How To Fly A Helicopter

Helicopters can be very dangerous machines. Pilots must be trained well before being allowed to fly helicopters as it requires great skill and experience.

Helicopters require two hands to operate them.

How To Fly A Helicopter

Each control affects the flight of the helicopter, and therefore requires coordination between the pilot and the controls.

A beginner might be confused by the controls, but after practice, you can master the art of flying a helicopter.

What To Expect

Students will use their whole bodies when controlling the helicopter.

They will apply pressure to the controls instead of using their hands or feet to move them like in a car.

If you’re serious about learning how to fly it is useful to watch videos on YouTube of pilots, which will show that they hardly move their feet and hands.

Their movements are done by pressing down on the controls.

What typically happens when learners start flying is they may make a wrong move on the flight control.

In order to compensate for this, the helicopter moves away from what they want.

Then the pilot puts more movement and the helicopter starts going in another direction.

When they try to correct this, the helicopter swings around and it goes off course. Hovering is a tricky skill to master.

You must apply a tiny amount of force while waiting for the helicopter to get into position.

Once you are hovering, you need to make adjustments until you reach your goal.

Pendulum Effect

When learning how to fly a helicopter it’s important to understand the mechanics of how it works.

A helicopter hanging below its main rotor blades acts like a pendulum.

Students try to hover by controlling the helicopter’s movements with opposite controls.

Helicopters with two main rotors hinge in the middle like a teeter-totter.

When the helicopter swings in one direction, students use opposing controls to counterbalance the swing.

Students learn how to fly helicopters by practicing on an indoor pad. Helicopters are controlled by the pilot using pedals and sticks.

When students feel ready, they practice flying outdoors in helicopters where the instructor takes over the controls if needed.


Students should learn how to hover first before trying to move forward or backwards.

Hovering is an important skill because if you crash into something while flying forward, you will be able to stop yourself by controlling your attitude.

Students need to take about ten hours of training before they can start to hover correctly.

Over-controlling is what causes the helicopter to spin uncontrollably and is a habit often adopted when first learning to fly.

Anticipating how much the helicopter will go forward is what allows them to hover successfully.

Students should be able to fly a helicopter around a ball-field sized area by the end of the first lesson.

By the second lesson, students should be able to fly the helicopter around an area half the size of a baseball field.

By the third lesson, students should be flying the helicopter around an area the size of a tennis court.

At this point, students should be able to complete the entire flight pattern. What else is there to learn about flying?


As already mentioned, over-controlling is the biggest factor when first trying to learn to hover.

Knowing how to put enough pressure on the controls without moving them too much is only something you can learn by doing.

Once your instructor tells you what to do, the timing of your inputs has already passed.

You should always try to stay within a certain range of motion.



Helicopters use many different maneuvers to fly. They hover, turn, take off, approach, land, engine failures, tail rotor failures, and much more.

The aircraft will usually have a handbook published by its manufacturer.

It’s useful to look through these manuals as a supportive aspect when learning how to fly. You can usually access these online.

The manual includes all the procedures and performance data that the pilot must learn, where to find them in the manual, and any airworthiness directives that are applicable during the day’s flight.

The student must also understand any additional information that may be issued by the FAA or the manufacturer.


Communication is a crucial part of learning how to fly any aircraft.

Aviation can be a scary thing, but when students learn how to communicate effectively, it will give them more confidence.

When learning how to fly, try to understand the roles of others involved as well.

This will help you get along better with those around you and understand your own role in connection with others.

Endeavor to develop solid situational awareness by keeping a mental image of what is happening in the surrounding airspace.

Don’t let yourself get distracted by radio chatter unless you are the only person talking.

Use exchanges between other pilots to build a mental picture of where other planes are and where they are headed.

Technology has made it easier and easier to monitor frequencies to sharpen up your skills.

Whilst it’s an important skill to know how to communicate properly, it is just a conversation between two humans.

When in doubt, ask for clarification. Put aside any feelings of embarrassment and just ask for clarification.

You should always strive to improve, but you could save yourself and others from a lot of trouble by communicating clearly and effectively.


To become a pilot, you need to be able to fly helicopters safely. You may have to take an initial training course before taking the written exam.

This will include learning how to operate the controls of the helicopter. You may then have to take another course before taking the oral exam.

This will teach you how to handle emergencies and fly in bad weather conditions.

Finally, you will have to sit a flight test with an examiner who will check whether you can fly the helicopter safely.


Learning how to fly a helicopter is an exciting prospect, be sure to learn with a reputable instructor and then the world is your oyster.

Happy flying!

Jacob Stern
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