Learning to Fly 3d - now were talking !!!
3D has done
more for this hobby in the last few years than any other aspect.
It is providing the new growth, the influx of young blood and
30 somethings that want to try something new and exciting - and
what better than making a helicopter do the unexpected in a controlled
and repeatable way.
article deals with learning which stick to push, and whether you'd
rather be doing something more sensible like F3C.
part deals with advice on using the collective during aerobatics
- much of this can be practised on a simulator.
3d or F3C
- and learning which stick to push
Some beleive that 3d is the quick way to the max fun and the ultimate
satisfaction as well as being the obvious way to show your skills
or make an
impression, (and the only way, if you believe the majority of
spectators think hovering is boring and 3d is what they want).
The trouble is, it's the most expensive form of flying as you
have the greatest chance of crashing and are placing the most
stress on the helicopter. But, it can be learnt with the minimum
of risk in terms of pushing the wrong stick, and that leaves your
building skills or the models reliability as potential problems.
F3C can be
a much safer easier way to learn to fly with the best of them.
But for me it doesn't have the same fun factor of 3d. I should
also mention that some kits have problems, some more than others,
the time to find out about the problems is before you buy not
after. Heli kits are only just becomming a well understood commodity
and the designers/flyers are still finding things out which help
them build more reliable and durable kits. Design is only one
part though, the quality of manufacture is also very important.
The Japanese and Germans seem to be the best at this.
Now, I should
say even if you only want to do F3C, 3d still has a tremendous
amount to teach you (even if only on the sim), both in helicopter
setup (which can be directly equated to f3c) and flying. To me
the very first goal is to be 99% in control of the model at all
times. Now you probably rememeber when learning to hover you were
initially in control 0%, then it went to 10% etc, and hopefully
for tail in hovering its now up to 90 - 100%.
is nose in, so maybe you start 10% in control, you must now get
that up to 99%, by all means push the stick the wrong amount,
but never push the stick in the wrong direction. Then you go to
get side on hovering sussed, and that's in both directions. Etc
etc, all the time building up on your skills. In effect 100% control
means never pushing a wrong stick in ANY situation. Guilliame
Hatory and Curtis Youngblood are probably closest to this.
Now the best
way to learn all this is on a simulator, if I was teaching someone
to learn to hover, then with the real model I would have them
start off in the tail in position, telling them not to lift the
model more than 1cm off the ground, once good at that, they lift
it 5cm, then 10cm then 1foot, etc always building it up. BUT before
they even try this with the real model they are best off having
100% mastered the hover on the simulator, and that is including:
tail in, nose in, side on, 45 degrees on, piroetting left and
for 3d you should always aim to be many steps ahead on the simulator
compared to what your trying in real life. Then when you go for
nose in for real, on the simulator you should be flying circles
around yourself (nice slow controlled hovering circles). Before
you try a stall turn for real, on the sim you should be doing
loops and rolls, in all different directions, and also set up
with different winds making many permutations, all of which you
must be 100% proficient at on the simulator never pushing the
wrong stick. The pirouetting loop took me about 2 hours to do
one, but another 8 hours to do them without ever crashing (unless
trying it in a new way).
an escape route and practise it on the sim before trying for real,
try it on the sim with a more powerful quicker model and also
with a slowler, heavier model. Also try with the gyro turned as
low as you can. Now I had an XL 60 once, and it was the helicopter
I first did a piroetting loop with back in May 1995. The piroetting
loop is a very risky stunt, and you may think no use to an f3c
pilot, well it was to me, because I had been practising it on
the simulator long before I tried it for real, and all that practise
came in to play before I did a real one. I won't go into background
detail too much, but my xl wasn't a very good one, and ate lots
of money and time. On the plus side it had over 50 hours flying
before it first crashed and that was mostly 3d flying, but it
did have several mechanical failures so had a tendency to fall
out the sky. There I was one day doing a low level 540 stall turn
(low level is traveling flips at 3-10ft and pullouts of loops
or stall turns etc at 8ft), when just as the model was knife-edge
doing the 540 the tail pitch control wire snapped, causing the
tail to start spinning round at warp factor 9, against the main
rotor torque. I often practised pirouettes (and piroetting flips)
as fast and slow as possible on the simulator, and that practise
came into play to get the heli down in one piece - in fact it
came down so smooth no one knew there was a problem!!
