Left: Former team manager,
Tim DiPeri (L), with current
Team USA F3C member, Dwight
Schilling. Dwight has been
on the team for several years.
Right: Winner of the 2014
Nats, Nick Maxwell, flies
his Thunder Tiger Raptor,
while fellow 2015 USA
F3C World Championship
team member, Daniel
Hiatt, looks on.
F3C contest flying
Most helicopter pilots are familiar with 3-D flying and the numerous contests in which they can compete, but did you know that there is an alternative style of
flying that is highly competitive? You may have heard others
talking about F3C or Precision Helicopter flying and wondered
what it was all about.
I caught up with Tim DiPeri at the 2014 International Radio
Controlled Helicopter Association (IRCHA) Jamboree. He
served as the USA F3C team manager in 2011.
Tim has been flying helicopters since 1978 and flew in his
first contest in 1982 with a modified
Schluter Mini Boy. His first Nats was
in 1983, so it’s no understatement
that Tim knows a thing or two about
Chris Mulcahy: What was it like to be
the team manager in 2011?
Tim DiPeri: In 2011, I served as US
Helicopter team manager in Italy.
Looking back, it was one of the most
difficult and fulfilling things I have ever
been involved in. The team manager
has a number of duties—most revolve
around raising money to support the
team. I feel very fortunate to have been
able to accomplish that part of the duty.
I’m proud to say we captured a
third-place team standing and had the
(then) rookie F3C pilot, Nick Maxwell,
as part of the team.
CM: For those who aren’t familiar with
F3C, can you explain what it is?
TD: People tend to lump all Precision Helicopter flying into
the F3C terminology. In fact, F3C is an international schedule
of helicopter maneuvers governed and decided by the FAI,
which dictates international model aviation competition rules.
The F3C schedule of maneuvers changes from time to time,
(usually every two to four years), and contains a series of
precision hovering, (two for the 2015 World Championship),
as well as a number of precision aerobatic maneuvers with an
autorotation landing maneuver.
Each of the maneuvers is described within the F3C rules
and is judged by five judges on a scale from 0 to 10 with
half points available. Unlike a typical 3-D competition, the
maneuvers do not have a great deal of creative latitude—a
3-second roll is exactly that.
CM: Can anyone fly F3C?
TD: F3C does not contain
very difficult maneuvers,
so the short answer is yes. I
can also say the same about
golf—just put the little white ball in the hole! I often equate
hovering to putting. It’s a little boring to watch, but takes
incredible skill and experience to do it correctly.
If anyone is interested in F3C flying, I would urge them to
start with the AMA Nats Precision classes. The maneuvers
are interesting and give a newer competitor an opportunity to
understand what the judges are looking for.
Finally, anyone wanting to get into competition flying should
start with the basics—get the model flying as well as it can for
competition flight (a bit different than normal 3-D flying).
CM: Are special equipment and helicopters required?
TD: Prior to 2014, I would say that the rotor head, when we
were required to use flybars, was the most important part of
the model. Today, because we are allowed to use flight control
121 Model Aviation DECEMBER 2014