Canadian East Coast Funfly
The summer of 2001 was kind of special in that several key people in my area finally took the bull by the horns and properly organized a major event to promote the hobby. Being located in Canada presents certain problems in getting a large group of modelers together due to the shear size of the country and the relatively thin population. Lets face it, money and more importantly a sincerely dedicated group supplying a substantial effort is needed to succeed.
What really surprises me is the kind and generous support granted by numerous sponsors by way of prizes. The nicest thing about the endeavor is how hassle free most sponsoring merchants and manufacturers donate once they realize the effort a local group is willing to supply in order to make their big event a success. Personally I feel much better parting with my hobby money knowing that people employed within the industry care enough to give something back. This is one reason for this very article. The other is to encourage this type of event and hopefully bring more people into the hobby.
The game plan centered around attracting some professional flyers to the Halifax, Nova Scotia area. VIP matters were looked after, plus attracting manufacturers and hobby shops alike. Once all this became firmed up other matters received a collective, enthusiastic and motivated effort by the club members of the “Scotia Bladerunners”. Steve and Scott Gray of Ontario, Canada are always at the top of the list and kindly agreed to attend.
Most flyers of this caliber charge thousands of dollars to fulfill such a request, but not these guys. We did however take up a collection to pay the lodging for our guests as a small token for their support. Altruistic people like the Grays make funflys worth while and possible in economically depressed areas. We looked into other flyers of similar caliber and quite frankly our numbers simply could not afford the expense.
As for the other travelers, there is nothing more difficult than arriving at a strange place and looking for accommodation. I decided to research the local hotels and fabricate a list with phone numbers so that modelers would have a simple drive to and from the field, be comfortable, and not have to shell out some major coinage for a decent room. This list was e-mailed to many locations and listed at out web site. Pamphlets for the event posted at various hobby shops and funflys also included contact information. It is also so easy to post events by e-mail to distant hobby shops and national associations these days. This helps to attract as many people as possible.
Substantial prizes and professional model aviators attract the standard sport flyer, and large numbers of flyers tend to attract the public. It becomes a very good opportunity to enlist new blood because so many knowledgeable people are available to happily answer questions and offer encouragement. When people see a diverse attendance of doctors, technicians, laborers, taxi drivers and such happily hanging out together, it suggests the true value of the hobby! I have yet to meet a bigot or nasty person in this hobby and hopefully never will.
This hobby supplies great role models to young people these days which is something the world at large certainly needs. It can be a great family sport and a good educational experience all at the same time. By posting attractive funfly information at places where youth are located can offer a good tug on mom and dad’s arm for attendance.
As we moved along the planning stage we found that in order to please everyone and offer a safe flying environment the field layout needed slight alteration. Static displays are located outside the pits at the opposite end of the flying area away from where the beginners train. The public now has no reason to enter the pits to view the static displays. The beginner area is also positioned so that there is no flying behind the more experienced aerobatic modelers.
This training area is still close enough to the far end of the pits so that experienced help and observation (mandatory spotters) are readily available. Other than this, final prep amounted to a good radio impound, decent food for all, and merchandising tables for our attending sponsors. To gage the food allotment we sent e-mails to request who would be attending, then added a hefty percentage on top of that based on hungry appetites.
We knew of a grocery store close by, so it was more to save the drive there and back. We managed to economically rent several foldable display tables for the weekend. It’s a tad bit of work overall but not so really bad, provided everyone lends a hand and early planning is carried out.
As for the flying time, it is best to treat the guests as guests making sure these people get ample air time regardless of their individual piloting skills. It also gives some of the entertaining VIPs a break for socialising and fair opportunity for those modellers in need of setup assistance. The locals should have their machines setup prior to attending and so we encourage a “help the locally incapacitated” weekend prior to the funfly!
People in need of immediate setup help often forget these same people organising and running the funfly are normally the ones carrying out the setup assistance. These individuals should really be given a break to enjoy what little free time they have.
So now that we have gone over the good manners part of things the interesting portion begins. The attending Vario Canada rep. is fairly new commercially, but has much helicopter experience. Parts supply and technical support has now reached a standard where I can highly recommend Dan Grandmaison and Vario products in my country. He has worked very hard and deserves being given ample credit. Dan arrived with several very high quality scale models and a good number of precision pod and boom machines.
He is very honest about flybarless multi blade rotor heads and will help you get the most from them. Alternately he will recommend a good two blade standard should you want more practical flying in windy conditions. Dan has been using the Vario cyclic (two axis gyro) stabilising system all season and really likes what it does for scale control on a multi blade rotor (flybarless). It brings the model closer to a flybar stabilised condition or flight quality but retains a scale rotor appearances.