So the first
big gem of knowledge is to use a simulator, and not just for 10
minutes here and there, but as a structured learning tool. You
should always be pushing your flying on to new levels as you achieve
each goal with 100% success. Always try each trick in all different
permutations. Intially anything new should be very frusting and
seammingly impossible, but after and hour or ten, it should get
better and better, you know your learning as you push the wrong
stick less and less. This is all to get 100% confidence so when
your flying your mind NEVER thinks what stick to push, it just
happens, and you push the right one everytime - if you stop to
think, you fluster, and you push the wrong one.
A big question
is which simulator - I'd say the one you have first, but if buying
today, get a second hand aerochopper, with ver2 of the software:
a: its cheap now, b: its still the best - aerochopper is the only
simulator that gives spacial awareness. Its no coincidence that
Guilliaume Hastoy (a great piroetting 3d pilot) learnt his craft
on aerochopper, it's the only one that really lets you learn and
then relate that spacially to the real model. I know so many think
the newer sims are the ones to have, but most of those people
originally had aerochopper (learnt nothing with it, because they
didn't use it), sold aerochopper for csm (learnt nothing with
it, because they didn't use it), sold csm for realflight (won't
learn nothing with it, because they will sell it before they use
it . . . . . . .).
I would take
their opinions, look at the most technically difficult flying
you know and find out how they learnt to do it. Most of the f3c
pilots in uk are in control perhaps 60% of the time during an
aerobatic manouver, sure during a loop, they can use the tail
and airleron during the bottm half, but once inverted they can't
use them to correct for wind because they don't know what direction
Youngblood etc know what way to push what stick at all times,
once a pilot has this sussed, then its only how much to push the
stick which needs to be learnt - but you won't crash by pushing
too much in the right direction. Any way that sums up the mental
preparation of flying, and that all heli's are a mind game. You
have to train your mind to do well. Another good exercise is to
use your weaker hand for everyday activites to wake up the sleepy
side of your brain.
the safe recovery from a vertical dive (includes stall turn and
loop recovery) . . . .
- When and How to use it
Now lets talk about the collective and how best to use it for
a flip or loop. There's only a couple of things to say, but they
are very important as they may well save you from a few crashes.
A smooth exit to a vertical manouver (e.g. last quarter of a loop)
usually has a constant'ish amount of back elevator and then a
gradual feed in of collective, with the model's blades/disk never
getting horizantal as the model should finish the manouver straight
into fast forward flight.
with feeding in collective early/or first is that it increases
the momentum of the heli, and makes it more likely to dive into
the ground - fine if you're a well practised pilot, confident
in what your doing and have enough height. But if your trying
something for the first time or are deliberately trying to get
as low as possible in a controlled and adjustable manner, then
collective is the last thing you should feed in. See as soon as
you add full collective in a dive you loose all say over what
height the model will recover at. By using rear elevator to start
levelling the model and then feeding in collective you can judge
the height to a foot off the ground - at the end of the loop,
rather than at the beginning.
works in reverse to let you do slow stall turns. Fly along, low
(but try high first), and start easing back elevator to pull into
a stall turn, then punch the collective to full, resetting it
to zero when the heli is vertical, that punch will drag the heli
up into a neat looking stall turn. Now, going back to the collective
first f3c loop, the heli's blades/disk always seems to be slightly
behind the path of flight e.g. when exciting the blades don't
return to horizantal yet the heli is flying along horizantal.
With a 3d
elevator first loop then the blades/disk always seem to be ahead
of the path of flight, thus letting the collective give full control
over the height of the model. It's worth practising those different
ways of doing a loop/stall turn on the simulator and seeing the
effect. You might also try 3d flips with the slowest roll rate
possible so you have to put the collective in the perfect position
to avoid losing height.
are recovered from on the cyclic first, then when 45 degrees off
level the collective is entered.
To sum up
the collective in 3d, if your close to ground whether deliberate
or accidental, and you fear a confrontation with mother earch,
then level with the cyclic first, before you feed in the collective.
More to follow
soon . . . .