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About Airplanes & Rockets

Kirt Blattenberger, Webmaster - Airplanes and Rockets

Kirt Blattenberger


My Engineering Web: RF Cafe

Carpe Diem! (Seize the Day!)

Even during the busiest times of my life I have endeavored to maintain some form of model building activity. This site has been created to help me chronicle my journey through a lifelong involvement in model aviation, which all began in Mayo, MD ...

Airplanes And Rockets Copyright 1996 - 2026

All trademarks, copyrights, patents, and other rights of ownership to images and text used on the Airplanes and Rockets website are hereby acknowledged.

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Helicopter Action
January 1975 American Aircraft Modeler

January 1975 American Aircraft Modeler

January 1975 American Aircraft Modeler - Airplanes and Rockets3 Table of Contents

These pages from vintage modeling magazines like Flying Aces, Air Trails, American Modeler, American Aircraft Modeler, Young Men, Flying Models, Model Airplane News, R/C Modeler, captured the era. All copyrights acknowledged.

Even in 1975 when this "Helicopter Action" column appeared in American Aircraft Modeler magazine a very small percentage of R/C fliers had ever even tried their hands at helicopters, and an even smaller portion had been successful enough to keep at it. Gyroscopes for tail rotors were still in the prototype development stage, fixed pitch rotor blades were the norm. Control over the rotor disc was not by direct linkage to the blades, but to a rotor head assembly with a flybar. Only two servos were used - one for left/right and one for fore/aft. When setting up controls to the swashplate, accounting for gyroscopic precession was required since the desired output is 90° from the input in the direction of rotation. It was counterintuitive to the fledgling helicopter setter-upper, but like magic, it worked. It was during the setup of my DuBro TriStar helicopter that I first learned of the concept (I was 18 years old). I say all that to say this: Given the advanced state of the art in R/C helicopters today you might think that making a big deal of something as tame as a heli pylon race or performing a loop-the-loop is ridiculous, but these guys were driving the technology forward so that we might enjoy the models we have now.

Helicopter Action

Helicopter Action, January 1975 American Aircraft Modeler - Airplanes and RocketsJohn Burkam on Helicopters

Drag Racing: It finally happened at a helicopter contest in Toledo, Ohio. Dave Keats said that the "expert fliers liked two things, pylon racing (two at a time) and an impromptu drag race (two or more at a time). Everyone especially liked the drag racing, which was not part of the contest. The racers started from the ground at the drop of a flag and went the length of the runway (timed). If you were good, you touched a skid two or three times down the course. The Polecat (mine) won the pylon race and was second-fastest in drag racing (flat out before end of course). Bill Curtiss' Polecat II was superfast.

Dave will probably give more details of the contest in his excellent column in another magazine. I predict that drag racing and/or pylon racing with choppers will grow in popularity fast!

Eastern States Helicopter Contest highlights: Dave Gray won the Expert Precision event in this NRCHA and Du-Bro sponsored contest. Since each man flew all four tasks in sequence, nerves were a little frayed by the end.

Ed Sweeney's Superbird modification to Du-Bro's Whirlybird 505 - Airplanes and Rockets

Ed Sweeney's Superbird modification to Du-Bro's Whirlybird 505 (AAM December, 1973) is still going strong. It uses a 19 engine.

This became even more noticeable in the second round, as some machines bounded to 20 ft. in height when they were supposed to stay below 5 ft. in the slalom course. Dave was master of the situation, however. Others in the first five places were Don Lowe, Ron Wiensch, Dave Keats and Grady Howard. The novice event, flown inside the hangar, was won by Tom Herr, an up-and-coming youngster. (The noise in there was deafening, even with mufflers.)

John Werne and Gene Rock battled it out for first and second, respectively, in Stand-off Scale. Gene's four-bladed, hingeless, rotored BO-105 probably was truest to scale, even to the correct number of blades on both rotors. But John's beautiful Hughes 300 had more details (such as insignias, louvres, boots on the landing gear oleo struts, etc.) which were visible from 10ft.

