IRCHA Jamboree 2021

ByTim DiPeri |
The world’s largest model helicopter event
As seen in the December 2021 issue of Model Aviation.
large crowds gathered at stage center
Large crowds gathered at Stage Center at the International Aeromodeling Center to see what was going on each hour during the days of the event.
irchas famous vintage tent was organized
IRCHA’s famous Vintage tent-01 was organized by JC Zankl. The helicopter that is closest to the camera in the photo is a beautifully restored GMP Cricket from the late 1970s to early 1980s.

To those of you who attended the International Radio Controlled Helicopter Association (IRCHA) Jamboree on August 4-8, 2021, at the International Aeromodeling Center in Muncie, Indiana, thank you, and I hope you enjoyed it. I certainly did! For those who were not able to join us, I will do my best to provide an overview in the hopes that you might add it to your "bucket list" for the future.

For full disclosure, I am an officer of the IRCHA Special Interest Group, and I probably have exposure to many of the small details that most of the general attendees do not see. I want to give a big shoutout to my teammates on the IRCHA board of directors: Dan Lucente, Wes Minear, Craig Bradley, and Robert Montee. I have been privileged to serve alongside these selfless men for several years. The IRCHA Jamboree is one week and IRCHA is far, far more than the event. This team works every week in the pursuit of benefitting model helicopter pilots worldwide.

The week of IRCHA starts with the completion of the Nats and ends with the world’s largest model helicopter gathering. Although I won’t spend much time on the Nats, I will say that anyone who was a Nats first-time competitor and a registered IRCHA Jamboree attendee flew in the Nats for free this year!

these models during the ircha speed event
These models during the IRCHA Speed event are specifically for highspeed flight. These models approach 200 mph and safety cannot be stressed enough. Nick Maxwell is shown after his Speed flight.
these models during the ircha speed event
scorpion power system and sab pilot chris
Scorpion Power System and SAB pilot Chris Diamanti put on a great show at one of the Power Hours.
scorpion power system and sab pilot chris

The IRCHA Jamboree has all of the components of a fun-fly, competition, and trade show wrapped up in one great week. There are times, such as the Power Hours, to see professional pilots demonstrate the latest technologies and equipment. These Power Hours are coordinated by the vendors that support the event. There were several additional vendors in attendance. Without these sponsors, the event would not be able to provide the services and quality that we all expect. For that, I have a sincere thank-you!

sandy jaffes vario scale helicopter
Sandy Jaffe’s Vario Scale helicopter is built and flown similar to the full-scale helicopter.
sandy jaffes vario scale helicopter
sandy jaffes vario scale helicopter

I’ll start in reverse order of activities.

The final event of Saturday (into Sunday) is the King of the Midnight Sun competition. This competition is open to all pilots who want to compete. Each pilot must fly under the large construction lights and provide music. This exciting event has pilots pulling out all of the stops (it’s the last flight of the event for most), and it is 100% judged by pilots through soundlevel applause.

Preceding this event, we have the annual Night-Fly competition. As is the final event, this one is open to any and all pilots who want to participate. This competition is always a winner for the audience. Pilots provide music but no names (because it’s as dark as possible) and they fly an illuminated helicopter. Some of these models have an internal (as well as external) light show that is as complex as the actual flying.

The two night-fly events are fun to watch and show a level of creativity that can only be expected at the largest heli event in the world!

The Battle of the Brands has become the IRCHA signature event. It’s not an open contest, but each of the prime sponsors is allowed a single pilot to compete and throw it down! The winning sponsor receives a credit toward the next year’s Jamboree, and the pilot receives $1,000 in cash!

This year, the event was heavily weighted with veteran professional pilots. With $1,000 on the line and a healthy level of egos, these pilots put on a show that would be hard to find elsewhere in the world. The level of creativity and accuracy of these professional pilots never ceases to amaze me, and I thank you all!

The pilot prizes during the IRCHA Jamboree pilot raffle on Saturday night are likely the largest and most generous (and fair) at any event. One of the things that many pilots and vendors might not be completely aware of is how the drawing works.

pilot evan sayres scratch built this comanche helicopter
Pilot Evan Sayres scratch-built this Comanche helicopter. It looks like the real thing, and Evan flies it well.
walking up and down the flightline
Walking up and down the flightline, you see activities such as this. An SAB helicopter does what it was meant for.
the scale helicopter power hour had all of the
The Scale helicopter Power Hour had all of the big, beautiful models out and flying. Several guest pilots also got into the mix, including Nick Maxwell.

Only registered pilots are eligible to be in the drawing. Additional tickets cannot be purchased. This makes the drawing very attractive to the pilots, and the prizes all came from the wonderful sponsors of the 2021 Jamboree. This year, at least $30,000 worth of merchandise was given out to pilots and volunteers! In other words, you need to be a part of it to win.

In addition to the Power Hours, there were scattered fun events from Thursday through Saturday, such as the autorotation competition, as well as Pilot Proficiency Program signoffs by JC Zankl and turbine-waiver check flights that took place all week.

There were plenty of things to do, regardless of a pilot’s skill level. The annual IRCHA Speed run was coordinated by Michael "Shaggy" Parker. The Speed event is something everyone should see. Model helicopters that are specifically set up for maximum horizontal speed have the chance to make passes through "gates" to determine which one is the fastest! Several classes are set up depending upon the category of aircraft.

the ircha scale helicopter area has a large
The IRCHA Scale helicopter area has a large draw of models and pilots who can discuss the models and full-scale aircraft in detail.
who says that you cant have it all
Who says that you can’t have it all? Horizon Hobby put on demonstrations that encompassed many of the company’s products. It was great fun to see these flights performed.

The fastest—a special Diabolo Speed helicopter—had a top run of 198 mph!

That’s it for the IRCHA Jamboree 2021! There were roughly 400 pilots (and who knows how many spectators), with exceptional weather and a great flying field. What could be better?



ByTim DiPeri |
Photos by the author

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