HO scale helicopter fly through

This put a huge smile on my face – Mike’s HO scale helicopter fly through.

A wonderful bit of fun – but you eyes are soon glued on the scenery.

HO scale helicopter fly through

HO scale printable buildings

HO scale printable buildings

model train

model train

HO scale printable buildings houses

HO scale printable houses

HO scale printable buildings houses

model railroad

HO scale helicopter fly through:

HO scale helicopter fly through

HO scale model railroad printable buildings

HO scale printable buildings church

If you missed Mike’s last post, it’s here. Some stunning pics and another video too.

And I was right, a lot of Mike’s pics are in the Beginner’s Guide.

Not all of Mike’s buildings are from the printable buildings buy you’ll see the ones that are.

Now on to Fred, who has some worthwhile tips:

“Hi Al,

I’ve only been reading your blog for a week now, but have enjoyed it immensely.

As a relative newcomer to railroad modeling I can’t offer any “how to” tips, because I haven’t really had the experience for years (I’m 70 now – last electric train I had was the Lionel “standard Gauge” monster I inherited from my dad!)

For years I was an RC aircraft modeler, but eventually got worn down by the violent destruction of years of work from control mishaps or a lost radio signal!

So I approach railroad modeling in my dotage with the hope of less heartache from my creations. As a newcomer I can still give you my recent impressions about this wonderful hobby, nonetheless.

As a professional architectural modeler of the 1970s and 1980s, the most important thing to me (then and now) was the issue of scale, and all of us designing buildings developed a pretty good eye for something that was out of whack in our models.

Whether or not people understand their sensitivity to scale, most viewers have it. And I would guess that all RR modelers share a real sense of it.

After all, for many modelers that’s really the whole goal, isn’t it – to achieve success with the illusion that you have created a miniature world (or a piece of a miniature world) that evokes the real thing.

And few issues are as important as scale. Texture of materials has scale. Color has scale – look down at a “real life layout” some time from an airplane and notice how the colors fade as a function of their distance from the eye, even without apparent help from air pollution.

Movement has scale – a flashing light on a police car is not the same as a flashing anti-collision light on a power plant stack. One flashes rapidly, the other in a lazier “on/off” sequence, since the larger bulb filament takes its time to completely go dark. (The current day electronics for reproducing scale lighting effects are really remarkable.) But one careless decision on track ballast can undo all the well executed aspects of your model so far.

Developers often use scale phenomena deceptively to make a building site look larger and more commodious than it really is – simply by changing the size of a piece of architectural vocabulary that offers some fundamental insight into scale – the size of the bricks or concrete block in a drawing, for instance.

When I built models I always spent a lot of time fashioning scale human figures on my foam cutter. I made sure that their heads and hands were the correct size. Although I sometimes used them in the final presentation model, where they helped me was in their placement within various portions of my designs – Is there adequate room in the lobby of a building? Does it feel cramped? Or does it feel cavernous? At the end of the day the human figure was the perfect yardstick, not only for my model, but for my design behind the model.

I would suggest that scale figures can help in RR Modeling as well……not necessarily as end participants in the layout as much as a visual aid during the decision making process. An aid at choosing and building structures, spotting an offending detail from kits (I find that ladders and railings are a real problem in N Scale, and have already started pitching what came with my kits for a wire brass and solder solution on my part.

My tip is this: spend as much time as you can fashioning a couple of human figures at 1:160 scale (for N scalers) and then use them as you model. Use them to design your refineries, your feed lots, your Victorian neighborhoods. It will really help you envision your miniature world!

All the best,



That’s all for today folks. Please do leave a comment below if you enjoyed Mike’s HO scale helicopter fly through.

Please do keep ’em coming.

And if today is the day you get started on your layout, the Beginner’s Guide is here.



PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

PPS More HO scale train layouts here if that’s your thing.

