Pilot Profile - Russ Deakin
Russ with the 3DNT
1. Tell us about yourself, where you live, occupation,
I am creeping up to 36 years old and live in a small Village called Potterspury
situated just outside Milton Keynes in the UK. I have been free-lancing within
the model trade since August 2002. The mainstay of my work has been editorial
assistance to Model Helicopter World magazine and research/development work
for CSM LTD on 560 gyros. I have also been working with Revolution Models on
the development of their version of the 3-D NT to be known as the 3-D NT Classic.
In addition to this, I have also been offering a local model helicopter flight
2. How did you get started in RC helis? When did you
start? What equipment got you started?
I started playing with control-line models when I was about 6 years old and
then moved on to RC fixed wing models when I was about 9 years old. I continued
flying fixed wing 'on and off' until I was around 28 years old, when I started
flying helis. I previously had a brief encounter with heli's that lasted about
two to three months, but this was however plagued with self-induced problems
and poor progress resulting in great expense! Second time round and armed with
the advantage of sensibility, I set about model helicopter flying with a much
more analytical attitude. This made for a dramatically swifter and less painful
progress and I have been flying helis' ever since. My first Heli' transmitter
was a JR 347 which I had also used for fixed wing. The servos where standard
JR 517 entry-level items and I used a mechanical Futaba 154 gyro. I seem to
remember that this was installed into an Hirobo Shuttle, which served the basic
learning purpose very well!
3. What do you think have been some of the greatest advances
in RC helis?
I don't think that the model helicopters have really advanced that dramatically
since I started flying them. Modern designs have simply become much more reliable,
crash resistant, user friendly and less expensive to buy. So simply 'more bang
for the buck' as they say!
Until last year, even engine technology has been very steady over the years
with only slight advances in engine power and reliability. However, with the
recent advent of 90-size engines, this has brought about a race to develop the
ultimate high performance engine and model helicopters to suit. This has obviously
enhanced the most recent model helicopter designs and as engine power output
grows, airframe designs will have to be developed to cope.
I believe that the greatest advances have been with Radio control equipment.
This initially centered on reliable PCM operation and then moved onto digital
servos. However, gyros are with little doubt the one area that have advanced
the most dramatically! The onset of piezo technology saw a huge hike in tail
rotor performance and the advent of 'heading-lock' via the CSM 360 saw an amazing
step forward for 3-D flying.
From a mechanical perspective, future advances will probably continue to be
a steady development of existing technology, whilst any radical advancements
will probably come from electronics. I think we can expect to see improved servos,
e'CCPM control systems and even higher performance Gyro and engine Governor
3DNT Classic as specced by
4. How many gallons would you burn in a year?
This is one hard question to answer with any level of accuracy, as I don't like
to add up the cost of fuel! Once I start a flying session, I tend to keep going
till it's dark or an incident dictates I have to stop. So I do tend to burn
a lot of fuel when I get the chance, but how often I get the chance tends to
vary. So in previous years, I would estimate that I have used between 50-80
gallons of my favored 'Cool Power' fuel each year.
5. What do you enjoy most about the hobby?
I think the most enjoyable aspect of the hobby is achieving a truly reliable
set-up that gives superb all-round performance and retains it regardless of
the conditions. This in itself is a major achievement that allows a constant
reaping of trouble free rewards that allow your flying to progress rapidly.
Within the flying aspect of the hobby
those long warm still summer nights
of flying till the sun goes down are pretty hard to beat! Past this, it has
to be those days when everything just slots into place and you feel like you
have flown well all day long.
6. What advice do you give to someone just starting out
with RC Helis?
My initial advice to anyone just starting out would be to digest as much information
as possible about model helicopters. This can take the format of Magazines,
books or Videos and will help you visualize the overall picture of model helicopter
set-up and flying. Then seek out and join a local club where assistance can
be sought with the initial set-up and first moments of hovering. If no local
help were available, I would strongly advise that professional assistance be
sought to get you up and running safely.
Also choose your first model/engine/radio combination very carefully based on
sound advice from many sources rather than just one or two. Then stick with
your choice until you have genuinely outgrown it. Another point is to concentrate
on flying and steadily stretching your abilities, rather than upgrading your
model to the point where you may be frightened to crash it! So only fit upgrades
when they are required to obtain reliability, or when you can genuinely out-fly
the stock set-up. When considering engines, don't be tempted to go for the ultimate
in engine power, but always opt for the smoothest most reliable set-up possible.
When it comes to flying, work very hard on gaining full confidence within all
basic flying skills before moving into aerobatics. The basic rate of progress
is different for each individual, so work on building up and then stretching
your personal comfort zone. This starts with basic tail in hovering and once
confident, moves into positioning skills and side-on hovering etc. So always
make progress with a new area of flight via a previously learnt skill, which
is the 'comfort-zone'. Too far out of the zone and you will crash, whilst staying
to far in will dictate very slow progress. The best way to gauge how hard to
push yourself, is so that your are 'just on the edge of your comfort zone' and
The Model Helicopter World
7. Tell us about the setup of your primary machine and
reasoning for it.
