What is the safest way to land your radio-controlled helicopter?

Published: June 14, 2019


Categories: R/C Helicopters

Photo Credit: MIKI Yoshihito
Radio-controlled helicopter

Do you have a brand new radio-controlled helicopter that you can’t wait to get off the ground? As you learn to fly your new copter, it is very important to master your landing skills. After all, you really don’t want it to go crashing into the ground.

Sadly, it takes only one misjudgment, wrong move, or incident that distracts you to send your chopper plowing into the ground and ending up a heap of rubble. So, you definitely want to practice your landing skills.

According to the GensTattu blog, there are a few skills the novice radio-controlled copter pilot must master to be able to safely operate his or her aircraft. Directly after the obvious skill of safely lifting off, the next most important skill is landing.

According to the website RC Helicopter Fun, an estimated 50% or more of single rotor collective pitch radio controlled helicopters either sold to or built by novice fliers end up crashing within the first minute of their first flight. You don’t want to go there.

Here’s a few basic tips for learning to fly and land your chopper:

According to WikiHow, begin with mastering the most basic maneuvers. Those are:

  • Lifting off
  • Flying in a straight line
  • Landing – When just beginning to fly (for example, the first couple of practice flights), you should work on landing a very short time after taking off.

Here are a few more helpful hints for novice flyers:

  • Practice flying and landing indoors before you take your helicopter to the great outdoors, if possible.

Beginning in a controlled indoor environment can help you determine how your helicopter responds to controller commands without contending with outdoor challenges such as uneven ground and wind.

When choosing an indoor area for your initial flying practices, consider roomy areas such as garages (preferably with any cars moved outdoors while practicing so you don’t break a car window). Avoid living rooms and family rooms where valuable and fragile family pictures and other pieces are at risk.

However, if flying indoors is not workable, choose a flying day when there is no wind and fly only over level ground (for instance, a parking lot). This will help you with your liftoffs and landings as you practice.

When landing, it is very important to be aware of ground effect. Ground effect is defined as “the effect of aerodynamic buoyancy produced by a cushion of air below a vehicle moving close to the ground.” So, according to a tutorial video by RC Flight School (included below), cut or reduce your throttle as you approach your landing spot.

In this video, the instructor says that anything in close proximity to your aircraft will enhance the ground effect and may carry it into some turbulence.

  • Keep your radio controlled helicopter low and close by when practicing.

This is not the time to test your chopper’s limits.  Do not fly it any higher than three feet or one meter on your first couple of flights. Also, do not allow your aircraft to fly too far away from you. Keep it no farther than a few feet or a couple of meters from you. A rule of thumb when practice flying is to make sure that you can see it and its surroundings in detail. One good reason for flying as low as possible at first is air currents are weakest closer to the ground, so you will only need to make minor adjustments to steady your aircraft.

Additionally, be aware of your battery life.  You don’t want to be flying your helicopter too high or too far way when your battery runs out of juice.

  • While you’re adjusting to your controls, slow and steady is the best practice.

Don’t make sudden or drastic changes unless you really want your chopper to crash. Additionally, as you grow more confident in flying your radio-controlled helicopter, increase your elevation gradually. The next level should be no higher than six feet or two meters. In fact, as you master flying and landing at each elevation, increase the elevation no more than three feet and one meter at a time.

Expect to experience more air resistance as you increase your elevation. As a result, you will need to make more dramatic adjustments when handling your controls and performing the same maneuvers you were able to perform at lower elevations.

Check your aircraft whenever you crash.

Although it would be great if you have not yet crashed your aircraft, as you practice more sophisticated maneuvers, it becomes more likely that you will lose control and crash at some point. So, when that first crash happens, check your helicopter carefully to make sure that nothing is broken. Don’t attempt to fly it again if you find any broken parts.

Photo Credit: Pat Bell
RC Helicopter mid-air crash

Keep in mind that loose parts could break off in flight. As a result, helicopter pieces may come flying at you or anyone else near you. So, don’t fly it if you even suspect that anything is broken.

Keep your ear tuned to the sound of your radio controlled helicopter.

As you spend consistently more time flying your chopper, pay close attention to the sound of your engine. If it starts to sound different, in any way, from when you first flew it, do not hesitate in landing it.  Any unusual noises may indicate a problem such as damage or some malfunction, especially if you have crashed it even once. Remember that damage may not be easily noticeable, especially to a novice flier.

Even if your aircraft seems to be working well at the present, problems can worsen with consistent use.

Landing your radio controlled helicopter in bad weather

The best advice for managing your aircraft in bad weather is not to fly it at all when it is already raining or in winds as high as 15 mph. There is very little advice for landing a radio controlled helicopter in bad weather, so the best advice if a storm comes up suddenly while flying your aircraft is to land it immediately. Don’t trust that the storm will be short-lived.

More RC Helicopter articles through here.

Photo license links:

  1. https://www.flickr.com/photos/mujitra/9284336604/in/photolist-f9qDP3-4A7DA-f9bpvH-nUcMCj-b3YcKp-4myAM8-odtcw8-oMP1bN-5zTjsS-2cnxUt8-8hq982-VHk48M-oPP64s-4LKdLt-7ByJ1Q-ffycM7-7Q8LFQ-21JgT8k-QEcKZs-9jsVyE-5mgtj2-29i6MjP-JgvRJ4-5MCcCv-21cVaTX-Pv9im-mSyoU-7Q8MoL-aj9Xfp-3LE3EP-9rS35g-3LJJ39-6BWL2s-6BSDPZ-VF5aTW-mSypy-mSyn2-Drc4g5-mSypr-mSymK-mSymr-sERy1i-sUZnjq-s1uST2-s1iH2G-sXjf3a-QyCXj9-R6RX7j-R8Rvue-PVDWFD
  2. https://www.flickr.com/photos/pmbell64/6019401975/in/photolist-aaV1uF-6g6gsc-4KEN1X-4eRKh-hTYMr-5A2g22-aaXQoA-f9qDP3-4A7DA-f9bpvH-nUcMCj-b3YcKp-4myAM8-odtcw8-oMP1bN-5zTjsS-2cnxUt8-8hq982-VHk48M-oPP64s-4LKdLt-7ByJ1Q-ffycM7-7Q8LFQ-21JgT8k-QEcKZs-9jsVyE-5mgtj2-29i6MjP-JgvRJ4-5MCcCv-21cVaTX-Pv9im-mSyoU-7Q8MoL-aj9Xfp-3LE3EP-9rS35g-3LJJ39-6BWL2s-6BSDPZ-VF5aTW-mSypy-mSyn2-Drc4g5-mSypr-mSymK-mSymr-sERy1i-sUZnjq