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FlyingGiants Interviews Ashleigh Heath

She's no stranger to the 3D community and major fly-ins; Ashleigh Heath can throw down with the best of them! I had a chance to speak with Ashleigh about her dedication to the hobby and learned a little about her in the process. Check out the FlyingGiants interview with one of the better female 3D pilots out there!

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An Interview with Ashleigh Heath

Matt Gunn - Ashleigh, first off, I want to thank you for taking the time to talk with me and FlyingGiants today. I'm sure you've heard this before: there's no denying that female pilots are a rarity in a hobby that largely operates under the "boys and their toys" mentality. But I don't want to dwell on that; I've seen your 3D routine many times and I've always been impressed by your skills, as have many others. When someone is standing on the flight line, performing rolling harriers a few inches off the deck, there's a level of respect that transcends gender and age, and you're a prime example of that.

Ashleigh Heath - Thank you for this opportunity to speak with you and the FG community. I love to share my passion for the hobby and love to inspire more kids, especially girls, to get into it.

MG - Tell me how you got started off in rc and about your progression towards giant scale and 3D flying.

AH - My dad is a private pilot and I've been flying in small Cessnas since I was very young, so that probably has something to do with my interest in aviation. Also, when I was younger I was always interested in those "Airhogs" RC helicopters and airplanes. Being a child's toy brand sold at Walmart, they didn't fly very well. I wanted a plane that would fly and do what I told it to, not just fly off with a mind of its own. Eventually, when I was 11, we went to a local hobby shop and an employee there recommended the HobbyZone Super Cub LP. I then taught myself to fly with that airplane, crashing over and over before I finally got the hang of it. This was before gyros were common in RTF beginner planes, so I learned by trial and error. However, this also taught me a lot about how the plane reacts to certain stick movements (without the interference of the gyro), and how to fix different parts of the plane after I broke them. I also learned how useful duct tape is. Thinking back on it now, I remember watching videos of big gas planes with a friend and saying, "I'll never be that into the hobby to get a huge plane like that." Oh the irony... After a couple months of flying my Super Cub and a few other foamies I found out about the RealFlight 5.5 simulator. One night on multiplayer I met Trixie Kimball; she introduced me to the world of 3D.

"I really enjoy building the planes and rebuilding them after a crash. The feeling of satisfaction after flying a plane that was once "totaled" is amazing."

MG - What's your current go-to aircraft/engine/servo combo for 3D?

AH - My go to aircraft are definitely ExtremeFlight/3DHS although I have flown a few Aeroworks planes that fly awesome as well. I mainly fly Extras and for equipment, I use a bit of everything. Most of my planes have been set up with Hitec servos, but now I'm trying out some Savox 1270's in my 108" 3DHS Extra 330 and plan on trying more Savox in any new planes I get. As for engines, I love the DA 120 in my 108" but, I also have an EME 60 which runs great, and DLE 30 that been through a few crashes and still runs well. For receivers and transmitter, I fly Jeti which has been amazing. It's a blast messing around with all the cool telemetry and different settings on the DS-16 radio. For electric aircraft, I like Motrolfly motors, castle ESC's, and ThunderPower batteries.

MG - If you could have any aircraft/engine/servo combo, what would it be?

AH - I've gotten a few flights on the ExtremeFlight Demonstrator 106" Edges, which were incredible. One of those with a DA120 would have to be my dream plane. Not sure what servos I'd run though as I'm still trying out different ones. Would probably have to be Savox or maybe give MKS a shot.

MG - We all see you rip it up at the fly-ins, but when are we going to see you enter in some of the annual competitions? XFC? Tucson?

AH - I've been really wanting to try out XFC but the only problem is school. The past few years my last day of school (and finals...) has been on the day of LCQ's. This year I'll definitely try to take my finals early and make it down to XFC in time. Tucson is also durning school which makes it hard to go to, but I could probably make it work.

MG - Do you have any mentors or pilots that have inspired you or helped you reach your current skill-level?

AH - My biggest mentor while getting into the hobby was Trixie. She's a fellow female and an awesome pilot. She taught me a lot of basic 3D flying and we flew on RealFlight almost every night and she helped me practice. If it weren't for her who knows where I'd be. One night on RealFlight she told me about Joe Nall and that if I practiced enough on the sim and came down to Nall, I could fly her 104" Slick. So, my family and I looked into going, and in May we packed up our Cessna 182 with my 2 airplanes (Super Cub and ParkZone Extra 300) and headed down to South Carolina. There I witnessed giant scale gas planes for the first time, and flew my first 100cc plane. I also met the 3DHS team and bought my first 3DHS airframe, the full fuse EPP Yak. After that I got a 30cc Extra and practiced and practiced, it was my dream to make it onto the 3DHS team and fly for them. Another major mentor in my life is Tyler McCormack, in the past few years he has helped me continue learning about this hobby and how to setup airplanes better, and is always there to help with any questions I have. He has also helped teach me some IMAC, which is helping to clean up my flying and I'm continuing to learn more and more. Next summer I plan on competing in more IMAC to help improve my flying. There's many, many more people who I've met here on the forums and at events that have helped me a ton throughout the years. This hobby is full of some of the nicest people I've met.

MG - Any hobbies or activities outside of RC you enjoy?

