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View Poll Results: Is a bigger heli more dangerous to a noob?
Yes 579 74.23%
No 120 15.38%
Not sure 81 10.38%
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Old 08-15-2011, 09:24 PM   #1
rdlohr
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Default Is a bigger heli more dangerous to a noob?

Yes - It is a simple matter of physics that a bigger heli swinging larger blades with more mass has more potential to really hurt someone. I'm not saying that a 450 can't kill someone, I'm just saying that a bigger heli will more likely badly hurt someone if it hits them. For this reason I recommend that noobs start on smaller helis that are less dangerous until they learn enough control to be able to safely fly themselves out of trouble.

No - Larger helis are more stable and easier to fly so you are less likely to hit yourself with them. Noobs should move up to the largest heli they can afford to crash immediately.

I'm not big on polls but I think this question is important enough that we should get lots of opinions and keep it where noobs can see it. It will ultimately be left as a sticky in the Safety forum.

Rick

Edit: Assume that there is no instructor or buddy box involved and that MCP-X thru 800s are available as starter helis. They may or may not have a coaxial already.
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Old 08-15-2011, 09:27 PM   #2
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That's like saying that because a big boat is more stable in the water that someone should get a cruise ship as their first boat, LOL!
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Old 08-15-2011, 10:50 PM   #3
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For safety of the heli itself, a larger heli is better because of the extra stability reducing the chance of a crash.

For human safety, there's no question in my mind that a smaller heli is safer.
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Old 08-15-2011, 11:10 PM   #4
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I would imagine that a noob who has no better guidance than to come here and ask us, would also have no 'on site' mentor, teacher or anyone to Buddy-Box them.

If they have no mentor or teacher, if follows that they are not going to be flying at an AMA chartered club or flying field and will likely be flying in a local park.

In that case... a BIG heli would be dangerous, not just to the noob, but also everyone around the noob.
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Old 08-15-2011, 11:59 PM   #5
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I've been riding sports bikes since I was 15 1/2 (24 years ago) and it's the same thing. Motorcycles are dangerous if you get hit. Same goes for large heils. Using the same principle as I use with motorcycles: don't get hit. My motorcycle accident records is extremely good over the past 22 years.

I took some heat from members of my heli club last Saturday when I showed up with a 12S Trex 600. Some even told me I was endangering them as well as myself -without even seeing how I fly. So, I was pretty offended with that.

Anyways, I've had plenty of crashes on my Trex100, MCPX, and even my Walkera 400s - but the frequency of crashes decreases with the size of heli. Knock on wood, I've never crashed my Walkera 500 class because I handle it with extreme care because: 1) crashes are expensive; and 2) crashes are dangerous.

So, when I finally started hovering my Trex at the club, they now tell me I'm afraid of it and am more confident with my Walkera 500. Uh, yeah, that's because I am more cautious flying larger helis and I've had the 500 for months whereas this was my second flight on the Trex with a 12S.

Sorry for the rant. I just don't like being judged that since I'm a newbie of 4 1/2 months, I'm ignorant, careless, and stupid.
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Old 08-16-2011, 03:27 AM   #6
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After crashing my 450, I can appreciate the safety factor brought up in this forum. "Stuff" flew in every direction, and I don't really think the crash was all that hard. I'm glad that I'm an AMA member, flying at an AMA site, and that both myself and my wife had plenty of distance between us and the helicopter. I'd rather crash than hurt someone BTW.
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Old 08-16-2011, 07:07 AM   #7
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Here is an example of a dumb noob move I pulled. I got a TREX 450 V1 for Christmas one year after having had a coax heli then a Blade CP. The CPs back then were notoriously squirrely and the tail gyro was just plain bad. It would do 360s when ever it felt like it.

I would take the TREX 450 and hover it in my father-in-laws very large shop for packs at a time all the rest of that winter since it was too cold and snowy outside to fly (or so I thought).

I could hover very proficiently tail in, but only tail in.

