Jay Smith: How did you get involved with model aviation?
Eric Bikales: This time around, I became interested in
learning to fly RC helicopters. I heard they were pretty tricky
to fly, but I managed to progress from an indoor coaxial to an
outdoor collective pitch.
Then Ed Bazel, a good friend of mine who happens to be a
professional musician, asked if I’d like to fly his DJI Phantom
Vision 2 quadcopter. He assured me it was easy. We flew it
in the Nashville, Tennessee, area, landed it safely—and I was
hooked! The two of us started an aerial video company called
Fly By Day Productions and spent the next few years working
I do love flying drones but I am seriously attracted to flying
RC aircraft. I even live on a farm that is perfect for flying. My
next step is to take the plunge and get myself a trainer of some
kind. Probably the best thing for me is to find myself a flying
buddy and start learning the ropes.
I’m actually very excited about it. After I learn to do
takeoffs, keep it flying, and especially land without incident, I’d
love to learn some aerobatics! That would be amazing!
JS: How has model aviation impacted your life and/or career?
EB: I have to chuckle a little at this question because at this
point, flying RC is still a dream of mine. I’m sure it’s going to
happen, but I’m still preparing myself to take the plunge. Most
of your readers are experienced in all facets of RC flying, but
my music career has taken an amazing amount of time and
I wouldn’t trade my career for anything. I’ve been at it since
high school. But I need diversions in my life to stay balanced.
For that reason alone I am grateful for an incredible hobby
like this—not to mention the AMA. Model Aviation magazine
alone is the best magazine out there if you’re interested in
flying and building RC aircraft.
I’m planning my next CD release and I want to combine
flying experiences with my music. I use my imagination to do
this, but I’d like to use some aerial shots to incorporate into the
JS: What disciplines of modeling do you currently participate in?
EB: Although I intend to start flying fixed-wing RC aircraft, I
do love the building aspect! When I was a teenager, I flew and
built many Control Line planes, some from kits, some from
scratch, and all gas powered.
Then I started building gliders. Too often they took weeks
to build, and only a few minutes to destroy! I still want to fly
gliders, although I’m less keen on building just because of the
time factor. Maybe gliders will be my reward for learning to
successfully fly a trainer!
JS: What are your other hobbies?
EB: My other hobby has been amateur radio. I got my ticket
[license] when I was 11 or 12. I absolutely love it, but I let that
slide in college when I started getting very serious about music.
After many years of doing music in Los Angeles, I was
suddenly struck by the urge to get back into it. So I studied
and passed my Extra Class license exam. My call is AC6NT
and I’m a confirmed QRP operator—meaning very low power.
We bounce our signal off the ionosphere sometimes several
In QRP, we often build our own radios, antennas, and all of
the accessories. I’ve worked in well over 100 countries with
less than 5 watts of power. I’d love to figure out a way of
combining all my hobbies.
JS: Who (or what) has influenced you most?
EB: I have to give credit and thanks to Tony, John, Tom, and
Mike Barelli, my good friends since grade school. They are
all exceptional in science and they constantly amazed and
inspired me in all things scientific.
I come from a family totally steeped in the arts—an
amazing family, I might add. But it was the Barelli family that
introduced me to the world of flying. Dr. Carmichael, a brain
surgeon who lived up the street from me, got Mike and me
into ham radio. He was an amazing mentor and Mike now
bears Doc’s old call sign: W0MAF.
JS: Looking back over your musical career, what are you most
EB: I have been involved in the creative end of the music
business for 40-plus years. I love doing the recording sessions,
writing for TV and film, touring,
performing, and now
teaching. I had a very
back in the 1970s
that wound up
in the Kansas
much credit for
helping me to
become a small
part of what
was possibly the
152 Model Aviation DECEMBER2016 www.ModelAviation.com
Eric Bikales Professional musician
by Jay Smith