AH - Not really, I spend most of my time working on, building, rebuilding, covering, and flying my airplanes. I really enjoy building the planes and rebuilding them after a crash. The feeling of satisfaction after flying a plane that was once "totaled" is amazing. When I'm not doing things RC related I enjoy hanging out with my dogs and playing some video games. I joined my high school robotics team this year which starts up in January, I will be busy with that till about May, in time for Nall!

"Don't listen to the negative people who tell you you can't do something."

MG - You're still in high school, so this question may be a bit premature: what aspirations do you have for college and a career?

AH - Right now I want to go into engineering, either mechanical or aerospace. Colleges I'm interested in are Kettering University and Western Michigan University.

MG - Tell me about your current sponsors and what your using?

AH - Right now my sponsors are Esprit Tech, Thunder Power, West Michigan Park Flyers, and Aurora RC Lights. All of which have been awesome. Great products and very friendly people behind the companies.

MG - Favorite movie? Favorite band? Favorite car?

AH - It's hard to pick a favorite movie but I'd have to go with all the Hunger Games movies. I can't decide on a favorite band either, but I like music from Lindsey Stirling, Ellie Goulding, Imagine Dragons, and Blackmill. Not sure what my favorite car is... Anything that's fast and looks cool.

MG - Any words of encouragement for the young men and women interested in learning to fly 3D?

AH - Don't listen to the negative people who tell you you can't do something. When I was looking into getting my first 30cc plane some people doubted my abilities of being able to fly something like that. They also said things that almost seemed as if they were trying to scare me away from the big planes, rather than helping me learn to build and fly one.

My advice is, get a simulator and an EPP profile foamy. The sim helps a ton with the muscle memory, and small EPP planes rarely break when crashed and are very easy to repair. After practicing with those, move up to a 40-50" balsa plane. Truth is, after practicing a ton you should know what you're ready for. After flying my few park-flyers and UMX Extra for 2 years I knew I was ready for a 30cc. A couple people told me I wasn't and that I needed more practice, but I knew my capabilities. I also had good people behind me who were very helpful in teaching me how to set up and fly a plane.

My suggestion is to find a mentor or two and follow what they tell you. Here on the forums there are many people and many different opinions, airplane and setup preferences. It gets very overwhelming when 10 different people are telling you a million different ways to do one thing. Of course they are trying to help, but it's hard to process so much different information. If you can, go check out a local RC club or hobby shop and meet some people there, most are very happy to help the newcomers.

Video

Here's Ashleigh throwing around the 3DHS 108" 330LT. Video is courtesy of Ashleigh Heath.

ExtremeFlight 3DHS 108" Extra 330LT Fall Flyin' (4 min 23 sec)

Last edited by Jim T. Graham; 12-04-2015 at 03:31 PM..
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Old 12-04-2015, 03:11 PM
rcfly is offline
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She's great for the hobby!
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Old 12-04-2015, 03:17 PM
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needs more yaw authority
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very cool Ashleigh!

Talented, enthusiastic, engaged and helpful aeromodeler. It's a pleasure to share the flight line with you.
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Old 12-04-2015, 03:27 PM
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Ash, your an awesome pilot and even more a great rc modeler. Not many people can build/fix/fly and I commend you on the fact that you are a modeler and not just an rc pilot. Keep up the good work
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Old 12-04-2015, 04:19 PM
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Word up!
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I would love to see more ladies get in this hobby. I think it would be fantastic.
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Old 12-04-2015, 04:22 PM
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i've definitely been impressed with both your repair skills and your piloting skills. good job!
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Old 12-04-2015, 04:37 PM
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Great article. What tips do you or others posting here have for inside rollers? Even inside inside rollers in intermediate IMAC class can be sloppy when I try them.
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Old 12-04-2015, 05:04 PM
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Great gal and great article about her, so nice to see this in the hobby !!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Old 12-04-2015, 05:10 PM
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Great interview! I have had the pleasure of getting to know Ashleigh and her family over the past year and they are great people. Looking forward to hanging with you all at the 2016 events. Keep it up Ashleigh, you are very talented!
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Old 12-04-2015, 05:30 PM
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Very cool Ashleigh!!
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Old 12-04-2015, 05:41 PM
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Nice Job Ashleigh! You are definitely one of the more talented pilots out there. We sure could use more females as well. No sense in the boys having all the fun!
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Old 12-04-2015, 05:47 PM
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WAH HOOOO way to go Ashleigh ! You rock girl !!!!
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Old 12-04-2015, 06:24 PM
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just awesome, I have been flying for 30 years and Im still learning how to do some of that stuff
you go young lady and your right don't listen to negativity.
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Old 12-04-2015, 06:37 PM
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Thank you Ashleigh while I am posting this my girlfriend is on the simulator. Your article and the video of you flying pushed her over the edge. She said I can do this. She will never 3D like you but just fly will be good for me and her. We will be looking for you and thanks again. Assume flying I am sure in one more year you will be at the top.
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Old 12-04-2015, 07:53 PM
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If I may ask Miss Ashleigh a question, I would like to get her comments on strategy. From a certain perspective, there are two types of pilots; one that goes out to the field and does whatever they have been doing for years. Another type goes outside their comfort zone and tries new maneuvers. Miss Ashleigh, you seem to me like the kind of pilot that routinely goes outside your comfort zone to learn and perfect new maneuvers. Is that true and why?

I ask this because I write articles for my club's newsletter about learning new maneuvers and I am looking for input.
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