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Heli Scale Masters

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Event founder and director Gonzalo Martinez has been flying his 1/4 scale Vario Lama for many years and has logged over 150 trouble-free flights on it.

September 25, 2015 found the sun drenched Northern California farmland of Yolo County blanketed in the foggy stillness of an early autumn morning. The sound heard was at first eerily indistinct and far off, a ghostly faint whawmp whawmp whawmp echoing at the same time from everywhere and nowhere. The small crowd of onlookers stood at attention, their eyes shielded from the bright glare of the orb overhead as they eagerly scanned the horizon. As the trademark unique sound of the Huey grew louder, its bright, nose mounted strobe slowly materialized out of the thin morning Tule. In complete unrehearsed unison, the crowd’s mock salutes were replaced by outstretched arms pointing out the appearance of the restored, full scale HueyVets EMU 309 UH-1H Huey helicopter.

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Tony Ramirez carries his Roban 700 class electric heli with an RC Aerodyne Bell 429 fuselage equipped to the flight line. The model is pow- ered by a Scorpion motor and uses a Castle Creations ESC.
Tony Ramirez carries his Roban 700 class electric heli with an RC Aerodyne Bell 429 fuselage equipped to the flight line. The model is powered by a Scorpion motor and uses a Castle Creations ESC.

Thus was just one of the many highlights of the fifth annual 2015 Heli Scale Masters event. This veritable smorgasbord of all things scale heli related was held at the AMA sanctioned Woodland/ Davis Aeromodelers Club on September 24-26, 2015. With a 57×600-foot GeoMat runway and an abundance of wide open farmland surrounding the venue, it is easy to see why this event has returned to the WDAC club venue year after year. The event officially spans only three days, but many attenders so look forward to the event that they travel from all over the U.S., and even beyond, and arrive early in the week. Several particularly hard core lovers of scale helps maximized their participation in the event’s festivities by remaining on-site all weekend, camping in their self contained RVs and campers. Though many of the RC events that we a end each year feature high energy helicopter demonstrations and performances that are rooted in extreme 3D and aerobatic maneuvers, the Heli Scale Masters event is 100% focused on scale helicopters of all sizes. Attendees brought electric, turbine and nitro powered models that ranged in size from single cell, LiPo powered  nano-sized up to several quarter scale turbine powered models.

This AH-1H Cobra is electric powered and was flown by Leo Gonzalez. The full load-out of weapons and camou- flage scheme made it look quite menacing in-flight!
This AH-1H Cobra is electric powered and was flown by Leo Gonzalez. The full load-out of weapons and camouflage scheme made it look quite menacing in-flight!
This model of the AH-1F Cobra, owned and flown by Jim Spice, features a rarely seen non-military scheme. The model flies on a 12S electric power system and weights 29 pounds.
This model of the AH-1F Cobra, owned and flown by Jim Spice, features a rarely seen non-military scheme. The model flies on a 12S electric power system and weights 29 pounds.

Though beauty is, of course, in the eye of the beholder, there were several helicopters that stood out and garnered the unyielding a mention of our camera every time they went aloft . One such aircraft was the stunning, turbine powered model of the Sikorsy CH-53Sea Stallion owned and flown by Jim Spice. Jim’s decision to model this heavy li /transport helicopter is solidly based on his experience piloting the full-size versions during the Vietnam era. Jim’s heli uses Lenmount mechanics and is powered by a Jakadofsky turbine. Custom Robart retracts, a Demon 3SX FBL controller and a head with six 875mm blades contribute to the CH-53s all-up-weight of 47 pounds. The fuselage is an OF Helitechnik custom composite scale body manufactured in Germany and imported by Starwood models. Jim’s CH-53 is truly a labor of love and most of the flight line froze in its tracks every time it took to the skies! Jim also flew a very nice electric powered Cobra Gunship done up in an accurate and rare non-military scheme.

