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Written by Chris Mulcahy
RC Helicopters
Column
As seen in the November 2017 issue of Model Aviation.


There’s no denying that RC helicopters are flown primarily by men, but a growing number of women are flying them too. I recently had the chance to chat with Raquel Bellot, who earned the moniker “Lady 3-D” after traveling throughout Europe and competing in helicopter contests.

I was lucky enough to see Raquel fly at the International Radio Controlled Helicopter Association (IRCHA) Jamboree, held at the International Aeromodeling Center in Muncie, Indiana, a few years ago. She demonstrated her trademark style, flying with the transmitter behind her back. It was the first time I’d seen anyone fly like that with a helicopter, and I enjoyed watching her. I recently had the chance to chat with Raquel, so naturally we talked about helicopters!

Chris Mulcahy: Hi Raquel. Can you tell us a little bit about who you are and where you are from?

Raquel Bellot: Hello Chris! My name is Raquel Bellot and I’m an enthusiastic RC helicopter pilot. I’m from Spain. Valencia is the city where I live.

CM: What brought you into the RC hobby?

RB: I’ve been flying RC helicopters [for] 14 years. I started in this hobby because of my dad. He is an RC enthusiast as well. He started with boats, cars, airplanes, and then helicopters. Helicopters are his favorite machines. From when I was a baby, I always saw helicopters at home. To see my dad flying and fixing helis at home was like a lifestyle for me.

I decided to fly helicopters at the age of 15. Of course, my dad was my teacher. I did just a few hours on the simulator before [using] the buddy box with him. After just one flight with the buddy box, my dad told me that I was ready to fly alone. My first helicopters were a Raptor 30 and a Kyosho Caliber 50.




Raquel started flying model helicopters when she was 15.


CM: What kind of flying do you enjoy the most?

RB: 3-D style is my favorite one. I do enjoy 3-D maneuvers a lot, but I also practiced other routines in the past. When I started with helicopters, I focused my flight on practicing ability exercises. My dad taught me how to do it. (He was really good at competitions.)

In Spain, we had the famous “fun-fly competitions.” The goal of those exercises was to show your precision flying [of] the helicopter. For example, limbo, bottles, to rescue triangles, etc., so I practiced a lot of those exercises and I competed a lot in Spain. I always won the competitions.

Then I tried F3C, and I competed in the F3C championship, but I noticed that F3C was not for me—a little bit boring for me. So I started to fly 3-D style, and I’m addicted to 3-D now!

CM: How do you push yourself to learn new maneuvers?

RB: Of course, the simulator is the most important tool [on which] to learn new maneuvers. I always used the simulator to learn—even now if I want to practice something new. It’s also important to watch videos of other pilots when they are flying at the flying field, and also watch demos on the simulator about how to do some maneuvers.

I recommend visiting some international helicopter events to see how the pro pilots fly, and also to see the good atmosphere. It’s good for motivation and to push yourself to learn more.

In 2007, when I was learning how to fly 3-D, I just knew basic maneuvers. My dad and I decided to travel to the 3D Masters in the United Kingdom just to see the event. It was the first time that I traveled to an international event.

I was totally impressed with the 3-D level and talented pilots. I was shocked. I had never seen it before. I had a conversation with my dad on the airplane [flight] back home, and I said, “Dad, I will never fly like that, and I will never fly in a competition/event like that.” And he told me, “You just need a hard routine, but you can do it!”

As soon as I arrived home, I started to practice on the simulator every day, like three to four hours. I also flew all day Saturday and Sunday every week at the field. It didn’t matter if there was rain, wind, cold ... I was always at the flying field practicing.

The process from when I started to fly 3-D and to travel and compete was so fast. In 2008, I was doing demos at the 3D Masters thanks to my first sponsors. Then I was competing [in the] 3D Masters Expert class in 2009. It was the beginning for me in the world of 3-D helis.




Raquel Bellot poses with her Soxos DB7.


CM: Can you tell us what your current helicopter setup is?

RB: At the moment, I’m a factory pilot for Heli Professional. I’m flying a Soxos DB7.

• Motor: Kontronik Pyro 750-56
• ESC: Cool Kosmik 200 amp
• Servos: MKS X8
• Flybarless system: Microbeast
• Batteries: OptiPower 5,000 mAh 6S 50C and Ultra-Guard
• Blades: SpinBlades Black Belt 685mm and 105mm
• Radio: Spektrum DX9

CM: What is your favorite part of the hobby?

RB: I enjoy every part of the hobby. I like to spend hours with my dad, building and fixing helis together, flying at the flying field, traveling to competitions and events. But my favorite part is to meet pilots and to see my friends.

I love to visit new countries and events. I like to meet people, experience cultures, and food.

CM: Why do you think we don’t see more women in the hobby?

RB: When I started in this hobby, I was the only one doing it (at least in Spain, and also during international competitions and events). I didn’t meet any other girls flying helicopters, so I felt like the only girl in a male hobby.

Pilots always treated me very well—they accepted me. There are more female pilots at the moment. We can see the Girls United team doing demos during important international events. It’s an entertainment show for visitors, and also a way to motivate other girls to fly and to know a bit more about our fantastic hobby.

In my opinion, girls prefer other hobbies or sports, but not a hobby with motor machines. We don’t see many girls, for example, at Formula 1 [auto races], MotoGP [motorcycle racing], or driving karts. I don’t know why, but [it] looks like society has taught us that motor sports are for men. Thankfully, there are brave girls showing that we can do it.

We all know this hobby is expensive, and requires patience and to invest lots of hours to improve flight skill. If I’m honest, I spent half of my life with helicopters, without [a] personal life, just to study and to fly helicopters. It was a high compromise. But not all girls want to do it.

CM: What words of advice would you give to someone who is thinking about learning to fly helicopters?

RB: We have many ways to learn easily nowadays. In the past it was difficult, but now we have tools to learn quicker and better.

I recommend joining an RC flying club to see and talk with other helicopter pilots. The way to learn quickly is to fly with other pilots. Use a simulator, listen to the advice of good pilots, and visit some competitions/events. This will keep you motivated in the hobby. Don’t rush, and have lots of patience.

I know many people who wanted to enter this hobby and thought that they were going to be top pilots in a few months and get sponsors and free stuff. This is not the way to think. All of them quit the hobby very soon.

All hobbies and sports need time and consistency. To fly helicopters is not easy. We need consistency, patience, and high motivation. But the most important thing is to enjoy [the hobby]!

Thank you, Raquel, for taking the time to talk with me! Check out Raquel’s flying on YouTube or on her Facebook page.

-Chris Mulcahy
cspaced@gmail.com


Sources:

RB1-RC
www.rb1-rc.com/en

Raquel Bellot’s Facebook page
www.facebook.com/raquel.bellot.3D

IRCHA
www.ircha.org






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