Mustafa Al Shabandar with his Carbon Cup Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Model airplane hobbyists in the country will be revving up the engines of their helicopters, 3D planes and turbo jets at the UAE’s first model aircraft flying competition at the Al Lisaili flying field in Dubai this weekend.

Hosted by the Sky Hub Remote Control Club (RC Club), the Emirates RC Flying Championship from March 23 to 25 is expected to draw hundreds of ‘pilots’ from the across the country showing off a range of model aircraft. The championship will be held in three categories: helicopters, turbine jet model planes and 3D aerobatic planes.

Chopper power

The helicopters will be powered by nitro fuel or batteries. A two-metre long turbine helicopter with an RPM of 60,000 and more will be something to watch out for, according to Ahmad Mohammad Al Qanzi, RC Club manager.

Helicopters with 3D manoeuvres going upside down will also make an interesting watch, he added.

“The flying machine with the maximum accuracy in manoeuvres will be declared winner. Judges will look out for interesting inverted passes, loops, high altitude auto rotation among others. 3D model planes will also have to exhibit a number of stall turns, snap rolls to qualify as a winner,” said Al Qanzi.

Emirati Habib Al Moosa, a pilot and former international model aircraft flying champion, has built a massive three-metre long CARF 3D model aircraft. “I spent months building it and it is ready to show some fancy manoeuvres. All the plane parts have been imported,” he said.

Iraqi expat Mustafa Al Shabandar, a hobbyist who is a commercial director in a property development company, has built a 170cc Carbon Cup with a wingspan of 4.5 metres. “It is a giant model and I am very proud of what I have done. It is a special scale and aerobatics model,” said Al Shabandar, who will also be displaying a second aircraft, a 120cc 2.7 metre wingspan Yak 54, at the championship.

Emirati Eisa Saeed is another hobbyist who has been building model aircraft for over 10 years, investing more than Dh200,000 into it. At the competition he will fly a 3D model aircraft, Extra 330, which has a wingspan of 2.7 metres.

“There are many flying enthusiasts in the UAE. We are a growing community and the RC Club has been a great support to flying enthusiasts here,” said Saeed who has won many competitions in Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Club role

The RC Club is a sprawling 5,000 square foot facility. Authorised by the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority (DCAA), it houses the only academy in the UAE that registers drones. Besides a runway and retail shops for hobbyists to buy model planes and accessories, the club has 11 hangars.

“One hanger has over 200 planes parked. That just tells you the growing number of flying fanatics in the UAE. People who live in apartments and cannot store their aircraft inside, use our storage areas to park their flying machines. The club has over 110 members, 76 of whom fly planes and helicopters. Others race cars and fly drones,” said Al Qanzi, adding that some people are turning their hobby into a business by selling the aircraft built by them.

The membership fee is Dh1,000 a year.