Micro - Sub-Micro - Palm-Size

RC Helicopter Guide


Home | Product Reviews | Products | Services | Information | Testimonials | Museum | Product Gallery | Feedback | Contact Us




We posted this guide on a mayor internet site where 95% of people that read it, reported finding it helpful!

So we have included  here,  also,  to benefit others visiting our site.

For a definition of a Radio Control Term, that is not clear, check out the MIA Dictionary  section.





























































Basic things to look for, before purchasing a small RC Helicopter


Battery Operated


20 Inches or Under










Justifiable Price

Battery Operated

RC hobby products, are powered by either model fuel or batteries. With recent advances in battery technology, many of today's RC hobby, as well as toy products, are powered by "Lithium Polymer rechargeable batteries". These have become a standard and preferred choice by many RC hobby enthusiasts. Lithium batteries require chargers designed for such. There are many companies that offer both, so the choices are broad.

20 Inches or Under

One of the parameters that defines the model helicopter size is "rotor diameter". Typically a helicopter model having an approximate rotor diameter of 20 inches, has become a good starting point for many people entering this hobby. These helicopters, know as "Micro Helis", are typically powered by 280 and 300 size electric motors. Some helicopter models that are powered by smaller 180 and 150 size motors, are typically in the "Sub-Micro" range and normally have rotor diameters of 16 inches and under. The MIA Bumble Bee, for instance, is one such helicopter, which some people favor for its more compact size.

Simplicity vs. Complexity

This guide focuses on the more simpler, 4-Channel, Fixed-Pitch selection.

Helicopters fall into two basic areas "Fixed-Pitch" or "Collective -Pitch". While collective-pitch helicopters are more efficient, their required level of sophistication in mechanics and set up, can be an unnecessary headache for beginner pilots or even experienced pilots, looking for a fun simpler helicopter to fly around.

While collective-pitch helicopters also offer the ability for an experienced pilot to fly it sustain hover inverted, a fixe-pitch helicopter will not. However, depending on the design, a fixed-pitch helicopter is capable of many simpler aerobatic maneuvers like loops and rolls.

Note: Helicopters that use plastic "cambered" blades, such as those found on a high percentage of mass-produced, Ready-to-FLY, micro helis, typically, will not loop or roll, have a difficult time entering fast-forward-flight (FFF), and coping with slight wind conditions. On the other hand, helicopters that come with narrow, long, "flat bottom or symmetrical blades", typically made from wood,  are much better suited for more advanced flight maneuvers and also allows for a smoother and more stable model. 


Is the helicopter able to withstand hard crashes with minimal damage?

If you look around the RC hobby industry, you will find most better products are made from "glass, carbon fiber composites and metal components". Models made from such materials are highly desirable, for the ultimate in durability and low weight, many demanding RC pilots seek models made form these materials. These materials are, particularly, a great choice for RC helicopters, since they provide higher structural rigidity to keep up with the higher mechanical and dynamic loads associated with helicopter. Helicopters can also go through a lot more abuse than airplanes. A dead helicopter will drop hard, where as a dead airplane can be made to glide to a safe landing.

There is absolutely no comparison between a plastic made product to one that is made from "composite materials and metal components".

Most mass-manufactured, "almost-ready-to-fly" (ARF) and "ready-to-fly" (RTF) products, typically have a high level of maintenance and part replacement, because these products are mainly made from inexpensive plastic materials, that have a higher probability of breaking in a crash and requiring replacement parts.

To the user that wants instant gratification, plastic made ARF or RTF products are OK,  but when parts break, too often, it can be frustrating, and in some cases, expensive beyond what you would have paid for a better product made from Composites and metal, in the first place.

Composite and metal parts can also get damaged, due to mechanical fatigue, or if a crash is considerably beyond the limits of these material's durability, tensile strength, but in comparison with plastics, they are far superior and are one of the reasons, some better products and upgrades are made from such.


One of the most important components on an RC helicopter is the "rotor head". The rotor head must be designed with  "proper dampening" , not only for good stable hovering (Beginner pilots) but also for fast forward flight and aerobatics (Intermediate and Advanced Pilots).

Think of this, similar to how stable you sit and ride in a car, that has good springs and shock absorbers. Without either one of these items, your ride will feel every road bump and you will be constantly compensating your steering for road irregularities.

