Why I Love Flying Tiny Toy Helicopters

I really enjoy flying these tiny twenty dollar indoor helicopters. It is a sin of global markets and capitalism that these things are so cheap but man I have so much fun that I give myself a pass to buy them. I have bought five at this point, and two now work and three helicopter carcasses serve as my parts bin for the two that work. They are actually extremely durable and can take hundreds of violent crashes before anything breaks — I just fly them a lot.

Flying them demands your full focus to just not crash, let alone to do something acrobatic, as they are very sensitive to every heated updraft and spot of cold air in the room. It is a fun mix of luck and skill. There is no inherent goal in flying them perhaps beyond not crashing. You can devise courses and objects to land on or places to go, or you can fly in circles for five minutes straight, or go backwards through the entire house and back before the battery dies, or into the rabbit room and then quickly out because the rabbits hate the helicopters. They probably bring murder!

They’re noisy but not overly so, and they’re light enough that getting hit by them almost never hurts at all, although care should be taken to keep them away from faces, plants, pets, and very soft wooded furniture like this Ikea set. If you breathe too hard on those they dent.

I love the way that the helicopters swoop. Once you fly, you’ll feel it — it turns faster to the right than to the left, for whatever reason, and you can build some significant momentum by swooping in that direction, building speed and turning at the same time. Quadrocopters, which I also enjoy, are far more precise than the helicopters, so that ‘luck’ factor is decreased and it just becomes a game of how well you can steer. I am also of the belief that if you’re not crashing, you’re not pushing yourself to get better at steering and understanding how they move in space. If you always play it safe and never take that swoop just a little too far, your helicopter pilot instincts may not improve as quickly as someone who lives closer to the edge with regard to how they pilot toy helicopters. High stakes, I know.

I have also gotten into modifying them by removing the back trusses and the landing gear to make them go faster, or by putting a small weight on their nose, which works brilliantly.

Maybe I’m just childish, but I will have a five minute beak between meetings and break out the helis for a quick spin. I find that those four minutes of abandon are a great way to reset my system and feel a burst of energy, at the same time as shaking up my body from sitting all day and keeping my eyes adjusting to objects further than two feet away. The extent that my two helicopters chop up my day is inherently limited as the flight times are quite short and before long they’re back on the chargers and I’m back on task.

Syma S107 & S107G RC Helicopter - S107 & S107G RC ...
Syma 107G

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