How to fly helicopters

So, helicopters are your thing and you want to learn how to control these beasts? We’re here to help you! Keep in mind, though: helicopters are not easy to control. The best advice we can give you is: practice, practice, practice.

In these articles, you will understand how helicopters work, the physics and aerodynamics behind them and how to perform a variety of maneuvers such as hovering, taking-off, cruising, landing and how to perform emergency procedures.

Meanwhile, enjoy our articles and feel free to contact us if you find any issues, mistakes or simply want to help us improve this resource for the community.

Let’s learn how to fly helicopters.

These articles were made having recreational flight simulation in mind. Under no circumstances, it should be used for real flying or for real flight training.

Basics

Anatomy of a helicopter

Anatomy of a helicopter

Helicopters are quite different from the fixed-wings counterparts and, although there are varied designs and shapes, most helicopters revolve around a classic design that can be seen in popular helicopters such as the Bell 206 or the AS-350.
Helicopter controls

Helicopter controls

Helicopter controls, although somewhat similar in shape, are quite different from their fixed-wing counterparts. If you’re like most simmers and come from a fixed-wing background, get ready: things are about to become fun (and perhaps a bit weird).
How controls interact with each other

How controls interact with each other

When you move a control, it has a major influence on the whole helicopter. In this article we'll see how controls interact with each other.
The hover

The hover

The hover is probably the most difficult maneuver to master and one that you will need to in order to be able to perform several operations in an helicopter.
Takeoff and cruise

Takeoff and cruise

While being of the easiest things you perform on a fixed-wing aircraft, taking off with a helicopter is quite a challenge.
Straight and level flight, climbs and descents

Straight and level flight, climbs and descents

After taking off, it's time to head out to our destination. It's also time to learn straight and level flight, how to climb and how to descend.
Turning

Turning

We already know how to take off and fly on a straight line while climbind and descending. To reach our destiny, we also need to be able to change direction.
Approach and landing

Approach and landing

We are nearing the end of our basics tutorials. We have learned quite a bit so far and now it's time to tackle the approach and landing.

Advanced

Slope operations

Slope operations

Taking off and landing are no easy jobs when it comes to helicopters. Especially if you add some slopes to the mix.

Hazards and emergencies

Vortex Ring State: what is it, how to prevent it and how to get out of it

Vortex Ring State: what is it, how to prevent it and how to get out of it

One of the most dangerous situations a helicopter pilot can get into is called Vortex Ring State. Learn what it is, how to prevent and how to get out of it.
The autorotation

The autorotation

Do helicopters fall from the sky when their engine stop? In reality, when the engine stops you can use a maneuver that will get you safely back to the ground: the autoration.
Helicopters and Mountain Flying - Part I

Helicopters and Mountain Flying - Part I

Even if our sims don’t replicate exactly what happens around mountains, learning about it is a great way to increase simming realism and learn more about flying.

Communication

Flying and communication online

Flying and communication online

Flying in your sim is fun and it gives you this warm feeling of accomplishment. You want to go the extra mile, though and start adding communication into your flights – be it with ATC or in a non-towered field. And here’s how it can get daunting.
Talking on the radio

Talking on the radio

Does talking on the radio scare you to death? Are you unsure of what to say, when to say and how to say it? Jeff has you covered!

Recommended reading

Making your joystick more helicopter-friendly

Making your joystick more helicopter-friendly

Helicopters are wild beasts. They are tough to control, even with the best joystick in the market. Unless you purchased a cyclic unit, you are probably using a regular joystick with a centering mechanism -- usually a spring. For a while I have struggled with the joystick I had in order to better control helicopters. Not anymore. So, what can you do to make your joystick more helicopter-friendly?
The 5 things you need to start flying helicopters

The 5 things you need to start flying helicopters

Are you a helicopter fan? Or perhaps one of those curious minds that always wanted to learn more about helicopters? Or you're just looking for the next challenge? Believe me: helicopters offer you a lot of those. Here are the 5 things you need to start flying helicopters.
Ground Effect: what it is, and what it isn't

Ground Effect: what it is, and what it isn't

Ground effect is something that everyone seems to be aware of, but not many completely understand. And there can be a lot of confusion and misconceptions as to what it actually is and how it effects helicopters.
Book: Learning to Fly Helicopters, Second Edition

Book: Learning to Fly Helicopters, Second Edition

Helicopter flight simulation fans are always looking to learn new stuff. The book "Learning to Fly Helicopters" sure has a lot for us to learn.
Free e-book: FAA's Helicopter Flying Handbook

Free e-book: FAA's Helicopter Flying Handbook

Looking for some good read about flying helicopters? The FAA has a free e-book available for us, that you can download and start reading right away.
Community video: Helicopter cyclic stick behaviour explained

Community video: Helicopter cyclic stick behaviour explained

All available resources are great when it comes to learn something. And it's even more important when it's about learning stuff as hard as flying helicopters (even in a sim). Interested about the helicopter cyclic stick behaviour? Check this video out!
The best helicopter simulator (2019 edition)

The best helicopter simulator (2019 edition)

Are you curious about which one is the best helicopter simulator? Look no further. We take a look at the cons and pros of every sim out there.
Community member flightsim481 releases helicopter tutorial videos

Community member flightsim481 releases helicopter tutorial videos

The first of what seems to be a series of videos teaching how to fly helicopters is just out.

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