Sunday, May 22, 2022
Home » Product Reviews » Interview with Curtis Youngblood – The Inside Scoop on the Rave!

Interview with Curtis Youngblood – The Inside Scoop on the Rave!

Fly RC Over the years, youve worked with many companies to design and develop helicopters. What do you think were your most important contributions to RC helicopter design?I have always heavily pushed simplicity in design. I fly and have to work on the machines on a daily basis, so the simpler the better.Fly RC What encouraged you to develop and launch Next Dyour own brand of helicopters; in particular, what inspired the development of the Rave?I have been flying the small electrics for quite a while at home and really enjoying them, but I dislike many things about the little ones compared with the 90-size machines. Theyre harder to see, often a little complex, and the standard
designs at the time were hard to work on. Also, I love doing autorotations, and most 450s do not auto very well. I wanted to make the Rave easier to see in the air, so we made the canopy and basic structure taller, so it has a bigger presence in the air. I also simplified the overall design to make it light, simple and easy to work on. I then added the torque-tube drive tail and stretched the machine to allow the use of 350 blades. These changes also make the Rave auto well.The larger profile, tube drive tail and longer blades greatly increase my enjoyment of this class of heli. I kept all the benefits, which include low-cost parts, low-price batteries and radio system, and the ability to fly in smaller areasindoors or at a park.
Fly RC Why did you give the Raves head an over-slung flybar? Are there specific aerodynamic or other advantages to this configuration? Some of the best flying heads have been over-slung flybars. I have flown both over- and under-slung flybars. The over-slung seem to track a little better in forward flight, but I honestly dont know why. But the main reason was to get the cross-shaft as close as possible to the main shaft in the rotor head. This provides the best overall alignment of the head and also offers the most strength. So, with the overslung flybar, you get the lowest vibrations and the strongest head. Fly RC What were the biggest challenges you faced in the development and introduction of the Rave?

The biggest challenge was in creating the business ties, manufacturers and network to manufacture a high-quality kit at an affordable price. Its easy to make an inexpensive machine, if thats all you are going for. But making a high-quality machine at an affordable price is an entirely different ballgame.

Fly RC Are you working on any new projects that Fly RC readers can look forward to seeing during the upcoming flying season? New electronics? New helicopters? New blades?

Several aftermarket items will soon be available for the Ravea flybarless rotor head, for example. Also, we just released our Mini G gyro, and its a perfect fit for this and just about any size of heli out there. We are always working on many projects at once, and we have several other projects for this year that we are not yet ready to talk about. But stay tuned!

Fly RC For many of us, you are synonymous with the start of 3D helicopter flying. How did you get started?My father has been flying RC since the 1950s and has flown RC helicopters since the early 70s, so I grew up around the hobby. I started attending flying contests in the early 80s and went to fun-flys a little earlier than that. Basically, 3D came out of watching all the show guys at the time and sitting down to think about what else these machines could do. After thinking about it and trying it for a while, I did not see why a heli could not fly backwards and sideways and do œflips whenever you wanted it to. So I decided to figure out how to make the machines do it. Of course, this was by no means done in a bubble; many people were developing their flying and the machines at the same time as I was. But my flying and the machines we used were developed with this in mind.Fly RC Your flying has always pushed the envelope. Over the years, which changes pushed 3D flight to where it is today, and what do you think were the most important advances?

Heading-hold gyros, carbon rotor blades, 90-size engines, electric power systems and flight control. In their own way, all of these have added greatly to the world of 3D.

Fly RC Technological advances have changed our sport dramatically. Weve seen a tremendous growth in RC heli popularity and major changes in the way we fly. What was it like to fly the earlier helis compared with the helis we have now?

Flying back then required a lot more effort to do even the simplest things. Basic backward flight involved a lot of movement on the sticks just to keep it going backwards. Today, you just get it going backwards and it keeps doing it until you make it stop. It was a completely different flying world back then. If you see any old videos of demo flights from the 80s and compare them to today, the pilot is working just as hard in both cases, but the difference in the performance shows how far the equipment has advanced. Back then, if you tried to do what we do today, most of the machines would have exploded. Today, we work as hard as we can to try to make them explode, and the helis take it all without a problem.

Fly RC Today, its much easier to learn RC helicopters; its just so much easier to start and make progress. This has inspired a new breed of RC pilots. Have any influenced your flying style? Do you find any pilots particularly impressive, and what impresses you most about their skills?

Back in the 80s, I was influenced more by watching airplane performances than anything else. At the time, they flew more complex and developed routines than we did, and I got a lot of my style and ideas from watching them. Now, helis have come into their own.

Theres a great depth of talent in todays heli fliers, and I see many very interesting and exciting styles as I travel around the world to different events. For a time, one style will be dominant and many emulate it; then, after a few years, another style starts to dominate. I am certainly influenced by what others in the hobby do. If I see someone fly a cool maneuver, I just have to see whether I can do it, too. Thats part of the fun. But I tend to pull elements of peoples flying and try to fit it into my own style. For me, a big part of the fun is making it my own.

Fly RC What do you think of the new flybarless systems? Are they the next big thing in RC helicopters? Will they be as important as the heading-hold gyro or other innovations? Do they have a place in FAI competition? And what about 3D competition?

We are already in the middle of flybarless being the next big thing. It is already here. I think it should be allowed in FAI and 3D competitions. It has advantages and disadvantages in both types of flying, so I do not see it as an unfair advantage if someone uses it in competition.

Fly RC What do you recommend for new fliers who are interested in getting involved with RC helicopters?

Get into it right away. It is a great hobby and full of really great people. Thats one of the things that has kept me in this hobby for so long. At every event I go to, I meet a great group of people who are out there to have a good time and share the fun of flying. Thats hard to beat.

As for tips on learning, here goes: buy a heli flight sim and start with a small electric heli to reduce the initial crash costs. Then, after learning, you can get the 50- or 90-size helis as well. But small electrics are great to start with and to continue to learn with. And definitely find a local RC club or a heli group you can fly with. Having people to help can take years off your learning and also adds to the enjoyment.