- Close to Dh2 million worth of radio control (RC) aircraft competing at Dubai Masters RC championship
- The next three days of the championship, 70 pilots and 100 RC aircraft will dominate Dubai skies
- Twenty-two countries represented at the competition
- Pilots come from as far as Japan, Taiwan, Italy, China, Equador, closer home from Oman, Kuwait and of course the UAE
- A starter kit is priced as low as Dh2,000 where you can fly a basic Cesna model plane
- All model aircraft and pilots are screened by Sanad academy before making the cut
Dubai: Some Dh2 million worth of radio control (RC) model aircraft are competing at the first Dubai Masters RC championship today (Sunday) at the SkyHub RC campus in Al Lisaili flying field on the Dubai-Al Ain Road.
Seventy pilots from the UAE, GCC and other parts of the world will be flying their favourite machines during the four-day championship set to end on February 27.
Held under the patronage of Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and chairman of Dubai Sports Council, the event marks the first time for an international master championship of RC aircrafts – jets, 3D aircrafts and helicopters - to be held in the UAE.
Gulf News spent a fascinating afternoon on Saturday (February 23) watching pilots - all hobbyists and elite professionals who once dreamt of flying a ‘real’ plane and harbor the dream even today, prepare their babies for the flight of their time. Prize money for the championship has been set at $70,000 (Dh257,500). Winner of every race takes home $7,500 (Dh27,585). There are five pilots representing the UAE, including an eight-year old boy Nasser Ahmad Nasser who will be flying alongside his father Ahmad Nasser. Tamer Awadh Al Shamsi, Abdullah Jassem and Mohammed Dalmouk Al Dhaheri are other Emirati pilots who are expected to enthrall spectators with their maneuvers. The event is free to watch for the public.
Watch out for these magnificent machines
The Dubai Masters RC competition will see some mean machines take the plunge, make those perfect loops and rolls as their pilots manoeuvre them around Dubai skies with as much precision as they can. Don’t miss a two-metre long turbine helicopter with an RPM of 60,000 and more at the championship. Other helicopters with 3D manoeuvres going upside down will make an interesting spectacle to watch. Turbine jets, aerobatic aircrafts and more will be on display.
Emirati, Tareq Alsaadi, a world champion RC Helicopter pilot who is events manager at the competition takes time out to speak to Gulf News. He said: “It is fascinating to see a world of champions gather at the SkyHub RC for the international competition. It is a massive achievement for us to host the first international competition in the UAE. Twenty-two countries are part of the event with pilots coming from as far as Japan, Taiwan, Italy, China, Equador, closer home from Oman, Kuwait and of course the UAE. Some of these pilots are world champions and have a wealth of experience flying RC aircraft.”
Alsaadi said during one of the practice sessions, a helicopter recorded a speed of 324 km per hour which has never been achieved before. “The turbines jets will travel at least 450 km per hour.”
Kuwaiti, Ali Bahbahani, 28, is flying his Extra 300, a two-seat aerobatic monoplane. The RC plane is a replica of the original which was designed in 1987 by Walter Extra, an aerobatic pilot.
Ali Bahbahani, model aircraft is a 240 cm length plane with a wing span of 104 cm. It has made 50 flights already and is famous for its 3d manoeuvres and rolling. The RC model plane is powered by a 123 cc 2-cylinder gas engine. “The plane costed me Dh20,000.”
The Kuwaiti owns several other aircrafts, all worth at least half a million dollars. “I have been flying since I was 13. Every year I buy two planes,” he said.
South African engineer and avid aviator, Greg Donaldson is competing at the championship and will be flying a T-one mini. It has a 6kg thrust kingtech turbine and is flown using a futaba transmitter.
The plane is worth Dh15,000 and comes with a wing span of 1.5 metres and length 1.7 meters. It has done about 20 flights already. “I am looking forward to seeing what this plane will do at the competition. The challenge will be to get a proper full circle in the loop.”
He said judges will be looking at precision before announcing the winners. “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. It may seem easy but I can assure you it is not easy at all.”
Iraqi expat Mustafa Al Shabandar, another avid aviator who is a commercial director in a property development company said he has spent at least half a million dirhams or more building model aircraft. It is a passion and my children are getting involved too.
Al Shabandar who has previously built a 170cc Carbon Cup with a wingspan of 4.5 metres and a 120cc 2.7 metre wingspan Yak 54 said he is taking a break this year, but is actively involved in the operations of the event. “We are one big family here and everyone is working hard to make this a successful event.”
American expat and commercial pilot Joseph Bracho said flying RC aircraft is a hobby, passion and a dream for many to fly the real machine one day. Bracho, vice-president of flight operations and general manager of Abu Dhabi radio control club said: “I personally have been flying RC aircraft since I was eight.”
“Like me all pilots are hobbyists and elite professionals. Some are commercial or private jet pilots – but we all share the passion of seeing our aircrafts fly up in the air,” he said.
Flying your dream
“A starter kit can be as low as Dh2,000 and you can fly a nice scale model for this. I would recommend a high-winged aircraft like a Cesna 172, explained Bracho. Most aviators start out flying this plane as beginners. Once you gain experience you can progress to a mid-winged or low-winged aircraft. The ultimate thrill comes flying aerobatic aircrafts and 3D helicopters.”
Mansour Al Blooshi, chairman, Sanad Academy and winner of the ‘drone for good’ award, 2017 is the events manager for the championship. He said his job has been to regulate the event and ensure all necessary safety precautions are followed by pilots.
“Let me tell you these small jets are bombs in the air with the amount of fuel they carry. Six to seven litres of petrol is enough to explode in the air. So we make sure the pilots fly their machiens safe and don’t get them to cross the boundaries. As you can see, we have fenced Al Lisaili field just for this purpose.
"As the chairman of Sanad Academy it is our job to ensure no one flies off the designated areas. Every model aircraft and its pilot is screened by the academy and approved to participate in the competition.”
The Sanad Academy, UAE’s only RPA (Remotely Piloted Aircraft) training and certification centre, established three year ago in Dubai, recently took over Skyhub RC to improve the club facilities and attract pilots and hobbyists from all over the world.
Preparations for the event
AlBlooshi added that the Sanad academy has worked along with other flying enthusiasts to put together the show. “We have been preparing for the competition the last two weeks.
Efforts have gone into preparing the field and making necessary arrangements flying in the pilots from all over the world, putting them in hotels closeby,”he said.
“The runway and surrounding field has been improved. We added grass around the runway to ensure safety for the planes. The SkyHub also has shops now which take care of the needs of pilots from nuts to bolts to even model aircrafts,” said AlBlooshi.