Whilst I tend to end up flying many types of model, my primary machine is the
new Revolution models 3-D NT Classic. As it is a development model, the overall
set-up is however always being experimented with. The basic set-up of the OS
90 FX, Lottle carb, Hatori-700 pipe and zero Nitro / low oil fuel works brilliantly
with amazing engine reliability. It's like flying a top of the range 90 for
30 running costs and once adjusted, retains the set-up superbly. I am currently
using Futaba 9206 servos because of the high power / low battery drain and a
CSM 560 gyro complimented by a JR 8700G servo.
8. You've been helping Jan Henseleit with development
of his new models, can you describe how you are involved in the development
of the Henseleit machines?
I have been not been giving Jan direct assistance with development, but simply
providing a service to Revolution Models so they can offer a more conventionally
styled model for their UK and US market place. This version will be known as
the 'Classic' and is not intended to replace or rival the original 3-D NT mechanics.
It will simply provide the prospective customer with an option for a more conventionally
styled model helicopter that utilizes the well-respected high quality components
from the 3-D NT. Whilst Jan had little personal involvement in the development
of this project, he has however been commendably progressive and supportive
at every opportunity.
9. You've also been very involved with contributions
and editorial work for Model Helicopter World magazine, tell us a bit about
your role here and how you got into this.
I originally became involved with MHW via Dave Hodgson who was writing for MHW
at the time. I helped out with the flying shots of a review model and Jon Tanner
managed to coax me into writing a regular column. The title 'Close Encounters'
was born from the fact that I had a reputation for getting into plenty of trouble
whilst learning new manouvers/modes of flight, but managed to get out of trouble
at the last second. The whole idea of the column was to create interest in 3-D
flying and pass on information about how to set-up and fly 3-D aerobatics. The
natural progression was to become involved in MHW product reviews and then write
my first book 'An Introduction to Model Helicopter Aerobatics'.
When I decided to become a full-time freelance operative, Jon was extremely
keen to take advantage of my willingness to assist him with the editorial aspect
of MHW. This has allowed for greater coverage of model helicopters via additional
pages and allowed for enhanced concentration on key areas of MHW. My basic role
is to assist with Readers enquires Sales Pitch and the preparation of articles
Model Helicopter World Raptor
10. You have had a close relationship with CSM in the
development and testing of their gyro systems. Describe some of the projects
you've worked on with CSM and maybe a bit about their new gyro, the 560.
Yes I have a superb close working relationship with CSM. My recent Involvement
with CSM started just after last years 3-D Masters Competition. Colin Mill asked
if I would test a prototype version of the 560 from and report back on my findings.
I flew the gyro and found it was a very superior unit with fantastic lock and
pirouette consistency. However, the first prototype version did have some minor
handling issues, which I felt could be improved upon. So I reported back all
my findings and thought's in great detail and the rest is history! Via in-depth
dedicated flight testing and detailed reports, Colin has been able to hone in
on the information and enhance the performance of the 560 gyro to maximum.
The main project I have worked on with CSM is the 560 gyro. We are presently
continuing to explore every possible avenue of future development of this gyro
via enhancements of integral features and software changes. However, Colin has
a host of brilliant ideas for future electronic projects that we hope to start
exploring very soon
so who knows what is just round the corner!
11. European pilots tend to favour the low nitro, tuned
pipe approach in contrast to the common high nitro, muffler arrangement favoured
by many in non-european countries. Tuned pipes are often known for their complexity
and temperament. What are some pointers and tips for getting the most out of
a tuned pipe combination?
The most common link to correct tuned pipe operation relies on two factors.
These are the correct pipe length and correct carburation. Tuned pipes work
by reflecting gases back towards the engine to stop the incoming fuel charge
escaping. This naturally increases efficiency and enhances engine power. The
length of the pipe / engine rpm affects the time that the reflected gases reach
the engine. If the pipe is too short, then the gases reach the engine too quickly
and can cause incorrect running conditions. If the pipe is too long, then little
power is gained and the engine may not want to rev out cleanly to the normal
operating rpm. Setting the pipe length on model helicopters is a simple trail
and error method and involves starting with a long tuned length and reducing
this until the best overall compromise is found. This is however reliant on
the correct carburation being obtainable. Tuned pipes do not like a rich mid-range
fuel mixture as they will drop off the pipe and lose their tuned effect. So
it is often the case that pilots fit a tuned pipe to an engine that is designed
for a muffler where a rich mid-range is more desirable. This can lead to the
top needle being over-leaned to overcome the rich mid-range and cause many running
problems. So whilst tuned pipes will work with most engines, it tends to be
reliant on whether the carburation is suitable for tuned pipe operation. My
general advice is to work on known engine / pipe combinations that are reputed
to work well and then make small adjustments until you find the best compromise
of power/ reliable consistent running.
12. You've also been involved in the operation of 3D
Masters, which has proven to be a very successful event. Tell us what you think
this event has done for the hobby in the UK.
