How Not to Fly A Radio Controlled Helicopter



One of the things that I like the most about being a 50 something retired guy, is that I now have the time, if not always the financial resources, to endulge in some things that I have always thought would be fun to try but never found the time.

It’s not exactly a “bucket list” as they call those things-to-do-before-you-die lists. It’s not that, because I really don’t have a “list” This stuff kinda just comes to me, usually on a moment’s notice out of the blue, as the saying goes.

Remote Control Helicopter

One of those things that I recently decided I always wanted to do, was to fly a remote control helicopter. Note, I said “remote control” I am not all that interested in flying in a real helicopter, and I am definitely not interested in being off the ground in anything that I have control over and that includes ladders, roofs, airplanes and definitely helicopters….so a remote control helicopter seemed like the way to go, fly the plane without the pain so to speak….

What got me thinking about it right now, was that Santa gave me a remote control Jeep as a Christmas present. I know, I know, Gorgeous Gwen of the Lake gets a Bombardier Tracked all terrain vehicle, and I get a remote controlled jeep.

It’s the thought that counts, and I think from past experience, my family would prefer that I not own anything that will crush another car…or push a house off it’s foundation….shove trees out of the ground etc…so it’s mini cars with remote controls.

I drove that little remote controlled 4X4 all over the house on Christmas Day, much to the chagrin of everyone there, as it plowed into their feet and tried to crawl up their legs.

Soar With Eagles and Glide With Buzzards

Of course it was only one day with a remote control jeep and I looked to the sky, and got a hankering…a deep longing, a mind bending hankering to fly, to soar with the eagles and glide with the buzzards, form a V with some Canada geese.

I would remotely, or vicariously, be high among the fluffy white clouds, scooting through the sky like…um…whats-her-name, oh yeah, Lucy, that girl from the song, Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds or maybe I would be more like The Rocket Man to steal two great titles from Sir Elton John. See what I mean? This stuff just kinda comes to me…..I wonder if Sir Elton even had a hankering to fly a remote control helicopter?

But seriously, what could be more fun and perhaps even useful at the cottage than a remote control helicopter? Suppose I was trying to contact Bob the Builder, our neighbor up the road who always has just the right part or tool when I need it. Wouldn’t it be cool to stick a note in the remote control helicopter and fly it up to his place?

A Birds-Eye View

And who knows, maybe I could add a camera to the chopper to get a birds-eye view of the lake…and the slightly intoxicated looking women on that one particular pontoon boat that always goes by on a simmering hot summers day…

I could buzz over them with the mini camera equipped remote control helicopter, and check things out….purely for safety reasons you understand, just to make sure they are wearing their life jackets appropriately etc.

So…I did it. Bought myself a remote control helicopter, one very similar to this Shark Outdoor Metal Frame Radio Controlled Helicopter

My Pilot’s Licence

As soon as I got it, I had the charger plugged in, all the parts tightened up in the pre-flight check, even watched a YouTube video on how to fly it. When the video was over, it said I had completed the helicopter flying course, and that I had my pilot’s licence!

Yee haw! Nothing to that, maybe this flying helicopters business isn’t as difficult as some would have us believe.

Wendy caught me going out the sliding patio doors to our backyard tonight around 8. Helicopter in one hand, radio remote control in the other.

“Where you going?” she asked in that casual, offhand way, that really means, “Don’t tell me you are going out to fly that thing in the backyard tonight.”

“Just gonna try it.” I said, sliding my feet into my rubber boots.

“But it’s raining out, or snowing or something.” she said, looking out the patio door beyond me.

“Well you won’t let me fly it in the house.” I said, reminding her of what she had just warned me not to do, about an hour earlier when I had turned it on in our living room while holding it in my hand.

“Don’t you dare let that thing go in here.” she had warned, “The Christmas tree, all the decorations, the picture window, my freshly painted living room walls….my dishes…”

“You’re right Dear.” I said, know how calling her “Dear” pisses her off, but she really cannot say anything because it’s a term of endearment isn’t it? “I won’t, don’t worry, I’m not that crazy.”

“And besides,” she added, not willing to let it go, despite my term of endearment, “You don’t even know how to fly that thing.”

