Mini-Cart 0

How Do Helicopters Take Off?

11 October 2023

How Do Helicopters Take Off?

In a previous blog, we uncovered how jet-powered planes take off, exploring the scientific and technological principles that allow those colossal machines to soar into the vast blue skies.

But if you are still sceptical about how these monster machines get into the air, we have another member of the aviation family to delve into - the helicopter. With that in mind, let’s delve into the unique mechanisms that enable helicopters to perform a vertical take-off.

Before we unveil how the helicopter takes off, we must first understand all of the forces that are at play during the take off process. Much like planes, helicopters must contend with the fundamental forces of lift, gravity, thrust, and drag as they embark on their journey into the air. These forces are the essence of aviation, and while they play a similar role, the way helicopters work with them is distinct from their fixed-wing counterparts.

Key Forces And How They Work With The Helicopter:

  • Lift: This is generated by the rotating rotor blades rather than engines on the side.
  • Gravity: Pulls the helicopter towards the ground.
  • Thrust: Propels the helicopter forward, controls their altitude and direction, making them versatile flying machines.
  • Drag: Helicopters must contend with drag as they move through the air.

Now Let's Embark On A Journey To Discover How The Forces Work Together To Help The Helicopter Take Off:

  • Rotor Engagement: The most distinctive feature of a helicopter is its rotor system. Helicopters have rotating rotor blades that provide both lift and propulsion. The main rotors have the same rounded top surface and flat bottom like planes do. The result of the rotation means air pressure is forced downwards due to this shape. During this process the back rotor also plays an important part. The purpose of the back rotor is to counteract the main rotor blades spin direction, as without it, the helicopter body would just spin in the opposite direction.
  • Collective Pitch Control and Throttle Up: To initiate take-off, the pilot will increase the engine power, resulting in higher thrust produced by the rotor blades, therefore creating more lift combating gravity’s pull. Working alongside Collective Pitch, the pilot will also increase the power (Throttle Up) which together lifts the helicopter into the air due to the massive downshift of air it is creating.
  • Cyclic Pitch Control: CPC tilts the rotor blades as they spin, allowing the helicopter to manoeuvre in any direction.
  • Balancing Act: Achieving and maintaining a stable hover or ascent involves constant adjustments to the collective pitch and throttle to balance lift, thrust, and weight.
  • Transition to Forward Flight: Once the desired altitude is reached, the pilot can transition the helicopter into forward flight by adjusting the rotor blades' pitch and tilt.

To conclude, The art of taking off is a captivating blend of engineering excellence, physics and the very skilled touch of a pilot.

If you would like to give flying a helicopter a try, visit our Helicopter Flying Lessons page today on the FlyDays website. Browse through and book from available packages to book at UK wide airfields and air bases through purchase of our open Gift Vouchers.

send to top