Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Who is Fredrik Kjellberg?

Every now and then there is a buzz among the crowd about new and upcoming pilots. A few years ago I started to hear quite some talk about this young and talented pilot from Gothenburg. Basically everyone was talking about the "next big thing" on the Swedish 3D scene. I never got the chance to see him fly that year, but during summer 2010 I visited Gothenburg due to work. Of course I visited the local field and the first thing that I saw was this kid flying his Gaui X5. He was throwing off some really impressive flights that night! Now, two years later, I know him as Fredrik Kjellberg and would call him my friend. It´s been a great journey to seem him progress his skills. Unfortunately he lives on the other side of Sweden so we don´t get the chance to fly together very often. I am sure he will become a big name on the international scene in a few years. But first I wanted to find out who the guy behind the smile really is. So, who is Freddan actually?

1. Please introduce yourself!
Well, I’m a 17 years old guy living in Göteborg. I study science second year in High
School. Besides from School and helicopters I like to spend time with my friends and
working out. I train athletics, mostly short sprint like 100m,200m and 110m hurdles.

2. How come you started flying model helicopters?
I don’t know exactly how but the fascination about helicopters started when I
watched a television series on discovery channel called “A chopper is born”. But the
actual reason, which is quite silly, was that I entered a competition in a Donald duck
magazine and the prize was a small rc heli. I thought I would win and of course I
didn’t. So I went and bought my first toy helicopter and all it could do was basically
to fly up and down. A year after that I stepped up to a coax heli and flew with that
for another year. My first “real” helicopter I bought was an E-sky Belt cp. I actually
remember the exact date which was January 3rd 2008 and I was 14 years old. But it
wasn’t until about eight months later, when I got a Spektrum DX7 for my birthday
that I started to fly around and get better. I’m still flying with that radio today.

3. What’s your favourite part of the hobby?
Except for the flying, which is a special feeling that you can’t explain to anyone
that hasn’t tried it, it’s the people you meet. On the fall of 2011 I got quite tired of it
because I barely had anyone to fly with. It’s not fun to stand on a field and fly if there
isn’t a bunch of people to talk to. And I always get a big boost of confidence every
time someone compliments my flying. So if you mix the flying and people together
you get a funfly and that is my favourite part of the hobby.

4. Which are the current choice of brands and what do your fleet consists of?
Right now, I only have one helicopter: A Whiplash 90E with A Scorpion 4035-500,
Hobbywing 120 HV with Vbar governor, Ino-lab 761MG on cyclic, Hyperion Atlas
tail servo, Mikado V-bar 5.2 Pro, Turningy batteries, Spektrum DX7.

5. You went from a 500-size heli to a 700 size this year. What do you think are
the biggest advantages with the bigger helicopter?
Definitely, the flight characteristics. It is more responsive and at the same time, more
stable. It has more power, it’s lighter on the batteries and still the flight time is longer.
I can’t really describe it but it feels like you have more time to do things with it in the
air because it doesn’t fall as fast and the size makes it easier to see.

6. Any specific goals for 2012?
The goal is to fly as much as possible and attend as many competitions and funflys
as I can. However, the biggest goal is to compete in the European Championships in
F3N in Germany this summer.

7. What do you think are the biggest challenges in this hobby?
Storage charge the batteries when I get home. I’m so lazy about everything that has
to do with the batteries. Changing them between flights and charging them. Maybe I
would fly nitro if it weren’t so expensive, loud and greasy just because it seems easier
to fill up fuel rather than changing batteries. No, but if I’m serious I can’t really think
of any specific big challenges. Sure, I run into problems every once in a while but I

just see that as a part of the hobby.

8. Electric and FBL is basically the standard today. What do you think is "the
next big thing"?
The next big thing is going to be about big things I think it’s going to be about size
this time, big but also small. Mikado released the XXtreme and I don’t think that will
be the only 800 size for a long time. I have no doubt we’ll see a 900 in a couple of
years when batteries and power systems have improved even more.
The micro helicopters are also becoming very popular and thanks to FBL systems,
they fly surprisingly well. But only the future will tell, I’m excited to see how the
hobby will evolve.

