IRCHA 2012

Written by Mark Fadely As featured on page 21 the December 2012 issue of Model Aviation. As featured in the Model Aviation tablet app.

The AMA’s International Aeromodeling Center (IAC) made RC history this past August by hosting the largest, single-category event in the world. RC helicopter pilots made it happen at the helicopter-only get together they call the International Radio Controlled Helicopter Association (IRCHA) Jamboree.

IRCHA is a 23-year-old special interest group recognized by AMA’s governing body. IRCHA president, Dave Milner, has dreamed of breaking the 1,000-pilot mark since recent years’ attendance has been hovering in the 900-plus range. This year, that dream became a reality.

The record was shattered when 1,049 registered pilots showed up for the 2012 event! The organizers were not expecting a double-digit percentage increase during a down economy, but it just goes to show that RC helicopters are pretty important to their pilots. The increase sheds a positive light on the IRCHA staff and volunteers.

How can one describe the IRCHA Jamboree? It is a helicopter city with many neighborhoods and suburbs where everyone you meet is friendly and likeminded. That sounds like a utopia for RC heli pilots, and it truly is.

In the same way bees return to the hive and give all of the other bees directions to the best flowers, heli pilots from far away places come to visit IRCHA and then return home to tell their buddies about the magical experiences they have had.

The sprawling 1,000-acre flying complex has all the room needed for multiple types of helicopter flights to take place concurrently. Everything from Scale contests, FAI Nats, team trials, Speed Cup racing, autorotation contests, and beginner setup clinics were going on all at once.

I caught up with a fun group of pilots that made the long trip from Australia to attend the IRCHA Jamboree. They proudly drove their golf cart around with a blow-up kangaroo on the roof and an Australian flag flying from the back.

Pilots from 25 countries assembled in Muncie, Indiana, to kick off the biggest all-helicopter party ever! And if that isn’t enough to quench your rotary desires, then you could take a ride in one of the two full-scale helicopters on-site for this year’s gathering.

IRCHA has a great Scale tent near Stage Center with the top Scale helicopters in the world on display. This is a must-see presentation. The Scale pits on the flightline are busy with inquisitive people waiting for their turn to talk with the world-class builders of these fine machines. Fantastically detailed and appointed machines have to be squeezed in side by side because there are so many models.

Some of the realistic helicopters in this area take months or even years to build. If you appreciate fine craftsmanship, make sure to stop by the Scale heli display and special flight station just for these machines.

Ray Stacy held the Autorotation Contest and Santiago Panzardi organized the popular Speed Cup. Read more about those two contests in the “RC Helicopters” column in this issue.

It goes without saying that the IRCHA Jamboree is the highlight of the year for the RC heli community. If you have an interest in rotary craft, then make an effort to see this spectacle at least once. There is a reason pilots and non-pilots alike return each year to enjoy every aspect of this mega event. I hope to see you there in 2013.

Read the entire full length article on page 21 of the December 2012 issue of Model Aviation magazine and in the tablet app.

—Mark Fadely
[email protected]


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