RC Helicopters at the Nats
December 1972 American Aircraft Modeler
a total of 15 pilots were to enter helicopters in the 2011 Nats, everyone
would wonder what in the world has gone drastically wrong. Heck, in today's
contest it probably isn't unusual for a single contestant to show up with
as many as 15 of his own helicopters - one for each type of event (aerobatics,
scale, etc.) and a couple back-ups for each. In 1972, 15 pilots with a total
of 17 machines was heralded as ground-breaking. How times have changed.
Here's an unrelated question for you: When is the last time you saw
a photo in Model Aviation, Flying Models, or Model Airplane News of someone
with a cigarette? In these older magazines, there were occasionally cover
AAM) with a guy having cigarettes out of his mouth. I've mentioned before
the relative dearth of overweight people during those same times. Maybe
that tradeoff has been less smoking and most overweight-ness.
at the Nats
SEVENTEEN RC AND FOUR FF CHOPPERS PERFORMED AT THE 72 NATS ALWAYS DRAWING
A LARGE AMAZED CROWD.
Fifteen helicopterites and 17 machines appeared for the first RC helicopter
competition in the United States on July 27 and 28. Seven of the copters
were the popular Du-Bros, one was a Du-Bro converted to shaft drive, one
was a Schluter Hueycobra, one had Schluter mechanics and an original fuselage.
The other seven were scratch-built, shaft-driven original designs. Most
amazing was the fact that all of them were practical, flyable machines!
One can't help wondering why Ernie Huber keeps his lunch in the box
up front. Balances best before the meal. Excellent design won best flight
Cranking up the workmanship award-winning model is Faye Peoples. Model
based on 2-B from Burkam's WHAI column.
An O&R Compact engine with self-contained clutch, gears, and pull-cord
starter powers Dave Gray's big model. Shows great possibilities, still
being developed, perhaps a DU-Bro kit.
One of Ray Jaworski's two original design models. This one flew very
well until it earned the "worst crash" award.
Horace Hagen and his much-flown Hueycobra from the Schluter kit. It
is an inspiring sight and was the only scale design there. He makes
flying look so easy.
Navy photo of another FF chopper flier, Tony Naccarato, Jr. It is 049·powered
and a fairly simple configuration. Climbs very fast.
In free flight, Dr. Lee Taylor flew this familiar model. Separate blade
sections provide cyclic and collective pitch control.
Dr. Taylor's model on its way up. Was second this year.
Very stock looking Du-Bro Whirlybird flown by Bob Bentley sports the
much-recommended training gear. This gear almost prevents any turnovers.
Ed Sweeney brought along a brand-new stilltesting shaft driven conversion
of the Du-Bro helicopter. Powered by only a 19 and uses many RC race
car parts. Simple model will be published soon.
Ernie Huber stole the show by flying his original design, belt-driven
machine all over the sky like a Pattern ship under perfect control. He started
his Supertigre 60 by pulling a piece of timing belt between a roller and
his toothed flywheel. Then he twisted a knob on the tail which engaged the
main rotor. Being more of an airplane than helicopter pilot, he wasted no
time in hovering. He climbed out and up and began a series of right and
left turns, dives and low passes that delighted the crowd and turned the
rest of the beginning RC pilots green with envy. He made successful hovering
landings after both flights and won first place in flying.
Peoples, winner of the workmanship category, flew his original design based
on the 2-B drive system (May 1972 AAM). On his second flight without tether
lines, Faye hovered steadily at altitudes up to 20 feet, thanks in part
to the teetering springs added to his Hiller rotor.
also added teetering springs to his Hiller type rotor, and it flew better
than ever before. Ray, not so cautious as Faye, climbed his ship up to about
100 feet and started a left (downwind) turn. As speed increased, more forward
stick was required for forward flight. He made one turn which ended with
a swoop to three feet altitude and another zoom to 30 feet. The next turn
really ended with a nearly vertical dive. Latest word from Ray is that he
has nearly completed repairs and is going to get that little bit of practice
which will bring him the complete success for which he has worked so long
Gene Rock won first in design and second in flying with
his SSP-4, an improved version of his altitude record holder (August 1972
AAM). Gene "walked" his model up and down the runway with or against the
wind, did climbs, turns, descents under full control, and picked up the
wire hoop with his landing skid. After each of his two crashes - one due
to a near miss with another model, another due to radio interference - the
model was repaired and back in the air in less than half an hour, thanks
to rugged, foldable blades.