The loop competition would have been won by John Burkam if his tail rotor blades hadn't parted company with the rest of the machine after the first 45° of the loop. Three cartwheels and a nose dive from 100 ft. up! He should have received an award for the most spectacular crash. Dave Keats nearly looped his Polecat, but it rolled out at the top. Neither Faye Peoples nor Grady Howard, with much heavier machines, could get the noses of their helicopters quite straight up.

On Looping: Not only must a helicopter have power and streamlining to achieve high forward speed, it also must have enough excess thrust so that when it pulls its nose up, it will not stall the blades and dissipate that horizontal kinetic energy before it's converted into vertical kinetic energy.

Then, over on its back, it must have enough speed to respond to aft stick and put its nose down. (Not like Faye Peoples' ship did the other day - screwed itself into the ground inverted from 400 ft. up!) One way to avoid that situation is to have a horizontal stab of at least 1% of the rotor disc area back by the tail rotor. That insures the tail going slower than the rest of the fuselage on the way down.

Due to my recent Figure Nine maneuver, no more rigid rotor experiments will be performed on Square Tubie. Instead, a new tail rotor design is presented here to replace the one in which the pressed-in pins pulled out of the hub. This one is called a door hinge hub. The bending moments from the blades are taken mostly in shear in the pitch bearing pins, and the centrifugal force is taken in compression by the nylon or brass washers.

If desired, the blades can be turned around to make the hub rotate the other way. Then the pitch arms would trail the blades, as in the previous tail rotor (August, 1972, AAM). When the yaw servo pulls on the tail rotor control cable, pitch is increased as before.

Tail rotor for "Square Tubie" - Airplanes and Rockets

Tail rotor for "Square Tubie" or other 5 ft. helicopter.

Another suggestion for improving Square Tubie: Replace the Stock Drive Products No. 1C4-Y3216 mitre gears on the intermediate shaft and tail rotor takeoff with the next size larger, 1C4-Y3224. The smaller ones were found to have only about 15 min. of life left in them after the record flight. The tail rotor gear box is OK as is.

WCCHC: The West Coast Championship Helicopter Contest, held Sept. 22, was won by John Minasian, followed by John Simone Jr., Nate Rambo and John Gorham, all flying Kavan Jet Rangers. Fifth place went to Chris Spangenberg flying an original design with Du-Bro mechanics. The Novice Class had all Jet Rangers, and the first three places went to Bob Mearns, Ed Von Websky and John Simone Sr. Ernie Huber took a day off and won only Best-in-Scale with his Bell 212 rescue aircraft, fitted with Kavan mechanics. (I understand that the NATS at Lake Charles also was a "Kavan show.") None other than Charles Gilbert won best scratch-built with an original design.

Maneuvers were a balanced diet of slow and fast, namely: (1) Hover; (2) Constant heading square; (3) Pick up hoop, carry it around pylon and return it to pick-up point; (4) A series of different kinds of takeoffs and forward flight maneuvers for experts only (180° turns downwind and upwind, cloverleaf, 360° pirouette, "Ag turns" or stall turns, quick stop, steep descent, etc.)

The past year has seen a delightful variety of maneuvers and events in the five or more helicopter contests held. The AMA Helicopter Advisory Council now should be able to start putting together their provisional rules. These should include both judged and timed events to show off both pilot skill and helicopter performance.

Help wanted. Noted model helicopter designer desires partners to build and de-bug his latest designs for eventual publication in AAM. Drawings furnished free along with pieces of the harder-to-get materials, if needed, in exchange for clear pictures of the model and constructive criticism of the design, how easily it went together, how it flies and how it can be improved. Applicants should be experienced (not necessarily expert) model helicopter fliers and machinists.

New design ready for building is a 44" rotor, 19-powered aerobatic helicopter of similar construction to the Polecat by Dave Keats. Full credit for building, pictures and ideas will be given.



Posted December 18, 2022

Drones - Airplanes and Rockets