Bladerunner Indoor Helicopter -- A Mere $70
By James Grahame
Maybe it's just me, but the Bladerunner R/C helicopter looks like the perfect way to while away dreary winter evenings. It weighs a mere 50g (1.7 oz) and the main rotor is a mere 29 cm (11.5ish inches) in diameter. Radio Control Helicopter Magazine picked it as their Best Beginner aircraft in the Winter 2006 issue.
What makes this gnat of an aircraft so easy to fly is its unique dual counter-rotating rotor system, controlled by a full 3-axis R/C transmitter. The electic motor is powered by a tiny rechargable LiPo battery pack. All that's required to power the transmitter is a single 9V battery.
Here's the lowdown from the Bladerunner FAQ: "The controls are similar to high-end model helicopters so the Bladerunner is great for learning to operate those horrendously expensive models without making a huge dollar commitment. The BladeRunner is built to withstand minor crashes such as bumping into walls and furniture. The tail rotor is intentionally very small in order to keep the forward / backward speed low - thus making the helicopter easy to fly and to give you lots of time to react. The ring around the small tail propeller is a safety feature, but it also slows down the speed of the tail propeller to keep the forward / backward speed low."
To tempt you even more, Draganfly has the original Bladerunner Mark I for a mere $69.95 (there's apparently a new model in the works), and refurbished units are available for under $40. I bet Harrison Ford would love one for Christmas.