Horace Hagen's Hueycobra performed impressively,
though perhaps a little too close to the crowd. Unfortunately, a tail rotor
pitch link slipped off during a hovering turn, causing him to lose power
and directional control. Nevertheless, he had it repaired and back flying
in about an hour. Horace won second place for his beautiful workmanship
on the German kit.
Du-Bro helicopters can fly in a wind.
All it takes is removal of the horizontal stabilizer. Bob Bentley, Dave
Gray, Chuck Sherman, Bill Phillips and Mike Scun proved it. Dave Keats proved
it so well that he placed third in flying, (He also picked up one of the
hoops with his landing skid.)
Nate Rambo took the Schluter dynamic
system and put it in his own original airframe. Nate hovered well, had a
go at picking up the hoop (his helicopter didn't seem to understand his
very expressive gestures), flew forward and backwards and other gentle maneuvers.
Dave Gray hovered his 14-lb. monster with the O&R gasoline engine,
but hadn't yet advanced to the point of fast forward flight. Nevertheless,
it won him second place for design.
Neatest trick of the meet was
performed by Ed Sweeney, who had converted his Du-Bro helicopter to shaft
drive, using a Veco 19 engine, mostly stock parts from race cars, nose gear
fittings and ingenuity. His two-bladed rigid rotor had conventional airfoil
type blades and was controlled and stabilized by a Hiller servo rotor whose
cyclic pitch was controlled by the swash plate. By Saturday, Ed had licked
most of the bugs in his design and managed to fly a full circle and make
a landing with good control and good wind penetration. Think of the implications
of this feat!
John Burkam brought his latest helicopter, Square
2-B, but it was not completed in time to fly.
All of the helicopters which flew forward fast had Hiller type rotors, most
of which strongly resembled Dieter Schluter's rotor. Five of the Hiller
rotors had spring restraint about the teetering hinge and flew quite steadily.
Rotors which had single bolt attachment of the blades survived roll-overs,
even crashes. Those which didn't, shattered blades every time they contacted
Everybody seemed to have a good time, made new friends,
and learned a lot.
The free-flight helicopters had their day on
Thursday in a contest sponsored by the National Free Flight Society. Tony
Naccarato won first place with his new four-bladed torque reaction job.
D. Lee Taylor came in second with his venerable sport coupe somewhat resembling
the Filper helicopter. His and Tony's machines both obtained their control
for turning and flying forward by means of vanes in the slipstream of the
small propeller. Glen Lee's larger two-blader had the engine below, with
the propeller at the bottom of a shroud, some thrust augmentation being
thereby gained. Taylor's and Lee's helicopters have probably won more trophies
than any other helicopters in this country.
All three designs had
hingeless but flexible rotors with blades free to pitch or feather and with
balance weights ahead of the leading edge of the blades. Taylor's and Lee's
also had aerodynamic tabs on short booms behind the blade tips for quicker
change in blade pitch for autorotation. This might be an excellent system
for use on RC copters if the blades could be controlled cyclically by some
kind of swash plate. At last auto rotation would be possible, and the hub
would be quite simple. However, test stand experiments by Gene Rock showed
that these rotors go ape above about 400 rpm in a slow version of classical
flutter. Viscous damping (thick grease) on the blade pitch bearings cured
that, but there is still the control problem and the question of forward
Still improving on his SSP model, Gene Rock made many excellent and
smooth flights with this fourth version of the model just published
in AAM. This model has torque rod driven tail rotor.
Glen Lee's large 15-powered FF model has low disc loading and so its
sink rate in autorotation is very slow. Engine is on the main shaft
for torque reaction drive but located below and inside the fuselage.
Nate Rambo starting his ship. It is made from many Schluter helicopter
mechanical parts with Nate's own fuselage.
Dave Keats wonders which of all those Whirlybirds is his. Most of the
models at the Nats were Du-Bros.
Third place in flying achieved by the always· airborne Dave Keats. He
has become one of the master fliers of the Du-Bro Whirlybird.
Posted October 5, 2011
Even during the busiest times of my life I have endeavored to maintain
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through a lifelong involvement in model aviation, which
all began in Mayo, MD. There
is a lot of good information and there are lot
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