However, flying helis is becoming easier than ever. Recently, manufacturers such as Heli-Max™ have made some impressive advances to give more hobbyists a better shot at getting a heli in the air and keeping it there.
- Start Here
- What to consider
- Heli Basics
- Starter Helis
- How To Videos
- How To Order
Find out what you're getting into. Many helpful books and DVDs are available about airplane modeling. Or, before attempting the "real thing,"
you can try your hand at one of the R/C flying simulators available for your PC. There are a number to choose from – one of the best is Great
Planes RealFlight 7.5! In addition to a wide variety of airplanes, it also offers plenty of heli and multi-rotor aircraft options for you to fly.
If you prefer to fly with a "real" model first, check out the helpful Starter Helicopters tab above.
Find an instructor.
With an instructor, you'll learn faster and with more confidence than if you start out solo. If your instructor's radio has a trainer system, you can buy a compatible radio, connect the two, and fly with less risk to your plane. To find an instructor, check with hobbyist friends. Check the phone book for flying clubs. Attend fun fly events (announced in newspapers and free circulars) and ask around. And consult the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) by calling 1-800-435-9262, writing 5161 East Memorial Drive, Muncie, IN 47302, or visiting their website at www.modelaircraft.org. Ask for the locations of clubs near you.
Let Tower Hobbies Help.
Tower Hobbies Phone Sales Staff and Technical Support Staff give you access to years of R/C modeling experience and information. Just call our toll-free number, 1-800-637-6050. They'll help you select a plane and accessories.
Choosing A Heli
There's never been a better time to find a heli that's just right for you. Today's nitro (glow engine-powered) helis include .30-, .50- and .90-size models — and thanks to advances in batteries and motors, choices in electric helis are at an all-time high. They're as clean and quiet as ever. Properly set up, a heli with a brushless motor and light, high-capacity LiPo (Lithium-Polymer) battery will actually outperform a nitro machine in both flight time and performance. While both are available in Kit and ARF (Almost-Ready-to-Fly) forms, almost all RTF (Ready-to-Fly) helis are electrics. RTFs are a huge convenience, especially for new pilots: it's not only assembled, but almost all required items are included!
What a R/C Helicopter Can Do
They'll hover in one spot. Fly backwards and sideways. Do pirouettes while in forward flight. Perform stall turns, loops, rolls, standing loops and rolls (a loop or roll with no forward speed)…even fly upside-down and hover while only inches off the ground. Let's see an airplane — or even a full-size helicopter — do that! In normal forward flight, an R/C helicopter flies at about 40-50 mph on average and 1 to 1,000 feet high.
Controlling Your Heli
Though heli radios look like airplane radios, there are some very basic differences. For instance, most heli-capable radios include special mixing functions to simplify set-up, perform aerobatics and fine-tune performance. But the bigger difference between them is the number of control channels. Some sailplanes require just two; many airplanes can get by with four. Most helis, however, require at least five and sometimes six.
- Left-Right Cyclic (Roll) - Makes the heli lean or tilt to either side.
- Fore-Aft Cyclic (Pitch) - Moves the heli forward/backward. Push forward to move forward. Pull back to go backward.
- Throttle/Collective Pitch - Controls engine speed and/or makes the heli go up or down.
- Tail Rotor Pitch (Yaw) - Changes the heli's direction by moving the nose left or right.
- Gyro - Tail rotors can be hard to control, even for experienced modelers. Most pilots and manufacturers recommend using a gyro (scope) to help the yaw axis.
How do you know what helicopter model to choose?
Below are some proven options—models that customers have told us gave them an excellent start in the hobby.
Find everything you need to get started right in R/C
The Tower Hobbies web site makes it fun, fast and easy to join the exciting radio-control hobby. With a few clicks of your mouse, you can find a suitable model AND make sure you have everything needed to operate it successfully. No products are added to your shopping cart unless you click on the bright yellow "Buy Now" graphics — and no orders are transmitted until you sign in and complete the checkout process.