The helicopter is a unique flying machine and fondly known as a ‘whirlybird’. It looks like a giant dragon fly and has fascinated both adults and children alike. We may think of it as a wingless machine which hovers, but it is not strictly true. The helicopter has wings, but unlike the fixed wings of an aircraft, the helicopter wings are the rotor blades. Since a helicopter can fly in almost any direction and also can hover, it is relatively more difficult to master flying a helicopter than an aircraft. Why is it complex and how can you get training to fly a helicopter? The best training pad for a novice is the Heli Trainer.
To know more about a Heli Trainer, it would be necessary to familiarize ourselves with the basic control units of a helicopter. Most helicopters have three basic flight control inputs. The cyclic stick, collective lever and the anti-torque pedals. In complex helicopters, the cyclic and collective controls may be linked together by using a mixing unit. This is a mechanical or hydraulic device which combines the inputs from both the controls to the control surfaces. In smaller helicopters, without governors, the manual throttle can also be called a flight control.
The cyclic control is located between the pilot’s legs. It is analogous to the ‘joy stick’ on an aircraft. It is named as cyclic as this control can change the pitch angle of the rotor blades as they rotate, so that all the blades change the angle at the same relative point during rotation. This results in the rotor disk tilting in a particular direction which causes the helicopter to move in that direction.
The Collective lever on the other hand, located to the left of the pilot’s seat and with adjustable friction control to prevent accidental unintended movement, changes the pitch angle of all the main rotor blades simultaneously, thus increasing or decreasing the total lift from the rotor. When the helicopter is flying level, it will cause it to climb or descend and if it is pitched forward, this lift will induce acceleration along with the corresponding ascent.
The anti-torque pedals, operated by the pilot’s feet, changes the pitch of the tail rotor blades and this in turn increases or decreases the thrust of the tail rotor causing a directional change in the helicopter. Generally the rotors are designed to have a constant rotational speed, controlled by a governor. In some helicopters, there is a separate throttle control.
Using these flight controls, you can fly the helicopter in almost any direction, angle or just hover. As you can see, the controls are complex and to get trained as a helicopter pilot you have two options. You can directly fly in a helicopter with an experienced Instructor by your side. However since you are a greenhorn, the moment you make a mistake, the Instructor has to intervene and bring the helicopter to a safe situation before you are allowed to take control again. These repeated interruptions are not very conducive to training and this is why, for initial training, it is better to use a Heli Trainer.
The Heli Trainer is basically all about flying the helicopter without leaving the ground. It has a capsule which is similar in size and shape to the cabin of the helicopter. All the controls are laid out exactly as the model of helicopter being simulated. You can take off, hover, turn or bank just like a helicopter. Its flight controls are linked by computer to a robot on which the capsule is attached. It mimics all the control inputs given by the trainee or the Instructor. This will ensure that the pilot gets the necessary training, as well as feel he is really flying a helicopter. The Instructor can now train the pupil in the basics of flying the helicopter. Once the basic training is imparted, the Instructor can simulate emergency situations, where critical maneuvers have to be carried out in a split second. The pupil can be trained repeatedly in these maneuvers till it becomes a part of his second nature. When this training in the Heli Trainer is completed, the pupil can move on to a real helicopter. By now he has the feel and knowledge to fly a helicopter and the Instructor can further hone the piloting skills of the pupil. Heli Trainer is a good launch pad for a novice and a safe method to learn to fly a helicopter.
Filed under: Flight Simulator Games
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