58 Responses to HO scale helicopter fly through

  1. Charles Caudle says:

    They must have amazingly skilled pilotsin the USA. Speaking as an English helicopter pilot, all I can say is thank goodness there were no cables between any of the pylons or posts. I think I would have crashed quite a few times but, as you say Al, with eyes glued to the magnificent (if quite busy) scenery, that would also not be surprising. Well done!

  2. John Meehan says:

    I LOVE it! Watch out for those power lines buddy! I’m an old helicopter pilot myself and loved it! Thanks!

    PS power lines and helos dont mix! ๐Ÿ˜œ

    Three thumbs up! ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘

  3. Tom Durham says:

    Great work, Mike. What scale are in you?

  4. Raymond Bove says:

    A truly admirable effort and piece of work but far too busy to my liking.
    There is too much going on at the same time in the same place an there is a lack of depth and proportion. Track cries out for weathering as do many buildings. And while I’m at it, why no catenaries for the electric units? All the same, congratulations on the work.

  5. Jerry Suits says:

    Mike–congrats on a great layout and ver cleaver presentation with the chopper sounds!

  6. Raymond J Kutcher says:

    I am just a beginner in model railroading. I am assuming Mikes layout is HO. It is fantastic and so much authentic detail. Where is Mikes layout located? I plan to start with a 4×8 table and have some old engines and rail cars. I signed up for Model Railroad Mag. I would appreciate any suggestions or recommendations. Thanks Ray Kutcher

  7. david howarth says:

    Great sound effects …they can sound very good and add so much to a video …Dave

  8. Bill Oikle says:

    My only criticism is the lack of weathering on all those older buildings. As I look around my own city full of old brick factories I see the weathering from yrs of use of coal fired power, bird doo-doo etc. None on the rolling stock either. I am in Nashua, NH, USA

  9. sergio says:


  10. Janelle says:

    Very nice ride. One thing I caught was you were a tad low by the big power line towers, copers don’t fly that close to them, Otherwise GREAT VIDEO

  11. John says:

    Absolutely brilliant

  12. Peter Ormerod says:

    Loved the pics. Especially the old Gazebo Band Stand . The Bordens sign brought back memories to me. Wonderful layout…too many great things to comment on all.

  13. Tommy B says:

    Great concept. With todays use of drones almost anything is possible to video.
    Would be great to see the whole layout from above but I guess the limitations of the rooms ceiling prevented that from being recorded.

    BTW…it would be great to see a diagram of all layouts when posted here. Sometimes it’s hard to picture what the whole layout looks like from pictures of sections of the layout.

  14. ian impett says:

    very entertaining a great IDEA.

  15. Ben Taul says:

    cool man cool

  16. wow you build a great layout….!! and fly a chopper too!!
    excellent work!!
    stjohn in long beach calif

  17. Bonny says:

    Loved all of it!

  18. Ken Stramel says:

    What a way to see your layout. I like it.

  19. Max Dosser says:

    Incredible layout. Mind boggling.
    No steam loco alas. Better sack the chopper pilot.
    Max D

  20. Ian Mc Donald says:

    very amazing video. a lot of happy modelling hours gone into your layout, now the filming is another part of this hobby. the scenery is out standing.

  21. charlie says:

    Great job. Your lay out is one to be proud of.The chopper was a great idea.

  22. Kenton says:

    Great job!

  23. William says:

    Great concept, taking a heleo ride for the layout. We try to build so it looks real.
    Good thing you havent run your power lines yet. The chopper sound and the roar of the water fall. Good job!

  24. Steve Roberts says:

    Great video, great layout with lots of interesting individual cameos. Good job Mike.

    Steve R uk.

  25. JOHN CAVANAGH says:

    One of the nicest layouts I’ve ever seen! He must have took you a couple months to put this together haha!

  26. Billy Mills says:

    was actually hoping for a “bird’s eye view” of the layout.
    still, this was very good.

  27. Harold says:

    One of the best layouts Iโ€™ve seen. Plenty of nice buildings and scenery and lots of action. Wonโ€™t fall asleep watching your project.

