Szabó, Péter - pgpetike
12 June 2018

#KeepRCHelisAlive - the movement
How to train your pilot

Our hobby, second (or first) life is in trouble, it's no doubt. Fewer and fewer people join to this hobby. Drones, computer games, social media, changing lifestyle all can be blamed, but this is a more complicated problem by my opinion. Something has to be done and one thing is the #KeepRCHelisAlive hashtag and the ideology behind it.

#KeepRCHelisAlive - the movement
Heli OB 2011 - Hungary

I remember the time when I began to fly around 2007-2008. It wasn't difficult to get 30-40 people involved for a competition in Hungary. Biggest problem was to compress everyone in the time frame given. There were events organised - like military airbase tours - when the maximum number of attendees was declared and we couldn't host all. There were at least 5-6 contests a year, uncounted assemblies countrywide in the whole year - even in December in minuses and snow.

There was Jozsef Mojzes who was able to pull all of us together. That Jozsi Mojzes (or Joseph Mojzes as you know him) from 3D Masters, Heli Smack Down on the beach, Swiss Heli Challenge and so on.

He put incredible money and energy into the hobby and events. He built the second generation of this hobby in Hungary. Then he decided to give up on the hobby and to move on. I'm proud to say, he teached me how to fly, how to learn and teach to fly. And I've learned as well how to organise the community, how to build something up. was my idea and I figured out what and how to present and tried different techniques, but as time passed my enthusiasm got weaker too.

Unlike a new guy for us in those days named Bert Kammerer. He could manage to keep his enthusiasm up for long time. But he also realised the problem and he thought something has to be done. Podcasts, social media presence and so on. As Kyle Stacy remembers Bert developed the #KeepRCHelisAlive hashtag in 2016 to involve people showing sympathy, promoting the hobby, building an international community up again. So please guys, use this hashtag. But Bert shows a behaviour to follow as well. He could be high-minded and selfish with his knowledge and abilities, but - unlike many others - he remained on the ground with us helping newbies, involve people, showing "miracles" and secrets. Even if you don't want to fly he deserves the respect for his effort to keep our hobby up, not letting to sink in the deep.

And when we think that all efforts are useless, we can't defeat these circumstances, suddenly a next generation is growing up literally and figuratively. There are many young and might be talented children (I'm sorry: teenagers for those who are affected) current and future RC helicopter pilots. I would like to introduce them in a future series.

This generation brought some new challenges. Everything I learned about teaching people to fly is working partially or it's absolutely useless, and it varies on different age groups. My son can't speak yet (except words, simple sentences), therefore I have no chance to explain him, how to do it. I can show him, but he will be 2 year old in August. Obviously it's impossible to keep him there at the sim for longer time to practice, I let him to play, discover everything in simulator. In addition he has got the Little Tikes My First Flyer coaxial helicopter (for 4 year old children or older) which can teach him the meaning of control, focusing and so on. Most importantly I mustn't force him to do it.

Our daughter is different. She is 8 now. When she was born, I was flying already, therefore she was with me at the airfields, public shows, contests and everywhere. She grew up with RC helicopters and she wasn't interested too much. I never forced her to do it.

Then we were attending Helifest in Weston Park in 2016, where she met Raquel Bellot. Raquel was really kind to her - I'm still very thankful for Raquel - and Antonia or Toncsi as we call her (Tonchi in Eglish phonetics) got really excited:

"Girls can do it, I wanna do it. I wanna be like Raquel".

The excitement was there then persistence was gone for almost a year. I didn't force it, sometimes I mentioned what she said. A year later at the same event, Helifest, she met Maria Pavlou. Maria impressed Toncsi so much, flying got really serious by the time. Now she is practicing in simulator by herself, she wants to fly in real life as well.

I know the rules of learning, how to set up everything, basics, fundamental orientation, rectangle flying. And everything is pointless, because she is still a child. I can't keep her interest up by forcing her to fly really boring manoeuvres for ages. I must let her to play, to learn newer and newer tricks then return the previous ones, and one more step back and forth and so on. Jumping up and down.

Next to the simulator we were using buddy boxing. At the beginning it was a bit scary even to me. I've trained many people but adults mostly, when I can tell: do not do it. I can tell the same to children, but sometimes - intentionally or not - it has no effect indeed. By the time we got synchronised and it's absolutely not stressful to me now. I would leave the trainer lead away now, but she feels that safer.

A bit more than two weeks ago we went to fly. And - silly me - I forgot the trainer lead at home. We got there, everything was unpacked. No other option left, I had to ask Toncsi:

We got two options: we can go home with no flying or you can try it on your own. What do you want?
Daddy, I try it, but what if I crash the helicopter?
You will not...

And to be honest, she has never ever controlled the helicopter so nice than that time. Something has changed at the moment, when this happened. Since then she wants to fly and her improvement is lightspeed fast. We can go one step further every day. I can't follow her. She learns one or two new manoeuvres day by day.

What was required to get there?

Of course I had to be there as mentor. But this could not happen without Raquel and Maria either. We need these big form pilots being on the ground and open-minded. We need more experienced and professional pilots like Bert, Kyle, Raquel, Maria, Joseph. And I need to mention many more.

Thank you ladies and gentlemen for keeping RC helicopters alive.

PS: I know the list of similiar pilots is much longer but they are my personal experiences.