Dec 27, 2012, 09:30 PM
Who said Kiwi's can't fly!
Grunta5's Avatar

How long.......

Having been recently diagnosed with a medical condition ive been told I can no longer drive ( at least for a year) so have sold most of my planes and have got into helis as I figured I can learn to fly them on my back lawn (its a reasonable size and for about the last five weeks or so ive been learning to fly my T-Rex clone 450 .
Im at the stage ( after many battery packs , say at least a flight a day , sometimes two) where I can hover steadily , can fly left and right and generally putter around my lawn following it and make it go where I want ( forwards and back as well) im reasonably relaxed doing this now too... nose in is still a no no even though I fly planes ( I thought it would be easy.... yea right!) Im wondering is this normal progression , whats the average time between starting out and being able to fly decent circuits ? It scares the heck out of me when I touch the stick forward and I see just how fast it wants to go.
I must admit I have taken it to the local aerodrome twice and after lifting off about eight feet I gunned it around the sky like a mad man trying to fly it like my ugly stik ( semi in control most of the time and getting up to around 100 feet or so !) and managed to land the thing ok ( well the second time it landed heavy and broke the top piece between the blade grips) but it was all over the place and I wont try that again.
But id just like to know how long on average it does take to comfortably fly the thing around in controlled flight .? nothing fancy just scale like circuits etc..
PS: never used a sim , I probably should but , just never bothered...

Last edited by Grunta5; Dec 28, 2012 at 12:02 AM.
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Dec 27, 2012, 11:04 PM
Registered User
Depends on the number of flight hours. Five weeks at once a day is about five hours. That's really not much. Most people that tried the 450 would have given up by now, one guy actually made a youtube series of him getting his 450, it ended at five videos, when asked, it had apparently already been weeks since he last flew. So atleast, you hung in there so you're already a good ways ahead.

Don't rush it. Just practice at your own pace, no pressure. In fact, you don't fly helis in front of people so you don't get egged into doing something beyond your level. If it's okay, you can try getting a micro CP and practice on that. Being able to fly anywhere without fear of crashing helps a lot.

And regarding the simulator, it helps you learn the controls, but not so much with your confidence. You know how a heli flies, you can do the stunts in the sim, you know it'll work on the real one. But the moment you see a *REAL* heli coming towards you (Dual spinning knives and all), you pretty much forget the sim. A micro is less intimidating so you're more likely to push what you've learned and raise the bar each time you fly.

I had the 450 do a low pass this morning, and even tho i had it aimed 20 feet to my side (Something i do all the time on the GeniusCP, except it misses me by just a couple of feet), seeing that silhouette coming towards you at full speed certainly gets the heart going.
Dec 27, 2012, 11:50 PM
Who said Kiwi's can't fly!
Grunta5's Avatar
Yes im keen and have built / bought about five helis in the last six weeks ( told you im keen!) so I wont give up and am confident now putting them together and setting them all up, I have an MSR which I hoon around and seem to have the hang of, I think that has been quite a help ( rugged little heli , its been in the trees , hit the metal pole on the swingset , been dumped in the compost bin....)
There is no club here and I cant get out to a field very often so im pretty much stuck at home going it alone. As for spectators its just me and the dog , and she wont comment or criticize lol... I see on youtube that some people seem to get the hang of forward flight in just a few hours, I guess everyone's different..
Dec 28, 2012, 01:46 AM
Registered User
Ok, since you've got a practice heli. Fly the blade MSR in figure eights, i've learned that circles are actually harder to do than eights. If you pay attention to the beginner videos, they look like they're flying around, but they're actually just doing different kinds of figure eights. Some have the eights stretched across the football field (Sharp bank left, fly fast, sharp bank right, fly fast, etc.), some are two alternating circles (smooth bank left, smooth bank right, etc.). Just keep doing that, and do it in a direction where the heli is facing you at the end of each circle.

Start off with the heli facing away from you and doing one circle to the right, it does't matter if it's a good circle or if you're bobbing up and down. Just make the heli do a 360 and end up with the tail back towards you. Do it quickly so you only do it in one motion and before you get disoriented. Pause, get the heli back into position, do the left circle, pause, hover back into position, do the right circle. You're basically ending each circle tail in. This is just to get your fingers used to turning. It may take a while, but keep doing this until you're alternating both circles without pausing. After than, do it in the opposite direction, so the heli is now ending each turn facing towards you.

