An update from Ian Emery
I know I always begin with similar comments but where has this year gone? And what a year it has been and not only the superb summer we've had. Since I last posted, I've moved house and started a new job so it's been pretty hectic. I normally try and provide updates throughout the season but since I haven't managed that I thought I would give you a season overview.
I've always wanted to have a custom fuselage painted and with this year being the RAF's 100th Anniversary, I thought it would be nice to have an RAF inspired paint scheme. Once settled into the new house, I used the winter to start putting my design down on paper. After several modifications it was finally ready to be painted. As I don't have the skills to do it myself, I turned to Mike Coutts at Aurora Customs. He provided regular updates throughout the painting process and I was simply amazed with the final product. If anyone is planning a similar project, I would highly recommend him.
With my SAB Urukay still performing flawlessly, I decided to take the plunge and buy another one for the new fuselage to go on. Throughout the 2017 season, I couldn't help but feel a little vulnerable only having the one helicopter.
After lots of work planning and organising in what was shaping up to be a really busy 2018 Euro Heli Series (EHS) Calendar, the season was soon upon us. First off was Belgium. We had been to the Haaltert site a few times now but unlike previous years the weather was absolutely glorious all weekend. It was a really good turn out and it was really good to catch up with friends and to see some new faces there. It's really good to see new pilots coming into F3C and the EHS World Cup competitions are fantastic at improving your skills and being able to fly against the best pilots in Europe in a really relaxed atmosphere. As always, I wasn't feeling overly confident as my pre-season training hadn't gone to plan, but after 3 rounds of the P schedule I found myself in the top 10 and had qualified for the finals on the Sunday. I don't fly this as much as I should, but after 2 respectable rounds I managed to finish in 10th place.
Next up was the long trip to Monselice near Venice, Italy. This was the furthest Competition I had travelled to for the EHS and decided it would be a good idea to split the 1050 miles over 2 days. Day 1 was an early start, but we managed over 700 miles and had decided to stay at Chamonix next to Mont Blanc. Whilst it was raining pretty hard by time we got there, the next morning wasn't too bad and we managed to get a superb view of a glacier whilst eating some pain au chocolat for breakfast. After a quick hop through the Mont Blanc tunnel, we were in northern Italy and continued through Milan, stopping at Sirmione, Lake Garda for lunch and a quick walk round. There was a noticeable change in temperature from Chamonix. We carried onto the flying site which had just seen a torrential downpour and the entrance to the field was flooded. The following morning it was still pretty wet but managed to get the car onto the field for a bit of practice. It was strange bringing both helicopters back to Italy and I was only an hour or so North of the new SAB factory. That afternoon we went into Venice for a bit of sightseeing which was memorable for more reasons than one. Top tip, if you buy a train ticket in Italy, make sure that you validate it before you get on. Looking on the bright side, at least my wallet was 30 Euros lighter whilst walking around the beautiful streets of Venice. Friday was practice day and after a few flights I was happy with how they were flying so had a bit of a lazy afternoon in the scorching Sun. The competition couldn't have gone much better. I had managed to finish in 8th place, although I had apparently forgotten how to roll the helicopter and kept putting unwanted controls in. Oops! It was a real pleasure to fly against and chat to World Champion, Ennio Graber. I've only met him once before at the European Championships in Poland and he is a true gentleman and a great ambassador of F3C.
Next up was another new site. Vlissingen in the Holland is one of our closest competitions of the year. One again we were blessed with stunning weather all weekend. The club chairman had really pulled out all the stops to make us feel really welcome. Whilst I was really happy how both helicopters were flying, my original helicopter was just feeling a little bit more consistent especially in the hovering manoeuvres. I couldn't really understand why as both helicopters are almost identical. I elected to fly my original helicopter and it didn't let me down. I had done over 500 flights on this one and was really impressed how it was standing up and how little maintenance I have had to do. This was once again a really good turn out with 23 pilots and I managed to finish in 6th place which I was elated with.
Next up was the UK competition where we had decided to hold it at the BMFA's National centre which is at Buckminster. All the European pilots comment how Britain is always wet and windy, however we have had the best summer in years so this was our chance to really put people straight over the British weather. Yeah right!! After weeks of glorious weather with little wind, we were faced with almost horizontal rain and gale force winds. This is really frustrating, you try and plan everything so that everyone has a good weekend and it runs smoothly and you forget one thing. I didn't nominate someone to book the weather. After a gruelling first round, we decided to take a break and re-convene later that afternoon. It didn't seem likely that we would get to fly again, but a drop in wind early evening allowed us to get a second round complete. I was sitting in 7th place and it looked highly unlikely we would get any flying done on Sunday due to a forecast of heavy rain all day. Unfortunately, the weather forecast proved to be accurate, so no further flying took place and the positions stood.
Last on the EHS calendar was a pretty long trip to RC Parken which is near Aabenraa, Denmark. We get to fly at some truly spectacular sites but this one really is a thing of dreams for an RC enthusiast. Notice how I say RC enthusiast, this site has a runway, a lake for RC boats, 2 RC car tracks one of which is of road and has raised stands for a better viewpoint. Not to mention a club house which has 2 bathrooms, a shower room and a stunning kitchen. We were really spoilt by the club members and owner who really made us feel welcome and took good care of us all weekend, especially the Danish banquet on the Saturday evening. Whilst there were plenty of familiar faces, it was good to see other pilots from the Scandinavian countries taking part. After the 3 rounds of the P schedule I was much further up the leader board than I thought I would be and lay in 5th place. Unfortunately, I had to do a little maintenance in between rounds to replace a part that had failed. I should have replaced it a long time ago but as it was running so well, I had put off a few things until the end of the season. After a steady 2 final flights, I left Denmark a very happy man in what had been a fantastic EHS season.
All that was left now was the UK National championships.
It was another testing weekend with a stiff crosswind all weekend. I had noticed that with my particular setup, a crosswind was a bit of a battle and something I would have to have to concentrate on going into the winter. After 4 tough rounds, I was lying in 3rd place and had qualified for next year’s World Championships in Germany. One of my biggest dreams was to receive a British World Championship Team badge to go with my European championship one. Unfortunately, next year I will probably have to move house again and start looking for a new job so I have had to had the baton over to my good friend and team mate Roger Mayo. The penultimate round of the season was a real challenge, I had drifted too much on the inverted pirouette prior to the auto-rotation. By time I had realised, it was too late to bail out of the manoeuvre. I made the split-second decision to let it fall into the grass from about 6ft causing a little damage but enough to put it out of action.
I was planning on a strip down over the winter as this model has seen a lot of flying over the past 2 seasons. However, this mishap had forced me into it much earlier. On a positive note, it means that I can focus on fine tuning my settings for windier days. As always, I'm pleased to say that the Japanese EZO bearings have really stood up to the demands over the past 2 years and can't thank the team at SMB Bearings enough for their continued support.
After a complete bearing and belt change (along with a few parts after the crash) the helicopter is now ready to commence battle once more next year.