by Chris Reibert photos by Jenni Orebaugh
At the young age of 20, Jamie Robertson is one of the world’s leading RC helicopter pilots. Jamie was the winner of the 2009, 2011 and 2013 XFC as well as 2011 3D Masters and the 2012 and 2013 Zone Knockout (England), and he is one of only a few pilots to win these two events in the same year. Jamie also took third in 2010 XFC and second in 2012 XFC. I was lucky enough to get the chance to interview Jamie to learn about his life in our hobby. If I took anything away from talking with Jamie, it is that he is incredibly driven in both his flying and future coaching career.
RC HELI PILOT: How many years have you been in the hobby?
JAMIE ROBERTSON: Seven years
RCHP: How did you get involved in the hobby?
JR: My dad has been flying models since 1973. He got into helis in the mid 80’s and was a member of Team JR throughout most of the 90’s. He got out of the hobby around 1999 when my brother was born. He then bought an Align T-Rex 450 in 2005, as well as Real Flight simulator. That winter I started flying on the sim and by the summer of 2006, I was flying his 450 and aft er a few months he then bought a Thunder Tiger Raptor 50.
RCHP: Who did you look up to when you were first starting out?
JR: When I first started flying, Curtis (Youngblood) was still pretty big into 3D and of course, I had heard about all he had accomplished so naturally I wanted to be like him. Also Alan (Szabo) was in his prime then so I watched him closely as well. But Curtis has always been my role model. As I got to know him, I saw how people around the hobby respected him and the way he carries himself. He’s a class act!
RCHP: How do you fit practice into your daily routine?
JR: Really depends on the time of year. Since the majority of the competitions are from May-August, those are the months I spend really hardcore preparing and getting routines dialed in. September-January are mostly spent coming up with maneuver ideas as well as fi nding music for the upcoming year. February-April are spent making music routines. I typically spend three months making changes to music, like changing the order of the tracks and making sure everything fl ows well. Also there are fun flys early in the year, so I try to work on certain things to prepare for the contests. For example, I may spend a day doing all right pirouett ing stuff since that is my weak side. I fi nd for me that it works best to test my weaknesses in front of people and get used to the pressure. Little things like that can make a big difference when it comes to being mentally prepared for a competition.
RCHP: Are you working on any new maneuvers?
JR: I’m constantly working on new maneuvers trying to come up with something unique. With so many quality pilots around the world it’s harder than ever to try and stay ahead. Because what’s new this year is old news and everyone is doing it the following year. Ask Nick (Maxwell) or Kyle (Dahl); I’m sure they would tell you the same thing.
RCHP: What has been your most difficult maneuver(s) to master?
JR: I would say reverse piro tic tocs skids in. I’m still not completely comfortable controlling them and being able to put the model exactly where I want.
RCHP: Do you have any sentimental helis you will never get rid of?
JR: Not really. I have old stuff that was given to me just lying around because I can’t sell it. Some old Vibe 50s, a couple of Rave 450s, and some others. But I’m not a big sentimental guy.
RCHP: What do you enjoy most about our hobby?
JR: The best thing about this hobby is the never-ending pursuit of perfection. No matter how good you are, there is always something new to learn and ways to improve. I think that’s what keeps me motivated.
RCHP: Where do you think you will be in the hobby in five years?
JR: I’m not sure. I would hope that I will still be able to compete at a high level and keep up with the young guys.
RCHP: What do you recommend to someone who is looking to learn 3D-type flying?
JR: Learn all orientations first before starting 3D. That’s a must. Also buy a quality flight simulator; it will pay for itself 10 times over in the long run.
RCHP: Do you fl y other types of aircraft?
JR: I don’t. Airplanes just don’t keep my interest like the helis do. I get bored easily.
RCHP: What keeps your interest in the hobby?
JR: The fact that there’s always more to accomplish. And that there’s always someone better than you out there somewhere. I’m terrified of losing that drive, I’ve seen it happen to other guys and how it’s impacted their interest in the hobby. I think when the day comes where I feel like I can’t be competitive in every contest I enter is the day I’ll probably stop flying. Most people probably aren’t aware that I’m currently going to school pursuing a degree in sports management in hopes of being a football coach someday. So when I stop flying helis I’ll go into coaching.
RCHP: Who are your current sponsors?
JR: Align, Thunder Power and JR.
RCHP: How did you become a Team Pilot?
JR: My first real sponsorship was through Curtis with his blades, pipes and gyros. He had seen me fly at various fun flys early on and was nice enough to sponsor me. For me, this was really cool because I got to know him and really learned a lot of things from him. That’s an experience that I will always be thankful for having, being able to learn from the best our hobby has ever seen.
RCHP: If you could have a “do over” in the hobby, what would you change?
JR: The thing that comes to mind right off the bat is at this past year’s Heli Masters in the Netherlands, when I zeroed a set maneuver because I did it wrong. I completely just had a blank. It ended up really costing me because my set maneuvers were my strongest discipline. That is going to stick with me until next year; hopefully I never make that mistake again.
RCHP: Any upcoming projects your working on that you could share with us?
JR: Not really, just trying to get some preliminary ideas as far as music and maneuvers go for next season. I’m also busy with school right now.
RCHP: Now that your hobby has turned into a career have your views changed on the hobby?
JR: Not at all. I’ve been very fortunate. Early on when I started flying, I noticed some of the guys who were doing it for a living and how it was obvious they didn’t enjoy it anymore. I told myself that if I ever got myself in that position that I would never be like that; I don’t see the point in doing something if you aren’t passionate about it. As I mentioned before, when I lose that drive and that competitive fi re is when I’ll walk away from the hobby.
RCHP: What is your favorite size model to fly and why?
JR: Definitely a 700. The presence is awesome and it’s the perfect size to where it still has agility for 3D. The newer 800’s don’t quite have the same quickness and the smaller models just don’t get my adrenaline going like the 700’s.
RCHP: Do you have a favorite pastime besides RC?
JR: Football! I played from third grade all the way through high school. My dream is to someday be a head coach at a major university.
RCHP: How do you feel the hobby has evolved over the past 10 years?
JR: So many ways! Flybarless systems, LiPo technology and the list goes on and on. And because of those advancements, it has allowed the level of flying to go through the roof. I’m sure 10 years ago people would have never dreamed that we’d be doing all the crazy maneuvers that we’re doing now. Back in those days, most of the stuff the top-level guys do now just wasn’t possible.
RCHP: What are your goals for 2014?
JR: My goals are the same every year. To make sure I’m prepared in every way possible to have a chance to win every contest I go to. As long as you consistently give yourself a chance on Sunday, you are going to win your share of contests. No one has been bett er at that the last half-decade than Kyle Dahl. Much respect for him.
RCHP: What motivates you on a daily basis?
JR: The fear of losing that competitive edge.
THE LAST WORD
I would like to thank Jamie for taking the time out of his busy day to share his experiences in the hobby with us. We are truly blessed to have pilots like Jamie in our hobby who are willing to help others. I have been lucky enough to hang out with him at our local fun fly and he is a down-to-earth pilot who is easy to talk to and has a heck of an incredible talent to make his helicopters effortlessly dance across the sky. Check out Jamie’s YouTube videos and if you ever see him at the shows make sure you go say hello. I wish you luck in your 2014 competition season buddy. Keep doing what you do and fly safe!
Formatted for the web by Jon Hull