I started flying helicopters a year ago after 12 years of fixed-wing flying. This has
involved everything from fun-fly to aerobatics to fast-deltas, and, most recently,
turbines in the form of an Avonds F15 powered by an AMT Pegasus generating 28 lbs of
thrust, and a Kangaroo powered by an AMT Mercury.
When I first started, 12 years ago, I bought an MFA 500 helicopter and got as far as
basic tail-in hovering. Unfortunately, that machine wasn't very sturdy, and it basically
shook itself to pieces within about a month. I was very discouraged by this, and basically
gave up on helicopters, and started building my first fixed-wing trainer.
Looking back, the problem was that I bought probably the cheapest helicopter on the
market, and, as the adage goes, "you get what you pay for".
Second Time Around
I use RealFlight with add-on packs 1 & 2 to practice my aerobatic and jet
man oeuvres, and when RealFlight Deluxe came out with helicopters I had to buy it! This
re-kindled my interest in helis and I decided to try again. This time I decided to take
the opposite approach and buy a very good 60-sized helicopter (yes, I knew that the repair
bills would be higher - see later!).
So, after reading reviews and adverts in Model Helicopter World, I bought a Millenium
60 with an OS 61WC. Whilst assembling that I took a two hour taster lesson from a
professional instructor, and got on reasonably well, so I was raring to go with my own
machine. Based on his advice, I ordered and fitted some heavier Hirobo paddles to make the
Millenium more suitable as a trainer.
For some 6-8 weeks after that the weather has been terrible, with lots of rain and strong winds, and I
have been getting very frustrated at not being able to fit in any more lessons, or to
practice on my own machine. I have managed to fit in three sessions on the Millenium, and
have made quite good progress on hovering, but on the last one, on what in retrospect was
far too windy a day, I had my first crash. This looked worse than it was, but the repair
bill came to about £70, and although it was fixed within 3 days the weather just got
worse and no more flying has been possible.
At that point I decided that the only way to progress was to fly indoors, away from the
elements, and at any time of the day.
First, I ordered a Hoverfly, but after a two week wait was told by Revolution Models
that there had been a fire at the factory, and that they expected no deliveries for at
least two months. They suggested the Ikarus Piccolo as an alternative, and offered a very
good deal, so I placed an order and waited.
It arrived one afternoon, and was built, set-up, and made its first hops that
same evening. First impressions were of an incredible piece of design, that was MUCH more
difficult to control than the Millenium, and suffered from 5 minute battery duration,
although I have now increased this to 8-9 minutes using an 8-cell NiMH pack that I made
today. For more details - go to the Piccolo page
I sold the Piccolo to another beginner at my club, and bought
an LMH-100 and a Concept EP
to replace it. I also now have a Hornet which is quite