I took it to the field in the spring and I was just ecstatic to be outdoors with it. I hovered a few packs then I started to take advantage of the fact that I had room to fly and took it up higher. I probably got up to around 40 or 50 feet. I did this a few days then I started to work on side in in both directions. One day I decide to go a little side in up about 40 feet. The thing I didn't realize was that when the heli is far away, it gets difficult to tell what orientation you are really in, especially on an overcast day like it was.

Before I knew what was happening, the heli was nose in and screaming right back at us. It went in right at our feet, really hard, luckily not hurting either of us. This ended without either of us getting hurt not because I forced it to crash, but because of dumb luck. I didn't have the nose in skills to do anything but watch it happen.

This would have been bad enough with the 450, had we been hit, but more likely catastrophic with a bigger heli.


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Old 08-16-2011, 07:26 AM   #8
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Bigger is more dangerous to anyone..noob or seasoned pilot...

Granted they are more stable, reaction time is slower (something to be mindful of)
And great fun to fly
But the trouble is not in flying, but more to loss of control and crashing.

These big birds can do some extreme damage and/or harm to people and property with little or no effort.

You need to approach flying a large class bird with great respect....

It was once told to me..

A 450 will hurt you...
A 500 will send you to the ER
A 600 will send you to ICU
A 700 (and now 800) can send you to your grave.

I know what these monsters are capable of, hence the reason I fly alone...I won't risk anyone ever getting hurt due to a mishap.
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Old 08-16-2011, 09:05 AM   #9
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In full scale, we use a slightly different approach - a cool innovation that was invented a while ago to make learning to fly easier and vastly cheaper. We call it "flying lessons".

Here, the idea is we don't teach ourselves to fly, but we teach each other. The new pilot only climbs into the plane/heli with what we call a "certified flight instructor" and doesn't solo until the "CFI" thingy says he's prepared to do so.

Turns out, works pretty good. Really keeps the crashing to at least a low roar.

So my philosophy is a little different. IMO, one should put a little more weight on buying the heli for _flying_, rather than crashing. If there's a crash every time you go fly or every other time, then the approach being taken to the sport isn't quite right. Probably because they skimped on the flying lessons dealy I mentioned before.

So, you know where this is going: Get an instructor and sim as part of the investment _first_, then start stocking up the crash kit.

Now, as for the flight characteristics of the heli, I think the larger the better that fits within the pilot's budget is the best general rule of thumb. If you can afford it, a 700 is probably the best trainer. I initially learned on a .30 size years ago and it wasn't nearly as stable as my trex 700 is. There's no comparison really, especially in the wind - gusts aren't nearly as likely to pick the heli up and put it into some wierd attitude as a nice surprise for the student pilot. They're also easier to see without having to be too close to it and it's easy to slow down the control responses because of the size, weight etc.

My 450 would be doable as a trainer (assuming good instruction), but it's a lot more responsive and would probably take a longer time to learn the basics of heli control on than a large machine.

So that's my vote:
- get an instructor first
- get a sim
- then get the largest machine you can comfortably afford (at least a 600 size IMO).

LS
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Old 08-16-2011, 09:10 AM   #10
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People take flight lessons for full scale because there is no other option.

Being that a Sim, instructor, lessons, and buddy box are all optional with an RC heli, most will go about it on their own using just the Sim if they're smart about it.

Start with a 450 size, or even better the mCPX, for goodness sake.
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Old 08-16-2011, 09:39 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob O View Post
People take flight lessons for full scale because there is no other option.

Being that a Sim, instructor, lessons, and buddy box are all optional with an RC heli, most will go about it on their own using just the Sim if they're smart about it.

Start with a 450 size, or even better the mCPX, for goodness sake.
Well you put your finger precisely on the problem here.

Instructors (and sims) used to be considered "optional" in full scale also. And as you'd probably have expected, learning to fly was actually a horrifying, expensive and often deadly business under the "optional" instructor philosophy.

So, having identified the deficiency there, full scale changed the instructor accessory from "optional" to "mandatory". The results were immediate and overwhelmingly positive; flying actually became fun and affordable. Aircraft could be designed for their flight characteristics, rather than merely their survivability in crashes. Even the general public kind of came around and aviation became an acceptable activity. It was safer, cheaper and a lot more fun for everyone involved.