9. Last year you became the 3D champ by wining your first competition ever.
What do you think of competition flying and the dedication it requires?
It turns the hobby more into a sport and it’s a help to motivate hard training. It is lots
of fun and very learning to. Since I started to fly in front of crowds and judges, I’ve
gained more confidence and it’s easier for me to talk in front of a class or a bunch of
But it takes more practise and time to prepare the three routines you’re flying in a
competition and flying on a regular basis is an important thing. The hard thing is to
achieve a precision level that makes the spectators and judges understand what you’re
trying to do. It’s better to do regular flips than a piroflip if you can’t keep the piroflip
stationary within an acceptable “box“.

10. Do you have any future plans of competing?
No, not really. It feels better right now to take it one year at a time. But if everything
goes well this year I will try to attend next years 3d masters.

11. Why do you think it is so hard for people to get the courage to enter 3D
Because on paper it seems very hard with strict rules. For example when a set-
manoeuvre is described, you get to know how it’s done perfectly. But you get the
idea that you have to do it that way, otherwise you will get zero points. Also you
see the videos of Kyle Dahl, Jaime Robertson, Nick Maxwell etc. that does the
manoeuvres 95% perfect and you think that’s were you have to be to be able to
compete. But that’s only the case if you want to win the 3d masters. On national or
club level, almost anyone with basic 3d skills can enter. On paper it feel’s difficult
and intimidating, but in reality it’s very funny and learning and you can’t make it as
difficult as you want.

12. Do you plan to attend any fun flys this year? National or international?
Yes, as many as possible. But those I have planned so far are Heli-Kickoff in Borås,
Pitchbrothers Smackdown in Denmark and the Habo heli-meeting. I don’t know
which ones I’m going to be able to make this summer but hopefully a lot of them!

13. How much, or often, do you practice?
Except for summer I usually go out and fly once every weekend. I get about 6 flights
on a normal day at the field. After that I start to feel tired and don’t get the same
result out of the training.
It’s quite limiting to not have a driver’s licence so I can’t always go out and fly
when I want it and have time. But I compensate that with the simulator were I fly on
average 30 minutes per day.

14. How do you stay motivated?
By reminding myself that this is a thing that I’m actually really good at! To look
back at comments on, for example, a movie were I fly and see all the positive and
encouraging comments. It puts a smile on my face every time. I also stay motivated
by looking forward to all the funflys and events I’m going to go to.
And of course the feeling every time my helicopter, that I’ve built myself, takes of
and the feeling of controlling it in the air, that feeling is priceless and never goes
away no matter how many times you fly.

15. Do you think an excessive amount of practice is the only way to become a
skilled pilot?
Yes, it’s all about training your reflexes and reflexes takes practise to get. And
depending on how quick learner you are, you learn either faster or slower.

16. What is your opinion concerning simulators? Are they a good tool to develop
real flying skills?
Absolutely, I shouldn’t have been half as good as I am now without the simulator. It
doesn’t replace real life practice, but it’s a really good tool to train reflexes. But the
timing you need to get precision that you want in your flying can only come from real
life practise.

17. Do you see any similarities between model helicopters and other sports?
Besides from that you don’t get any physical training, I don’t see many differences.
There is competitions and international championships just like other sports. But I
guess that you can call it both things. If you want it to be just a hobby, it is a hobby,
and when you start competing it is a sport. I use both expressions.

18. Do you usually have a strategy when flying, like a certain routine, or do you
mostly improvise?
In competitions, everything is pre-planned. But on funflys and most other times, I
improvise. It’s much easier to improvise because if you miss a manoeuvre you just
make up something else that fits in and doesn’t interrupt the flow.

19. What, or who, is your biggest source of influences? And why?
My biggest source of influence is Nick Maxwell. I think he is the most creative and
versatile pilot today. He can do everything from very big and fast flying to super
low on the deck flying. But the things that makes him stand out, and that I’m trying
to get into my flying, is the flow in his flying and the creativity when it comes to
manoeuvres and transitions.

20. How often do you crash?
I can’t give a general number on that, but last year I probably had most crashes since I
started. Most of them was pretty small but they still count as crashes. A guess is that I
crashed 8-10 times last year.
I have crashed my Whiplash one time know. I’m amazed of well it held. But I can’t
crash it 10 times in a year because then I won’t have any money left.
One funny thing is that every occasion that I have met a certain person: My friend
Daniel Tengvall, I have crashed. So if not sooner, the next crash will be in Habo in
May ;)

21. You are one of Sweden’s best 3D pilots. Do you think it is important being
Yes, and most importantly, to quote Lukas Riva, try to have fun all the time. To don’t
think so much about who’s better or worse. Since it is very subjective what everyone
think is good and there aren’t any right or wrongs there can be a thousand winners.
And therefore it’s important to be humble, because some won’t think you’re the best,
and some will.

