Interview - Helibug - Ali Azhar - December 2011 - HeliFreak
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Gas Powered Thoughts Advice for Gas Helicopter Success from Carey Shurley

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Old 01-13-2012, 08:44 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Interview - Helibug - Ali Azhar - December 2011

As you've probably noticed in this forum, there are a lot of references to a company called Helibug. They specialize in making gas powered conversions for various brands of helicopters. They weren't the first to do the conversions but they were the first to do it successfully on a commercial basis.

Helibug is a guy named Ali Azhar who lives in Plano Texas and I was able to ask him a few questions about his company and how it came to be. Here's what I learned:

GPT: So tell us about yourself Ali

Ali: I'm 44 years old, married with two children and my background is that of a bridge structure designer, 3D modeler and CAD system manager. Model helicopters are both my hobby and now my profession via Helibug

GPT: When did you first get the "bug" for model helicopters and what was your first?

Ali: About 7 years ago and my first model was an e-flight

GPT: So you didnt' start off with gas power, what was your first gas helicopter?

Ali: A Bergen R/C Gas EB

GPT: Those have always been durable helicopters. So what was the driver that caused you to start Helibug?

Ali: I spent about $4500 to build and outfit that model but I crashed on the first flight due to a problem in the rotor head. I spent several hundred dollars in repair parts for crashes but the costs made me lose interest in flying it. I still have that helicopter though! The crash caused me to think about a more cost effective way of building a gas powered helicopter for myself and I started designing a conversion for the TRex 700

GPT: So how did you come up with the name HeliBug?

Ali: Obviously "Heli" from the word helicopter and "Bug" is a term sometimes used in design for "an additional device attached to the main system". So since this was attaching a gas powerplant to an existing helicopter it made sense to me

GPT: Your marketing indicates that your conversions are all made in USA, do you do all the design and manufacturing or is any of it outsourced or done elsewhere?

Ali: No its all done at the Helibug shop in Texas

GPT: What was the first thing that Helibug produced?

Ali: A Zenoah PUH conversion for the Trex 700. It was overly complex and expensive to manufacture. But I produced a V2 version that had some success and then started using the Zenoah/CY RC format motors. Most of my conversions now use this motor as its basically self contained and has its own cooling system.

GPT: So how do you determine what you're going to convert next?

Ali: I follow model helicopter market trends. Whatever is popular in a nitro version is a good candidate for a gas powered conversion. Of course there are sometime complexities that prevent one from being designed.

GPT: How successful has Helibug been?

Ali: There are over 1000 of Helibug conversions flying worldwide!

GPT: Whats your long term goal for Helibug

Ali: I want to design and manufacture a complete gasoline powered helicopter. Something that would be unique in design and layout.

GPT: Do you still have time to actually fly your helicopters

Ali: Oh yes, I am able to fly 2-3 times a week!

GPT: So whats your flying style? Sports, scale, mild-3d, wild-3d?

Ali: I'm more of a sports pilot but I also like to do mild-3d maneuvers

GPT: Are you a member of any local clubs in your area

Ali: No I mostly fly in private locations, I am a member of the Academy of Model Aeronautics though.

GPT: What do you think is the ultimate gas powered helicopter?

Ali: Ha ha, its a Helibug design that I hope to eventually manufacture. I only focus on gas powered helicopters and support a very small team of Helibug pilots.

GPT: Do you normally attend any of the big helicopter events?

Ali: No but I'm trying to work out a visit to the IRCHA Jamboree this year. Helibug has sponsored the Orlando Helicopter Blowout for the last couple of years though.

GPT: So other than your own designs, whats your favorite helicopter and why?

Ali: I like the Align helicopters. They are efficient designs and the machined parts have very good precision. I also use Futaba radio systems.

GPT: So what size/type of motor are in your helicopters?

Ali: I'm flying with Zenoah G290 and G270 RC motors, just in stock form. For the styles of flying I practice they work acceptably.

GPT: Do you expect at some point to try to adopt more non-traditional gas powered motors (something other than Zenoah/CY) for your conversions?

Ali: yeah, I've already posted some details about a four stroke conversion that I'm working on. I have other ideas as well

GPT: What do you consider to be helibugs greatest accomplishment so far?

Ali: I have a very high customer satisfaction level, over 99.9%! My customers spend a lot of their time flying their models instead of having to tinker with them so I get a lot of positive feedback from them.

GPT: Okay Ali, well thanks very much for your time. I hope everybody learned a little bit more about Helibug!
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Carey Shurley
Proprietor - Gas Powered Helicopters

Last edited by carey shurley; 02-14-2012 at 07:48 PM..
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Old 01-14-2012, 02:16 AM   #2 (permalink)
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It's good to know about Ali and Helibug.

I very much like the Align helicopters but i want to fly them gas powered. This company gave me a valuable chance to do this. I always loved the kit and service quality of Helibug.

Thanks Carey for this interview.
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Old 01-15-2012, 09:53 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I enjoyed that read. Thanks for the effort Ali & Carey.

In the future, I'm hoping to see a 600mm-ish blade size, 4-stroke spark ignition engined heli. How about a Saito in a modern Thunder Tiger airframe?
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Old 01-17-2012, 08:38 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Nice to finally see the man behind it all. Thank you so very much Ali for what you have done for the gasser helicopter community and thank you as well Carey for all you do and continue to do as well. Great job!!
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Old 01-23-2012, 05:05 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Nice job, one more satisfied Helibug customer here.
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