If you are a person who hates the cold, winter flying may not be for you. But if you are a die-hard heli enthusiast that will let nothing stand in your way for getting a good flight in, there’s a few things you need to do differently to get your RC helicopter ready for flying in the winter.
The steps that you will need to take will in some ways be dependent upon where you live. Those that live in climates that have moderate winters will have very few changes that they will have to make. However, if you live in an area that gets extremely cold during the winter months, or experiences a great deal of snow, there are some things that you will have to take into consideration if you want to keep your heli flying at it’s best.
For many pilots, flying in the winter is the ultimate experience. The air is cool, which causes more lift. The blades seem to bite the air better, and the heli runs more smoothly. Batteries run cooler. It all makes for an exhilarating experience. But if the temperature drops too much, and you do not have your heli prepared, winter flying with your RC helicopter can turn into a disaster.
In extremely cold temperatures, battery packs can freeze. This is of course, something you want to avoid at all cost. In fact, even if the battery pack gets too cold, it can reduce the amount of power you receive from it, which can result in a damaging crash. In order to keep your battery packs from freezing, you should never store them outdoors when it is cold. When you are at the heli field and the battery is not in use, store it in a warm area to keep it from freezing. If the temperatures are too cold, you should avoid flying it at all. You’ll probably get less amps from your pack, so shorten your flying time a little.
If you fly a nitro helicopter, you will have to make a few tuning adjustments in order for your helicopter to fly at it’s best. During the winter, you may want to tune your engine so that it runs a few clicks richer because your engine will have a tendency to run lean because of the higher density of cool air.
Another important thing to remember is that you gyro is temperature sensitive. If you take your gyro from a warm temperature to a suddenly cold temperature and attempt to start flying, you can run into difficulties with it not functioning well. If you are going to be doing some winter flying with your heli, let the gyro sit outside for about 10 or 15 minutes to adjust to the temperature before flying. This will help to regulate the gyro’s temperature, and will help to ensure that it works the way that it should.
If you live in an area with lots of snow, you may want to consider putting water floats on your heli for taking of and landing. This will help to keep your heli from sinking in the snow which will help to prevent snow from getting into your heli’s electronics and melting. Keep in mind too, that if you fly while it is snowing, the snow can also get into your electronics and melt which can cause a short, which could ultimately cause a crash, so flying in a snow storm is a no no.
Floats can be a little unstable and slippery on the snow, so if you don’t want to use them, but don’t want to sink, bring a piece of carpet or plywood to land on or take along a shovel and clear a landing area.
Besides getting your RC heli ready, you need to get yourself ready as well. Put on some warm clothes, bring a hat and gloves for down time, maybe some hot pads and something warm to drink.
To keep your fingers from freezing when you’re flying, you can get a RadyioWarm glove like the one below. Your radio fits inside and keeps your fingers out of the cold and toasty warm.
If you don’t want to use a radio glove, a pair with the fingers tips cut off can also work well.
If you absolutely must fly and it’s freezing cold outside, know your boundaries. Keep in mind that the higher you go, the colder the temperature gets. If the temperature on the ground is close to freezing, the air temperature where your heli is at could be well below the freezing point. This could actually cause your helicopter to ice over when flying if there’s any moisture in the air, or get the electronics wet, so be sure to dry things out indoors when you’re done flying.
For the most part, flying in the winter is no different from flying in the summer… except for the fact that your helicopter will fly better and you need to make just a few changes to your normal routine. But if you make these changes, there is no reason to put down your heli till spring time and suffer all winter from withdraw.
If you can’t bear the cold, you can always get a bunch of people together and rent a gym or indoor soccer field.
If you have any other cold weather tips, feel free to post them below: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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