Flying the Heli Overhead
Now that I've been flying the RC heli outside at every opportunity possible, I'm beginning to test the boundaries of what I can do. While I began by keeping the heli nearby and low, I realized that I have to start getting comfortable with higher flight. While adding altitude can increase the possibility of a bigger crash, there is a definit benefit in having more room to recover from an error.
Gradually, I have been trying to increase my working altitude from about 5' (easily out of Ground Effect) to around 10'-20'. In my very first real outdoor flight, I actually flew my heli up to around 50', but I realized very quickly that the descent was harder than I had expected!
A New Perspective
What became obvious in my elevated test flights is that one's perspective on the heli changes quite considerably when flown from below, rather than down from above (when the heli is less than 5'). In order to adjust for the imbalances in the helicopter's orientation / tilt, one needs to assess the current state of balance. When the heli is near the ground, one has a definite frame of reference which helps immensely in this regard.
However, when the heli is high overhead, you no longer have a horizon line or background to judge the tilt of the small RC helicopter. As a result, it is much easier for one to accidentally ignore a persistent imbalance, which may result in the heli beginning to get out of control! Thankfully, my highly-visible training gear certainly provides a little extra help in this regard.
For some reason, I found that this problem becomes even more pronounced when I try to descend from altitude. It could be that as I come off the throttle, the heli begins to yaw and the nose starts to dip, adding to the number of changes necessary.
Avoid Flying Directly Overhead!
The times when I have become the most disoriented is when I've flown the helicopter directly overhead. Because there is no translational difference between your view and the heli's training gear frame, a tilt will be extremely hard to judge. Most of the times that I've tried to hover while passing this overhead point, I have become very disoriented and it has led to at least one major white-knuckle ride! In fact, I was a little worried that my heli might give my wife a haircut!
I plan to continue flying at the 10'-15' altitude directly in front (at 12:00 position), until I gain confidence. From there, I plan to change my position to 9:00 and 3:00, and then progressively increase the altitude. Someday, I may even be able to fly directly overhead, but for now I think I'll try to avoid it!
I will soon post a video clip showing how my heli quickly gets out of hand when flying directly overhead!