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Blade's 120 SR great for beginners

By Matt Gunn
Published: January 13, 2011
Blade 120 SR
Photo by Matt Gunn

Product: Blade’s lineup of electric helicopters is always evolving, and with advances in micro technology comes new heli designs with improved flight characteristics and increased durability. Blade’s fixed-pitch 120 SR micro chopper delivers all of that in a package that fits nicely between the sub-micro mSR and the larger Blade SR. The 120 SR was developed to fill the void left by predominantly indoor micros and outdoor collective-pitch helicopters. With its 12.5-inch-diameter rotor, the 120 SR is fully capable of flying indoors and outside in light winds.

As with all Blade helicopters, the 120 SR is available in a transmitter-included RTF package, as well as a Bind-N-Fly package that requires a 4-channel or better transmitter. Both versions come with a 3.7V 500mAh single-cell LiPo battery and a wall charger. For simplicity and ease of maintenance, the 120 SR utilizes a 5-in-1 control unit for receiver, servo, ESC, mixer, and gyro functions. All parts are modular and can be replaced in a matter of minutes.  The entire package weighs just 106 grams, ready-to-fly.

Blade claims the newly designed rotor head on the 120 SR creates a stable platform similar to a coaxial helicopter, while still remaining fast and agile in the hands of more advanced pilots.
After a few flights with the 120 SR, I agree!

In the living room, it floats effortlessly with only slight corrections needed to keep it in one place. Nose-in hovering is relatively easy and the dedicated tail motor does a great job of holding it wherever you put it. Outside, the 120 SR behaves more like a heli twice its size, with fast forward flight, tight turns, and decent wind penetration. Battery life is acceptable, albeit a little shorter than I would have liked. Luckily, the included Celectra charger can top-off the single cell quickly to minimize downtime.

One of my favorite aspects about the 120 SR is its portability: the shoebox-sized carrying case is surprisingly compact when compared to some of the ultra-micro airplanes available from Horizon Hobby. The 120 SR fits snugly in a foam cradle with room for the transmitter, up to four batteries, the charger, and instructions. With such a small package, you can’t help but take it to work and fly during lunch.

With so many Blade helicopters currently available, choosing which ones to stock is no easy decision. The true sub-micro mSR was always a good bet for beginners, but it’s ultra-small frame and pint-sized performance envelope seemed to keep some people at bay. The 120 SR is just the answer for those wanting something a little bigger and better, but don’t want to spend a lot getting there.

With two versions available, new pilots should be shown the ready-to-fly model, while more seasoned pilots with their own transmitter are more likely to purchase the Bind-N-Fly. Stock 120 SR parts, along with a few extra LiPos. Advising the customer on the marginal flight time should be an easy way to add a couple of batteries to an existing sale.

I’m often asked to recommend a first helicopter for a beginner, and I usually steer people towards the Blade mCX micro coaxial. But now that the 120 SR has hit the shelves, I can say with certainty that a fixed-pitch single-rotor heli is a great first step in learning to fly. Its docile hovering characteristics are perfect for basic maneuvers, while its outdoor speed and agility will keep you coming back long after you’ve graduated to collective-pitch. With that said, the 120 SR should be considered by anyone interested in learning to fly helicopters, or just rediscovering the basics of rotary flight.

Product: 120 R RTF (BLH3100, MSRP/MAP $224.99/$179.99); BNF (BLH3180, MSRP/MAP $199.99/$149.99)
Maker: Blade
Availability: Horizon Hobby

great flier indoors and out
RTF right out of the box
For both beginners and experts

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