Pete with one of his new X-Specs
Flying the Xcell Fury
Pilot Profile - Pete (Panos) Niotis
1. Tell us about yourself, where you live, occupation,
I am 33 years old, born and raised in Chicago. I relocated from Chicago to Grand
Haven, Michigan about nine years ago and now married with two daughters ages
five and seven. My wife and I currently own and operate a Chicago Style Fast
Food restaurant here in Michigan. My father owned several restaurants in Chicago
so this has been a business that I have been around since I was old enough to
remember. My previous passion/hobby was playing the drums, my obsession for
the drums lasted about 15 years.
2. How did you get started in RC helis? When did you start?
What equipment got you started?
I always had a fascination for R/C when I was little because we would occasionally
drive by an R/C related park in Chicago and sometimes my parents would pull
over so we could watch the R/C plane guys fly. A little over three years ago
I decided I needed a hobby and did some research online in regards to R/C and
to my surprise stumbled onto some R/C related helicopter sites, the date would
be around the end of April 2000. One week later I had a Nexsus 30 Deluxe with
an OS32 and Realflight Deluxe. Almost one month after that (May 27th, 2000)
I hovered the Nexsus for the first time and was very successful considering
I had no help initially besides the info I found online.
3. What do you think have been some of the greatest advances
in RC helis?
I would have to say primarily the advancement of digital servos, gyros and the
introduction of big block motors.
4. How many gallons would you burn in a year?
My first year, I burned about 50 gallons flying a 30 size heli and closer to
100 gallons the second year flying primarily 60 size helis. This year I've burned
over 100 gallons primarily through big block motors.
5. What do you enjoy most about the hobby?
I really enjoy the comradery shared between us pilots when attending events,
making new friends and meeting up with friends that I've made over the past
6. What advice do you give to someone just starting out
with RC Helis?
Baby Steps; don't jump past the basic fundamental maneuvers, be patient and
you will progress at a much quicker pace. Leaping past the fundamentals will
always slow you down later and possibly compromise the safety of yourself and
7. Tell us about the setup of your primary machine.
My current setup is a Freya X-Spec - Standard mechanical mix (7.91 Gear Ratio),
690mm V-Blades, V-Paddles and Tail Blades, YS91, MP2, GY601, GV1, Duralite 3600mah
rx pack, Airtronics 8 channel PCM receiver and Airtronics 94758z's on cyclic
8. You've been sponsored by a number of brands in the
past and have now gone back to Hirobo flying the Freya X-Spec. During this time
you would have experienced many qualities of different helicopters. What qualities
do you look for in a helicopter now?
I look at tracking and precision qualities, minimal control interaction, position
of fuel tank, overall durability, simplicity in mechanics and adjustability
of the head.
9. Lately there has been a lot of development in the
formats of 3D oriented competitions, such as the Xtreme Flight Championships,
3D Masters and lately, the 3D Glory Cup, how do you feel about these competitions
and how they develop the cause of 3D flight?
I think these competitions are great! I believe these competitions will give
the community of 3D pilots common goals to reach while also allowing each of
us to artistically express our flying through the freestyle part of the competitions
which will increase the interest level for the pilots and spectators.
10. This year you competed in the Xtreme Flight Championships.
How did you prepare for this event and what lessons did you learn that would
be applicable to others who are thinking of entering such events?
Preparation for me involved burning four gallons a week of disciplined practice;
I would go to the field and work on the required maneuvers mostly and also work
on some basic maneuvers that I believed needed work. My advice for those interested
in competing in an event like the XFC or 3DMasters is to diligently keep working
on the fundamentals in all orientations and most importantly to practice deliberate
placement of entrance and exit of any given maneuver.
11. What has helped you make the greatest advances in
your flying? (Flying buddies, certain heli, certain radio, lots of fuel etc?).
Burning fuel and attending events.
12. Who would you say has been an influence in your flying
Curtis Youngblood was the pilot initially that really sparked my interest in
smooth and controlled 3D. Flying with Jim Stark has also influenced my flying
style; we have been good flying buddies the past two years and continue to push
each others limits and share ideas and concepts in regards to the hobby.
13. What do you feel are some of the biggest misconceptions
in our hobby?
Pilots searching for stick input help for any given maneuver is something I
believe to be a misconception by both the pilots asking for the help and the
pilots that provide them with the stick input help. I truly believe if you have
to ask what stick inputs are needed to do a given maneuver than you are not
ready to do it. Stick input help should only be passed along to new pilots learning
to hover. Learning to fly an RC helicopter safely while exhibiting a high level
of skill requires all of us to follow a logical sequence of practice.
14. Our hobby can be very trying at times, we all sometimes
get runs of bad luck, give us an example of a frustrating run you had.
I'd have to say Ircha 2002 was the most frustrating for me
I crashed my
Fury the first day at ircha due to pilot error and the last day of ircha I crashed
my Fury due to a mechanical failure.
15. What would you describe as some of the highlights
of your flying career?
Competing in the XFC and overcoming obstacles in my flying that sometimes made
me feel like I wanted to give up.
16. What are some of your short term, and long term goals
for your flying?
Short term goal is to win a competition like the XFC or 3DMastersJ, Long Term
goal is to keep learning about the mechanical side and to hopefully participate
in the R&D process in the furture.
17. Any closing comments?
Practice, Be patient, Be safe, don't be afraid to express safety concerns to
others, common sense is your best friend.