It’s easy to daydream about flying a helicopter rescue scenario when you’re practicing precision landings on the coffee table, but Gord Broadfoot, author of “R/C Helicopter Adventure Scenarios” turned those dreams into mini hangars and lifelike scenarios that he uses with his micro helicopters. After seeing photos of Gord’s detailed dioramas, I was excited to talk to him about his book and his passion for scale scenery.
What got you started in creating these scenes?
I have been building various types of diorama since I was a kid. Building a diorama is like writing in that it allows me the freedom to create the exact situation that I want. The challenge of trying to make everything look real is fun and I can make everything just the way I want it to be (except for my poor painting skills!), and I can even afford a cold drink machine in my hangar if I want it! I like to work with my hands and I love the search for appropriate materials that I can turn into scale accessories for the scenes.
RC vehicle enthusiasts often go to great effort building race courses or terrain features to enhance the enjoyment of their hobby, but you rarely see helicopter or airplane pilots fly anywhere except a huge field or a gymnasium sized building. Mostly they fly aerobatics in these wide-open airspaces because that is the most thrilling challenge you can find with all that open area. But in a confined forest or mountain arena, your challenge is in maintaining precise control and performing more true-to-life helicopter operations, and so more realistic surroundings and accessories only add to the enjoyment.
What types of materials do you use to build your scenes?
The base is usually made of 1/2 inch plywood, and the contours are built up with wood or wall plaster or papier-mâché. I mill tiny boards on my band saw and I always keep an eye open for particular items that may be used to build scale accessories, like weeds or lichen that looks like trees or bushes or any kind of tiny plastic or metal bits and pieces. Most of the fun in building a diorama comes from the search for just the right object to build something with. I use real rocks because fake rocks look obviously fake and only come in certain types of stone. The extra weight of real rocks is irrelevant to me because I’m not packing them anywhere.
What is your favorite flight scenario to practice?
Now that is a difficult question! I can find challenge and satisfaction in most of the scenarios, and they are all fulfilling when you perform them tightly and with total control, flying straight and level with no extra movements or bobbing around undecided. But for the long time that it takes and the miles of flying I get behind the sticks, I would have to pick the heli-ski scenario. It also has the benefit of nicely spaced rest periods where I can allow the helicopter’s motors to cool down. This scenario also has many pinnacle landings, a confined landing that I set up to be very tight, and on one of the pickups I make sure to come in fast and make a flare landing to impress the girls. The more challenge the better.
Where can readers purchase your book?
R/C Helicopter Adventure Scenarios can be purchased online on Amazon as well as various bookstores in Canada and the U.S.
Anything else you’d like to add?
The scenarios were developed with fun and a challenge in mind. I can see clubs setting up competitions and maybe building their own props and scenario dioramas to enhance their flight arenas. I can also see groups with more powerful helis and a sheltered outdoor area setting up a miniature world to fly in just like the RC vehicle enthusiasts build for their tanks and bulldozers and cars. Run with it and have fun.