Learning How To Fly Remote Control Helicopters
helicopter is not quite as simple as it looks. We have all
seen the pilots when were newbie and thought that looks
simple. When you try it on your own remote control
helicopter and find to your frustration, that it is not simple
after all. Follow these guidelines and Z hope you will be up
in the air and in control in no time.
Following these guidelines when using a simulator will
improve your performance in real life.
Flying tips here are based on the idea that you have used a simulator and have familiarized yourself with
the characteristics of RC flight. There are many unexpected
things you will encounter if you do not have a simulator that
are not listed here. Z can not stress the usefulness of a
simulator enough. You may think they are expensive, at 300 to
450 dollars, but Z guarantee you they will save you that much
in parts as well as time in learning how to fly.
The simulator is not a game. Each time you crash
could end up costing you hundreds of dollars. Yes, it is
going to happen and it's fun some times to see what you
can make it do, however, do not get into the habit of
watching the helicopter fly into the ground. Fight it to
the end and try to recover as hard as you would if a
thousand dollars were riding on it. You are trying to
form GOOD habits here, not bad ones.
Don't let the helicopter hit you! This is a habit
you definitely want to avoid. (Even though it can not in
the Simulator, it can in real life).
Don't let that helicopter get too far away. Even
though you think it's too hard to see just because it's
on a computer screen doesn't mean it's any easier to
keep it close in the real world. This is definitely
something to work on.
Ok, so you can land your helicopter in the
but can you make it land where you want it to precisely?
Work on this.
Ok, so you can make it land where ever you want to,
can you make it land pointing any direction you want it
to? Work on this too.
Try flying with all the trims slightly off center.
Adjust the trims at random and get used to it, then
do it all over again.
Move all the sticks like crazy all over the place
until the helicopter is in a precarious position... then
level it out as fast as you can.
Turn the wind up to 10 mph and repeat all the above.
Turn the turbulence up to 10 mph and repeat all the
Practice flying from left to right back and forth,
then practice flying in and out without hitting or
flying over yourself.
autorotation in CSM are way way way too easy. Don't rely
on the practice to help you in a real event. To help you
get close to the difficulty of a real autorotation, go
into whichever configuration screen has "blade drag
ratio" and double it.
Experiment, if you have not already, with loops and
You're ready to try the real thing!
Advanced Simulation Practice
If you have CSM, turn all the colors of the model to
pure black. This will simulate the common lighting
conditions you fly in for real when the helicopter just
turns into a silhouette. This is supposed to disorient
you because it will be hard to tell if the helicopter is
banking away or towards you. This happens in real
life so you should practice for it.
Turn the rudder trim half way off center so that the
heli is doing a complete 360 once every 2 seconds or so.
Don't touch the rudder now! Only use the collective. Try
and slowly fly around without touching the rudder, to do
this you need to continually be adjusting the cyclic
(bank and pitch) since the helicopter will always be
pointing in different directions. Try to land this way.
When you get good at it, reverse the direction of the
rudder. When you're good at this, land while slowly
Turn the gyro gain channel on your
Tx as low as it
can go. This will make you control that tail!
Practice hovering inverted and flying around
Practice flying around backwards slowly. This is
flying around backwards while inverted.
The Real McCoy
Z suggest that you should wait to fly the real thing
until you can confidently fly around in the simulator
and land without crashing. You will be much better off in
the event of an emergency and learn quicker too.
Put big training gear on your heli.
Have someone verify the linkages, reversing, and
test fly if possible.
Practice doing small hops up to 6 inches, paying
attention to how the helicopter is trimmed. Do not adjust
your trim in the air unless you are very confident.
Drifting to the left is normal and
results from the tail rotor thrust which you can
compensate for by putting a very-very slight right-bank
in just after takeoff, but this is different than
pitching. If your helicopter banks, yaws or pitches by
itself you need to compensate with trim.
Practice hovering from 6 inches to 1 foot. Be
prepared for gusts. Wind will increase the
effectiveness of your rotor blades and make your
helicopter climb fast. Do not overreact and slam it into
the ground. Slowly lower the collective and gradually
bring it back down. Be prepared for the wind to stop
and the helicopter to descend more quickly. Again, do not
overreact and send it launching into the sky. Just take
it easy and if it gets "on top of you" do not touch
anything but a little forward cyclic for 1 or 2 seconds.
