Michigan Whirlybirds History

At our June 14th, 2006 meeting we were honored to have as our guest Dave Keats, the founder of the Michigan Whirlybirds. He presented the club with a copy of AMERICAN aircraft modeler magazine from April 1974. In the Special Interests column, there was a picture of the Michigan Whirlybirds taken in 1972. The following is the text and pictures from Page 74 of that issue. The magazine is in the Michigan Whirlybirds archive.


German Activity: Fritz Bosch and son, Hans-Michael, have both been very active in European RC helicopter competition. Hans won fourth place in the Italian competition and first at the German NATS. Fritz came in third in the latter. Both contests required hovering. vertical flight, spot turns, forward and backward flight, sidewise flight, figure eight and rectangular landing approach. The Italian contest offered high points for autorotation and looping, but no one even attempted either maneuver.

Ernie Huber, U.S. NATS winner in RC Helicopter, was allowed to compete in the German NATS and came in eighth, flying his new Kavan Bell Jet Ranger instead of his more familiar Schuco-Hegi Huey cobra. It takes a good bit of flight time to get used to a different type model. Even reducing collective pitch and flying at a higher rpm quickens all the controls (as I found out at the cost of a pair of blades). Going from Hiller to Bell is to change from slow initial response, with fair sustained response, to quick initial response with slower sustained response. The Hi Her servo rotor is parallel connected to main rotor cyclic, and has 100 percent authority. The pilot has to precess the servo rotor in order to put a control into the main blades. Once a rate of precession has been established, it will continue at that rate until the control is neutralized.

The Bell stabilizing bar is connected differentially to the main blades through a mixing lever, as is the pilot's cyclic input. The bar has limited authority. Either the pilot or the bar can instantaneously change blade pitch without moving the other. However, after a pilot initiated control, the helicopter tilts while the bar lags behind. This wipes out part of the control the pilot put in. Ernie found that adding 30 gm of weight to each main blade tip, and putting 40 gm of friction in the stabilizer bar pivot took away some of the extreme sensitivity around neutral, and increased the

The Michigan Whirlybirds RC Club, the first club specifically formed for the rotor crowd. (Left to right) Al Stein, Chuck Sherman, Pete Nill, Jim West, Harry Brady, Carlos Lobannitti and Dave Keats. A very active group, by the looks of things.

following rate of the bar. This initial sensitivity of the controls is not necessarily bad. Some pilots tike it that way. On real helicopters it is called "quickening." If a control happens to be a bit sluggish, it can be made to move farther initially, and then be partially washed out as time goes on. Too much quickening, however, makes it difficult to apply a control correction smoothly. The Hiller system can be quickened as desired by increasing paddle area and aspect ratio, increasing control throw, increasing rotor rpm, or decreasing paddle weight.

Model Helicopter Association: Biggest news in RC helicopter flying in the US is the impending formation of an association of model helicopter builders and pilots, as the official governing body for that sport. This organization will be responsible for running national contests, setting up rules and sanctioning U.S. records. It is being organized through the mighty efforts of Dario Brisighella. with help and advice from prominent RC chopper pilots. Considering that the blades of one of these choppers can (at full throttle) slice up a broom handle like a piece of bologna. SAFETY is uppermost in the minds of the organizers. It you have ideas on rules, maneuvers and organization, get in your two cents worth by writing to Dario at 1032 E. Manitowoc Ave., Oak Creek, Wisc. 53154. The rules must be published far in advance of the contest so that the pilots can get in some meaningful practice before hand.

RC Helicopter Club: Dave Keats and some friends around Troy, Michigan, have formed perhaps the first RC helicopter club in the country - the Michigan Whirlybirds RC Club. Beginning helicopter fliers need more help and advice than other RC pilots both in adjusting the machine and in flying it. In a club, someone is sure to have experienced any problem that the new flier comes up against, possibly saving him crashes and hours of rebuilding time. In addition, a club with good workers is what is needed to put on a successful contest.

Hans-Michael Bosch, son of Fritz, lands; his Kavan Jet Ranger on the stabilizer of a huge model of the Lockheed C-5A Galaxie. Is this model radio-controlled, or does the pilot ride inside?!