So, like I said before, I submit the optionality of the instructor (and nowadays the sim) in R/C is really a defective approach. Buying the heli for its crashworthiness really means there's a problem there. But there's a good solution available via the lesson of our bigger brethren where all this flying stuff started many years ago.

FWIW, I initially taught myself with just a sim. It helped a great deal, but once I finally started trying to hover the real thing, it was, well, exciting to say the least.

But nowadays our transmitters have plugs for buddy cords which really makes proper instruction possible.

Finally, in my experience with planks anyway, learning to control the aircraft in R/C is much harder than it is in full scale. I soloed a FS plank in about 12 hours, but the time it took me to learn to fly my old Ugly Stik without putting it into the ground was vastly more than 12 hours.
For helis, my rough guess is it took me about 40 hours overall in the sim to get to where I could hover the software heli for longer than about 20 seconds.

If I'd had an instructor to help with that, that number would have been vastly lower, I'm certain of it.

So that's my take. I think proper instruction should be near the top of the shopping list rather than towards the bottom. That would really help put the fun back into it and reduce the cost and the wealth of the parts manufacturers .

But that's just me. YMMV.

LS
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Old 08-16-2011, 09:41 AM   #12
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I always cringe when a brand new guy comes on here asking what helicopter s/he should get and the overwhelming response 99% of the time is a 500 to 600 size helicopter. Bigger is better, right?

Personally, I started with a Blade SR which swings 245mm wood blades at a rather low headspeed out of the box. With it, I was able to learn all of my hovering orientations on it and begin forward flight. Luckily I never hit myself or anybody else, but if I had then it would never have been as severe as on a larger helicopter. After the SR I moved on to a Trex 450SE and was quite happy with it. My point is that you do not need a bigger and ultimately much more expensive helicopter to learn how to hover. Anything bigger than a 450 is overkill and could seriously hurt you otherwise.

Now that the mCP-X is out and has proven itself to be a good helicopter, I believe that it's the best helicopter for a new guy to start on. It's cheap, somewhat easy to fly, plus you can fly it just about anywhere. I managed to hit myself with one and didn't even get a cut. It may be quite different from larger CP helicopters but I am confident that a new pilot could learn his hovering orientations on it and transfer it to larger helicopters.

I think the best option after the mCP-X would be to go to a 450. It's still relatively cheap, plus if you can fly the 450 well and start learning true 3D flying with it then you'll be miles ahead of the guys who started with the larger helicopters in terms of your ability to actually control the helicopter and not just bang the sticks around and hope something cool happens.

Not to brag but as a fairly new guy to this hobby myself but after a year and change of mostly flying 450 size helicopters, I feel I can control any helicopter rather well. I can hover in all orientations upright and inverted, fly circuits and hurricanes in any direction I feel like including backwards and inverted, and can hold tick tocks right in front of me for as long as I want. That may sound pompous but I don't know how else I could convey that you don't need a 500+ size helicopter to do this if that's your goal. My goal was to get a larger helicopter only when I was confident I had a high level of control of my 450. Now that I know I can control myself on the flight line I've recently treated myself to my first big helicopter - an Outrage Fusion 50.

There was a similar theory in r/c car racing - everybody wants an 1/8th scale 4wd truck to start with but they're always told not to do it. They're told to start with a 1/10th scale 2wd buggy if they want to get serious. They're cheaper, will teach you to have an extreme amount of control over your car, and again, are safer. More often than not, the guys who started with the 1/10th scale buggies were the best drivers and winning races, while the guys who started with the 1/8th scale trucks never truly learned to control their truck and constantly DNF'ed. Then they couldn't race for a month afterwards because they needed to save to buy parts.

