From:         frechett@rintintin.Colorado.EDU (Ian Frechette)
Date:         1998/01/04
Message-ID:   <68p2lb$>
Newsgroups:   rec.aviation.simulators
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In article XXX someone wrote:
>How do you get the darn thing to fly in FS98?

While in multi-player I watched someone else desperately trying to fly
the helicopter and he asked for some tips, so this is what I mailed to him.

Note, I use the term throttle instead of collective a lot because I find that
watching the absolute position of the throttle to be very useful.

Also, all this advice assumes that you do not have rudder pedals.  If you do,
all of this advice can still apply but it should also be possible to hover.

- Switch to the virt cockpit view normal 1X zoom level
- Bring up the mini-controls.  It offers a better view of joystick trim and 
  most importantly throttle (collective) position.
- Unless your joystick throttle has VERY precise control, use the keyboard
  throttle keys F1-F4 to control the throttle when you fly.
- Trim the joystick a little forward so that position shows as being
  halfway between the center of the cross and the first dot down on the 
  vertical axis in the mini-controls.
- ALWAYS be moving forward.  less than 10 knots is basically a hover..
  greater than 15 knots is generally safe.
- If things are happening too fast, slow the simulation rate to 1/2.  I
  discovered this while talking to you the other night.  It gives you lots 
  of time to react.
- All control inputs should be small quick movements
- anticipate anticipate..  In the helicopter you can't react to things after
  they happen.  Visualize what it's about to do, and correct for that. 
  Remember that it is suspended by its main rotor so it swings underneath
  it like a pendulum.  

Taking off: 
Two approaches..
Approach #1:
Increase throttle to about 70-75%.  The helicopter will lift off fairly
slowly and if you do nothing at all will pitch up (nose up) a little.  The
problem is, you won't be able to tell the difference visually between
pitching up and simply gaining altitude.   Pitching up, however will cause
the helicopter to start sliding backwards.  The vertical stabilizer on the
tail boom acts as a big weather vane and the helicopter will quickly try to
switch directions, which will feel to you like you're sliding sideways, at
point the helicopter will lean over and crash into the ground moving sideways
at a good clip.  (All the while indicating 0 knots airspeed)

Ok.. So how to avoid all that.  As you lift off, apply a little forward
pressure and watch to make sure that the horizon is at or above the exact
center of the screen.  Push it forward until the horizon is just a little
above center.  The helicopter should start to move forward.  As soon as it
does, immediately (even before) stabilize your pitch so that the horizon
remains JUST above the center of the screen.  This is the most important
moment of the takeoff.  If you continue to pitch forward, you will fly
right into the ground. 
Within a few seconds however, you should have 10-15 knots forward speed,
and the helicopter will be climbing faster.   It actually takes a lot less
to fly forward than it does to hover so this is why you'll start to climb
fairly quickly.

While flying around do NOT pull back on the stick to climb.  Push forward
to speed up, pull back to slow down apply more throttle (collective) to go
up.. less to go down.   Watch your airspeed closely.    If it drops below
about 15 knots the helicopter will get real squirly.  Because you're not
running the rudder pedals at all, you're relying on the weather vane effect
to keep the helicopter pointed in the direction you want, which requires
plenty of forward speed.

Takeoff approach #2:
Full power.  This one can get you going very quickly but here's the catch.
When the helicopter is moving very slow (or stopped) and full power is
applied, it reacts very quickly to all control inputs.  This means if you
push forward on the stick a little, it'll pitch forward a lot.  So the
takeoff works like this.  Apply full power, push a TINY bit forward on the
stick.  It should pitch forward fairly quickly and accelerate like a bat
out of hell.  Watch the horizon.  When it gets to about 2/3rds up the
screen, pull back on the stick to stabilize your pitch.  Do whatever it
takes.  If that means pulling all the way back on the stick to keep it from
pitching any further forward, do so, but be prepared to center the stick
again once you're flying.  (If you can see nothing but ground.. you're
dead.. slew and give it about 1000 feet of elevation and then try
recovering from there)

You'll notice that as speed picks up the helicopter reacts to all your
control inputs slower.  This means that at say 80 knots, at full power you
can push the stick all the way forward and the helicopter will simply
accelerate to 120 knots, level flight.  At 30 knots if you do that, the
helicopter will pitch forward toward the ground and accelerate VERY fast up
to 120 knots until you crash.  

BTW.. with the joystick trimmed the way I suggested you should be able to
fly straight and level at 65% throttle at about 40-60 knots with hands off
the stick.  

Emergency procedures:
If you find that you've accidentally gone into a hover, and the helicopter
starts to slide sideways, or turn end for end, react as follows.  Apply
full throttle and push the stick forward as far as it'll go until you have
pitched far enough forward to start picking up speed, then even it out just
like the full power takeoff.   If you're sliding backwards and starting to
spin around, or sideways, push forward and into the spin.  So if you're
sliding or spinning to the left, push forward and to the left,  Doing that
will lessen the time it takes to bring the copter into a nose down
attitude.  Once it indicates forward airspeed (always shows 0 knots for
backwards or sideways) straighten the stick, or roll opposite and then center
to stabilize.

Landing:  I'll qualify that.  Landing without rudder pedals.

Because you can't hover without workable rudder pedals you can't just fly
up, stop and descend vertically to the ground.  What you have to do is fly
an approach like an airplane.   This is how I do it, decrease airspeed to
30 knots, decrease throttle to 30%.  This should put you in a fairly slow
but steep decent.  Maintain 30 knots all the way down by controlling the
cyclic only.  When you get to within about one rotor's diameter of the
ground you'll start to experience ground effect.  Your decent will slow.
Increase throttle just a bit to maybe 45% and try to maintain both your 30
knot airspeed and altitude, which should be about 20 feet now.

Now very gently ease back on the cyclic or just let it remain completely
level.  Your airspeed should drop.  When it drops below about 10 knots,
you'll find that the helicopter will start to descend on it's own.
(Remember.. more power to hover than to fly forward)  Let it drop without
pulling back on the cyclic.  Try to get it to touch down with less than 5
knots of forward airspeed.  If it starts to swing back and forth or slip
sideways, abort.  You can't land it sideways.  Once you're down on the
ground, continue to fly the helicopter because it'll be very light on the
skids.  Once you're sure it's stabilized, drop power to 0, and it should

Be very careful not to pull back on the cyclic before you touch down.
Watch the horizon, you want it in the middle of the screen.  It's real easy
to come in too fast, try to slow by pulling back and end up landing with
the tail rotor touching the ground, which is actually a crash.

Once you do start being able to land, practice flying a long slow approach
down to the fuel square and try to settle within it.  A nice consistent
glide-path all the way down is the key here.

Anyway, that's it for now.  Good luck.

Oh BTW, I've never been at the controls of a real helicopter and I've only
been flying this one for about 3 weeks, so it's not like I started with any
sort of advantage.  Anyone can fly the thing with some practice. 
I landed it the first day.