【Question: Do I have to use a gyro? What does it do?】
Yes, you have to use a gyro (if you really want to learn at a quick rate with less crashes). Just as you will buy a helicopter radio sooner or later, you will end up buying a gyro even sooner if you don't right at the initial purchase. Until you know the difference, you can't really appreciate how much one will help you. What a gyro does is act as automatic pilot for the tail rotor (the function that tells the helicopter what direction to face). When learning, it is important that the helicopter is always facing the same direction as you are (the nose pointing away from you and the tail pointing towards you). This way every input that you give to the helicopter will be the same direction you are facing. Right is right, left is left, forward is forward, etc. If the helicopter is sideways to you or facing you, until you are ready to control the machine in this orientation, you will be very confused. The gyro will help the helicopter always face the same direction. It compensates for wind and over controlling the function. It dampens the "twitchiness" of the tail.
【Question: Can a first-time heli modeler start with a .60 size heli?】
A .60 size is fine as a beginner's machine since they are much more stable than .30 size helies, however the expense is considerably higher than a .30 size model, and the larger size may be more intimidating.
【Question: Do you have to use a helicopter radio? How many channels?】
Highly recommended, but not necessary. A helicopter radio has special throttle/collective-pitch/tail mixing functions that are not available on airplane radios. These mixing functions make the helicopter much easier to set up and fly. Special features such as "throttle hold" and "idle up" also increase ease of aerobatics. The helicopter will fly with a minimum number of 4 channels by directly linking throttle and collective pitch on one servo or channel. The minimum number of channels available on a helicopter radio is five: throttle, collective pitch, tail rotor pitch, fore-aft cyclic and left-right cyclic. More channels may be used for other purposes: gyro switching, lights, landing gear.
【Question: Are helicopters dangerous?】
At a glance a helicopter may appear to be harmless, but when the engine is spinning the blades at over 2000 RPM (275 mph), you can easily see how much energy this model has. Helicopter pilots must be very careful to choose a location that is a safe distance from spectators, buildings, trees, and roadways. To avoid accidents, they must also pay attention to the condition of their machine.
【Question: Who will help me fly it?】
Most hobby stores that sell helicopters offer flying lessons, or they can help put you in touch with a model club in your area that can help you.
【Question: Do you have to start with R/C airplanes first?】
NO! With helicopters you start flying from the ground up. Having flown an airplane certainly cannot hurt, but as far as hovering goes, it is completely different from an airplane anyway. Vice, versa. If you started out on helicopters you probably would pick up airplane flying a little quicker, too.
【Question: What is autorotation?】
Except for the most basic models, all model helicopters have a one-way bearing on the main shaft that allows the main rotor to spin while the rest of the drive train is stationary. This allows for emergency landings, or autorotations, under no power.
【Question: What else do you need to buy?】
Again this all depends on how fancy you want to get. We can help you evaluate your options. Of course you will need (besides the helicopter itself) a helicopter engine, a helicopter radio (yes, you can get away with using a standard airplane radio, but sooner than you think you will end up wanting a helicopter radio anyway), a gyro, and then all the field equipment such as fuel, a glo-plug igniter, a field box to carry all of your equipment in (if so inclined you can probably make a nice box yourself), various common tools, and a power source for your electric starter (usually a small 12v battery). As you become more familiar with exactly what you want, you will be able to tailor a field box to your individual needs.