Flying RC Helicopters – The Educational Aspects of It


by: Jen Chan

So you have finally spent a significant amount of time and money to bring home that long awaited flying beauty of yours. That’s right! RC Helicopters are not just fun, but to a large extent can teach you all that physics that your teacher in school couldn’t help you understand. RC helicopters, just like a normal plane, can fly forward, dive, climb and turn right and left. However, a helicopter is capable of doing all of these along with rotating 360 degrees, flying sideways and backwards. Isn’t that cool!

Helicopters have incredible maneuverability, which makes them such a favorite toy among RC flying enthusiasts. However, unlike planes they have a completely different system of control and are in fact much harder than you expect. Flying a helicopter demands a lot of concentration, and above all, good time control skills, which can come only through experience and a lot of knowledge on how these beauties work.

A typical helicopter has a rotor located above the fuselage with 2 rotor blades that stretches from a central head. A very important component of the helicopter is the swashplate beneath the rotor head and has a revolving and a non revolving disc located on it. This swashplate is connected with the control stick which can be tilted in any direction by the pilot.

It is important to understand the basics of pitch angle so you know the main function of rotor blades.

What is Pitch Angle?

Also known as the Angle of Attack, the pitch angle is the amount of airfoil lifted on the rotor blade as it moves through the air. Just like a plane, the rotor blade of the helicopter has airfoil profile that lifts up when these blades rotate, exactly how you see on a plane wing. This pitch angle can be controlled in two ways – cyclically and collectively.

So what’s Collective Control?

When the control lever is moved up and down by the pilot, the lever in turn directs the swashplate to lower or rise on the motor without tilting it in any way. This lever can only move up or down and is associated with the direct movement of the helicopter. If you lift the lever the helicopter rises, and if you lower the lever, the helicopter lowers down.

The control of the swashplate by the pilot makes it change the pitch of all the rotor blades at the same degree at the same time. This collective movement in order to operate a single movement of the object gave it the ‘Collective pitch control’ name. 

Cyclic control

Cyclic control means that the control stick can move in all directions other than just moving up or down. When the rotor blade changes the angle of pitch in a cyclic movement, we can tilt the helicopter however we want, and this is how the name has been derived. Cyclic control is generally used for controlling pitch and roll, and is often referred to as elevator (pitch) and aileron (roll).

Improving Eyesight, Concentration and Patience 

Learning to fly an RC helicopter is indeed much complex that picking up how to drive an RC car without crashing on the walls. There are quite a few things that need to be addressed. Traditionally many of us are lead to believe that good RC heli flying skills come from instinctive reflex actions and inborn eyesight, but I disagree with such wrong assumptions. In my opinion, many people do not pick up the art of RC flying because they haven’t got their initial training from a professional. 

RC Helicopters For Children And Adults – The Benefits

It goes without saying that flying RC helicopters have some unforeseen advantages. It is not very easy getting hold of these little toys. Unlike an RC car or boat, you have to consider many factors such as wind resistance, taking off and landing when dealing with an RC helicopter. By learning to fly RC helicopters, you will dramatically improve your concentration and patience.

In today’s world where most families rely on television sets and computers for education, money, empowerment and entertainment, there is no surprise why obesity and cardiovascular diseases become a part of most families. Many children grow into obese adults because they are not used to being physically active. These issues can be address to a large extent by encouraging them with hobbies that demand a lot of outdoor activities. This is where flying RC helicopters come into the scene. RC choppers encourage outdoor activities and it is not just about exercise. Flying RC choppers ensures that your eyes get adjusted to sunlight and you are breathing fresh air.

Yet another vital aspect to flying helicopters is improving one’s concentration power and patience. Children when flying these amazing beauties, not only enjoy the sport, but indirectly develop good concentration power and patience that is later applied to their lives as well. Studies have proved that active children find greater motivation and organizational skills than less active children, as their brain is constantly alert and results in better learning skills.

What Age is Suitable ?

Increasing physical activity right from the age of four can actually help your child to gain many benefits, including learning to fly an RC helicopter like a pro. Children under parental guidance and supervision can incredibly learn faster to fly than adults.

Apart from the aspect of learning to fly an RC helicopter, children also learn some essential characteristics that help them to be a better citizen. Children under the guidance of parents subconsciously learn the most important trait known as obedience. That’s right, unless the child carefully listens to his parent, he will not be able to fly the RC toy properly, and constant practice of lessoning and learning inculcates discipline and obedience. Along with the controlling of RC helicopters comes the Focus needed. Children will learn to focus when they are controlling the toy, something which many attention-deficit children are lacking nowadays in class.

Grasping power is also another feature that adds to your child’s character when he is with you and being guided on how to operate a complex toy makes him capable of developing superior grasping and understanding skills. This can later be applied on his studies and problem solving skills.


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