[Headline: IRCHA 2014]
[Subhead: The Jamboree celebrates its 25th anniversary]
[Author: Chris Mulcahy]
[Photo credit: Photos by the author and Jennifer Orebaugh]
[Sidebar: In text file]
[additional callout: photos, finalists]
2014 IRCHA Jamboree Sponsors
SAB Heli Division
Scorpion Power System
Mikado Model Helicopters
KDS Models USA
Thunder Power RC
Hitec RCD USA
Synergy R/C Helicopters
R/C Rotors and Aerial Media
Helicopter pilots from all over the world convene each year at the International Aeromodeling Center in Muncie, Indiana, to attend one of the largest RC helicopter gatherings to date: the International Radio Controlled Helicopter Association (IRCHA) Jamboree. IRCHA is AMA’s helicopter Special Interest Group (SIG), and the organization has a little experience putting this event together. This year represented the IRCHA Jamboree’s 25th anniversary.
You’ll find a little bit of everything at the event, and people from all walks of life. There is everything from 3-D to Speed, Scale, and vintage machines. Manufacturers often use the IRCHA Jamboree as the place to announce and/or unveil their latest products, while team pilots demonstrate their abilities. Whatever you’re into in the helicopter sport, the IRCHA Jamboree will have it.
I spoke to IRCHA President Dave Millner about what it meant to be celebrating 25 years. He told me that it was a testament to helicopter pilots’ ability to adapt and embrace new and changing technology and ideas. He recalled the inception of IRCHA, when Don Chapman and a handful of pilots decided to form the SIG, and help promote the emerging helicopter side of the hobby.
That first IRCHA Jamboree, held in Dayton, Ohio, had 60 registered pilots and 25 years later, the event attracted 1,074 registered pilots (plus a few more who chose not to register, but that is another story). Something to realize is that 25 years ago there was no Internet or forums, so the only way to learn about the hobby was to get together and talk about it or read newsletters. The essence of IRCHA was fellowship and learning.
I asked Dave what it was like for him to see an event such as the Jamboree come together. He told me that when he gets to the flying site, it is a big, empty field. He and roughly 100 volunteers mark out the field for flightlines and vendors and he gets to watch it grow into the mega event it has become. By the time Dave leaves, he says that the site has returned to an empty field.
One of Dave’s pivotal moments was when he was driving around the Jamboree in 2013 and it suddenly hit him just how big the event was. Whether because of the huge crowd or the on-site full-scale flying, it was that perfect moment when he realized just what IRCHA had created.
An interesting note is that AMA’s National Model Aviation Museum holds documentation of the history of IRCHA, courtesy of Mark Wilson, who had collected the information throughout the last 25 years.
Dave gave me a sneak peek of what to expect next year. Much like the Speed and Scale flightlines, multirotors will have their own separate flightline. They are still welcome to fly at the main flightline, but there will be a place where multirotor pilots can gather, set up, share ideas, and show off their machines.
It reminds me of what Dave had said about the early days of IRCHA. This could very well be the early days of multirotors. Who knows what we will see from them in 25 years!
IRCHA Speed Cup
The Speed Cup is an annual event during the Jamboree. The goal is for pilots to compete see see who has the fastest helicopter. The Speed course was set up at Site 3, one of the flightlines on the AMA flying site. Pilots could compete throughout the event without worrying about conflicting traffic on the main flightline. The weather was perfect, with light winds in the morning, and enough clouds to block the sun from interfering with pilots’ sight.
There were 37 registered pilots from around the world flying in Sportsman (flying a shorter course), Open, and Unlimited. This year, everyone flew electric power.
The Sportsman competition saw mostly stock machines, which were limited to 50.4 volts (12S). The Open class flew modified machines that were limited to 58.8 volts (14S). Unlimited aircraft were full-speed-bodied fuselages, with some using forward-tilted main shafts, and limited to 67.2 volts (16S). A newly implemented technical inspection worked flawlessly and helped speed things along (no pun intended!).
The man behind the Speed Cup, Santiago Panzardi, remarked about the increase in speed across the board from last year. The course had two gates set up at either end, and each run consisted of two passes. The high speed on each leg of the run was averaged for that run’s result.
