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RC Helicopter vs. RC Airplanes

June 2nd, 2011 · 1 Comment ·

Flying RC Helicopters and RC Airplanes can be fun and rewarding experience! This is a technical hobby and incurs some cost, the initial purchase typically being the big cost. Many people enjoy racing RC cars, or dabble in boats, or planes and helis.

Two common questions arise with regard to RC Helicopters vs RC Airplanes. Most want to know which is harder to fly, and which one is a better investment. Pricse wise, it depends a lot on the model and size you decide to purchase. It is my opinion that it is much harder flying an RC Helicopter compared to flying an RC Plane. However I also think that flying RC Copters is much more fun and exciting.

Radio controlled helicopters do not require large paved or mowed runways like radio controlled airplanes. As long as you have a fairly open flat area, you can lift off and land your heli in this area. Radio controlled airplanes will maintain a constant elevation after a certain height is reached until the throttle is lowered.

This is not the case with helicopters.

Any tilts and turns are balanced so that the helis don’t crash causing damage or causing any harm to the audience, or surrounding properties. The operator must be aware that if the copter were to crash into a house, car etc. there can be significant damage caused. One also must be careful with regard to the props as they can also cause harm.

Learning to fly any radio controlled heli will require a good amount of training and time spent mastering the controls. This can be divided into several parts like ground exercise, tail-in hover, directional flight, nose-in hover, etc.

Heli controls are pretty difficult and this is because of the fact that the so called pitch angles of the blades can be changed. Controlling the pitch angle for various movements is necessary. The amount of power given to the rotor disk of the heli will depend on the kind of movement one is looking for.

For example, if a vertical lift is required, the throttle of the engine is to be increased so that the increased drag of the blades to make the heli move forward is overcome by the engine and the increase in the pitch of the blade can make the heli move up.

There are many technical movements inside the helicopter operating system including the RPM of the engine, pitch of the main rotor blade, rear prop controls etc. You must understand the importance of each aspect before beginning to fly your heli.

There are separate controls for forward, backward, right or left movements. These controls are known as cyclic controls and are far more difficult compared to RC Airplanes because the cyclic controls are responsible for setting up the asymmetric lift on prop.

This asymmetric shift is responsible for changing the rotational plane of the prop. For example, if the prop is nose down, the heli will move out of hover and make a forward move. The asymmetric pitch is responsible for varying the pitch of each blade which results in the different movements.

Unlike RC Airplanes, there are 5 controls for an RC Helicopter.

One is responsible for controlling the throttle, the other for controlling the collectives (the controls which are responsible for the pitch angle, rotor disk RPM etc.), one for forward and backward movement, the other for left and right movement and the final one for controlling the rotor pitch of the tail. This makes flying an RC Heli much more difficult compared to the RC airplanes.

While it is a bit more difficult to master the controls, the aerobatics and fun maneuvers you can do with your heli make for hours of fun. Airplane fanatics think that their loops and turns are exciting, but the capabilities of the heli are much greater, thus more fun. Inverted hovering, loops and rolls, pirouettes and more…

These aerobatics really fun but they take a great deal of precision and control you will want to be sure to log many hours before attempting any trick flying. Anything done incorrectly and the heli will crash causing damage.

RC Helicopters can reach great altitude and they can go to a height where you can barely see them. They can also travel at a speed of 50-60 miles per hour, with some of the bigger ones moving even faster. Because of the various challenges and excitement potential, RC helicopters are becoming more popular than the RC Airplanes!

Have a question about this article or anything else RC Heli related? Ask it in our brand new RC Helicopter Forum and you'll get expert answers quick.

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