The best place to start—baby steps!


Written by Greg Gimlick
HELICOPTERS
As seen in the SPRING 2020 issue of Park Pilot


>> In my last column, I discussed something advanced—the mechanics of autorotation—but I wanted my readers to understand why helicopters don’t just fall from the sky if a motor quits. This time, I will go all the way to the beginning because flying season is upon us, and you’ll likely be out knocking the rust off of your skills or learning for the first time.

Instructors: With any luck, you’ll have an instructor to help, but it’s often the case that we end up teaching ourselves unless there are other helicopter pilots around who are willing to help. Look for an instructor who is open to trying different methods to help you learn.
Finding what works for you is important. Don’t let the instructor rush you, and make sure you find one who doesn’t think you’re in a military training environment. This is your hobby; enjoy the process.

So, you’re on your own. You’ve got lots of company. Many of us taught ourselves to fly helicopters. Fortunately, there is a wealth of online resources with learning in mind that can guide you and inform you of your helicopter options.
I suggest that you check out John Salt’s RC Helicopter Fun website (rchelicopterfun.com). He has a multipart training course that is custom made to help you learn. He was kind enough to provide the diagrams for this column.

The big secret: Go slow and be methodical! That’s it—no, really! This is the biggest mistake that newcomers make. They get in a hurry and try things before they’re ready.
You might also try to do flying sessions that are too long. When you begin to feel overwhelmed and as though you are getting into trouble, it’s time to stop for a spell. Have a plan; don’t just go out and decide it’s time to hover. Read over John’s plan and adapt it to fit you.


The basic starting position for hover training.


When you’re comfortable hovering, begin fore, aft, and lateral movement training.


Shown is slightly more-advanced, diagonal-path movement training.


This is the next big step in moving the heli to where you want it. Maintain altitude and follow a path, but always keep the nose pointed away from you.


This flattened Figure Eight will begin to orient you with forward flight. All of the turns are away from you. Do not allow the helicopter to speed up. If it does, stop and stabilize it before continuing.

Basics:

Choose a beginner helicopter.
Pick a calm day.
Always face into the wind with the nose of the helicopter pointing away from you.
Stand several feet behind the helicopter and focus on the nose, not the tail.
If things begin to get out of control, land the helicopter. Don’t try to move to forward flight and recover. You have to hover at some point, so forward flight just exacerbates the problem.
If the helicopter begins to point toward you, immediately use the tail rotor to rotate the heli back to the start position and land. Regroup and try again.
Perfect stationary hovering a few feet above the ground over a spot before you try to do circles or Figure Eights.
Don’t panic!

Training plan: Work on becoming comfortable in a stationary hover before you try anything else. Take your time; this is the hardest step. After you find your “hover button,” you will progress quickly. That’s the term used in the Army when we were suddenly, magically, able to hover—it just seemed to happen. After you’ve accomplished that, begin to work through some of the maneuvers that are described in the diagrams.
When you are beginning to move the helicopter around, do so cautiously and don’t rush. These plans will always have you turning away from yourself so that you don’t encounter control reversal with nose-in flight. If you begin to get into trouble, just rotate the heli so that its nose is away from you again, and land or stabilize it in a hover until you’re ready to continue.

Wrapping up: Writing a complete training program would fill a book, so check out the RC Helicopter Fun website that I referenced and study these diagrams. Going slowly at the beginning will reduce frustration and might even save you some money.






Written by Greg Gimlick | maelectrics@gimlick.com

2 comments

GREAT ARTICLE, Greg. Yeah, learning’s a challenge, but eventually, instincts take over, and maneuvering becomes almost second to nature. Your eyes NEVER leave the helicopter.

SO NICE TO SEE THIS ARTICLE! I LOVE HELIS. I HAVE 14 OF THEM.

PLEASE SHOW MORE INFO. REGARDING HELIS!! THIS INFO. IS REALLY MISSED BY ME AND I'M SURE BY OTHER HELI PIOTS.

PLEASE PUT MORE HELI INFO IN OUR MODEL AVIATION MAGAZINE. ITS ALL AIRPLANES DRONES??

THANK YOU FOR THINKING OF THE HELI PILOTS!!

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