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Turbine RC Engines: Taking Helicopters to the Next Level

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Author: Val Campos

Those experienced in the RC helicopter hobby may eventually get bored with the standard electric or nitro powered models and are looking for something a lot more interesting. Turbine-powered engines offer power and excitement like no other helicopter you can find. Flying a turbine jet RC is about as close as you get to flying a real jet without a pilot's license.

On the outside, the construction and size of turbine RC helis are about the same as the nitro or electric models. In fact, engine kits are available to convert just about any scale model heli into a turbine-powered version. The transmitter and controls are similar, so an experienced flyer should have no trouble making the switch.

A turbine engine is very much a jet engine, and that goes for the smell, sound and power. The turbine engines in RC helis operate in the same manner as a jet engine in a full-size aircraft. Compressed air mixes with fuel and then gets ignited. This combustion produces thrust that spins the turbines at 195,000 RPM or more. What this means that tons of superheated air is pushed out the back of the engine, resulting in incredible speeds.

Besides the total amazingness and speed, the primary difference between all the others and turbine engine helis are the engine systems, including the computerized engine control unit, size of the fuel tank, gear box lubrication and auto start motor. These additional components require electricity, which means extra battery power is necessary.

Turbine engines really do use a lot of fuel, consuming as much as nearly 100 mL of fuel a minute. The engine needs either a combination of jet A1 fuel and turbine jet oil or kerosene. Propane gas is also required to start up the engine, but this cost is minimal. Despite the specific fuel needs, the total operating costs are slightly less than a nitro-powered heli. Regular maintenance is also necessary, but quality engines are good for six or more flying hours before a tune-up.

One important thing to keep in mind before heading to the hobby store to pick up a turbine RC helicopter is the price tag. Retail prices of turbine engine helis can range from $5,000 - $15,000. Given that level of investment, a crash would be absolutely terrible; novices need not apply. Be truthful to yourself about your skill level before considering the transition. If you are experienced and have the money, there is no greater excitement in the hobby.

About the author: Val Campos is a passionate R/C helicopter enthusiast who been building, fixing and flying R/C helicopters for several years. If you are an R/C helicopter expert or you are just starting out and want to learn more, click on right now to get all the information you need for setup, assembly, how to fly and everything else you need to enjoy the wonderful world of R/C helicopters!

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