Eventually it will fly out in front of you, level off
and use back cyclic as needed to stop, then level off
Adjust gyro as needed to stop wagging or tail
swaying when you adjust power.
Practice hovering out of ground effect. At least 3
feet up, and hold it steady, the wind will really affect
the height at this level.
Get used to how responsive the collective is. Give
it a few SMALL taps. You want to get used to NOT
over-correcting with the left stick. This is hard, most
people want to move the stick all the way down when they
get in trouble, this is bad, this s lams the heli into
the ground. Get used to merely lowering the collective
1/4 way down or so.
Practice walking the heli around. Follow at a safe
distance behind it and make it go places slowly. Be
careful not to step in any holes.
Practice turning the heli a little bit to the right
and left. Get used to the perspective in real life. The
sim experience only helps.
Practice flying the heli out and back (tail in both
Practice a little side to side slow-flying.
Practice doing left / right turns in front of you
while flying back and forth. Almost like a figure-8, but
always keeping the tail in a little. Basically, just fly
the helicopter sideways to the left and right, in front
of you, then start adding rudder so instead of flying
sideways back and forth, the nose leads the turn a
little. The helicopter will never turn with JUST the
rudder or JUST the cyclic. You need to use both the same
Practice turning the heli towards you a little more.
Practice doing small, very slow, circles. This is
Flying left to right is easier than flying in and
out. Start doing this.
Don't fly with the sun near the horizon. It gets
hard to see the attitude.
Practice hovering a little bit higher, say 10 - 20
feet. Don't force it back down, lower the collective a
little bit at a time. If it starts to sink rapidly,
raise the collective slow at first and slowly raise it
faster until it stops falling. Star t lowering it again
and do a slow, controlled descent. If you descend to
quickly you will enter your own down wash and the
helicopter will pull itself into the ground and need
considerable collective to compensate. This is a bad
Practice doing a little bigger circuits but keep the
Your ready to take the training gear off. They're
slowing you down and you're probably developing bad
habits by using them for visual cues
After you take the training gear off, start all over
again, because it's much more responsive now and much
more difficult to see, however, it will fly much much
Practice subtle 180 stalls and figure-8's.
Practice going faster and slowing down.
Practice transitioning from fast forward flight to
landing. I had a lot of trouble getting the helicopter
anywhere near me by the time it was hovering.
Practice in a little more wind... wind really makes
a 30 size jump around, be on top of it!
Practice controlled flight. Try to make the
helicopter go exactly where you want it to. Take more
authority of the sticks.
Practice "baby-autos" where you hit the throttle
hold at 3 or 4 feet to send the engine to idle. The
helicopter will drop suddenly, but don't over react and
pop it up into the sky or you'll use up all your
momentum and it will really drop like a rock. It would
be better just to let it land itself if you're unsure
about how much collective. Start with a little and work
your way up and try to use up all the blade speed
touching down at the last second.
Practice doing nose-in landing approaches and
hovering at many different aspects.
Practice "fake-autos" where you don't use the
throttle hold at all, just bring it in as fast and hot
as possible with the collective as low as you can, to
simulate a emergency decent. Stop the helicopter at 8
feet up in a hover and do it some more.
Practice the "baby-autos" from 6 feet, NO MORE than
that. You should have enough rpm in a hover to softly
touch down from a 6ft power loss.
Practice aborting autos, where you hit the throttle
hold up high and "glide" on in, but abort at about 10
feet by unflicking the throttle hold.
You're ready to try a whole auto. Autorotating in 10
to 20 mph wind is the easiest because forward speed
makes the blades lift better. Start your auto with power
and get 15mph of forward speed, hit the hold switch and
keep the nose down 15 degrees and the collective so the
blades have -2 or -3 degrees in them. If you have too
much negative you'll actually loose rotor speed. Bring
it in with as little cyclic and collective change as
possible. As you get to 15 feet, gradually pull back on
the elevator to slow down your forward speed. As you
start to drop from your decrease in forward speed
gradually feed in collective like you did from your 6ft
baby-auto and you know the rest. Note: It's better to
land with too much forward speed than to land on the
tail, the helicopter will harmlessly slide like an
airplane on skies with extra forward speed.
Before moving to loops and rolls you should switch
some parts out for higher performance parts.
Servo upgrades are important for the tail rotor and
collective. Z recommend BlueBird 620 or equivalent for
these high stress servos.