Jim Spice’s turbine powered CH-53 is the epitome of scale realism in flight. Jim flew the full scale version during the Vietnam War.
Jim Spice’s turbine powered CH-53 is the epitome of scale realism in flight. Jim flew the full scale version during the Vietnam War.
Rick Gonzalez won the Engineer- ing Award with his NOTAR equipped MD520. We were told that this is the only NOTAR model flying in the USA.
Rick Gonzalez won the Engineering Award with his NOTAR equipped MD520. We were told that this is the only NOTAR model flying in the USA.
Rick Jow’s orange and white turbine powered Starwood Lama features Vario mechanics and a three bladed head.
Rick Jow’s orange and white turbine powered Starwood Lama features Vario mechanics and a three bladed head.
This CDF schemed Vario Bell UH-1H Huey is powered by an internal combustion engine. Pilot Leo Gonzalez used its scale Bambi bucket to perform numerous water drops over the runway centerline.
This CDF schemed Vario Bell UH-1H Huey is powered by an internal combustion engine. Pilot Leo Gonzalez used its scale Bambi bucket to perform numerous water drops over the runway centerline.
A pair of AH-1H Cobra gunships, flown by Leo Gonzalez and Gonzalo Martinez, were joined in the air by Dan Lowry’s Vario Kiowa. These scale military ships flew a very impressive noon-time demo on Saturday.
A pair of AH-1H Cobra gunships, flown by Leo Gonzalez and Gonzalo Martinez, were joined in the air by Dan Lowry’s Vario Kiowa. These scale military ships flew a very impressive noon-time demo on Saturday.
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Event founder and Director Gonzalo Martinez is recognized by all for his passion for scale heli models. Though busy running the event, Gonzalo still found plenty of time to send several of his own scale models aloft . His gorgeous turbine powered quarter scale Vario Llama now has over 150 flights on it, this being fully reflected in the very smooth and scale manner in which Gonzalo pilots it around the skies. Though flybarless controllers and electric power systems have become the rage in recent years, we noticed several older flybar equipped models and nitro-powered helis in a endance. These two advances in technology are especially beneficial to 3D and aerobatic heli pilots. Scale helis can be flown quite realistically, even when not equipped with the most advanced technology! Though all 3D helicopters were confiscated at the front gate, pilot Greg Milosevich was permi ed to bring his to the flight line. He put on a particularly wicked noontime  3D demonstration flight using his electric powered JR Forza 700.

The realistic looking passenger figure giving a nervous looking wave from the back seat of this Lama had us chuckling every time we saw it.
The realistic looking passenger figure giving a nervous looking wave from the back seat of this Lama had us chuckling every time we saw it.
Barry Seavey’s 1/4 scale Robinson R-22 is an electric conversion that uses Vario mechanics and a Vbar FBL controller. It flies on a 12S electric power system and looked majestic in flight!
Barry Seavey’s 1/4 scale Robinson R-22 is an electric conversion that uses Vario mechanics and a Vbar FBL controller. It flies on a 12S electric power system and looked majestic in flight!

Another amazing helicopter at this year’s event was Rick Gonzalez’s turbine powered MD520 with NOTAR (NO TAil Rotor). If Rick’s use of a NOTAR system on this model was not enough, he also engineered and implemented a working system of crop dusting style spray bars! Though  a flame-out caught Rick off guard, he was able to skillfully bring the big heli back to the ground with no damage. In fact, the level of piloting throughout the event was so advanced and precise that not even one of the models in attendance went home in pieces. For the first time in the event’s five-year history, the “Best Crash Award” thus went unclaimed and unpresented! The balance of the awards were presented at the event Saturday evening, just prior to the tasty BBQ dinner served on-site. Sponsor supplied “big ticket” prizes accompanied several of the plaques, including a set of Vario mechanics for their new electric MD902 Explorer. The Woodland/Davis club also deserves a tip of the hat for serving a nice price fix lunch at the event, at  the non-inflation reflecting price of five bucks a person.

If 3D style heli aerobatics leave you wanting, the world of scale helis offers pilots another option. The pilots and enthusiasts in a enhance at this year’s heli Scale Masters were a friendly, playful and passionate bunch of folks to hang out with. To top it all off, the event raised over $12,000 to be donated to the Autism Speaks Foundation. We are looking forward to the announcement of the dates for the 2016 Heli Scale Masters.

Hope to see you all there next year!

EVENT SPONSORS

Vario Germany, vario-helicopter.net
RC Aerodyne, scaleflying.com
Approach Engineering, approachengineering.com
Woodland/Davis Aermodelers Club, wdarc.org
HueyVets EMU-309, hueyvets.com

SOURCES

Heli Scale Masters, helicopter-scale-masters.com

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