Chapter 3. First Helicopter Selection Guide

Table of Contents

3.1. Things to consider when selecting your first helicopter
3.2. Clones
3.3. Classification of helis used in this guide
3.4. Summary of helicopter sizes

3.1. Things to consider when selecting your first helicopter

  • Durability

  • Price of replacement parts

  • Availability of replacement parts

  • Size

The reason for this is: when you are learning to hover, you will crash. This is a given. Everyone crashes. When you crash, you do not want to spend a fortune repairing the helicopter, because everyone has limited funds. When you crash, you do not want to wait forever for replacement parts, because every day you spend waiting for a part is a day you are not flying the helicopter, and learning something.

Size is very important, because larger helis are more stable and easier to hover. They have more inertia, so they move slower and they give more warning of their intent. Micro helis are more difficult to hover because they are very skittish and wander off in a new direction with very little warning of their intent. Larger helis are not any easier to fly, though.

If you live in an area with bad weather most of the year (such as Seattle) then an fixed-pitch indoor helicopter such as the GWS Dragonfly is probably the best choice. If your local weather is fairly good for most of the year, then you might choose a large helicopter such as a Century Swift.

You might be tempted to buy a "hot" 3D helicopter for your first helicopter, but this is usually not a good idea. 3D helicopters are usually designed with a high center of gravity for faster rolls/flips and are less stable and more sensitive than helicopters geared towards beginner and intermediate heli flyers.

Be sure to check for the availablity and price of replacement parts when buying a helicopter. You will crash eventually, and if the helicopter cannot be repaired or you cannot afford to repair it, then it will become a paperweight.

Also, GET A SIMULATOR. Even a free simulator such as FMS will save you at least 100 dollars or so in replacement parts when learning hovering.

The Walkera helicopters are not recommended for beginner helicopters because the electronics are of very poor quality. Various problems which have been reported include:

  • Transmitters and receivers have very short range and/or interference problems

  • Servos jitter and/or have centering problems

These problems will make learning hovering much more difficult.