This past weekend was the IRCHA NW 2007 fun fly. Basically, what that means is the R/C Helicopter pilots in the area had a meet where we flew our machines.

Friday started off well, beautiful sky, low winds, and moderate temperature. Then I fueled up my heli. The next thing I knew, the wind was gusting at 40-50 MPH, and people were scrambling all over trying to keep things from blowing over. I was lucky, in a way. I set my stuff up next to a rusted old grill. It was made from plate steel, and had to weigh a few hundred pounds. It was also an excellent wind break. After enough time went by, I decided I’d fly anyway, so I fired up my heli and took to the sky.

It was interesting. While things were pretty normal from the Heli’s standpoint (all it cares about is the air around it - if the wind is blowing 30 MPH, than a zero-airspeed hover moves along the ground at 30 MPH). So with that kind of wind, I was able to go from 0-70 MPH (ground speed) in about 0.5 seconds. It was fun to fly that way, actually, though it was challenging, as my point of reference is on the ground, so the speeds looked odd.

When I finished flying, a friend who has a turbine (ie. jet engine) powered heli was flying. He was doing a lazy loop when a gust of wind hit and pulled about all of the blade momentum from his machine. Naturally, it started to fall like a stone, and not altogether under control. So while the engine was using its 8 HP to spin up the blades, the pilot was trying to get the machine back under control. And the heli was headed straight for the ‘pits’. (The pits are where pilots sit, fuel & prepare their machines for flight, etc.). I was walking back to the pits with my machine, and saw the whole thing. The pilots in the pits scattered like a school of fish, and I was thinking “I’m glad I’m all the way over here.” Fortunately, the pilot managed to get the blades spun up enough to save the machine, and was able to control it back away from the pits. I think he needed to change his shorts afterwards, though: it was definitely a ‘brown alert’ moment.

In the pod hop competition, you have a number of ‘X’es on the ground. You fly your helicopter over each and land on the X. This year, I halved my time from last year - but still was over double the winning time.

I did break the skids on my Evo .50 when practicing an autorotation. Brian Bennet was kind enough to give me a set of skids. The Hirobo skids have been upgraded since I first got my Evo; either that or I got a set of Freya skids; either way, they’re nice.

One thing that I did see is the worst crash I’ve ever seen. What made it bad was the carnage; usually you count a crash in terms of parts that need replacing. This one was so stuffed that it is counted in terms of things that are good. Even the engine block was split in half.

I also watched some night flying for the first time; it’s a neat thing to see. It’s almost like watching an old video game, where everything is just wireframe graphics. The only downside is that at dusk, the mosquitos came out in force. I had some-odd 20 bites on my left leg, and it wasn’t any worse than any other area of uncovered skin.