On Sunday 4 July, 2004, two Australians, Ray Cooper and Ray Pike set new world distance records for Electric Powered, Fixed and Rotary Wing Model Aircraft.

Location of flights : Tungamah, Northern Victoria - Australia

Record #1 : RAY COOPER go to RAY PIKE

Category: F5 : Radio Controlled Flight
Sub-class: Sub-class F5S (Aeroplane, electric motor (rechargeable sources of current))
No. : 174 : Distance to goal and return : 54.3 km
Date of flight: 4/07/2004
Pilot: Raymond Cooper (Australia)
Course/place: Tungamah (Australia)


Ray Cooper at the end of the record breaking flight

The weekend of July 3rd and 4th was selected as a possible weekend for the attempt, the weather forecast for this weekend did not look promising, with a series of cold fronts crossing the state with strong winds expected.

It was decided to travel to the Wangaratta area to do some reconnaissance of the roads and if the weather permitted then an attempt would be tried.

Finding a suitable road proved to be more difficult than expected and in fact it took about 4 hours to find a road. Most of the roads had large amounts of trees, which made visibility a problem.

Getting bogged did not help! All of this travelling and searching was done on the Sunday morning (04/07/2004). By the end of the day, a total of 350 km had been travelled.

Our group consisted of:

    Car 1
    Ray Cooper, Pilot
    Ray Pike, FAI Observer
    Anne Cooper, Driver
    Emma Cooper, video operator

    Car 2
    Bob Hickman, MAAA Observer
    Neil Hardiman, MAAA Observer
    Erica Pike, MAAA Observer & Driver
    Bethanie Cooper

Sunday morning had dawned with clear blue skies and no wind (perfect), by the time of launch, the temperature was about 13 deg C and the wind from the West at about 4 to 8 kph, a cross wind for the road selected. The model "Little Bird" was assembled and a range check carried out. The goal turning point B was nominated at approximately 27 km from the launch point.


Ray Cooper's "Little Bird"

  • Airframe: Standard construction from Balsa, Ply and covered with iron film.
  • Span: 180cm
  • Total Surface Area: 45 dm Sq.
  • Weight: 1696 grams
  • Motor: Hacker B40 21L, geared 5.2:1
  • Prop: Aeronaut 15" x 13" with 2.5 deg twist in centre piece
  • Motor Battery: eTech 1200 Li Poly cells, 6 series 4 parallel
  • Radio Control System: JR 3810 Tx, R700 Rx, 3 x JR331 servo
    1 x NiMh 650mAh Rx Battery
  • Controls: Rudder, Elevator, Spoilers and ESC for motor
  • Cruising Airspeed: 55 kph approx.

Range test - Bob Hickman assists Ray Cooper


Family ready to navigate - Beth and Emma ready to go


Navigation screen detail


Setting the Goal, the Turn point "B" prior to launch.

L-R : Neil Hardiman, Bob Hickman, Ray Cooper and Ray Pike


Launch - Ray Cooper starts the journey

The model was launched at about 12 noon and climbed to a cruising altitude of about 60-70 metre. Our group headed off down the road in pursuit. The first part of the trip went well, ground speed was good at about 40 to 50 kph.


One of several tree obstacles encountered

Tree obstacles required some planning so as to position the model to reduce the chance of losing visibility behind them. There were some 90-degree bends in the road and this also required some preplanning. Muddy sections also made for interesting diversions.


Without trees to worry about, flying from the car was quite relaxed

We were soon at the turning point (40 minutes), the car was stopped and the pilot got out and cars turned around. Flying straight into the sun hampered our return trip, but some large clouds helped out at times. Our ground speed was still around 40 to 50 kph and we were making good time.

During the flight some large thermals were encountered and this enabled the throttle to be reduced to conserve battery power. Sink patches were not as obvious.

After 1 hour and 22 minutes the model was landed about 50 metres from the launch point, with smiles all round!


Landing - the journey ends

A big thank you must go to our observers, Bob and Neil, who had travelled from Melbourne for the weekend and then spent several hours travelling around looking for a suitable site. Our lady drivers did a magnificent job and I think quite enjoyed the mud bashing!

Ray Pike once again did a fantastic job in looking after the official side of the event. And last but not least, thank you to my family for putting up with another record attempt. All had a great fun weekend.

Record #2 : RAY PIKE

Category: F5: Radio Controlled Flight
Sub-class: F5C (Helicopter, electric motor)
No. : 200: Distance in a straight line: 4.85 km
Date of flight: 4/07/2004
Pilot: Raymond Pike (Australia)
Course/place: Tungamah (Australia)


Ray Pike starts out to set a new FAI record

L-R: Bob Hickman, Ray, Ray's wife Erica and Neil Hardiman

I built my helicopter from a Robbe Mosquito Sonic kit. The 1.47m rotor is driven by a Kontronic Tango 45-08 brushless motor with a Kv of 800 rpm/volt with a Kontronic "Jazz" 40-10-24 controller. The controller will operate with continuous currents of 40A, is limited to 50A and will operate with between 10 and 24 cells. In this flight I used 14 x GP 3300 cells.

