PRE-FLIGHT SET-UPS,WARNINGS, AND SALUTATIONS....

by Radd

For the next 2 and half days you will need to make a promise to yourself to be as disciplined as you remember that mean old playground teacher was. Remember how she use to jerk you off the monkey bars for hanging upside down with one foot? How she would slap you on the back of the head for throwing rocks towards the girls?..Oh Yeah....You were the reckless one..Weren't You?...Well... You won't have a baby sitter or a school teacher to watch if your being reckless or see if your cheating..It's up to you. I am going to ask you to do things that will seem stupid, childish, and a huge waste of time. But, I have my reasons. They work and will save you weeks of frustration. The only thing you have to loose is three days. There will be no broken parts or burnt up motors. You will become better faster. You will hold the tail dead spot on and you will have more hover control than most other newbies after a month or two of hopping..You will not be hop training! Thats just hoppin and hopin. You will be Flight training!.. There is a massive difference. A real flight instructor would not let you slide over sloppy performance or rush ahead. But since you're the only one watching yourself you MUST make the decision to be obedient to the lessons. Do you really want to fly in three days..or..hop and bash around for three weeks? I would also suggest something most other coaches would scoff at here..(Please learn this alone). Unless two of you can make the same commitment to be disciplined then an observer will only distract you and encourage you to “GO FOR IT”..

We will not be lifting off for at least three days so the chance of you being injured calling 911 and needing an ambulance is slim. Still, safety is safe so you may want to put the hospital number on speed dial just incase..(just kidding)...

Rest assured!..If I were there right now I'd slap you on the back or your head just to get your attention...Don't Be Reckless...(SWOP..POW!..)

This first lesson is all depending on that your building the helicopter has been done correctly. That the helicopter is balanced and somewhat trimmed with the mechanics in neutral..By this I mean your radio and servos and linkages etc are set to factory. Your blades should be balanced and flypaddles equal and level. You can't trim a helicopter unless it is in the air but as we spin up you will be able to see quit a few things that may need to be done. I will repeat many times that in this period your are mearly getting acquainted with your machine so checking and re-checking and freaking out on the mechanics will hopefully take care of them selves.Especially if the helicopter is wobbling like a Hula Dancer or jerking like it's having a seizer.

These lessons should be done consecutively, hopefully three days in a row. It will be more to your benefit to have at least three batteries on full charge per session. But you will be stopping quite often to think and rest so If you don't have three batteries don't back out now. Three batteries usually is my limit on the first day of lessons do to the intensity of the concentration level and nerves but feel free to heat your motor up like the kitchen stove if you prefer.. I do and would advise you to keep a can of motor cleaner handy....

You must get into a step by step start up mode. This is very very important. Always go through the same procedures when starting up your helicopter.. Such as.

  1. Make sure the switch is off on your Helicopter.
  2. Load battery , do not connect wires.
  3. Tug the tips on the Main blades to center them and to aid them in spinning up.
  4. Turn on the Transmitter.
  5. Set throttle hold or Throttle Lock on your TX.
  6. Double check that the switch on heli is off .
  7. Plug up Battery.
  8. Double check throttle hold switch on TX.
  9. Switch on Helicopter.
  10. Wait for Gyro to initialize.
  11. Rotate and test Cyclic controls.
  12. Set your tail. ( flick the rudder several times back and forth until the tail blades are straight up and down. This helps set the gyro for flight.)

These twelve steps can save you many disappointments, trips to bank, parts store and even the emergency room as my friend Malcolm can attest to. (Tehehe..) Once you have made them your first habits they can be accomplished in the blink of an eye. (did I mention they will save you many unnecessary and embarrassing problems at the field?)

Now Lets set up your flying field, airport and home for the next three days..

On a (smooth hard) floor in a space 15 to 20 foot square and clean mark out a chalked box one foot square (chalk please..no tape or anything the helicopter skid can catch on).. This is your whole sky.. I know! It doesn't seem very large does it? Trust me here! At the end of three days it will feel like a football field. Now, many Heli pilots are going to slam the crap out of this but I don't care and neither do the folks that I trained . I'm very certain my flyers would jump in front of me like the president's guard and take the bullets for me. And, as cocky as this sounds if you discipline yourself you will defend this technique after your chopper has run full throttle across the runway as well. TRUST ME THIS WORKS!. The funny thing here and my last statement on the matter are this.. I have had “old Heli flyers” attack this first step only to feel in my bones the reason they did was because they could not do it! Strangely enough it was a student that pointed this out to Me..Now ask yourself a question. If they can't do it and you will be able, what does that tell you? You will have much more discipline and control ....Whooo that's a real step out. Huh?

