Pilot Profile - Alan Szabo Jr
Alan with his Raptor 60, Airtronics
radio and several trophies
1. How did you get started in RC helis? When did you
My dad got me my first helicopter for my 12th birthday, March 4th. I
started to fly RC airplanes at 5 years old. My dad always would take my brother
and I to the flying field. I loved flying but always wanted to get a helicopter.
I took us 4 months to save up enough money to get the radio, and all the etc.
equipment. It was on July 4th 1998 that we finally got to take it to the flying
field to give it a try.
2. What do you think have been some of the greatest advances
in RC helis?
Since I am kind of young at this hobby, I have only heard some stories
on how hard it use to be. But I would imagine that the computer radio really
made it easier. I never tried an old airplane, 4 channel radio for a helicopter,
but I would imagine that our pioneers had a hand full.
3. How many gallons would you burn in a year?
Well, this is where it a little easier for me. Since I have a sponsor
for fuel its quite easier to burn a lot. If I had to sell newspapers after school
to buy my own fuel I'm sure it would be a gallon every couple of months. On
the average I burn a gallon a day practicing. Now the question comes down to
how often do I fly? I fly every weekend, Saturday, and Sunday, and usually once
or twice during the week. I guess once you calculate that out it would be 75
to 100 gallons a year.
4. What are some of your short and long term goals for
you in RC helis?
When I first started to fly, and seen some other pilots at our field doing loops
etc. I had no ambition on doing aerobatics. I would just hover around pretending
to be a rescue helicopter helping injured victims over a crash site. As weeks
passed I started to do stall turns, loops and rolls right along with them. It
wasn't long after that, people were bringing helicopters out to the field and
having me test fly their helicopters for them. One of my main goals is to represent
the United States on the world helicopter team.
Alan (left) footing it with
the big boys, Jason Krause (middle) and Curtis Youngblood (right) recieving
3rd place at the Extreme Flight Championships.
5. What do you enjoy most about the hobby?
Meeting a lot of people and making friends.
6. Developments such as Heading Hold gyros, large capacity
engines, digital servos and such have accelerated the growth of RC helis, what
do you think the future holds for RC Helis?
I think that it will get easier for the beginner to get a successful start in
the hobby. Of course since I started things also have come down in price.
7. What advice do you give to someone just starting out
with RC Helis?
The best advice that I give people that want to get started in helicopters,
is to go to there local flying field and get one, along with the radio, that
is most popular with the people flying there. They will be more likely to get
good help if someone else is flying and using the same equipment as theirs.
8. You come from a very talented family, your brother
Danny achieved second place in Class I at the 2002 Nationals and Alan won with
a perfect score in Class III, how has your family helped you to get to where
My dad has been behind me since the beginning. He is a great father. Since he
is a mechanic, he has passed them skills on to me, showing me how to assemble
and maintain my own helicopters. My mom gives me great support also. She even
comes to a couple of our events that we go to each year.
9. Up till recently, you were a sponsored pilot flying
Kalt helicopters, it seems that the Kalt line is becoming less and less supported,
maybe even closed out in the US, how do you feel about that?
Kalt had a wonderful product. Like all good things if there not promoted they
will die out.
10. Currently you're flying Thunder Tiger helis. Any
particular reason for choosing the Raptor 60 over the Imperio?
Prior to switching to Thunder Tiger, the 3D Extreme Championships and the 2002
Nats were only 3 weeks away. Within that 3 week period, I had to build and fly
a Raptor 60 and practice with it for a week, and then make the decision to switch.
I used the same helicopter for the 3D Extreme and Nats. There was not enough
time to get a Imperio together and practice Class III also. Maybe next year
in FAI one may be used.
11. Currently you fly Airtronics radios, how have you
found promoting this line in a market dominated by the JR and Futaba brands?
I have found in different locations in the U.S. that the dominating radios change
depending local flying fields. I will agree that I have never found the Airtronics
brand to be the dominating one in the helicopter hobby, but the radio for me
has been flawless.
|Danny (left), Alan Sr (middle) and Alan Jr
12. You're quite young to be so heavily involved in RC
Helis, do you think people of your age are showing less interest in modeling
than say the kids of your parent's generation are?
My dad tells me when he was a kid that a lot of his friends would always go
flying together. I see very little of people my age at our flying field and
event that I attend. In fact my mom kids me that all my friend are 30 and older.
I think unless a kids dad was involved in modeling that he will not get a chance
to experience it with all the other electronic games kids my age seem to do.
13. What are your goals for your flying in the next couple
Make the team trials and fly with the best in the world.
14. You're very skilled at both FAI style flying and
3D, which style do you prefer most and why?
I like the 3D flying but incorporate some FAI into it also. As every FAI pilot
will tell you it takes a lot of dedication to practice hovering maneuvers. I
hope in the future that they will keep adding harder 3D type maneuvers into
the schedule A and B as time goes on. It is really hard to pick which one I
like better, its just that 3D is done more due to the lack of FAI event in the