made of incredibly durable materials. The frame is lightweight metal and the rotors are made of flexible plastic with a lot of give. Honestly you can fly one full speed into a wall and most of the time nothing will happen. And because the S107 is a hobby grade helicopter, all of the parts are easily replaceable. Another great feature that sets this helicopter apart is its ability to charge from any standard USB port. Beginners looking for the most affordable way possible to try out the hobby should look no further than the Phantom S107.

One of the few downsides of the S107 is that the helicopter only features 3 channel controls. This means it can move up and down, rotate left and right, go forward and backwards and hover. However, it cannot strafe and uses a different control layout from 4 channel helicopters. This means that pilots will have to re-learn controls when they move up to a more advance helicopter. For this reason, those who are seriously interested in the hobby should really consider the Blade mCX.
The Blade mCX is the micro version of the extremely popular Blade CX. It has all the same great features of the Phantom S107. It has durable metal components, easily replaceable parts, is easy to learn, has extremely stable flight with a gyro and fits in the palm of a hand. However, the Blade mCX features full 4 channel controls. This means pilots will already be used to the control layout of more advanced helis. It can also strafe, which adds a lot to what the helicopter can do. The Blade mCX features 2.4GHz radio control as well which means objects or walls won’t interrupt the remote’s signal, and many Blades can be flown together at the same time. For those willing to invest a little more into the hobby, the Blade mCX is the way to go.

These helicopters are both excellent options for those just starting out in the world of RC helicopters. One other option is to purchase a flight simulator, such as the Phoenix RC Pro Simulator Version 3. Flight sims have the advantage of never needing replacement parts after a crash. Crashes are inevitable and will happen, and flight simulators are an excellent way to develop confidence in flying without having to worry about breaking anything. You don’t have to wait for them to charge either. Once someone moves up to collective pitch helicopters, training with a flight simulator first will save countless dollars. A flight sim is a great investment for those who are sure they will one day fly advanced helicopters. Many of them have airplane sims included as well, which is excellent should one wish to become involved in piloting RC airplanes.
The Phantom S107, Blade mCX, and Phoenix RC Pro Simulator are all available at Hobbytron, along with a full line of coaxial helicopters. Some people may prefer a slightly larger helicopter for outdoor use, and Hobbytron carries helicopters in all sizes with the same advantages as the S107. There are also some special coaxial helis with features like projectile plastic missiles or an attachable digital camera. To check out all the helicopters, head over to Good luck and happy flying.

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