  28. Dave Massimi says:

    WELL DONE ! Thank you for sharing such a great layout with us … I hope it provides you much enjoyment for a long time !
    Dave, in NY

  29. joe Nap says:

    A Great Layout that doesn’t pretend to be or have any need to be perfect.
    Absolutely loved it.,

  30. Great job,looking fine!!

  31. Wonderful ride to see the H&D in all its glory!! Great job!!

  32. Ross Johnston says:

    Great work Mike! I really enjoyed your video. Thanks for sharing. Cheers Rossco! Adelaide, South Australia

  33. Bob From Towson says:

    WOW how cool is that!! I dont weather my stuff because the place Im creating in my mind is pristine the way i would have seen it as a very young boy!!!

  34. Gary M from Long Island says:

    Mike……..Amazing……..awesome…….How did you get so much detail in that layout? Detail and scenery…..incredible!!!!

    Question……….How long have you been working on this layout?

  35. Read Ferguson says:

    Very clever sound track and views. Just plain fun to get another dimension out of your modeling. And, wow kudos go to the pilot. Extraordinary skill. It looked like there was a significant wind blowing so to be able to hold the chopper as steady as he did took a lot of training, and lets not overlook the fact of the way he was able to slip between all the power lines. You couldn’t pay me enough to repeat that guy’s flight. However, I will say that maybe it’s time to modernize and try the next one with a drone. Much safer. Great to see the added dimension beyond just sitting around and looking at your fine work.

  36. Robert Brady says:

    why do most modelers begin with Santa fe locomotives ? Bet itโ€™s the war bonnet.
    Great layout. Donโ€™t quite understand the 50โ€™s era mixed with the 2000โ€™s era though
    The Critic

  37. Chris Sylvester says:

    Wow!!! Very cool view of your layout love the sound effects

  38. WillBill says:

    Great layout – fantastic. But there is no ballast on bridges. Use regular track. It was nice to see finished track with plastic balls covered with correrly sized stones. Good job!!!!

  39. A very intersting, unique, and complete view of your layout,which is super. Great job. John Kirkpatrick

  40. Victor Koyano says:

    Every layout is made by the imagination of the creator. Being hypercritical and finding fault misses the point. I mean, even God made flaws in our world; the people included! Nice work!

  41. Mike Balog says:

    Nice Idea of a Layout Tour by Helicopter …with the Sound Effects…. It would have to been a Police, Fire / Ambulance or News Chopper used in order to Fly those Patterns.. Otherwise a Civilian or Commercial Pilot would have been Grounded by the FAA ! Never Ever Fly close to High Tension Towers and Cables.. Be careful of the downdraft air currents created by hillsides and cliffs as you fly by… You could have had some fun,,, Blowing the DUST off the Building Roof’s to simulate the Blade Downwash, with bits of shredded paper blowing around like newspapers left outside… as the Chopper flew Low over the Roof Tops… a few pigeons scattering from the roofs,, birds on piano wire in place would simulate that. Could have added a HELO Pad someplace with an HO Scale Chopper on the pad. Liked all the Details crammed in… Wish you could have included a Track Plan, Labeled as it would have allowed us to Follow the Scenery Better. As someone else mentioned about the lack of Cantanary.. you could couple a standard diesel loco to one end of the AMTRAK Passenger Train to simulate assistance to the electric locomotive on the other end of the train.

  42. Very good sound track mix. Fantastic concept revitalizing the more traditional approach to displaying a layout. A friend of mine crashed and died in real life while getting his chopper too close to Hi-Power lines. That is my only reservation regarding your video. Otherwise, it was a riveting and amusing look at your very excellent layout. Congratulations.

  43. Anton Bruce says:

    A great video – I loved it. Now for the humor…

    Wouldn’t it have been much cheaper (in both $$$ for the pilot, maintenance on the bird and fuel) to just use a drone? Or is it really hard to find one that small???


