Indoor Flying Season

During an evening of indoor flying in a large City of Sunnyvale gym, I hover my tiny E-Flite mCX helicopter at face level. Photo by Mike Bowns.

Helicopter Nose. Photo by Mike Bowns.

We kicked off the year’s indoor flying season Friday evening in a cavernous City of Sunnyvale gymnasium.

Don Cohn, administrator of the BayRC discussion forums, organized the event, which drew close to 20 flyers. Most popular plane: ParkZone Vapor. Most popular helicopter: E-Flite Blade mSR.

In this photo I’m flying an E-Flite Blade mCX helicopter, which is also quite the rage.

Each helicopter weighs about an ounce.

The mCX is remarkably stable, easy to fly even for a novice.

So my nose-high hover is hardly amazing.

But I made good progress with the more powerful mSR. This is less stable, more helicopter-like, and very fun.

For the first time, I was able to fly circles with the mSR.

I’ve become proficient with the standard beginner’s helicopter maneuver: keep the tail pointed toward you and hover. If you feel bold, try flying forward, then backward, all the while keeping the tail pointing at you and maintaining altitude.

Maintaining this orientation avoids any left-right confusion, which begins the minute the helicopter turns off axis.

Friday evening, I was hovering tail-in, easing forward and back, when I realized that I could safely turn a circle by maintaining a forward direction (down elevator and a bit more throttle) and turning the rudder.


I turned a clockwise circle, then another, looking good. Then I tried a counter-clockwise circle with equal success.

My only mishaps on Friday came about when the helicopter drifted too far away. When I couldn’t tell which way it was pointed, I quickly crashed.

But a crash with a one-ounce helicopter is generally benign.

In fact, another flyer showed me a cool trick with a crashed Blade mSR: Just gun the throttle for a second and it will often right itself, ready for takeoff.

If you live in the Northern California Bay Area you can join the fun on Friday nights. Details here.

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3 Responses to “Indoor Flying Season”

  1. Mike says:

    Pete, for gods sake look at that picture. You look like you have a clown nose on!

  2. Dave North says:

    It’s my favorite picture from the whole night. But I liked it better in the sequence of three.

    After the flying was over Pete told me how excited he was to learn how to do a circle which is — as he well knew — trivial. But that’s perfect, since nothing could be more trivial than hanging out at an indoor gym to doodle rc featherweights around.

    I can’t imagine this being popular. It’s fun.

  3. Marcin Hirny says:

    Awesome photo! I just ran across it. You should send that to Horizon. I bet they’d get a kick out of it…