Ok...one more Bomb shell!... I am torn here about what I am going to ask you to do. And the reason is because I don't know your reflexes, past history of RC of just how responsible you are going to be...But here goes??....TAKE THE TRAINING GEAR OFF!! (Oh crap!)...what did I just say? That's right. For the first few days I don't let my students practice with gear. Why you ask?... Glup!..Well, first of all I am with them and I keep things very slow and safe. I keep the first spinups at low rotor speeds and shut them down often to talk and reset and rest. At low speeds training gear are like attaching rotorblades to the floor. They lack the sensitivity I am trying to reveal to the student. And most of all they promote carelessness and sloppiness. So what am I to ask you to do? Leave the training gear on or take it off? Only you know the answers to these questions....Do you know what you will do in a panic? Have you held a transmitter before? Can you truly take it slow? Can you be responsible. What are your abilities? If you are very certain you can take it slow not even attempting to rush the levels. I believe you'll be fine. However, if you have never held a radio in your hands before I would tell you to put some very light and small training gear on. Perhaps it would benefit you to go through the lesson of the first couple days twice...But Your going to be Pilot...so..”Airman”...this is not the time to be a Big Fat Baby!...If you have handled a radio before then buck up the courage and let's go!!!

Remember, since we are only getting aquatinted and we are taking off the gear you must go SLOWLY!..You have no baby sitter .You must get focused . You must not push ahead.. If you don't stop when I suggest it, you have Failed! You have Cheated! And, you have just Crashed!..Crashed is a term I use when my students have lost control ,... not when they have actually hit the dirt, done the dead chicken dance and sprayed parts all over cars in the parking lot. You must make this term part of your responsibility...If you leave the box with both skids, you have CRASHED. You must spin down, walk over and line your heli back in place by hand. You don't have a Babysitter! I'm not there to bash you on the back of your head and tell you that your cheating. But a smashed and twisted ,broken helicopter will!! And I will be angry.Even though I'm not there..My spirit will haunt you until the Mailman brings the replacements. BoooooHaaaaaa!!

You must understand how your radio works first and where to find what without looking. When the Helicopter is in the air and your looking like Helen Keller, blindly feeling all over for the controls you dont have time to guess.. But you will have plenty to pick up the mess....After all You wouldn't want a spoonful of spinach when your digging in for banana pudding now would you?. So, we must get aquatinted with the radio. Grabbing the throttle instead of the aileron is not a good thing. Not wanting to loose my life I always run through the controls with a student before he has a chance to freak me out. With TX on throttle hold, the motor unplugged and the power on we can test understanding of it .Which helps our confidence and reassures each other. (Gee...that's smart huh?)

As for the controls, heres something very cool and easy. I call it (Radd's TX Silly Stick and Clock Control Newbie Number System...or...RTXSSACCNNS.. for short) ..Each gimbals or Control stick will be represented by the hands of the clock and separated with the word “and”. Mid stick is referred to as “0”. Such as 4 and 10. Depending on which continent you live on your either in mode 1 or 2. In America we are in mode 2 which is throttle and rudder on the left. Aileron and pitch is on the right. Here is Radd's numbers...as a clock.. stick straight up is 12 o'clock. Straight down is 6 o'clock. Full left is 9 and full right is 3..Diagonal numbers ( 1,2,4,5,7, 8,10, 11 ) are diagonal movements of the sticks..Duh?... Sticks in the mid position or neutral spot are referred to as “0” An example would be if you were in forward fight making a right aileron turn movement the sticks might be around “ 0 and 3 ” or half stick on the throttle and right stick aileron..Of course this depends upon your set up. Where the throttle amount is crucial, the throttle amount will be referred to as.. zero stick , quarter stick ,half stick and full stick and written separately. **** Here's a cool thing to put in your tips box for the future and why we will be using this...When the pros think and discuss orientation or show each other tricks, they refer the helicopter in stick movements...If your making a right turn they could show you how they move the sticks without the heli being in the air.. (ding!) Another cool tip is if your going into an orientation with certain stick movements then the opposite stick movements will in most cases pull you back out.. Once you begin to think this way you can visualize flight orientation, tricks and stick movements in your mind first. And with the number system we can discuss orientations accurately as we talk to each other. But the main reason I came up with this simple system is that my students can quickly and calmly make adjustments as I call them out while they are mid air. The commands are quick and brief...( “0 and 4” ) ..( “0 and 3” )....Wow! look at the future!! a 3D backflip in idle up ....”(12 and 6)”..then “(6 and 12)” then “( 0 and 0 ) “

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