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Emergency In-Flight Recovery
Written by: Dr. Bob Motazedi

During your forward flight training, the helicopter may "get away" from you. If it does, follow these steps to recover successfully.

The first reaction you need to develop is to add throttle and collective pitch. Once you are into forward flight, altitude is your best friend. Helicopters don’t get damaged until they come into contact with the ground. If you get into trouble or even think that you might be getting into trouble, increase the throttle and climb.

Next on the list is to make sure that your helicopter is moving in a forward direction. Apply a moderate amount of forward cyclic to make sure that the ship is moving or is going to start moving forward soon. Forward flight immediately removes any problem with keeping the nose straight because the relative wind automatically causes the tail to trial behind your helicopter.

Now that your ship is gaining altitude and is moving forward, you can take a little time to determine what direction it is moving in and how to return it to you safely. Watch your helicopter. If it moving to the left or right of your position, institute a slow turn in the direction that will cause your helicopter to move back to your position.

If your helicopter appears stationary and you can’t tell if it is moving straight towards you or straight away from you, correction may be a little more difficult. First see if the helicopter is getting larger or smaller. Listen to the engine. Is it getting progressively louder or softer. These two keys can help you decide which direction the helicopter is moving.

If your helicopter is too far away, listening and watching may not help. If it is moving away from your position quickly enough, it may be to far to easily save if you don’t react quickly enough. At these larger distances which you shouldn’t be at during this portion of your training, you will have to institute a shallow turn and wait for the results.

If your helicopter is moving away from you, the helicopter will turn in the direction that you gave it in relation to where you are standing. In other words a right turn will result in your helicopter moving to your right. Complete the turn until the helicopter is coming straight to you.

If the helicopter moves in the opposite direction from the turn, you will probably panic because it will surprise you. Do nothing! Take a moment to interpret what is going on. After all, you have plenty of altitude and time. Realize that the helicopter is moving towards you because of the opposite direction of turn. Simply use opposite controls to level the disc and then slowly make a turn so that your helicopter is heading straight back towards you.

Now that your helicopter is returning to you, make sure that it continues to move forward by occasionally applying a little forward cyclic. Use this technique only if your helicopter is so far away that you can’t tell if it is continuously moving towards you. As your ship gets closer, make a shallow turn to one side and enter the circular pattern as before and land.

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