This weekend I bought myself a new toy with the help of some early birthday money from family, an RC helicopter. Although I had done a lot of research into helicopters over the past year, the only one I had ever flown was a cheap 20 dollar Walmart heli which I talked about last year.
On the way to a family dinner this weekend we stopped off at a professional level RC hobby shop called Big Boys with Cool Toys. I had already done my research and I knew I had to start off with a trainer type heli. All the reports I had read on RC helicopter sites had said the E-flite Blade CX was just the bird to get started with. When I entered the store and talked to the very helpful staff, he recommended the exact same one. After a bit of humming and hawing and rubber arm twisting by my parents I decided to take the plunge, I think my Dad was as excited as I was about seeing this thing fly.
I was talked into buying a bunch of spare parts by the salesman, and it was a good thing I did, I’m already on my 3rd set of blades. Flying a model helicopter is extremely fun, but it’s not near as easy as it looks. A quick YouTube search will bring up all kinds of tips, tricks and crashes. I’ve had my share of crashes already, and I don’t expect this hobby to be cheap, but I am totally hooked.
I also bought a bunch of aluminum parts which I will use to replace the plastic ones as they break, unfortunately blades are the most delicate part and each crash has a high probability of breaking your blades. Two sets of blades run 5 dollars, and you need upper and lower blades for this model, 10 dollars will buy you several crashes.
The Blade CX is great for flying around the house, but be careful, as I’m assuming it could damage things like and LCD screen. I am very careful to keep mine away from anything like that. My only other tip so far is to get it off the ground fast, because the air from the blades is very unstable near the floor. Once you are about 2 feet off the floor it stabilizes quite a bit.
This helicopter comes with a four channel transmitter. This means you can go up and down, side to side, forward and backward, and turn 360 degrees. I can only imagine how difficult it is to fly something like a T-Rex helicopter with 6 channels. That said, the T-Rex is on my radar but getting everything you need can run over a 1000 dollars. After trying a computer simulation of the T-Rex at the store and completely destroying it, I think I need more practice.
There is some incredible RC helicopter simulation software out there. You use a transmitter to learn with these, so it’s similar to the real thing and when you smash a heli it doesn’t cost you a cent. Some of them look really great too like G4 RealFlight or Reflex XTR.
I’ll have more details on RC helicopters as I gradually learn more about this incredibly fun hobby.