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- Simple Radio Control Fun!
For not much money, helium filled rc blimps (aka airships) are a great way of enjoying some quiet, clean and simple radio control flying fun, particularly around the home or at other indoor venues.
Perfectly suited to indoor flying, blimps are easy to operate and fairly maneuverable.
These slow-flying aircraft come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and rarely - if ever - suffer crash damage. Puncturing the envelope (body) is about the worst that can happen, but you need to be doing something fairly reckless to do that. Unless the family dog is to blame!
The envelope, sometimes also called the hull, of a typical rc blimp is made of nylon, or similar, and is very tough.
The hull must be filled with helium gas in order for the blimp to stay airborne. Helium is readily available from party, balloon or flower stores and it's a very safe inert gas, much less dense than air, and gives the blimp the buoyancy to stay aloft.
Filling the envelope is usually a straightforward process, but the manufacturer instructions must be adhered to for complete safety.
The image below shows the parts of an rc blimp:
Blimplicity - Blimp Simplicity!
Generally speaking, rc blimps are very simple to control. They typically have 2 or 3 micro electric motors attached to the gondola, which rotate around various axis to control direction, height and speed.
By rotating the motors to change the thrust angle and direction, the aircraft can be brought to a standstill, rotated 360 degrees and made to reverse.
Flying speeds of radio controlled blimps are typically slow, so not much damage can be done to people or property when operating one.
Above: a couple of typical rc blimps.
As previously mentioned, the great thing about rc blimps is that there's very little risk of damage. Their slow flying speeds and soft envelope mean that if unintentional contact is made with a solid surface, the blimp will merely bounce straight off. This great characteristic differentiates them from most other radio control aircraft which will suffer damage when crashed in to something!
But with that said, not all rc blimp flying has to be slow and boring - this video shows some larger blimps being thrown around in a more aggressive fashion...
RC Air Swimmers
A novelty blimp is the Air Swimmer. These large flying fish operate on the basis that air has fluid properties, and so a big floating fish can be made to swim through the air in a realistic fashion i.e. by moving its tail from side to side.
A word of warning with the Air Swimmers though - be sure that you're buying an original Air Swimmers product; apparently there are a few nasty knock-offs of very poor quality. The original Air Swimmer has, generally, favourable reviews by buyers.
Where to Fly an RC Blimp
Primarily a radio control blimp should be flown indoors, since they are easily effected by the gentlest of breezes. Obviously the larger the area, the more fun you are going to have and the easier it's going to be.
Having said that, many rc blimps can be flown around a decent sized living room. Just put away those expensive ornaments first!
Flying an rc blimp outdoors is possible but only on completely wind-free days - even the slightest of breezes will be enough to render your airship more or less uncontrollable.
If you do choose to fly your blimp outdoors, then it's a good idea to tether it with a fine cord. This will limit the altitude performance, should you lose control for any reason. Any free-roaming helium filled balloon will just keep going up, up and away.
Generally speaking, rc blimps are cheap to buy and the cost of filling the body with helium is negligible. For the low cost involved, they can provide a great deal of fun around the home, especially when young kids are present!
They don't require any knowledge or experience of radio control flying to operate them, and won't cause any damage to people or property.
So if you like the idea of some low cost, bounce-off-the-walls fun, try a radio controlled blimp.
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