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Guest Shalomar

Landing choppers and flying backwards

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Yes - I know. Landing choppers is just a matter of practice, practice. - but I have been practicing, practicing, and the same thing happens all the time for me. In attempting to both lose forward airspeed and altitude (at the same time - doesn't seem possible), I always end up starting to fly backwards just as I am trying to come to a hover over the landing site. This of course leads to the ultimate disaster.I'd love to be able to fly these choppers - they are a lot of fun, but I am finding the landing to be almost impossible. I have read all I can find on "how to do it" - but I must be doing something fundamentally wrong.Help!!Barry

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I'm glad to hear someone else has the same problem as I do. I usually manage to get myself into a nice hover about 30 metres from where I want to land. Then I try to move slowly forward, which rapidly turns into _quickly_ forward, followed by an overcompensation in the reverse direction resulting in the backwards flying you mention. This is usually accompanied by a drop in altitude to which I respond with a similar overcompensation.Recently I was at a small airfield at which a trainee helicopter pilot happened to be having a lesson. I was in awe at what he was doing in that thing. (I think he was pretty close to getting his license). It was like watching a hummingbird. He would hover about 5 metres above the ground, then very rapidly move horizontally about 20 metres, then come to a hover again, without any change in altitude or orientation. Then he would rotate 180 degrees and do the same thing again.I can't imagine being able to do that in the sim with any amount of practice, and I think what makes the difference is the lack of a) peripheral vision and :( sense of motion. This affects planes as well of course but I helicopters more, I suspect, so just because of the degree of precision required.It would be interesting to hear from real helicopter pilots on this.Colin

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Hmm- I seem to find it easier to land a chopper from an external view than from within the VC. It is very difficult to get height and speed perceptions form the VC - especially heightBarry

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I experience the same frustrations, but I'm surprising myself at how much better I'm getting the more I fly.I think Track IR would make this easier from inside.A second idea is to make a decent landing using the spot view, then playback and view from the VC to get an idea of what it should look like.

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Barry,Take if from someone who was in your shoes about 1 year ago ... if you rethink your entire philosophy about landing a helicopter, it becomes fairly trivial. It's what I had to do.For me, the first thing I had to stop and remind myself is that I am not in an airplane trying to hit the numbers on the threshold, or else go around. I'm in something that gives me 360 degrees of freedom, and so I have an infinite number of ways to reach my target helipad. Planning, thus, becomes the key. On your way down, you should be deciding which direction is the best one to make the kind of landing you want, and then getting yourself into that position.It doesn't sound like you have much trouble landing, what it sounds like is that you have trouble planning. You're overshooting your landing target or undershooting it, probably because you're focusing directly on your landing target.What helped me was to NOT focus on that target. I try to focus on achieving a ground hover in front of my target, and then moving over my target to set down.Here's a video I produced that explains what I do. I'm not a pilot, but this method works for me and allowed me to now be able to land anywhere I want, including the raised helipads, which always gave me fits. I'd be interested in seeing other methods that work also, because I'm not sure this is the best method. It's just the method that works for me.http://www.flightsimulatorxmissions.com/mo...showpage&pid=17Cheers,

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The helo's work best with high-quality controls. A TrackIR helps a lot, and good rudder pedals are helpful for hover control. Your joystick ought to have a good throttle lever on it for fine control. All of the above advice is great. I like to think of landing a helo much like landing a chip shot just off the green in golf. You don't aim right at the hole, because the ball will bounce and roll and then you overshoot. You aim for about 2/3 of the way to the hole, and let momentum do the rest. Same for helicopters, minus the bounce and roll, hopefully.I found it helpful to practise with collision turned off. That way, I could just drop the helo if I wanted to. Even so, the helos in FSX seem to take a fair bit of damage if you thump a landing. As well, absolutely make sure your Realism settings are not above Medium!FSX SP2 helicopter flight is optimised for Medium settings, so if you run above that, you will find problems. Practise with the Bell, as it is the most stable of the FSX helo's to hover, fly and land. The R22 is quite flighty. Jeff ShylukAssistant Managing EditorSenior Staff ReviewerAVSIM

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FWIW, I'm both a flight sim nut and a commercially rated helicopter pilot.For just "setting her down", I try to get real close to the ground with just a little bit of forward airspeed - and then just "run it on" to the ground. This works well all of the time. IRL I'd probably come to a stabilized hover and then set it down, but that's hard in FS - it's very easy to get into a PIO (Pilot Induced Oscillation) situation in the sim.My biggest challenge in flying the helicopters in FS is trying to land on the top of buildings. I haven't yet had the chance to do that IRL, but it's quite hard in FS - I believe it's probably harder than IRL due to the reduced amount of visual and visceral cues in the sim. I can do it, but it takes a lot of practice and patience in the approach set up.BTW my hardware setup is a CH Combat Stick, CH Pro Throttle (as collective, with the control axis reversed so as to simulate the collective "pull"), and Pro Pedals. Trying to do this sort of thing with just a joystick is a waste of time IMO.http://mustang.flight1.net/banners/banner_...f50f7b8a92c.jpg

