|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.
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