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Safety for the Beginner

Written by Adrian Fletcher     

Monday, 26 May 2008 13:06

Safety should be the number one priority for the beginner and experienced alike. But learning a good routine at the start will not only save you hundreds of pounds in broken parts but may also save you and others from serious injury.

This article is intended to be a brief overview of the essentials which I have picked up over the years. More detail can (and should) be found in the BMFA handbook.

Before setting off to the field

Yes, even before you set off in your car you need to start thinking about things which are considered as points for safety.

If possible cycle your batteries during the week when you're not flying. This is more important for NiCad batteries as memory will occur and the cells will loose there ability to hold a full charge. Cycling means to fully discharging and then charge your batteries, preferably by using a purpose designed charger.

It is good practice to occasionally charge your batteries on one day, leave at least overnight and then discharge the next day. Note the amount of current discharged, it should be similar to the capacity of the battery, this is an indication of the battery's health. The larger the difference in discharge current from battery capacity, the worse the battery's condition.

These days most mid to top-end range chargers (£40-£100) have this cycling facility.

Always charge your batteries the night before you plan to fly this is because modern NiMah batteries quickly self discharge. Charging should preferably be done using a slow charge rate e.g. 500mA or less for batteries of 2000mAh or more, this will increase your battery's life.

Don't forget to allow enough time to charge both your transmitter and receiver battery packs !

On the Bench (or Dinner Table)
When you have some time during the week or just before putting your gear in the car, take the canopy off and clean your heli. Whilst you are doing this you can perform a full inspection, this should include checks on:

At the field
Get used to setting up your 'pitch' in the same way each time.

Pre-flight Checks

Starting your heli
Always hold the head of the heli when starting, no matter what happens you must NEVER EVER let go of the head. If the engine should start at any other setting than idle then the engine will scream. If you let go of the head and any momentum is allowed to build in the blades then it's curtains for your heli and maybe injury for you and others.

If your engine starts and goes to full revs then quickly check your transmitters throttle stick to ensure its at idle and if it is then either tightly nip the engines fuel line with your free hand or put your finger over the pipe/muffler outlet but do not at anytime allow the heli or its head to move.

Pick up your heli by the head, keep your transmitter aerial down as you walk out to the flight line, make sure you pick a spot where you won't interfere with anyone else already flying (only 4 flyers allowed at any time).

Put your heli down, aerial up, walk back at least 10m (30ft) and spool up slowly. As the speed builds in the head perform final control surfaces checks before lifting into the air.

Put the model on the ground again and shutdown if there is anything unusual about the flight at all.

During a flight you must never:

Finishing your flight

Shutdown the engine whilst on the flight line, put your transmitter aerial down.

Put the throttle to idle and hold it there whilst, switching off receiver and then switch off the transmitter.

All before walking back to the pits to take your peg off the board and do your post flight clean / inspections.

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