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Thanks for that video Kevin - will give me something to work onActually, I think my problem is that I am being "over" cautious on the final approach and tending to come to a complete stop speedwise too early (and hence then get caught in the backwards flying thing) . In other words, I am not overshooting the mark - but undershooting it.Nevertheless, I feel that I am getting better at it - it is actually quite challenging and a lot of fun. I have been flying the Sim for many years now and it was starting to get a bit stale for me - the missions and the choppers in FSx are bringing back the entertainmet element for me.Regards Barry

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Hi Colin You said: "I'm glad to hear someone else has the same problem as I do. I usually manage to get myself into a nice hover about 30 metres from where I want to land. Then I try to move slowly forward, which rapidly turns into _quickly_ forward,"I hear what you are saying. Although I have yet to perfect it, I am finding that when approaching an almost zero ahead speed situation, that I can prevent the backwards flying situation by simply "nudging" the Cyclic forwards for brief "spurts" - if I push it forwards continuosly, even for a short time, then I also get the sudden forward takeoffs. Try my nudge, nudge technique! :-) Barry

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I am also of the opinion that TrackIR helps a lot. As the helicopter moves, your point of view remains the same way you are physically looking at the scenery. This is especially useful as the helicopter pitches.I've been plugging away at choppers for a while, my crashes are a lot less frequent now but I would hesitate to say I am good. But I see hope.When I am aproaching an airport I try to stay within the speed envelope for a successful autorotation till 50' AGL... which increases the difficulty somewhat. Platform landings are another story, then your faith has to be in the engine manufacturer of your chopper.The helicopter I made the most progress in is the Justflight Schweiser 300 CBI. The one thing is that it seems that is extremely hard to get a good autorotation in it, I think a lot harder than in real life for that particular bird. But I otherwise recomend it highly as a trainer.Best Regards, Donald T.:-wave

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Autorotation is difficult and quite unrealistic in FSX. The flight model just can't support it very well.JustFlight's autorotation model is sort of a sideways improvement on FSX. The actual dynamic of the autorotation is much improved over FSX, but the way to achieve it is still very unrealistic.Using FSX autorotation procedures would kill you in a real world flight! JustFlight usually has some mild disclaimer in their manual to this effect, although they just say that their flight model does not always match real world specifications.Basically, in FSX, your rotor lift is related directly to rotor speed. If the rotors slow down too much, they lose their lift completely. While this is true in the real world, the difference is that by putting the blades into neutral and bottoming out the collective and diving, you can keep the blades spinning in a real helicopter. In FSX, the blades in neutral will slow down drastically no matter what you do, and you will crash. With a JustFlight helo, you can do this:1) At the first sign of cut engine power, disengage the rotor clutch. NOTAM: The VSI must not be climbing for this to work! Either dive, or stay level. Dive is better.2) Immediately bottom out the collective.3) As soon as the blades start to slow down, smoothly and quickly add collective. Again, in the real world, this would kill you! Don't ever do this in a real helo autorotation! In the JustFlight helo, you might need as much as 50% collective.4) Once the collective comes on, you will almost feel the blades cutting into the air. Your dive will flatten.5) Bring the helo into a landing like you would a glider. Don't attempt a hover, just nose it into the ground. It's not a graceful landing, but you would likely survive it, and it's possible to make a gentle touchdown. I suspect that without power to the rotors, ground effect is reduced, making it actually fairly easy to hit an exact spot on the ground. Jeff ShylukAssistant Managing EditorSenior Staff ReviewerAVSIM

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In FSX, the blades in neutral will slow down drastically no matter what you do, and you will crash. I don't think this is true in FSX, because that's the procedure I use.Once engine power is cut, I put the collective in neutral dive and find a clear landing spot, when I start getting close I pull back to slow my decent and airspeed and only when I'm close to the ground I add collective (Not much just to slow my decent.). I find the opposite, adding collective will slow and kill the rotors. See the below video I did of one.