  44. Michael Cane says:

    Absolutely wonderful layout. Very nice fly-over presentation……but HOW do you work on it? I don’t see access to get close to many areas to repair / improve / alter / or fix much of the layout.
    How do you work on it ? Do you have 6 ft. arms ? Do you fly over it too , like your video ….
    Ha Ha ?

  45. Tim says:

    Great !!!! It’s a good job the power lines wern’t fitted to the pylons, or film would have been much shorter.

  46. Danny Henderson says:

    Wow ! Fantastic Layout.

    Great realistic sounds of a helecoptor of which is the specific rotor blade sound of only the UH-1 Huey Helecoptor series.

    However, the only fault I can see with the whole layout of which actually detracts from full realism is “the single one most fault” of which seems to pertain to almost every model railroad builder’s layout.

    And that single fault is that when each model railroad layout builder (when building the layout), adds electric power poles and/or high-tension power line towers for more realism.

    The actual fact is that in each case the builder always seems to forget about (or overlooks the added sequence (steps), of), adding the power lines to those same electric poles and high tension power line towers after they are installed on the layout of which (in my opinion), immediately detracts from the sense of realism of which the builder has been striving so hard to build into the layout.

  47. Erick says:

    Pretty Kool.!!!! I hope mine comes out that good.

  48. Lawrence Mlynek says:

    You are a master!

  49. Gary Mitchell says:

    Great video Mike

  50. Dave Karper says:

    Mike Balog, host railroads are not electrified.Amtrak’s electrification is only Northeast Corridor and Philadelphia t o Harrisburg.

  51. bob schroeder says:

    great layout , great tour thanks

  52. Peter Bayley-Bligh says:

    Wow, a different sort of viewing. Brilliant piloting (obviously helped by having no wires between the poles!). Excellent detailed layout.

  53. Rob says:

    Nice bit of flying there mate! I agree that you should stay a little further away from the high tension lines. Anyway the fly-by points out an area of modeling that most folks neglect…the roofs. As an old broken-down roofer I can tell you that there is a lot of stuff up there that could be represented. HVAC’s; Swamp Coolers; Condensor units; antennas; satellite dishes; pipes, drains, leaves, roofers, patches everywhere. gas lines; electric lines; solar panels; junk; debris; elevator penthouse; skylights; and on and on. Lots of super detailing opportunities! Just Sayin’

  54. Stephen Hill says:

    Superb! Great overall . Countless hours of work and imagination.. very impressive and inspiring . Concerning all the knuckleheads that pointed out the high tension wires , my thought is you should crash into them for your next video and stage an explosion .
    What a delightful layout , much thanks for sharing your work , really do enjoy it .

  55. David M Schaffner says:

    Wow!, awesome video, almost like a drone looking over the town and mountain ridges,,, as another modeler said, wee bit too busy. In renovating my home, my granddaughter gave me a most valuable tip… Less is better, incorporate more scenery or mountains, ridges, mesas with a small clutter of a farm or lone homestead.
    My first layout was more than fifty years ago and was three rail Lionel, maybe 8×8 with plastic Ville buildings. When I got married and began a family, I had to put aside my hobby, with five kids taking over.. Starting a new one (HO) and in the planning stages, I do have one question for all you railroaders, Whan laying track, nails or glue?

  56. matiSon says:

    Fred, there are many of us with model railroads, and there are many reasons how and why we build our layouts. Some of us do want to create a near perfect miniature world that holds to scale all of the buildings and other items in said world. There are also those of us who would like to play with trains, and every hour spent on making a layout is an hour that we could have been running the trains. I fall somewhere in the middle. I model mostly N scale now, but there are a few HO models that are a little undersized that I really like, and those are also in my layout. Iโ€™m fine with things being as they are, as an imperfect world.

  57. Kenneth Fox says:

    Sorry. Way to congested for my taste, but that’s me. I would hate to live in a town like that.
    Fly through was something different.

  58. Kenneth Fox says:

    Typo (too)

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