6-Time German F3N Champion, 2013 F3N World Champion, and 2012 European F3N Champion
This month, let’s meet Eric Weber, the 2013 World Champion in F3N. Eric has also been the 2012 European Champion in F3N, and a six-time national winner of the German F3N competition. Many readers may be familiar with F3C competitions, but what is F3N? F3N is a brand new RC helicopter competition category formed under the FAI. FAI (Federal Aeronautique Internationale) is a nonprofit world governing body for full size and model air sports and competitions. FAI was founded in 1905 and its head office is in Lausanne, Switzerland. F3C is a category of competition under FAI regulation that pertains to precision aerobatics for RC model helicopters. F3A is the category for precision aerobatic competition for RC model airplanes, and F5B is for RC gliders. F3N is a relatively new category that has been around for less than a decade, and it is best described as precision 3D flying for RC helicopters. F3N competition is composed of three sections: a compulsory set maneuver section, a freestyle section, and a flight to music section. The pilots must perform all three. F3N flying style could be portrayed as F3C flying with edgy 3D thrown in, but it is not as hardcore 3D as all-out smackdown 3D.
The first F3N World Championships was held in 2013, while the first F3C World Championships was held in 1985 at Ontario, Canada. F3C has been held regularly every two years. It is always held in the odd years. The most recent F3C competition was held at Wloclawek, Poland and that was also the first time a F3N event was run. The 2013 F3C title was won by Daniel Graber from Switzerland and Eric Weber won the F3N title.
F3N was born because in recent years freestyle 3D flying has become extremely popular and some European pilots felt that during judging it is difficult to nail down a set of well-defined criteria for scoring freestyle 3D. In pure freestyle 3D competitions, some judges may reward higher scores to flying ultra low or performing extremely daring maneuvers, while other judges may reward higher points for technical precision. F3N was created so there would be a set of stringent rules to follow when judging and pilots must fly according to prescribed guidelines. For the compulsory maneuvers, every F3N pilot will be judged in the same manner. There are K factors for different set maneuvers. F3N allows a more controlled comparison between the pilots’ skills.
The model helicopters used for F3C, F3N and 3D flying require different setups. F3C models are set up to achieve very smooth, precise and repeatable responses to commands. Smackdown 3D models are set up to be very agile and with quick control responses. F3N models need to be powerful, precise, and agile. Now, let’s meet the super friendly and talented Eric Weber, whom I have met many times at events around the world.
JAMES: Hello Eric, nice to see you again. Can you tell our readers about yourself?
ERIC: I am 24 years old and I am a carpenter by trade and I live near Nuremberg, Germany. I started flying in 2002 with a Raptor 50.
JAMES: Congratulations for doing so well in F3N, how often do you fly and crash?
ERIC: I am able to fly at least five times a week and usually I put in six flights each time. Last year, I did not crash at all.
JAMES: Your sponsor must love you for always winning and never needing spare parts. What equipment do you use?
ERIC: I am sponsored by Robbe, the German importer of Align. I fly a T-Rex 700 with the new DFC rotor head. I am also sponsored by Bavarian Demon and I use their 3X flybarless gyro system. This is an excellent flybarless controller and it is great for F3N, F3C and 3D flying. There is also a 3SX version with more features and an automatic rescue mode, but I find the less expensive 3X just fine for me because they use the same MEM sensors and the controller feedback and control algorithms are same. I was using a Kontronic Pyro 750-52 brushless motor controlled by a Kontronik Kosmic 160 amp HV ESC. Recently, in 2014, I have changed the ESC to a bigger, Cool Kosmic 200 amp HV ESC with 5.4 volt BEC and upgraded the motor to a Kontronik Pyro 750 Competition black edition motor. All Kontronik ESCs have proven to be very reliable. The LiPo batteries are Robbe’s new ROXXY Evo 30C 5800 mAh variant. The carbon main blades, DH691, are designed by the German F3C Champion, Dominik Haegele and he sponsors me on blades. Tail blades are also from Dominik and they are 107mm long DH107s. The transmitter is from my sponsor, Robbe, and it is a Futaba T18MZ. I use three Futaba BLS-451 servos for the swashplate and a Futaba BLS-254 for the tail rotor.
JAMES: Why do you like F3N?
ERIC: I prefer F3N to general smackdown 3D because F3N is more technical. It requires flying precise and challenging aerobatic maneuvers. It is a nice mix between F3C and aggressive 3D.
JAMES: What is it like flying RC helicopters in Germany, and about how many RC helicopter enthusiasts are there?
ERIC: Germany and UK probably have the most active RC helicopter bunch in Europe. I am really guessing here, maybe 30,000 active RC helicopter pilots in Germany. A lot of them watch YouTube to see how others fly around the world. Germans like to be technical, and they enjoy F3N, F3C and speed flying. Many Germans came to the US at the 2014 IRCHA to compete in the Speed Cup, and they did very well. But some younger German are also into smackdown 3D.
JAMES: I hear the restrictions are quite tight regarding where one can fly in Germany.
ERIC: That is true. Normally, one can only fly high powered models at a club field. One cannot just find a park and fly. The Germans usually always follow rules. If flying from a private field, such as farmland, or an empty field, one must obtain permission from the owner. The airplane boys and the helicopter boys get along very well and they are integrated together nicely at the club fields.
JAMES: That is very nice that the airplane guys and heli guys mix at the field. Interestingly, when I go to the fun flies in Europe, I always see a few German girls also fly RC helicopters, and they are even doing 3D.
ERIC: That is true.
JAMES: People still fly nitro helicopters in Germany?
ERIC: Not really. I guess 80 to 90 percent of the pilots in Germany are flying electric helicopters because Germany has very stringent noise rules. It is not allowed to operate engine powered models within three kilometers of any household.
JAMES: Eric, thank you very much. Good luck on preparing for the 2015 F3N World Championships.
Edited for the web by Jon Hull