09 Feb 2018

A model pupil: F3C World Champion Ennio Graber learned it all from his Dad

Model helicopter pilot Ennio Graber won the FAI F3C World Championships for the second time last year.

The 37-year-old physical education teacher, who lives in Vira Gambarogno in Switzerland, has enjoyed an illustrious aeromodelling career – as well as being crowned World Champion on two occasions, he has been European Champion three times.

He credits his father’s passion for the sport of aeromodelling for making him such a successful competitor.
We caught up with him to find out what it takes to become an aeromodelling champion.

Hi Ennio, congratulations on your victory at the FAI F3C World Championships 2017 in Wloclawek, Poland – the latest of many!

Yes, thank you. I have won many competitions throughout my career in aeromodelling. I was also World Champion in 2013, and European Champion in 2010, 2012, and 2016, as well as Swiss Champion a total of 13 times. My first World Championship was in 2001 IN Muncie, USA. That was a really big honour for me because I was on the Swiss national team with my father, who taught me everything I knew.

How long have you been involved in radio-controlled (RC) aeromodelling?

I started to practise RC aeromodelling at the age of seven, starting with a car then a little glider. I started flying RC helicopters when I was about 10 years old. My father has been involved in aeromodelling for a long time, so my passion for this wonderful activity started with him. I was lucky enough to spend a lot of time on airfields even as a child, and to follow the huge development in the F3C category.

Why do you enjoy RC aeromodelling?

Aeromodelling is an accessible way for young people to get invvolved in aviation. It allows you to get your hands on a flying vehicle – the assembly and continuous modifications you need to make to keep improving an aircraft’s performance are all part of the fun. For me, RC helicopters are even more fascinating because they are one of the most mechanically and electronically complex aircrafts used in aeromodelling.

What skills do you need to be a good RC helicopter pilot?

To be a good RC helicopter pilot, you need to be dedicated and spend a lot of time practising. Good reaction skills, coordination and mental flexibility are also a big help. When it comes to F3C races, mechanical and electronic tuning of the helicopter is also very important because, as in Formula 1, a good driver without a suitable car will never be able to compete and perform well. Each pilot must therefore personalise his helicopter model in such a way that he can achieve the best result.

What is your advice for young F3C pilots?

To be successful in F3C competitions, it is important to learn basics maneouveres such as "hovering" and "linear forward flight". Only then you can progress to more complex moves such as loopings, rolls, and flips ... I would also tell young pilots not to be discouraged if it takes a while for them to notice themsleves improving. Everyone progresses at their own pace, and taking longer to get there does not mean you will not be the best in the future.