Helicopter Sideward Flight

in Aerodynamics of Flight

In sideward flight, the tip-path plane is tilted in the direction that flight is desired. This tilts the total lift-thrust vector sideward. In this case, the vertical or lift component is still straight up and weight straight down, but the horizontal or thrust component now acts sideward with drag acting to the opposite side. [Figure 2-41]

Figure 2-41. Forces acting on the helicopter during sideward flight.

Figure 2-41. Forces acting on the helicopter during sideward flight.

Sideward flight can be a very unstable condition due to the parasitic drag of the fuselage combined with the lack of horizontal stabilizer for that direction of flight. Increased altitudes help with control and the pilot must always scan in the direction of flight. Movement of the cyclic in the intended direction of flight causes the helicopter to move, controls the rate of speed, and ground track, but the collective and pedals are key to successful sideward flight. Just as in forward flight, the collective keeps the helicopter from contacting the ground and the pedals help maintain the correct heading; even in sideward flight, the tail of the helicopter should remain behind you. Inputs to the cyclic should be smooth and controlled, and the pilot should always be aware of the tip-path plane in relation to the ground. [Figure 2-42]


Figure 2-42. Forces acting on the helicopter during sideward flight.

Figure 2-42. Forces acting on the helicopter during sideward flight.

Contacting the ground with the skids during sideward flight will most likely result in a dynamic rollover event before the pilot has a chance to react. Extreme caution should be used when maneuvering the helicopter sideways to avoid such hazards from happening.

51l0aN891BL._SX396_BO1,204,203,200_Are you ready to start your journey learning to fly helicopters? Learning to Fly Helicopters, Second Edition, provides details on the technical and practical aspects of rotarywing flight. Written in a conversational style, the book demystifies the art and science of helicopter flying.


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