In a perfect world, roads would be perfectly flat and air would be perfectly still, but we all know this is not case, therefore a good RC or real helicopter rotor head design, needs to, sort of, automatically compensate for such, so there is less effort on the pilot.

Putting this into the RC rotor head stability perspective, ARF and RTF models made from plastics depend on the flexibility of the plastic blade or rotor head, itself, to provide some level of "dampening", where the blades themselves can act as both the "spring and shock absorber". Depending how these are designed and what actual plastic materials are used, they can have a positive or negative effect on the stability and control of the helicopter.

What you want to look for in an good RC helicopter rotor head, is the same things you would look for in a good car. Good springs and Shock Absorbers for a smooth ride.

A good rotor head design allows the rotor head to "pivot and return" to the horizontal rotor axis, anytime the rotor head is disturbed by dynamic or wind forces (this would be the shock absorber), while allowing the rotor head to provide some level of "spring tension",  or dampening.

Most ARF and RTF cheaper RC helicopters offer only spring tension, and accomplish this with plastic blades which are also cambered, not rigid flat bottom. This allows hovering and limited forward flight. An effect called "ballooning" where the helicopter doesn't want to go fast forward, in flight, but instead wants to go up and slightly backwards, is the result of these types of plastic head, plastic camber blade designs.

A sample of "Proper Rotor Head Dampening" for Smooth Stability

  This following head design is one of various ways to introduce the proper degree of "dampening" (shock absorber and spring tension) and it is done, very simply, by introducing the "shock absorber" action on the design of a tough copolymer part called the see-saw, where the fly-bar steering paddles, as well as the main rotor, is supported from, and the "spring tension" introduced on the design of the composite made rotor head itself, the part that supports the main blades. The blades are made from light wood and have no flex on them, at all.

As per the features described above, the MIA Bumble Bee Sub-Micro Helicopter, handles very well, both indoors, as well as outdoors, for its Sub-Micro size, something not found on similar or even larger size, plastic made fixed-pitch helicopters.

A combination of the proper shock absorption by the see-saw, the part supporting the composite rotor head, and the spring tension of the rotor head itself, is what allows, in great part, the MIA Bumble Bee Sub-Micro helicopter's complete rotor to be "smooth and stable", requiring "minimal pilot steering".

This explanation in action can be better seen in the MIA Bumble Bee product
flight  videos.


Most ARF and RTF products come with an attractive price tag, as combo packages, but are designed to be used with their own brand components, which, in some cases, are of less quality than some better stand-alone components, known as "separates".

Radio Equipment components such as the Receiver, Speed Control, Gyro, Mixer, are part of these separate components, although one can also choose a combination of these, in small, 3 in 1, or 4 in 1 compact controller packages.

A product that uses "industry standard inexpensive RC components", in our opinion, allows the user better selection choice of the RC equipment and set up, for his particular model. In many instances, the extra step you take in selecting better well known RC components, to install in your model, will pay off quickly.

One of the often heard statements, at flying fields and RC clubs, regarding ARF and RTF models is "I am upgrading my model with better RC equipment, or parts, because the ones that came with my model wore out or are not as good".

For this reason, MIA Micro-FLIGHT RC Helicopter Products are designed to work with ANY Industry Standard RC Equipment.


You have to equate this, to what you are actually getting for the price of the product.

Consider that most ARF and RTF products use cheap injection molded plastics, for increased output and mass distribution, at attractive  prices. Where KITS made from Composites and Metal components, not aimed at mass distribution, may have a slightly higher price tag, for their unique design, high level of durability, as well as, perhaps, long term collectivity.

Consider also, the rotor head "dampening" feature, which, in my opinion, is, by far, the most important detail, besides durability, when selecting a good basic RC helicopter, and this is where most plastic ARF/RTF combo products fail.

Also, keep in mind that a good design doesn't need to be fancy or sophisticated to fly well, but all models do require some understanding of assembly and operation in order to have better success with them.

Have Fun! MIA


Home | Product Reviews | Products | Services | Information | Testimonials | Museum | Product Gallery | Feedback | Contact Us

This site was designed, developed and is managed by Mario I. Arguello. Last updated 06/12/09
MIA Micro-FLIGHT™, MIA Designs™, Palm-Size™, TUFF™, Pilot Figures with Swept-Back Hair, are trademarks owned by Mario I. Arguello
All Rights Reserved. © Copyright 1999-2008 Mario I. Arguello
Web Site Content, Product Specifications, Product Availability and Prices are subject to change without notice.