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Helicopter controls

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Hi guys, 

I am starting to really like flying helicopters in the sim its a great fun and challenge. 

As i am trying to get the best experience i was wondering if those of you who have real experience can recommend me how to set my sim joystick to get the closest feeling of heli. I mean does it have lots of null zone ? Is it very sensitive? Etc... 

Thank you very much ! 

Roi Ben

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The first question would be: Do you have rudder pedals? It's very difficult to get a realistic feel for flying a helicopter without pedals. It's possible with something like a twist joystick with the twist assigned to tail rotor, but you lose that great feeling of finally figuring out how to "balance on a rubber ball" to coordinate cyclic and tail rotor to remain in a hover or controlled flight.

It also helps if you have a separate throttle quadrant to act as a collective (with reversed axis), instead of using a small roller wheel on a joystick for the collective. A large amount of travel is better than a joystick wheel, but that's less of a limitation than lacking pedals.

Ideally you want a non-centering joystick on a long axis as the cyclic, but as long as the centering isn't too strong, you can get away with standard joysticks. I use a Thrustmaster Warthog joystick with the heavy mainspring removed. It has just a very light centering action, kind of floppy, and it will sit at an angle off center. 

Other than that, the settings will vary by sim platform and helicopter model. For example, in X-Plane it's recommended to set artificial stability off, because it can interfere with SAS in certain helo models. You'll probably have to experiment to find exactly the right sensitivity setting for your joystick, sim platform, and helicopter model. 

One final recommendation is to learn flying on one of the medium-weight helicopters, not a small one. There is an argument for learning on the small ones, and that's how it's done in the real world. The idea is that if you can learn to fly a small, twitchy helicopter than you can fly anything. But we don't have the same control feedback, visual cues, and other physical cues that you have in the real thing. Larger helicopters are generally more stable and more forgiving while you're learning. 

The free FAA Helicopter Flying Handbook (PDF download) has good background info on the various designs and systems.

Have fun!

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Primary sim is X-Plane 11 on Windows 10
i7 6700 4.0 GHz, 32 GB RAM, GTX 1660 ti, 1920x1200 monitor

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