What I’d really like to know is how he fits all his merchandise and toys into one van! Dan speaks both French and English, so for a bilingual country like Canada, it is a large help when discussing technical matters.
I have a special interest in the gasoline powered machines and spoke to Dan concerning his modified Benzine Trainer. He has added a longer boom and rotor system to it while changing the rotor drive train ratios to suite a desired 1200 rotor speed. He is using the newer Zenoah G23RC engine originally intended for RC cars. The maximum power band of this engine (19,000) needs operation at higher rpm which is inaccessible through presently supplied gear ratios. Personally I don’t think this kind of engine rpm and piston displacement will be easy on any machine so I expect the present compromise to get slightly better as Dan is working on the gear ratio matter further.
Unfortunately this engine will not fit X-cell, Futura, JR or Bergen machines The Trainer is a very good machine for the scale helicopter and is exceptionally graceful for relaxed flying. When configured or stretched this way it is massive in the air and commands speed along a lovely blade noise befitting an audiophile! It impresses in ways the others cannot even though it is less agile. Certainly a refreshing change from the average gasser.
Scott and Steve Gray are a family team with Scott being basically second from the top in the North American model helicopter flying world. He is also much younger than most everyone else in his snack bracket, so I can only imagine what he will be like when he reaches the age of a person with substantially more “time in” like Curtis Youngblood. He’s chewed off the heels of Mr Youngblood very properly at times, so I feel it won’t be long until he is the top dog! (That’s my way of saying we are all very proud of what he can do).
The Grays explain the newer JR products they represent and offer test flights for some of these items. How often does one get to try out a new, completely setup heli, prior to making the big purchase! Where I found the most technical benefit is from advice concerning JR gyros, servos and various engine/pipe configurations fitted to JR helicopter. I have yet to see these people put down a competitors product in order to promote their own.
I was very impressed as Scott helped an older gentleman new to the hobby with an ailing Raptor radio setup. There seems to be a lot of poorly set-up Raptors about since they are cheap, popular being aimed at the entry level person with no experience and are perhaps sold with little after- market support. Some merchants are even selling beginners stock Raptor kits with OS 46 engines, this practice should stop as it is very difficult to obtain a usable model/engine set-up. While experienced flyers can experiment with this arrangement, a beginner will have great difficulties, while if they use a stock 32 engine such as the OS 32SX-H they will find it far easier.
Speaking of Scott and flying, he has had a positive impact on my 12 year old teaching him death spirals and pinwheels, along with other associated matters I probably don’t want to know about! After the first night of the funfly my son Colin and his friend Andrew stayed up until midnight going through catalogues trying figure out how they could install Scott’s pipe system into their Raptor and Shuttle.
Watching these people fly is a real treat. If you have not observed this type of flying then seeing is believing. Scott at times puts on an amazing night flying display which would seem extreme even in day light. Steve Gray is no slow poke when it comes to quality flying, having very accurate control over the model in whatever he does, which is very substantial. Steve and Scott designed and built their own helicopter lighting system in addition to the fireworks launching system. Pyrotechnics are carried on board and remotely activated with a deployable platform. This is a lot more difficult than just strapping on off the shelf items as most do. Smart stuff.
The Grays now offer a glass fuselage system which fits to JR helicopters. Speaking with Steve on the matter I discovered that the system is load bearing, offering boom strut like support by using monoque construction techniques. This really stiffens up the tail increasing gyro performance. Besides the moments (weight x distance) being balanced fore and aft of the mast so is the exposed surface area. The glass construction quality is of a modern high quality standard and the engine has more than enough cooling air flow through various openings. Visual orientation and a higher maximum airspeed are the practical benefits while the looks of the finished product do no harm either!
East Coast Model Centre out of PEI Canada, now renamed Great Hobbies attended with some scale Ergo products and substantial prizes. They are very good to deal with locally if you own the Raptor or smaller Ergo machines since most all the parts are normally in stock. Ron Lund of Rics generously donated some prizes and is always at the top of my list when I want parts or advice immediately on any machine.
If in need of something special and Ron does not have it, most likely it is not available. cyberheli.com a very good web business, donated unselfishly as did JR, MHW, Thunder Tiger, Leisure-Tech Products, Boca bearings, HiFlight RC Ltd, ACE, Vario, SR Tech Specialities and many Canadian hobby shops. These are most of the major companies the locals tend to spread their money about, simply because of the fair prices and good model helicopter services.
They are in competition with one another commercially, but seem to all get along fine socially. Every participant won a prize based on luck and not flying skill, which to my mind is the only way to go. The only requirement is that a helicopter in any condition or state be brought to the field and the person be registered for the event. This way people still interested in the hobby with broken or moth-balled helicopters may be supplied support and encouragement.
The best prize we all share… model helicopter companionship! The pictures and captions will explain how much fun we had far better than words ever will.