Friday, August 11, 2017
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An Interview with Bert Kammerer

Words by Chris Reibert, Photos by Jenni Orebaugh

 

An Interview With Bert Kammerer

At the age of 43 Bert Kammerer may be one of the “old guys” in our hobby but if you’ve ever seen him fly you know he can still throw down with the best of them. He won top 10 XFC 2007-2010, first place XFC synchro 2008 & 2009 and first place synchro 3D Masters 2011. You won’t see Bert on the competition circuit anymore but he and his wife Suzi are more active in the hobby than ever. With his own line of BK servos, distributing the Vortex flybarless controller and his continued success with SAB Heli Division, Bert is a busy man. I was grateful to catch up with Bert and have him share stories from his RC career with us.

An Interview With Bert Kammerer

RC HELI PILOT: How many years have you been in the hobby?
BERT KAMMERER: 31 years! I started back in 1983 with airplanes when I was only 12 years old. Such a long time ago…

RCHP: How did you get involved in the hobby?
BK: A good friend from school used to fly airplanes with his dad. He invited me to the field one weekend and I got hooked. My first plane was a Falcon 56 that I got as a present from my mother, I loved it. I flew planes for many years and then in 2004 I walked into a local hobby shop and saw a micro-size helicopter. I decided I had to learn to fly helis and I never looked back. I hardly fly planes anymore; in fact, I haven’t touched a plane in at least six or seven years.

RCHP: Who did you look up to when you were first starting out?
BK: Pretty much all the top names back in the day, although there weren’t many of them; Alan Szabo, Marcus Kim, Curtis Youngblood and Jason Krause to name a few.

An Interview With Bert Kammerer

RCHP: How do you fit practice into your daily routine?
BK: I actually don’t get to practice hardly at all anymore unfortunately due to lack of time. My involvement in the hobby is strictly related to design, research and development and not flying per se. So when I go to the field I focus on testing. I always have many things to test, everything from new prototype helicopters to servos to blades and even motors and ESCs. The type of flying I do for testing has nothing to do with the flying I would do for practice; test flights are very repetitive and structured.

RCHP: Are you working on any new maneuvers?
BK: Not at the moment, although I would like to. The peak of the season is just way too busy, I attend over 20 events a year and 90 percent of those are outside the U.S.A., and so the traveling part makes it very difficult to practice anything new. In the winter months when things slow down I try to focus on practice. I am, in fact, looking forward to the winter this year as I have many new maneuvers I want to work on!

RCHP: What has been your most difficult maneuver(s) to master?
BK: I honestly can’t think of anything right off the top of my head, but most of the pirouetting maneuvers I guess have been the most difficult ones, especially learning them in all orientations with right or left tail.

RCHP: Do you have any sentimental helicopters you will never get rid of?
BK: Yes for sure. An example is my very first larger heli, a Hirobo Shuttle. That helicopter has a lot of sentimental value and it will never go away!

 

An Interview With Bert Kammerer

RCHP: What do you enjoy most about our hobby?
BK: The people you get to meet when you travel to events. The hobby doesn’t discriminate against social class, race, occupation, age or anything else. Everybody gets along great and this is the most enjoyable part of the hobby for me. I have also been extremely fortunate to travel around the world and meet people of different cultures; it is quite fascinating.

RCHP: Where do you think you will be in the hobby in five years?
BK: I see myself more focused on the business side of things, design, R&D, developing new products, etc. I enjoy being involved in the manufacturing process and there is an incredible feeling of satisfaction when you see something start as a concept and you help turn it into a successful product!

RCHP: What do you recommend to someone who is looking to learn 3D type flying?
BK: Get a simulator! Also, stick to the same helicopter at least until you’re proficient enough, sticking to the same helicopter will allow you to get comfortable with the machine as well as learn it inside and out. Changing machines can be extremely counterproductive to a new pilot.

RCHP: Do you fly other types of aircraft?
BK: I fly an Invertix multirotor on occasion. I used to fly airplanes, but helis got 100 percent of my attention, so I have lost a lot of interest in them.

