So it all began a few years ago when I bought (at great expense) a Walkera 5#4 "Mini Lama" coaxial RC helicopter. It was an impulse buy at a time when RC helo electronics were not yet very developed (or perhaps just not those at Walkera) but it served me well as I learned how to control it and fly it around my house. 

It wasn't particularly stable and I spent hours of fun trying different settings on the gyro trying to get it to act like it said on the box. I knew nothing. Its big advantage was that it had a pretty long flight time - 10 minutes, in which to learn how to fly. It wasn't bad for the time and I played with it for several months until I had (I thought) mastered it and other things took precedence.

DJI Phantom 2 Vision+
DJI Phantom 2 Vision+

And so it did the plastic equivalent of rusting on a shelf for a few years until I saw, and immediately wanted, the DJI Phantom 2 Vision+. This was a totally new concept for me - flying and filming and FPV (sort of) - I had to have it. I got it as soon as it was released in Italy and started flying straight away - this was what I had envisioned RC helicopters to be made for. 

Then I discovered that it had more than one flight mode, so I started to experiment. "Atti" mode was OK, but I frightened myself when I tried to fly without stabilization. It seemed I needed something cheaper to practice on.

 

 

WLToys v911
WLToys v911

Enter stage left a friend who persuaded me to buy a WLToys v911 - a 4-channel flybar-stabilized fixed-pitch helo. It was - it still is - a great little flyer that I learned a lot from; you can run it into anything and it will survive, and a battery lasts for nearly 10 minutes. I flew the snot out of this little beauty for weeks and the only problem I ever had was a broken flybar occasioned by flying at full tilt into an unforgiving tree. It even survived being brought down and thoroughly molested by Taffy, one of my cats, when he got particularly peeved at my flying too close to him while he was trying to nap.

 

Hubsan X4
Hubsan X4

Once I was getting to grips with the v911 I decided I needed something similar with 4 rotors (just so I could be sure that I was learning the correct moves, you know) so I got a Hubsan X4 - I have limited space to fly in thus the continued small sizes. This, too, was a wonderful little machine and loads of fun - it was so stable and forgiving and would fly outdoors in a light (very light) wind. I once took it down to the river to fly inbetween Phantom sorties but the wind was too strong and it ended up in the top of a tree; I thought I had lost it, but beating the tree with a long pole eventually restored it to earth along with a shed propeller. It is certainly a tough little beast. Again, it has been catted by Taffy and survived. Alas, the old Walkera - taken out of retirement - was less lucky and lost its entire head following a spat with Maria, the other cat. Fortunately both cats now ignore the annoying buzzing things which is a relief as the next thing I did was to take a step up and invest in a Spektrum DX6 2014 Transmitter and an EFlite Blade Nano QX.

Addicted? Of course not, it's purely recreational. I can stop anytime I want...

Blade Nano QX
Blade Nano QX

 Why the QX? Well, it has an agility mode that allows me to better practice for the Phantom... No, really, it does... Yes, ok, it is bags of fun and breaks the ice at parties etc. In SAFE mode it is really easy to fly; agility mode is a whole different world. It is difficult, it's all over the place, it won't stay still for a moment. It's so easy to over control. Good thing it is so light and rugged and those outriggers allow it to bounce off walls with impunity. Did I mention it's fun? No, no, it's a serious training aid for bigger things, honest.

 

 

Blade Nano CP X with bored Maria
Blade Nano CP X with bored Maria

 By now I was hooked. I persuaded myself that I needed a collective pitch helo to help my dexterity so I ordered a Blade Nano CP X. Another lovely little machine when it flies - unfortunately, it doesn't, much. I have spent far too much time and money getting this particular helo to the point where it is even usable. Bummer. I'm still working on it. 

 

 

 

 

Blade 130 X
Blade 130 X

So I needed another CP helo to fly. I ordered a Blade 130X, as recommended by John Salt on his site RC Helicopter Fun - well, not recommended, exactly, but one of the possibles seeing that I have so little space. John's site is one of the best for those learning about RC helicopters in general and his advice has helped me considerably (even when I stupidly ignore it). 

I'm just getting started with the 130 X and so far it has proved out ok. I have changed the plastic tail gears for metal fore and aft and added an extra support for the tail pitch slider. I shouldn't need any more helos for the time being. I hope.

But then, perhaps, a 450? 

 

 

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