As you may have guessed, I love helicopters. I’ve been flying Remote Control helicopters since 1996 and have logged over 320 hours on the sticks. Those hours now include quad-copters and drones.
For about 10 years I ran http://www.jeffsheliphiles.com which was a photo reference site for model builders and housed over 5,000 images of all makes and models of real helicopters. Unfortunately I shut it down late 2015 because of lack of interest on my part despite being highly rated on Google.
As of 2016 I’m now a Drone pilot as well. I’m learning the ropes for aerial photography and have several projects in the works.
The major difference between drone piloting and helicopter piloting is MAJOR. Drones can take off and land without your intervention…. It’s the difference between a self driving car (drone) and a crack addicted hyper-active helicopter that needs 110% of your attention. Drones basically fly themselves. Helicopters need your full attention (unless you have autopilot- you cheater). Big difference in fun but they were designed for different purposes.
I consider myself a veteran pilot. I can build an RC helicopter from a bag of parts and when done fly it perfectly right from the assembly bench. I’ve done it so many times it’s natural. I love the mechanics, repair, troubleshooting and of course the flight.
I can hover in 10 to 20 mph winds with ease (though it is mentally taxing and no fun) and do basic 3D maneuvers. While most of you will say I should be a full 3D pilot after over 20 years and 320+ hours, the truth is that crashing is not something I enjoy and flailing about in the air was never my goal. I have crashed, some my fault, some mechanical. I fly safe, insured and love my hobby. Additionally my whole purpose of flying is to do it realistically and with fuselages. 3D with few exceptions isn’t an option for a real pilot. Since I can’t afford the real deal, this is my alternative and I like to do real, in the air, realistic flight that wouldn’t make passengers want to “engage in involuntary personal protein spills” after maneuvers.
I do hope to get a real pilots license some day. Bucket list number 1.
Interestingly all of the real pilots I’ve talked to have told me that if I can fly an RC helicopter a real one is a piece of cake. I totally agree. With about an hour of flight time in a Robinson Raven II (you read that right, not an R22), I can tell you that it is much easier knowing what I know and that the cyclic is even more sensitive than ours.
Got questions? Ask! Another good resource is runryder where all of us get together to talk shop.
If you need parts,
the best shop is in Texas, run by Ron Lund. Check them out. Ron is the best but as of the summer of 2016 he’s retiring and now I have to find a new source of parts.
I’m not just a pilot. I do RC cars, boats and the occasional plane. I’d still rather be hovering.