How to fly a helicopter
The secrets of how to fly a helicopter hold an inherent fascination for many people. Some of them, inspired by the impressive manoeuvrability and freedom given by these aircraft, dream of one day taking to the skies to learn to fly helicopters.
What are the differences between flying helicopters and fixed wing aircraft?
Fixed wing aircraft rely on the movement of air over their wings. This is due to forward movement caused by the thrust of their engines to give them lift. Manoeuvres are accomplished by the pilot or pilots with hand and foot controls and the vast majority of fixed wing aircraft are fundamentally stable; in other words, without pilot intervention, they’ll continue in forward flight without additional control inputs.
In comparison, helicopters have rotary wings (‘rotors’), each usually consisting of two or three rotor blades that whilst turning create a force of lift. By varying the angle of the ‘disc’ formed by their rotation, and coordinating operation of the helicopter’s hand controls with its tail-rotor, controlled flight is possible in any direction. This is a great advantage, especially in tight confines.
Unlike conventional aircraft, however, helicopters are basically unstable, requiring constant and simultaneous control of the speed and angle (pitch) of the rotors with one hand control, the angle of the rotor disc with the other hand and the tail-rotor by the use of two foot pedals. Quite a complicated set of manoeuvres. Doing this has been likened to simultaneously rubbing your stomach and patting your head and requires excellent coordination – one of the hardest things to master when you first learn to fly a helicopter.
How to fly a helicopter up, down, backwards and forwards
Flying this complicated piece of machinery up or down requires the use of a control that is called the collective. This device has the appearance of a car handbrake, and enables simultaneous control of the speed and pitch of the rotors. The other hand control, which is like a conventional plane’s joystick, is called the cyclic. This mechanism controls the orientation of the rotor disc; allowing backward, forward or sideways momentum. The pilot must simultaneously operate the cyclic, collective and foot pedals with small, precise inputs, enabling him or her to harness the remarkable versatility of a helicopter and fly anywhere.
Learn how to fly a helicopter
Learning to fly a helicopter requires mastering a whole new set of skills. In the UK, there are many airfields available, so there’s bound to be one near you that will offer trial lessons to realise your potential for helicopter flying. Helicopter training usually begins on smaller helicopters such as the Robinson R22 or R44. In later times, you might move onto larger turbine helicopters such as the Bell 206b JetRanger or Eurocopter Squirrel.
So what does the future hold? A trial lesson, a private helicopter pilot’s licence, or maybe even a commercial ‘ticket’? Whatever your goals, you can make them a reality with Helicopter Flight Training from Rise Helicopters.