That's where you'll learn not to get disoriented on nose-in, because each time it faces you is when you're changing directions to do the other circle. Easy right? Just keep doing this each time you fly a helicopter. You'll still get a sense of disorientation, but all you need to do is follow through with the turning motion and you'll eventually be doing the turns without even thinking about it. Boring as hell, but it's a basic exercise that everyone does.
Dec 28, 2012, 03:36 AM
Rotor Controller
CaptJac's Avatar
Originally Posted by Grunta5 View Post
how long on average it does take to comfortably fly the thing around in controlled flight .? nothing fancy just scale like circuits etc.. PS: never used a sim , I probably should but , just never bothered...
It's worth bothering. While a simulator can't provide real world depth-of-perception and excitement and anxiety level, it does a great job with developing muscles memory and that is the transition point of you flying the helicopter instead of the helicopter flying you. How long does it take for the brain to go on automatic reflex? The more you practice - the easier it gets - but easy is NOT easy until muscle memory finally starts getting it - and that takes a looooong time. Ask any beginner how long is takes for the fingers to learn where the chords are on a guitar or piano? Muscle memory does NOT learn in 5 weeks. It takes its own time - you may think it will never learn - but eventually it does. Typical is a year or two and something clicks in. The older you are - the longer it takes for that click to click. The hardest thing for new students to learn is patience. The hardest thing for old students to learn is patience. Flying RC helicopters takes a LOT of patience. Happy Flying!!!


**** The Phoenix Simulator Flight School has been in operation going on 3 years. It is FREE. Price will double next year. Drop a line in my msg box to get on the roster. ***
Dec 28, 2012, 05:43 AM
Closed Account
Originally Posted by Hajile View Post
And regarding the simulator, it helps you learn the controls, but not so much with your confidence. You know how a heli flies, you can do the stunts in the sim, you know it'll work on the real one. But the moment you see a *REAL* heli coming towards you (Dual spinning knives and all), you pretty much forget the sim.
I think that depends on how you treat and view the sim.
I treat it like an actual heli, follow all the safety rules, try not to crash... I treat those blades just like the real ones and show them the same respect.

If I can't do it in the sim, I'm not even close to doing it with the real one. If I can do it well in the sim, I'm confident I can I can start doing it for real - I may not do it as well as in the sim, but I can at least start perfecting it..

Originally Posted by Grunta5 View Post
nose in is still a no no even though I fly planes ( I thought it would be easy.... yea right!) Im wondering is this normal progression , whats the average time between starting out and being able to fly decent circuits ?
I had a terribe time learning nose in hover, and for me it was the result of how long I flew planes and my brain going back to fixed wing mode without asking first - at the slightest sign of trouble I went into an aborted landing; add a little throttle and ease back on the elevator, which made it worse and led to more throttle and more up elevator, which eventually (in like .3 to maybe .5 seconds) led to a spiked tail boom. I'm not sure if I would have ever learned nose in if not for a sim. You may be experiencing some different issues, but yeah - the controls are different and you may have to unlearn a few reflex fixed wing reactions and learn new ones.

I won't even comment on how long it takes - I live in the northwest where it's rainy and/or windy 9 months out of the year, and summer is only a 50/50 chance of flying (our state flower is mildew).

I really think flying circuits or figure 8's is very much like flying a fixed wing. If you used the rudder and did co-ordinated turns in fixed wing, you should have very little trouble adjusting to doing circuits with the heli. If you were like some of us and used mostly aileron and ele for turns, you'll have to get used to actually using the rudder, and again the sim will teach you that.
Dec 28, 2012, 07:06 AM
Destroyer of Threads
Steve_'s Avatar
Grunta5 thank you for your posts. they make me feel so much better.
I recently got a CP, and things usually click for me right away, and this
does not. After coming in from hovering my 250 clone I feel like I'm an
incompetent idiot.

I drove cars for 20+ years, and never would panic when a car was
coming at me at 60 Mph, it was all natural reflex.

If you think being a car "expert" will prepare you for this hobby,
you are wrong. Unless you have a 160+ IQ or something.

Thanks again for sharing, you are not alone
Dec 28, 2012, 07:52 AM
Destroyer of Threads
Steve_'s Avatar
I was reading a thread at HF where a guy was building an HD video rig,
and I was speechless. I had never seen top shelf equipment until this point.
The machining and design was so beautiful, it brought a tear to my eye.

After a rush of posts with people commenting that his heli invoked an
emotional response, this was his reply:

"....I appreciate it. I will shed tears when it goes down, that's for sure!"

Not "IF" it goes down, but "WHEN" it goes down.

This is coming from an experienced pilot, with thousands of dollars worth
of video equipment along for the ride.

