Helicopters Part 1.

At the start of 2008 the range of flying model helicopters available has never been so great.

From the simple little two channel "toys" that can often be found in supermarkets for less than twenty quid, through a large range of full functioning small electric models up to very large IC (internal combustion) powered models capable in the right hands of very extreme manoeuvres. 

Many of the smaller electric models can quite happily be flown indoors giving the opportunity to carrying on flying through the winter months.



So lets go through what's available, in order of size, complexity and price. Starting with the simplest/cheapest up to the top of the range, I have tried to break them up into generic groups. The pictures are all models owned and flown by club members and represent only a small fraction of what's on the market. Nearly all links are to pages on the Sussex Model Centre web site. There is no reason for this other than laziness on my part, and they have a very wide selection of rotary winged models.

Small (two channel) helicopters.

Available complete ready to fly just add dry batteries to the transmitter. some can be bought in supermarkets cost (less than 30.00).


The Silverlit Picoo Z (above) was the original micro helicopter that has spawned many copies and similar type models, although these are sold as toys many members have had great fun flying them indoors.

Control is limited to two channels allowing the model to go up and down and to control of the tail rotor to control heading. The model can be trimmed to hover or fly forwards by adding/subtracting weight to the nose. Most use infrared control system and weigh less than an ounce and be flown in any small space.



The Picoo Z has lead to many different models all use the same control system but with different bodies. Below right is the Fairy Micro Helicopter. While this is one of the prettiest it is not that robust.

Below. Still using a very similar control system is the Yuneec's Robocopter. Has the advantage of using 2.4 Ghz radio and is about the best of this type of model on the market.


Right and Below is a larger two channel helicopter. This again is sold as a toy and although perfectible flyable is in the authors view a little large for this type of model. The blades have rubber leading edges but still pack quite a punch.





Ready to fly co axial contra rotating helicopters.

The following section covers the twin rotor contra rotating helicopters. These are a great way to start flying helicopters. Most come as a complete package and need nothing more than batteries (AA cells) adding to the transmitter. A lot of problems with controlling a helicopter come from the rotating forces on the rotor disc. By using twin rotors rotating in opposite directions these forces cancel each other out giving an absolutely stable flying model.

Although all pictures are off the Blade CX2 there are many other models of this type around, it's just that the Blade is the only one used by GMFC members with three regularly flying indoors.

DSCFw4663.JPG Left is the Micro Mosquito. In size and performance it lies between the Picoo Z types and the larger models in this section. It uses 3 channels and is more controllable than the 2 channel types. It too can be flown in a very small space.


Left and below. The E-flite Blade CX2. Although not the first of this type of model on the market this is the one by which all others are judged. Left it is in it's original form and below has a custom body added.

These models are full four channels giving up down, left right, forwards backwards and directional heading. The E-flite Blade CX2 comes complete with a 2.4 Ghz radio costing less than 120.00.



Ready to fly twin co axial contra rotating helicopters.

Below is the J Perkins Twister R/C Skylift. This model is superb and has great presence where ever it is flown. It's also very easy to fly, I have flown one great fun, and a lot of helicopter for the money (140.00 complete).





Mini conventional Helicopter but with fixed pitch rotor.

I have included this model not simply because it's available but because Richard Cockram's has actually got it to fly.

This is a Walkera 4#3 . Do not try this model as your first heli.

Richard has spent a lot of time modifying this model it does fly I have flown it. I have flown and it its very tricky to fly.






Mini conventional electric helicopter with full 5 channel control.

There are now (May 2008) a huge number of small fully functioning helicopters on the market. They are all pretty similar in design. The basic layout can vary but you will find the same components on all of them just in a different order if you like. They all have a flight battery, a motor, a electronic speed controller (ESC) a receiver, four servos and a gyro.

Nearly all have a driven tail and use belt drive to turn the tail rotor.

I have a vast library of photos of these models and apologise if some of the pictures are not or are incorrectly named. I will hope to cover the popular models in more detail.

The term 400, 450, 500 & 600 are often seen to describe model helicopters, this if used is a good way of getting an idea of size as it relates to the size of rotor blade used.

Warning these are not toys, the rotors have high rotational speeds, the blades are often carbon fibre and you would not want to be hit or hit somebody else with one of these models.

Right. Zoom 400/Shogun II.






Above and below. Not sure what these models are some member must know? These models can be flown outdoors in very light winds.


Below The Twister 3D Storm 440 this is becoming very popular probably do to it's price. It does fly very well and makes a good first model.




Mid size electric heli’s suitable for indoor and outdoor use.

The next set of models are in the 450 size and are really the largest heli's you can safely fly indoors. They fly well outdoors in all but very windy conditions.



Above. Ikarus Viper 70.

Right. Ikarus Eco 8.




Above and below. Align T.rex 450. This is your dogs "do-dars" of the mini helicopters. As you can see from the pics it is in the right hands capable of all the tricks in the book. There are several variants, I think both these models are SE CDE V2 (virtually) top of the range.

However they still have all the same bits as any other model helicopter. In the above right picture, the electronic speed controller site on the top front of the frame, below this would go the battery (missing in picture). In the middle (blue) is the motor which drives the main gear (blue). Under the main gear is the receiver (purple/yellow). Clustered around the rotor shaft above the main gear are the three servos that control the rotor head. The black box on top at the rear is the gyro just behind this mounted on the boom is the tail rotor servo.

The above models are all electric and suitable for indoor flying.

For larger electric models and I/C models see part 2.

Gloucester Model Flying Club