Can I Fly My RC Helicopter In The Wind? n

Can I Fly My RC Helicopter When It Is Windy?

Published: August 2, 2019


Categories: R/C Helicopters

It seems wherever we go with our RC craft, the wind follows us. Those of us who’ve been active in all things RC for a while always have our eyes on the treetops, praying for calm weather to ensure a pleasant flight. Even the lightest breeze can affect the lighter and smaller models people commonly use to train RC flying. This article will focus on how to estimate wind speed and recommend techniques on how to fly your RC helicopter in windy weather.

Anything Over 20 mph is Too Much!

You might have friends who brag about flying their craft in 25 or 30 mph. Unless they can provide proof in the form of hard data, don‘t believe them. Most users of RC toys overestimate wind speed dramatically due to a lack of perspective rather than an attempt to impress other users. This is hardly a surprise because in the U.S., we get wind speed in miles per hour and knots, which throws us off. The following applies:

·         8 to 12 mph is a soft breeze

·         12.1 to 18 mph is a moderate breeze

·         18.1 to 25 mph is strong wind (fly at your own risk)

·         25.1 to 31 mph is the upper limit and anything above that is a gale!   

How Can I Estimate Wind Speed without an App? 

Most pilots go to a local field to test their RC helicopter. This field will have pieces of grass, dandelions, or something else that gets blown around by the wind. To estimate wind speed, throw a dried dandelion seed up into the air and try to assess how far it has gone in a second. If it travels 45 feet in a second, that means the wind is around 30 mph. As noted, this is the upper wind limit, tantamount to excessive wind, which we don’t recommend flying in.

OK, the thing with the dandelion seed isn’t for everyone. Another option is using a windsock. Full-scale and RC windsocks will be half extended in a soft breeze (see above) and fully extended in strong wind (20 to 25mph). You can safely fly a light model in a 5 to 7 mph breeze, but it’s a lot more work and not as much fun when it’s stronger than that. Bigger, heavier models are better equipped to handle wind. Still, unless you’re very experienced, it’s best to put your RC heli away at anything higher than 20mph.

How Do I Handle The Helicopter?

If you’re flying in a tailwind, take care not to lose speed. Pilots are naturally inclined to release the throttle and fly too slowly because they want to match the downwind groundspeed to the upwind or calm groundspeed. Know what the wind speed and wind direction is, and also be aware of the usual elevator and throttle settings for your make and model at different airspeeds. Never give in to the temptation to fly the heli too slowly in a tailwind.

Takeoff and landing are the most crucial times to be aware of wind speed and direction. As a rule of thumb, you should land (check this page out for more on this) and take off directly into the wind.

How Do I Avoid Crashing?

Make sure you power the battery and keep your helicopter in sight. It’s no accident so many of them come in neon colors. According to experts, if you’ve lost sight of it, it’s likely that nothing good has happened to it. What is more, quad rotors and micro coaxial helicopters fly differently from a collective pitch device with a single rotor.