I hate the sims, they are boring to me, (I'm an old computer gamer) but It looks
like the only way I will "get it" without spending a fortune.
Last edited by Steve_; Dec 28, 2012 at 08:14 AM.
Dec 28, 2012, 08:27 AM
Cranky old fart
Balr14's Avatar
My brother-in-law is rich and flies at a private club that costs a fortune to belong to. (Steve, you may have heard of Pebble Creek). Everyone there flies some very nice stuff (40% competition, large scale, turbines, etc.). I tag along as a guest and carry my little X250 quad, which fascinates the hell out of everyone there (but that's another story). The guys there are real nice and are always offering to let me fly one of their "toys". They are nuts! If I crashed one of those things, I'd have to take out a second mortgage to pay to fix it. One guy there has a Hirobo C46 turbine that I did try. But it was cheap, only $11k. I have seen at least one expensive toy go down every time I was there, including one hand built turbine heli that was about 8' long. It didn't have a fuselage, which probably saved a couple thousand. My brother-in-law had a receiver failure and totaled a $15k 40% competition plane. It just lost signal and kept going. It had a transponder, so we found it about a mile or two away. It came down nose first on somebody's cement patio. Damn lucky nobody was hurt and it didn't hit the house.
Dec 28, 2012, 08:33 AM
Registered User
OT:What's 40% competition?
Dec 28, 2012, 08:45 AM
Cranky old fart
Balr14's Avatar
Originally Posted by Hajile View Post
OT:What's 40% competition?
They are scale stunt planes, 40% of the size of real ones that perform a very specific set of stunts, patterns and maneuvers; kind of like figure skating competition. They typically have wing spans of about 14'. This is a good example of a smaller version being flown by Somenzini. My brother-in-law bought Somenzini's 2010 40% model that he used to win some championship with. I think the smaller models do more 3D stuff and the bigger ones fly more patterns.
Quique Somenzini flying his 50cc Yak 54 (5 min 14 sec)

I hope I got all of the terminology and size designations right. I don't play a lot of attention to that plane stuff. I do know the motor looks like a small 4 cylinder Honda and costs $5k. My brother-in-law has no trouble flying those planes but he can't fly a mini-quad and keep it in the air more than about 10 seconds.
Last edited by Balr14; Dec 28, 2012 at 08:54 AM.
Dec 28, 2012, 09:10 AM
Registered User
@ Grunta5:

Don't worry....
I own a flying school, and in winterseason, we do indoor hoovertraining on 450 sizers, with buddybox system.
Novice pilots normally need approx 2~3 hours of flight time to get a more or less safe hoover, and another 2~3 hours to get that hoover really steady and controlled (and my "students" get an average of 30 minutes per week logged on the buddybox).
You manage to keep up with them, on your own....

For those first rounds, I wish I could give that an indication of time.... that seems to be a "click" that has to happen in the brain. Some peopled manage within weeks after their first "solo" hoover, some take years to build up the courage...

Most likely, you having flown planes, you will be flying very quickly.... the only difficulty is to survive approach, final and landing. If you manage the transition between FF and hover, you'll be OK.

Hawke's bay NZ.... I have very great memories to that area....

Brgds, Bert
Dec 28, 2012, 01:23 PM
Rocket Programmer
jasmine2501's Avatar
Originally Posted by Hajile View Post
Depends on the number of flight hours. Five weeks at once a day is about five hours.
I disagree... it has more to do with how many times you force your brain through the learning cycle. That is - force it to do something it isn't good at, then let it process what it learned. So, 5 weeks at once a day is 35 attempts - 35 opportunities for your brain to process and internalize the skill of helicopter flying. That is not very many tries, and you've got the hovering figured out, so I'd say that's pretty good.

What the simulator gives you is a great way to put your brain through more cycles, and while it's not exactly like the real thing, it does help you learn because it's so convenient. The mistake a lot of folks make is to use the simulator like a game, and they just play with it - practice specific things and you'll progress faster.
Dec 28, 2012, 02:08 PM
Registered User
Forgive me for this OT. I got to pull balr14 chain a bit.
I used to fly an aerobatic that only had about 18 ft wingspan.
I am over 6ft and when I got in it I wore it. Those were the fun days.
Dec 28, 2012, 02:15 PM
Who said Kiwi's can't fly!
Grunta5's Avatar
I think 90 % of people would recommend the sim... maybe its lazyness on my part but I am really not interested in it , just as im not the least bit interested in video games in general. Im planning to get more proficient at my sideways flying then try a bit more nose in from a very low height as I have been ( about a foot ). So if it turns to custard (so to speak) I am only one click on the throttle away from getting it down. Its the nerves thing coming into play again., just as it did learning to hover . The biggest thing I have noticed is that when I began I had the throws on the TX set up at 100% and it was touchy.. Ive cut the throws back to 80% on aileron and less on rudder and elevator , im now finding its not so touchy , and as im moving the sticks a bit more to get a reaction im getting more feedback as to whats going on with the fingers in relation to what the models doing.... ok there is now a fraction of a second between my fingers moving the sticks and the model responding ( debatable because im now learning to push the stick a little quicker with practice ) but its giving my brain that fraction of a second to observe and process whats going on ( may sound real corney but I think it really helped) Exponential may be a good idea .

Last edited by Grunta5; Dec 28, 2012 at 02:25 PM.

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