22. Could you tell us a good, or bad, memory from a special moment of flying or
I have one memory were I think my heart almost stopped. It was right before I was
going to do my first flight with the Whiplash. When I connected the main battery,
there was a big spark and lots of smoke and I was completely stunned until I realized
I’d just short cut the whole thing. That was probably also the luckiest moment I’ve
had because the only thing that broke was the EC5 connectors. They melted which
means they saved all the other electronics.

23. How did you get in contact with your sponsors? Do you think being
sponsored helps you in your flying career?
I had the luck of getting sponsored early, which meant a lot to finance the hobby
without having a job. I got in contact with my first sponsor because I flew with the
owners, and when they started a new store, Pitchup, they offered me a sponsorship.
After two years of good cooperation they started to put all energy on selling quads
and FPV equipment and I wanted to fly something new, so I left them. About a month
later I got in touch with Rcsweden and started to fly the Whiplash, which I’m flying
right now and I’m very happy with my current sponsor.

24. Could you give all the sport fliers some advice how they should practice to
progress and entry 3D level?
One good thing is to watch videos of the pilots you look up to and if you see
something cool that you think you can do, try to practise it on the simulator and then
in reality. There is really not a pre-decided path you have to go.
But one tip that will make your flying so much more versatile is to practise doing
everything both way. Hovering in all four directions, upright and inverted, circles and

figure eights, tail down, nose down, forward, backwards. It sound overwhelming but
take on thing at a time an it will pay off. It makes your flying look so much better.

25. What is your favourite manoeuvre and which ones is your working on right
I’m going to go a little mainstream and say that my favourite manoeuvre is the “true
chaos” , that’s actually one of the maneuverer I’m working in to. It’s really hard
to do it stationary, especially when you’re flipping towards you and to the left. I’m
also working on a sideways rolling loop, or maybe a nose in flipping loop, don’t
know how to best describe it. And also I have a cool transition between in a inverted
backwards hurricane figure eight, and a pirouetting tic-toc V with reversal.

26. The last five years helis has become easier to fly due to high power and FBL
systems. Do you think it takes less skill today to become a good pilot?
Actually not, because the definition of good isn’t the same as it was five years ago.
The bar is raised another notch every year.
But takes less skill to get from the hovering stage to flying around because of the
simulators and better flying helicopters, but that’s only a good thing because it’s
easier for people to get into the hobby.

27. Where do you think 3D flying will be in a few years? Any new trends?
Wow, I don’t know. Every time I see a new video from the big guys like Nick
Maxwell or Kyle Dahl they have something new and mind-blowing. So, I have no
good guesses but it will be fun to see what’s next.

28. How should you describe your flying style? What type of flying interests you
the most? (Both watch and perform yourself)
Fast and low, unusual transitions. Exciting with creative new combinations and some
smack. That’s what I think I’m trying to achieve anyway and it’s also that type of
flying I like to watch.

29. What is your opinion on the increasingly growing flying style "Smack"? And
the insane headspeed trend many pro pilots seem to encourage?
I like to watch it if it’s varied with some other flying because it gets boring to watch
after a minute, with one exception. Tareq is the only pilot that can do a whole flight
with only smack and make it fun to watch. But that’s because he has a completely
different style of smack and he can fly insanely low. He has absolute control every
second and I think that shines thru and I’m impressed with that,
The thing of insane head speed I think is just a phase. It is very funny to smack a 700
with 2300 rpm, but it is to high to do regular flying on that rpm and I think they will
calm down with the rpm in a while.

30. The Nordic climate sets some limits to the possibility to fly during the winter.
What do you think of winter flying?
I could skip that period. Because it get’s dark by 3pm and the fingers gets so cold
it’s not very motivating to go out to the field, and if there isn’t a heated club house
it’s not funny and you can’t stay very long. The one thing that is good is that it’s
generally less wind on the winter, but that’s pretty much it.


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