K&S Paddles which are about half the mass and a
little more area will double or triple the cyclic
response on the standard nexus.
Unfortunately, the K&S paddles make the helicopter
want to pitch up in forward flight so you'll need to
increase your idle up rpm to around 1900 RPM. These
paddles will also make the helicopter very hard to trim
perfectly, and the trim will drift during flight, so
that if you trim it at the beginning of your flight when
you're done you may be pulling to the right or back or
what ever. This is the nature of the lighter paddles.
For looping and rolling you'll need to adjust your
pitch range to include at least -2 degrees at the low
end of the collective.
For sustained inverted with some climb-out power
you'll need to adjust the pitch range to at least -6 to
+8 degrees. This amount of pitch range is one of the
limitations of the stock nexus. You can not get a -10 to
+10 degree collective set up with the stock nexus head.
If you haven't already, you're going to need to set
up and idle-up on your Tx so when you pull the
collective all the way down your engine doesn't go to
idle, but maintains a constant RPM throughout the pitch
The Futaba 6XH helicopter remote has a very limited
idle-up throttle setting. You can only set the minimum
throttle to as high as 50% which means you'll never have
more than 50% engine power for inverted flight. This is
ok for loops and rolls only, but if you want to do more
aerobatics like sustained inverted flight you'll need a
Before you start looping, get used to very steep 180
stall turns where you practice the first 1/4 of a loop.
Your goal is to get as high as possible so you
understand how smooth to be on the elevator in the first
part of the loop.
Remember to enter the loops with a high forward
speed, plenty of altitude and start the loop gracefully
so that you don't kill your airspeed, as you reach the
top of the loop your collective should be at about -2
degrees then pull more and more cyclic to return to a
right-side-up dive and pull out while adding positive
collective. Never add negative collective until you're
at least on the top of your loop or you'll stop all your
forward motion and start flying upside down backwards.
If this happens, just yank back on the elevator to
follow through with your loop. It won't be pretty, but
you'll come out of it all the same.
When practicing aileron rolls, try to time it so you
have 0 pitch at the 90 degree bank and -6 at full
invert, and 0 again at 90 then back to what ever at
level. If you're used to airplanes and pull up prior to
doing a roll you'll loose all your forward speed and end
up with a helicopter flying right-side up but backwards
in the end. I actually dive 5 or 10 degrees before I
roll to maintain forward speed.
Add a pirouette to the top of your loop.
In FFF, climb 45 degrees, bank 90 degrees with 0
collective and do fast pirouettes, then level off and
come out of it nose-down 45 degrees as it would
A tic-toc is when you make the helicopter look like
the boom is fastened to a metronome. You alternate
positive collective and backward elevator with negative
collective and forward elevator back and forth so you
don't loose any altitude. The boom from the profile view
looks like this motion: \ to | to / and back and forth.
A death spiral is when you go from a high hover to a
90 degree bank with 0 collective and 0 speed, then give
full forward or back elevator only for as long as you
can. Correct any time by banking the opposite as you did
to begin the bank. If you wait too long the tail may not
keep up and it will dive nose down. Be prepared!
The "moon walk" is when you go through the motions
of a loop, but you make it look stretched out so it's not
really a loop any more. Enter it as a regular loop, when
your vertical from the 1/4 of the loop add lots of
negative so it maintains it's forward momentum, keep the
elevator steady the whole time. You'll end up flying
backwards inverted for a second or two, but keep holding
the elevator. As it points straight down start adding in
lots of positive collective and level out.
The Split-S is a half loop and half roll. You can
choose if you roll first or loop first. If you roll to
inverted first you pull out right side up with a half
loop. To gain altitude, do a half loop to inverted, then
roll to right side up.
Inverted auto's are done by hitting throttle hold
while inverted up high. You add positive collective to
maintain rotor RPM and as late as possible you roll to
right side up, regain your RPM and land in the last
Fly inverted, and do all of the aerobatics you can
Fly backwards, and do all the aerobatics you can do,
Try doing big circles in front of you while rolling.
Try doing big circles in front of you while
extremely tight circles (10ft diameter at
75 degree bank) with near full collective.
pirouettes and flips to do strange looking
Pilot Proficiency Program (PPP) : If you're ready to
start practicing for aerobatic competitions by IRCHA,
here are the routines you want to perfect.
FAI F3C Schedule : If you're a pro at hovering and
precision control this is for you. It's boring to watch,
but impressive flying.