An Interview With Bert Kammerer

RCHP: Do you fly other types of aircraft?
BK: I fly an Invertix multirotor on occasion. I used to fly airplanes, but helis got 100 percent of my attention, so I have lost a lot of interest in them.

RCHP: What keeps your interest in the hobby?
BK: Well, for me this is a job, there is no secret about that, so keeping my interest is not easy sometimes. However, I am fascinated to work on new projects and I have been lucky to be a part of many new projects with SAB Heli Division in the past few years, so that keeps me going for sure.

RCHP: Who are your current sponsors?

BK: SAB Heli Division, BK Servo, Spartan RC, Horizon Hobby, Pulse Battery and Kontronik.

 

RCHP: How did you become a Team Pilot?
BK: It was way back in 2005, I was flying Miniature Aircraft helicopters and Tim Schoonard (former owner) asked me if I wanted to become a Rep for them. Since their factory was in my home town, I remember leaving work every afternoon and heading there to help with things, I started helping Tim with testing some of their machines and started to like the technical side of things more and more. A few years later I was offered a team pilot position for Align and I flew for them for almost five years, then in 2011 during a trip to Switzerland I met the owners of SAB and saw a prototype Goblin helicopter for the first time, I just had to fly that machine and the rest is history.

RCHP: If you could have a “do-over” in the hobby what would you change?
BK: Nothing. I couldn’t be happier with my overall hobby experience. I was lucky enough to meet a lot of nice people in the early days that helped me tremendously and unconditionally. I wouldn’t change my time in the hobby for anything.

RCHP: Any upcoming projects you’re working on that you could share with us?
BK: Yes of course, I am always working on many new projects. I am finalizing the testing on the new Goblin 380, which will be released later this year. I’m also working on a micro version of the BK Servos that will be released around November and quite a few other things I can’t really discuss at this moment.

RCHP: Now that your hobby has turned into a career have your views changed on the hobby?
BK: Of course, they have changed over time, but I still love what I do. The only issue with turning your hobby into your job is that you can never escape it. My wife and I both work full time in the hobby and most of our friends are in the hobby, so we talk hobby 24/7. It is difficult to disconnect.

RCHP: What is your favorite size model to fly and why?
BK: I really don’t have any. My favorite heli changes from time to time and it is based on what I fly the most, for example right now I am flying the Goblin 380 a lot, so it kind of is my favorite heli. When I was testing the 500 I was also flying it a lot so it was my favorite heli at the time. The only heli I truly love no matter what is my 700, I never get tired of that machine, there is something about 700-class helis that can’t be explained, and they’re for sure awesome!

RCHP: Do you have a favorite pastime besides RC?
BK: Yes! I love riding bikes. My wife and I own motorcycles and we ride them whenever we can. I also love flying my full-scale plane; we take it to the Florida Keys or even to the Bahamas when we can.

 

An Interview With Bert Kammerer

RCHP: How do you feel the hobby has evolved over the past 10 years?
BK: It has been incredible to say the least; 10 years ago (2004) we had flybar helicopters, we had no electric helis like we do today (they were running on NiCd batteries), servos were slower and less precise, blades were not as efficient, machines had 10 times more parts and the list goes on and on. Technology has evolved drastically over that period, everything from electronics to CNC machining. Things are slowing down now, which is expected after such a rapid evolving phase. However, I can’t wait to see what the future holds.

RCHP: What are your goals for 2015?
BK: I have many projects I am working on. I wish I could discuss them, but it is too early. I am also looking forward to another season with SAB and working on new projects with them.

RCHP: What motivates you on a daily basis?
BK: I have always been a highly motivated person; my job is so dynamic that I am always looking forward to the next day!

I would like to Thank Bert for taking the time out of his extremely busy schedule to share some of his experiences in the hobby with us. It is great to have people like Bert in our hobby to look up to. I had the pleasure of hanging out with Bert and Suzi at OHB last December and look forward to chatting with them again this year. I wish them the best luck in 2015 on all their future endeavors.

 

See our interview with Bobby Watts.

 

Contacts: BERT KAMMERER, BK SERVOS, SAB HELI DIVISION

 

Edited for the web by Jon Hull

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