The radio system used was a Multiplex 4000 transmitter fitted with Sanyo 3300 NiMH cells giving a duration in excess of 9 hours. I used a Schulze Alpha 835w and the servos Multiplex Royal digitals. I used 4 x Sanyo CP 1300 cells for the receiver and the gyro was a Robbe 3D #8065 and the total weight of the model, ready to fly was 3.932Kg.


video frame grab just before launch

It had been decided to make an attempt on Record categories 200 and 202 for Electric powered helicopters, distance in a straight line and distance goal and return. The observers and helpers had arranged to meet on the afternoon of Saturday 3rd July 2004. After some discussion it was decided that we would have a "practice" attempt at a nearby location in order to check for any unforseen problems with flying a helicopter from a normal car.

A flight was made about 1 km north east of the Township of Oxley along a dirt road that had a power line and some high trees running along the right side and low trees on the left. The model was successfully flown along in front of the car at a height of approximately 3 meters. The model was kept about 20 to 30 meters either in front of the car or slightly to the left side. The pilot was in the front left passenger seat.

The model was prepared; radio control system turned on and tested and the motor was armed. The model was placed on the road in front of the car and the driver, pilot and observers were seated in the car. The motor was started and the helicopter almost immediately put into slow forward flight. The car followed along with frequent instructions from the pilot regarding the desired speed.


video frame grab of heli in flight

The majority of the flight was performed with the car travelling at approximately 40-50 kph. The helicopter was fairly much horizontal for most of the flight. It was not flying anywhere near its maximum speed and the throttle setting was kept at about the same setting or even slightly lower than that used for hovering.

There was also about a 5-10 knot cross wind from the right (North) that made it more difficult to maintain constant height and heading. This was particularly so as the model flew into the wind shadow of the large trees along the right side of the road. The flight proceeded without incident and the model was landed at the nominated landing area, 2.1km from the takeoff spot.

Flight time for the distance was 3min 47sec. As there was no current record, this was a new World record!


Ray Pike touches down after his record breaking flight

On the following day, Sunday 4th July, after Ray Cooper had made his Goal and return electric glider attempt, we looked for a suitable location to make a goal and return attempt with the helicopter. As I again intended to fly the model quite close to the car, we needed an area that was free from trees along the road.

This was proving quite difficult, especially finding easily identified take off and landing areas, like cross roads on the 1:100,000 map. Another problem was that the wind was now increasing in strength. When a suitable road was found, it was decided to have a second attempt on the straight-line record, this time flying down wind.

The car was placed on the right side of the road pointing towards our goal. The model's radio control system was switched on and the motor armed. The model was placed on the road facing into the wind - the opposite direction to the landing point and pilot and crew got into the car.

The helicopter motor was started and the model was raised into a brief hover before performing a 180 degree turn away from the car and down wind towards the landing point. The ground speed for this attempt was much higher than the attempt on the previous day. At times the car speedometer registered 80kph.

The flight was generally uneventful, the helicopter being slowed down when the train line was crossed (about 1 meter above the surrounding ground) and the short 90o right and then 90o left turn was performed along the track.

After about 5 minutes we reached the landing location and I hovered the helicopter over a paddock on the left side of the car. After a brief period, I asked that the car door be opened for me so that I might attempt to land the helicopter on the road in front of the car.

After I got out of the car, I brought the model back over the road and landed it. We were about 20-30 meters from the cross roads that were the nominated landing place. It was not easy to land exactly on the nominated spot, as there were high trees over hanging this point. This was not a problem as it is permissible to land up to 500 meters from the designated landing place and still make claim to the record.

Later in the day, an attempt was made to complete a goal and return attempt back at the Oxley location. Unfortunately, the location of the turn around point had not been carefully enough considered and it became too difficult to fly the helicopter from the car while turning the car around.

Apart from the visibility problems as the car turned, there were obstacles on both edges of the road. The model was safely landed beside the road and the attempt for the goal and return was cancelled.


and the weigh in


"weight is right" 3.932 Kg


Ray Pike and the 'Sonic'


Erica Pike and the 'Sonic'

Notes :

The record attempts were made from cars driving on semi-deserted country back roads with the pilots located in the front passenger seat tracking the aircraft.


...and then there was THE MUD


...and even more MUD

Measurement calculations using Australia 1:100,000 Topographic Survey Map, series R652

MAAA and FAI 'observers' also travelled with each pilot and driver monitoring the two record attempts. They were : Bob Hickman, Neil Hardiman, Erica Pike and Ray Pike and Ray Cooper on hand for each other's attempt.

The drivers and support crew for both record attempts were: Anne, Emma and Bethany Cooper


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Created and maintained by russell.naughton@eng.monash.edu.au
Last updated July 16, 2004