Pilots flew to the opposite end of the course and entered into a steep dive to gain speed. They would then level out before passing through the first gate. The run was timed as soon as they passed the second gate. If the heli was not straight and level through the first gate, the run didn’t count.
Of the 12 entries in the Sportsman class, Scott Gray placed first flying a JR Forza 700. His average speed was 130.03 mph and his fastest downwind leg was 142 mph. Matt Botos came in second with his Synergy E7 SE Speed. His average speed was 120.64 mph with a 130.82 mph fastest downwind leg. Hiroki Ito finished third flying his JR Forza 700. Hiroki’s average speed was 120.37 mph, and his fastest downwind leg was 137.66 mph.
Seven pilots entered the Open competition. Stefan Segerer took first flying a Henseleit TDR. His average speed was 146 mph and his fastest pass was 156.43 mph. Chip Pairett finished second piloting a Goblin 700 Speed. His average speed was 138.57 mph with a 136.90 mph fastest pass. Flying a Henseleit TDR, Oliver Jellen had a third-place finish with an average speed of 136.90. His fastest pass was clocked at 140.25 mph.
There were six entries in the Unlimited class. Miles Dunkel took first flying a Minicopter Diabolo S. His average speed was 168.05 with his fastest pass at 179.68 mph. Miles set a new IRCHA record!
Oliver Jellen flew to second place with a Henseleit TDV. His average was 155.53 mph, with his fastest pass at 160.93 mph. Richard Zappe was third flying a Minicopter Diabolo S. Richard’s average speed was 153.39 mph, and his fastest pass was 161.51 mph.
Several Unlimited pilots pushed their machines to the maximum aerodynamic limits. This included a high-speed wall-type maneuver, where the helicopter suddenly pitches straight up at high speed. This phenomenon is caused by retreating blade stall, where the rotor blade on the rear of the disc loses its lift ability, leaving only the front half of the disc producing lift, causing the drastic pitch-up maneuver. This caused some disastrous results during practice, but there were no actual crashes during the contest.
The flightline was pushed out much further from the pit area this year, providing an additional layer of safety, and there were many great prizes provided by sponsors for the Speed pilot raffle.
One note of interest is that all but two of the entries used off-the-shelf products for their speed machines. There has never been a better time to try out Speed heli flying, and it will be interesting to see how people improve on their machines for next year.
See a complete list of competitors and results online at www.ModelAviation.com.
Leading into the week of the IRCHA Jamboree is the end of the Nats. One of the events at the Nats is Scale Helicopter, but IRCHA also holds its own Scale contest.
When you hear Scale, you may think of something store bought, and although there are many off-the-shelf fuselages at the contest, the level of modification and detail added render these one-of-a-kind machines.
Countless hours go into building these helicopters, and much of that time is spent researching the full-scale aircraft. Photos are gathered, and in some cases, modelers actually photograph full-scale aircraft themselves. Every detail is scrutinized, and care is taken to transfer each detail onto the fuselage.
There are two parts to the IRCHA Scale contest. The first is static judging and the second is the flying portion. During the static judging, the judges refer to the competitors’ collection of reference photos and documentation of their models’ full-scale counterparts. The models’ details are meticulously checked and scored, and then the flying segment of the contest is performed. When the contest is over, the final scores are guarded until the raffle is about to commence. The winners are then announced and trophies awarded.
This year, Bob Harris won the Nats 518 class and Mark Smith placed second. In Team Scale, Nick Maxwell and Bob Harris were first, Eaton Bryce and Luther Farmer finished in second place, and Mark Smith won third place.
In Sport Scale, Mike “GrimRacer” Zaborowski took first place, Brian Shaw was second, and Eaton Bryce placed third. In IRCHA Scale, Robin Adamschak walked away with a first-place finish, Don Irvine was second, and Mike Zaborowski was the third-place winner.
I heard nothing but good things about the new flightline dedicated to the Scale pilots.
The main IRCHA Jamboree flightline at Site 4 featured the usual amazing show of pilot skills and vendors were in full force. Additional space was given to the walkway between the vendors and the pits, making navigating the vendor tents easier and giving the crowd room to breathe.
This year’s event had a more intimate feel, and the social activities at night—including Saturday’s night-fly competition and fireworks—were a lot of fun.
IRCHA and its members should be proud of the Jamboree. I can’t wait to see what the next 25 years bring.