Flying Notes

September 2011

So… I’ve been flying the 120 SR for quite a few months now and have been getting confident with it. ¬†My hovering has been getting pretty good; tail in, 45¬į each way, nose in and recently I’ve been practising side on. I can also do pretty tidy circuits and just recently started trying nose in circles. Thankfully I’ve not had a crash requiring any spares for quite a while.

This has all been good, but it has got me to thinking that a bigger collective pitch heli is the next step. After a lot of looking around and assessing funds, I decided a 400 size was what I could afford, which left me with two primary candidates; the Blade 450 or the Trex 450. I’ve read a lot about both with a lot of people seemingly strongly in either the Blade or the Trex camp. I eventually went for the Blade because I figured it came ready built, so at first I can concentrate on flying rather than setup, learning the intricacies¬†of heli¬†set-up¬†as I go along and secondly because I have had such a good experience with the 120.

I already have a DX8 which I wanted to bind it to and a good charger so I grabbed the BNF version from the guys at F1 Hobbies who have previously helped me out with spares for the 120 SR. That left me needing some batteries, a couple of guys at my flying club have previously said good things about Flight Power Li-Pos, so I figured I’d give them a shot. Ordering 3 from their webstore (Broken link¬†in Hong Kong worked out to be about 40 quid, which was about the price of 1 and a half from the UK, they took 2 weeks to get here but I wasn’t in a hurry.

October 2011

After the batteries arrived I was keen to have a go, I should have waited for the training gear which I had ordered, but was on back order. I took her out into the garden, gently increased the throttle and about 3/4 throttle she began to get light on her skids, it was at this point she started tipping to the right. I countered with an increasing amount of left cyclic but even full left didn’t stop her from going over. Thankfully I quickly hit the throttle hold switch where upon she started slowing down, the tips hitting the grass quite slowly just as the blades stopped spinning. ¬†Hmm, this¬†isn’t¬†a great start. EFlite claim to fly these things in the factory, now surely if somebody had flown it they would have noticed the need for a large amount of left cyclic to counter the tendency to go right. ¬†Due to other commitments I didn’t get round to investigating for a while so it just sat in its box for a week or so.

It was around this time I stumbled across a forum post about the Flyin Fish helicopter school. Seeing as I’d never flown collective, and my first experience wasn’t too successful I figured an hour lesson couldn’t hurt. ¬£40 is about the same as some moderate repairs was my thinking so probably worth at least one lesson.

7th Octoboer 2011

Time for my FlyinFish lesson! I arrived at the field¬†near Northolt aerodrome where I was met by Mark, one of the instructors. We chatted for a bit about my experience, keen to impress upon him that I’d never flown anything other than a Blade 120! He powered up his 600 class Thunder Tiger and hooked up my TX to his. I won’t go over the entire lesson, but suffice to say it went brilliantly. Within the hour I had managed a couple of very wonky circuits in each direction. The shape of them and my height control was pretty shody, but I definitely got them, Mark only needing to grab control a couple of times when I let her drift a little too close to us for his liking.

If you’ve never flown a RC Helicopter and are in the London area I would completely recommend having at least an hour before you buy anything. Thoroughly¬†recommended.

At the end of the lesson Mark had a go on my 450, he also found it needed an awful lot of left input to keep it straight. Upon inspection he noticed the swash was leaning quite a bit to the right, needing more than full left trim to correct. So off I went home knowing that the servo needing centering and the head realigning to the 90 degrees. I fixed this up that evening in preparation for another go.

8th October 2011

Full of enthusiasm after my lesson of the day before, and now equipped with training gear I went out into the garden and spun her up again, she¬†wasn’t¬†going right¬†any more¬†but even on full throttle she¬†didn’t¬†want to lift off. One thing was clear was that I wanted somewhere bigger and with shorter grass.

9th October 2011

I went out last night to find a large, lit (its dark early at this time of the year!) area of tarmac of similar which would allow the heli to slide around on the training gear. I found a nice big car park of a local retail park, which was completely empty at night but very well lit. So I had a little go, its a brilliant area in which to practice. I found however the same problem as before, even full throttle she is only light on her skids. So I’ve go a problem to solve, I’ve ordered a pitch gauge so I can check the amount of pitch full throttle is giving me. Thats the next step.


I’ve just noticed that I’ve not written much about the 450 for a good while now. I’m not sure where 2012 went, or half of 2013 for that matter. For at least the later half of 2012 I was getting out with the 450 about once a month, putting all four batteries through it each time. In early 2013 I started getting out more often, perhaps once a week. And now we have moved I’m finding I’m flying it about twice a week. ¬†My circuits are pretty good now in either direction. Figure of eights are also smooth and even, I’ve got the hang of keeping the altitude roughly equal throughout the manoeuvre. Initially I found it hard to predict how much altitude would be lost when transitioning from fast forward flight to the hover. Now I can predict this and feed in the right amount of collective to maintain height.