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It's late, so blurry eyes can be forgiven. Please note that the procedure I have listed is for the JustFlight helo models, as I stated in my post. They have a much different flight model than the FSX Bell you are sim piloting in the video. In your post, I am not sure if you are referring to collective, cyclic, or both. Again, it's late, blurry eyes and all of that. No matter what your procedure is for FSX autorotation, this isn't what you would do in real life if you wanted to live.Jeff ShylukAssistant Managing EditorSenior Staff ReviewerAVSIM

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You know, I do that with my car as well. It's called parallel parking ;-)

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The procedure I use comes from a book called Learning to Fly Helicopters By R. Randall Padfield. Esentially it says1. When engine quits, set down collective, 2. Try to maintain airspeed between 50 and 70 knts (This is dependant on type of helicopter) by adjusting the cyclic nose down or up, In FSX I find I get about a 2K fpm rate of decent.3. Use right pedal to account for torque. This doesn't appear to be modeled in FSX.4. When approaching the ground use aft cyclic to reduce speed and rate of decent. Add a little collective to reduce it even further before touchdown. This procedure works quite well in FSX except for the torque effects. At least in the Jet Ranger. I tried it in the Hovercontrol Bell 412,and it works too but it's a little harder to do, then the Jet Ranger.

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I had difficulty landing the choppers in FS until I came across the Hovercontrol site and read some of the stuff there (they are an online helicoptor training site for flightsim users).The most important thing I read and incorporated from their site was the need to eliminate ALL null zones from your controller calibrations. Flying a helicoptor involves constant SMALL adjustments with the controls, and this becomes impossible if you have null zones on your controller. You end up over-correcting as you chase your inputs through the null zones on your controller, resulting in the "Pilot Induced Oscillations" mentioned in a post above. At first, it seems very "twitchy" using your controllers with no null zones, but after a short while you get used to it and can input very small and precise control inputs. This makes flying and especially landing the choppers easy in the long run.The other thing I discovered from their site was a great idea to use the Spot View while learning. Set a Spot View to the side of your chopper, then practice hovering. The slightest controller inputs will show the actual reaction of the helicoptor. You may be surprised to see just how "reactive" the helicopter is to your forward and backward inputs from your controller. After doing this for about 20 minutes, I completely eliminated my tendancy to "fly backwards" during approaches and hovers to landing. I had been pulling back on the controller way too much, causing the helicopter to go "nose up" and initiate a backwards thrust vector. Then I would "push forward", and the nose would drop a lot more than I thought it was, starting those PIO's. When watching the relationship between my controller inputs to chopper reactions in Spot View, it became apparant that I was really over-controlling the thing. Try it...it will help you out a lot.

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There aren't many chopper missions in FSX, unfortunately. Acceleration helped, but a lot of those missions are in the EH101 and involve lifting and hoisting, but not a lot of tough landings.Head on over to http://www.flightsimulatorxmissions.com where there are quite a lot of freeware missions that will help you practice landing the choppers.The mission that I did called "Boston Skyscraper Fire" was specifically designed to allow you to practice ground helipad operations, rooftop landings and raised helipad landings in view-obstructed situations (plus having to dodge other aircraft.)You can download Boston Skyscraper Fire free here:http://www.flightsimulatorxmissions.com/mo...ddetails&lid=14A mission I did called "Palm 90" is an excellent mission for practicing hovering and slow-maneuvering in poor sight conditions where your visual cues are usually 90 degrees to your forward view (probably the most difficult kind of helo flying, I think).You can download Palm 90 free here:http://www.flightsimulatorxmissions.com/mo...ddetails&lid=29Once you're able to finish these two missions confidently, there's nowhere you won't be able to land or fly.Cheers,

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Thanks FalconYesterday, I discovered this myself - although I haven't had a lot of time to practice it yet. But your confirmation of my thoughts leads me to think that this is the correct path to go down. I do have small null zones - so will get rid of them. Barry

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That's definitely a good idea.Another key to flying the helos is small control inputs (this requires staying ahead of the aircraft and planning well in advance).If you have null zones in your joystick, you are going to experience "pilot induced oscillations" where you're constantly overcompensating trying to fight your controller.Lots of less experienced helo pilots experience this - even in real life. Here's a wiki on it:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pilot-induced_oscillationIn a lot of ways, this is a real as it gets.Cheers,

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A tip to get your control of your controller is to enter slew mode and spend a few minutes moving around an airport using your joystick and pedals if you have them. This gives you instant gratification as to how sensitive your controller is, and the different rates of movement that can be achieved. I discovered this by accident when I was flying a glider. I almost always overcontroled and snapped the towline before I wanted to part company with the Maul. Then once in a multiplayer seesion I spawned in a parking spot and had to slew to the runway. I then proceeded to perform a flawless following of the tow aircraft before it stalled out at 20,000 feet. (OT, but I think w/o Acceleration the tow line automatically snaps at 10.) The reason? I was able to relate the speed of the change of pitch of my aircraft and all the other axis to the movement of my controller.Give it a try sometime, you might be surprised...FLYing? It's cool. Trillions of birds and insects can't be wrong.

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