For several years, I often talked with my buddies of attending a RC helicopter school as a group and for one reason or another it always ended with maybe next year. Late last year, I said enough of that, I’m doing it and does anyone really want to join me. My buddy Erik agreed to bite the bullet and I called Todd and arranged for us to attend at the start of the rainy season in So Cal.
We watched the weather closely as the date approached because it had been raining for over 2 weeks and I discussed it with Todd. It was improving, so we decided to drive to Moorpark. Todd’s website had some recommended hotels in the area. Erik and I used an internet bidding site and found a really nice place in Thousand Oaks for $55 a night with a real breakfast included and within 20 minutes of Todd’s school. Lots of hotels and great restaurants in the area. Todd is a monster when it is about helicopters and talks about them constantly. A mutual friend of Erik and I had taken the school years ago and said the same. Still has the passion. It wasn’t until after we were all done with training and heading home did he talk about anything else.
Now for the school. Erik and I were excited and met Todd bright and early the first day at the school. We were to use his Synergy N9s with YS.61s, but brought our models for the setup ground school. The class is held in his garage, which is a great venue. The sunshine, shade, cool breeze, good lighting, benches, and a general relaxed atmosphere was like hanging out with your buddies. Todd’s demeanor is very relaxed. He is a great pilot, but he isn’t pretentious. He really wants to transfer knowledge to you. Todd doesn’t make it about him, he wants you get the info he is teaching. We went over my Vibe and right away I got a lecture about the weird setup I had. Somehow I had copied another model and it was messed up. So I licked my wounds and just listened, because I was there to learn from someone I regard as a real authority and a mover and shaker in the industry. That consumed a lot of time, but the Vibe is now so smooth and does it all at a lower rpm (1750) than most use at my field. I get comments about how smooth it sounds and flys. Collective management. After that Todd looked over my N9 and Erick’s Trex 600 and both were good to go with some simplification modifications like fuel line plumbing. The first day was spent on setup. He covers any subject area you are interested in learning, but to break it up, when we took breaks Todd talked about areas of rc helicopters such as manufacturing. For me this was very interesting along with the other aspects of the rc heli industry. After Todd went over Erik’s Trex 600 and my Vibe 50 and N9, we left for the day and headed back to our hotel.
The next morning Todd had his N9s loaded along with his tools and fuel. We followed him to the flying site, which is about 15 minutes away thru Moorpark. The site is magnificent. It is situated on top of a plateau with surrounding valleys and hills, away from homes, with a tall tree for shade and a picnic table. Right away Todd put two folding chairs out and has the second guy that flys, to fuel the heli, while he briefs the student on what the flight will entail. I didn’t want to be the first guy up, but before I knew it, I are sitting down and Todd puts the heli up high and had me flying maneuvers right away such as flips and tumbles and backwards rolls. The second flight more backwards rolls, nose down Tic-Tocs, and then Death Spirals. The third flight was Rolling Tail Slides and inverted autos. The fourth flight consisted of Traveling Flips and a review. I had a plate full of maneuvers to practice when I get home. Erick did the same maneuvers, plus Piro-Flips.
At this point school was out, but the fun was just beginning. I would have liked to have had 2 solid days of flying. So I plan on doing more classes with Todd. One advantage with Todd is if a traveling school is short of the 4 students needed, you can join one that is short if it works out for all. I still can’t get any others to do a school, except Erik because of the same excuses or reasons, so we plan on joining a San Jose group. I can tell I want to do at least 3 more classes. It’s an ongoing learning process. Todd takes each student at whatever level of flying he is at and works from there. You don’t have to be exactly at the same as the other students in your class.
I highly recommend Todd’s school. If you attend a school session, you will learn something new. That will open up your learning curve to broader horizons. The cost of the school is relatively inexpensive. Less than many micro-helis. If travel and hotel expenses are a concern, have him come out to teach your group or incorporate it with a vacation or business trip. It is close to Burbank and LAX if you are using an airline or Van Nuys if using General Aviation.