Thursday, November 11, 2010

RC Helicopter Safety Tips

RC helicopters have certainly come a long way over the past few decades. The introduction of smaller, lighter, more powerful batteries; improvements in rotor technology such as coaxial blade design; and the wide availability of assorted electric models have all contributed to the upsurge in heli popularity. Once considered the most difficult to operate and among the most expensive to purchase and maintain of all RC vehicles, helicopters are now more widely flown than airplanes in some parts of the world. While coaxial electric birds are more stable and thus easier to fly than nitro-powered, fixed or collective pitch models, hobby-grade helicopters, whether electric or glow, still deserve respect and, as with all RC aircraft, must be treated with caution--the safety of pilot and spectator should always be of paramount concern. Hobby-grade helicopters produce very high rotor speeds and their blades are capable of inflicting serious injury. To ensure your own safety, as well as that of others, learn and put into practice AMA and manufacturer safety guidelines; follow them to the letter pre-, during, and post-flight.

Get in the habit of running through a pre-flight checklist each time before you fly. Make sure the radio’s batteries are fully charged and all controls are operating properly, and check to see your signal output is strong enough for normal flying ranges. Work the servos, linkages and control surfaces, and be sure all nuts, bolts, screws are properly tightened. Always start out with a fully charged battery pack—if you are counting on 10-12 minutes of fight time, you won’t get it with a less than fully charged battery. Until the various pre-flight checks are committed to memory, it is not a bad idea to work from a written list to be sure you don’t overlook anything.

Be aware of wind conditions--it’s just too windy, there’ll be another day--and don’t push your helicopter past its limits until and unless you’ve attained strong flying skills—even then, know that you are increasing the chances of damaging your copter in a crash. Give yourself ample open space in which to fly, with no trees, power-lines, telephone poles or other obstructions within or adjacent to your pattern area. And don’t fly too close to yourself or others—keep a distance of 25 feet or better. If something goes wrong, these birds can come down fast and you don’t want to be in one’s path of descent. When taking off, stay away from spinning blades—even smaller models generate serious blade speed—and on landing, keep a safe distance until the blades have stopped turning.

If you follow the rules for RC safety, and use good commonsense, you will be able to fly with confidence and assurance, by showing respect for your helicopter and its capabilities and concern for the well-being of others. Flying helis is a great hobby—it’s our responsibility to make it as safe as possible. Have fun and keep 'em flying!

RC Helis

Venom Beacon 4-Channel Coaxial RTF Helicopter

Venom Kodiak Coaxial 3-Channel RC Helicopter

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