The success of 3-D Masters has superseded all expectations to become the most
influential single factor in the UK 3-D flying scene! Prior to the 3-D Masters,
the UK 3-D scene had become stagnated and whilst many pilots were interested
in 3-D aerobatics, there was little communication between pilots and no focus
to concentrate their efforts. The competition has created a fantastic focus
for 'up and coming' pilots in the UK and the difference this has made to the
UK scene is nothing short of amazing! We now have several incredibly talented
flyers competing at top level and many more relatively new 3-D pilots coming
through the ranks and starting show real potential. The effect of the competition
becoming 'International' has not only made this a world class and well-respected
Competition, but has given all the UK pilots the benefit of seeing many varied
flying styles. In short; the UK 3-D scene is now alive, kicking and a total
buzz of activity!
13. You're perhaps best known for your 3D flying, tell
us what maneuvers you are currently working on, and what you would term as the
most challenging maneuver.
I tend to just fly for fun and experiment with manouvers or modes of flight
that I am most interested in at the time. At present, touch and go flips, rolls
and metronomes appear to supply me with the most amusement, whilst I continue
to play with plenty of knife-edge descents and fast low inverted circuits etc.
The only area of 3-D flying I have actually done any real work on this year
is with trying to lose my 'left to right' wind handing that I allowed to develop
over the last few years. So when I do find enough time to get past the initial
fly for fun session of the days proceedings, I will work on turning manouvers
around and putting the model in all the attitudes / positions that I feel uncomfortable
with. This has been something of an uphill struggle, but I am beginning to make
some pleasing headway now. If there is one piece of sound advice I can give
to anyone starting out in 3-D aerobatics, it is to not allow yourself to become
handed and work on all manouvers / modes of flight so you can perform them from
any wind direction.
Hirobo Freya X-Spec
14. How did the Foot and Mouth disease epidemic in the
UK impact upon both the hobby?
The foot and mouth disease had a devastating effect on the UK for some time.
Very few people could get out and fly and the model trade was hit very hard
across the board. Many pilots did not return to flying after the epidemic, whilst
many came back with greatly renewed enthusiasm. Since the foot and mouth epidemic,
interest in Model helicopters has steadily grown to the point where most of
the trade agree that it is now higher than it ever has been.
15. 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.
Yes this hobby can be incredibly trying and very few seem to escape some degree
of blatant bad luck. I have not had many run's of serious bad luck, but I have
had the occasional radio problems, servo failures, lost a link once and generally
tried to run before I could walk several times! The most infuriating sessions
of bad luck have always been associated around the occasional RX PCM lock out
problem. If we are faced with a mechanical problem, we can usually see it and
then set about fixing it
but not so with an intermittent electronic problem!
All you can do is change items and carefully re-test until the problem appears
to have been resolved and hope your model survives the process.
16. Who would you say has been an inspiration for you
in this hobby?
My initial inspiration came from Curtis Youngblood with his performance at Sandown
park model symposium and via his videos. At that time, I thought helicopters
could only hover and fly around a little, with the occasional loop and roll
thrown in. Curtis certainly blew my concept of model helicopters away and I
have always found the precision of his 3-D flying to be totally awe inspiring.
Further inspiration has come from our UK 3-D legend Bob Johnston. Bob is an
awesome display Pilot who can perform brilliantly in conditions that most pilots
struggle to fly in. I have also yet to see anyone who can rival Bob's mile high
aerobatic auto routines and watch with amazement at how he comes to his special
arrangement with gravity. I personally owe Bob great gratitude for taking the
time to explain many aspects of set-ups and 3-D flying, whilst providing me
with inspiration to push on with my own flying.
The most recent inspiration has come from many of the international competitors
at the 3-D Masters competition. Whilst all were truly amazing, the most notable
of these had to be Jason Krause with his unique precision aggression flying
Another Pilot who I found truly inspirational was Todd Bennett at the 2002 Ircha
Jamboree. Todd's flying was truly amazing and featured the most technically
challenging manouvers I have ever seen a pilot perform.
However, whilst I have only quoted well-known names within the hobby, I find
that inspiration can come form many levels of pilot. It is that moment when
someone does a manouver that little bit different, smoother, or lower than you
can do it yourself that I find inspiring! Overall, I think you can learn something
from everyone in this world and this is especially true within model helicopters.
17. What would you describe as some of the highlights
of your flying career?
As I am not very competitive with my flying and as such I have had very few
direct highlights. On a personal level, learning to land and take-off nose-in
was a great feeling
as was mastering all the basic modes of 3-D flying.
Past this, finally learning to perform pirouetting loops (thanks for the guidance
Bob), getting to grips with pirouetting flips, pie-dish and death dive manouvers
was also great. Coping with flying at the 2002 Ircha Jamboree in front of top
US pilots was also quite surprising, as was being able to work with the awkward
wind direction at this years Sandown Park.
18. What are some of your short term, and long term goals
for your flying?
My only real short-term goal is try to find enough time to keep up my present
flying ability. Long term, I would really like to continue to push on with many
aspects of my flying and expand my repertoire.
19. Any closing comments?
Only that I would like to thank you for offering me the opportunity to speak
openly about my flying and that I would like to wish everyone the very best
of luck with their personal flying!
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