“Yup, yes I do.” I answered, adding, “That’s where you’re wrong.” I grinned, rather smugly. “I just took an online training course and got my licence.” I paused, before looking her right in the eye, “My pilot’s licence.”

“Licence?” she said, that one damn eyebrow raised again, the way she does it, the look, all women have them, each with their own particular version, but all equally effective, and all men have seen them….it made me want to get out the door a little quicker.

Licensed To Fly

“Yup.” I said, pausing for a second holding the sliding door open, before adding, “Licence, I am licensed to fly.” With that, and the sound of her haughty laugh ringing in my ears, I was out the door and into the yard. She was right, it was raining, but only a bit, and the snow that had fallen last night, well the rain had beat that down to only about 2 or 3 inches on the ground.

We have a large concrete patio in our backyard. It’s fenced with two 8 foot tall privacy fences on two ends, and there is a high lilac tree hedge along the back and some other trees, but above the patio, and the rest of the yard…well….lot’s of room to fly a remote control helicopter, especially if you are a licensed operator…err pilot…like yours truly.

Our neighbor’s labrador retriever, Tugger, or Cooper, I can never remember his name, was in his yard, watching me through the fence, his tail wagging, probably thinking, “This is gonna be fun!” It kind of looked like he was grinning, his teeth were showing…maybe flying a remote control helicopter was on his list of “stuff he wanted to do” as well.

I set my vicarious little flying machine down gently on the concrete patio. I Flipped the “on” switch, and revved the blades with the remote control…wheeee…..whizzzzz…the blades turned, slowly at first then faster, and the little craft started to gently lift off, I shoved it full ahead, the little whirring delight gained air, and then I engaged the other lever on the radio control console, not sure what it did, I missed that part of the course I guess. I found out it had something to do with steering….found that out a little too late….

Pull Up !!

My little helicopter lifted up and up until it was about eye level with me, just as I pulled, pushed and turned the little toggle lever on the remote control that makes it go frontwards and backwards. It went frontwards right for me, my heart skipped a beat, I yelled and tried to sidestep it, Wendy said I screamed, I insist it was more of a “yell” and instead of slowing it down, I sped it up, pulling up on the throttle, remembering all those movies where the pilot is telling the copilot, “pull up! pull up!!!” to avoid a crash.

That worked, the remote control helicopter when up and then took off in a straight line, similar to a woodcock as it rises to the flush of a springer spaniel, it flew by me in a spinning, whizzing blur, all the little flashing colored LED lights blinking like a real helicopter in flight.

I glanced back at the patio doors, where my darling wife stood watching, and that glance was all it took….the chopper hit the 8 foot high privacy fence at the end of our patio…it spun out, bounced back, and crashed to the concrete pad…where it did, just about what they say real helicopters sometimes do when they crash, it spun around and around as the blades kept turning, grinding into the concrete….my fingers still working the control levers feverishly, making it worse.

I got a glimpse of the neighbor’s labrador retriever running for the back door of their house, obviously wanting to get inside somewhere safe.

I shut it off. Gathered up the pieces, at least the pieces I could find, wishing it had landed in the snow instead of on the concrete patio I had shovelled off earlier in the day.

Wendy was standing at the patio door when I came in. My helicopter in my hands, let me put that another way, the remaining pieces of my remote control helicopter in my hands… She raised that damn eyebrow again….

I smiled meekly…you know, one of those closed mouth, no teeth showing smiles that we all make when we are smiling but not really happy about smiling….

“Is it….?” she asked, looking kindly and concerned, “I didn’t see it all, but it looked bad, the part I did see. I think a little part flew over there.” she said, pointing to the garden “And another piece looked like it went over the fence towards Tugger, I don’t know, it might have hit him.”

We Regret To Inform You

“No survivors.” I said, my head bowed, looking at the leftover fuselage and the broken tale propeller in my hand. I put the remaining parts and broken pieces of plastic in the box the helicopter came in, closed it up and went to watch television.

Maybe tomorrow, I can fix it with some Krazy Glue….maybe….on the other hand, one thing I always wanted to do was train a labrador retriever to fetch ducks……

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2 thoughts on “How Not to Fly A Radio Controlled Helicopter”

  1. It’s a good thing that you got Wendy, no telling the kinds of trouble you could get yourself into without her. ;)

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