Anyway, this post turned out to be less focused about safety and more of a diatribe against getting a larger helicopter to start with, but it's still somewhat relevant to the OP. I believe the only reason people recommend the larger helicopters to start with is so those guys can get past the hovering stage quicker but I just don't believe that's true at all. That is poor advice in the long term, just my opinion though. The only thing a larger helicopter will do for you in the beginning is send you to the ER quicker.

edit: and ofcourse, always start with a simulator first. I'm also lucky because my dad is a helicopter instructor for a local club so I was able to learn even quicker thanks to his help. I would agree with the above poster that a larger helicopter is doable, but ONLY with the help of an experienced instructor. I still wouldn't recommend a .90 even in that case just due to the cost of it.
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Old 08-16-2011, 10:01 AM   #13
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Quote:
I'm not saying that a 450 can't kill someone
A 450 isn't going to kill anyone, but it can cause injury.
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Old 08-16-2011, 10:02 AM   #14
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Bigger isn't better!

A sim and a 450 I think is a good combination. As you progress a larger heli is easier to learn 3D on but I also feel to dangerous for a newb to learn on. I also feel people have to treat the sim like a tool and not a toy. I was very methodical about how I learned to fly. My first cp heli hover was uneventful. I owe that to the hours I spent on the sim learning to hover. I would set a timer on my phone and hover for 8 minutes at a time and then take a break and do it again. I didn't take up my Trex 450sa until I hovered on the sim for a couple days without crashing. Also I have seen people use the sim with a 700 or 90 size bird and then try to fly 450 in real life. If you fly a 450 in real life fly the same size on the sim.

Just my .02 cents

Get a sim, a 450, and an mcpx for the days you don't have time to go to the field!
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Old 08-16-2011, 10:13 AM   #15
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I was always of the opinion that a 50/600 size was the best size to learn to fly with.

But then a thread showed up on here where the consensus was not IF you were ever hit by your own heli but how many times were you hit by your own heli. I was completely astonished.
I can not tell you how many threads I have read, where people actually believe that it is a good idea to learn to fly at home in confined space because they are not planning to range out in forward flight.

I have been flying RC for 40 years and helies for 15 years. I have never gotten even close to hitting myself or anyone else.

So I guess that my view now is, IF you are willing to get proper instruction and follow the instruction plan, then a 50/600 size is still the ideal size. If you are planing to teach yourself and or can not follow instructions then the MSR or MCPx is probably where you should start.
I still do not like the little ones for the simple reason that they almost can not be kept a safe distance away from the pilot and still be close enough to see well, but minimizing potential injury must always trump practical.

So I voted "Not Sure" because it depends on the individual.
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Old 08-16-2011, 10:19 AM   #16
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For someone that's getting into this hobby via the "I got a Co-ax toy for Christmas." I don't think there is a valid response other than get a DX6-8, mCP x and a sim. And maybe some safety glasses.

Even for someone that gets into the hobby from a friend, and has the support of people already in the hobby it's hard not to recommend an mCP x. It's just too easy get 40 flights with a dozen crashes in on one day. Just can't do that with a bigger heli. It's all that stick time with all the crashes that really teaches someone to fly, not just how stay in the air and avoid situations where you might crash.
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Old 08-16-2011, 10:30 AM   #17
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I honestly see no problem with starting with a 500, though 550/600+ may be a bit large. 450's are a nightmare for me to fly and my 500-size heli has not given me much trouble at all. I do, however, support an education in flying but let's face it, there aren't many RC instructors out there that are easily accessible to everyone. 450-500 are good sizes and a solid sim is a must as well.
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Old 08-16-2011, 10:31 AM   #18
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I think the best platform to learn on is the 250. It's small, cheap to fix, you can fly it anywhere and its hard to fly.

It will teach you the fine/precise set up and flying skills you need to be a great pilot. If you can set up a 250 well and fly it good you will be able to fly anything.

You can still get hurt with a 250 so you should always excerise caution no matter what size heli you fly. Those blades spin very very fast.

I'm still afraid of my 450 when it spools up!
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Old 08-16-2011, 10:32 AM   #19
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I have no fear with the MSR.
The MCPX can probably scratch me and possibly nick me.
I'm comfortable flying my 450 around.

I'm terrified to death of my Kyosho 700 and haven't flown it since we first built it!
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Old 08-16-2011, 10:38 AM   #20
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for some of us an instructor was/is not an option. the nearest rc heli person i knew of when i started was over 250 miles away.

I started with a vibe 50... but i did make that 250 mile trip to have the heli looked over and for the first few flights.
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