Friday, 23 September 2011

RC Heli Flight School

What is 3D....
3D is a style of helicopter flight which makes the helicopter appear to defy gravity by flipping , rolling and moving  in “3 dimensional space” sometimes on the spot, which would not otherwise be possible in full size helicopters. There is not really a clean explanation of what 3D is …often a video helps.

Auto – Pushover

Start out in an inverted auto and then pushover to a tail first landing. The key to this trick is getting the right amount of forward speed while inverted. Start out high to get the Fwd speed and timing correct.

Auto – Tumbling S

Another trick to be performed while autoing

Sustained Pirouette Flips

Pirouette while flipping which is essentially keeping the cyclic in phase with the yaw of the helicopter in order to maintain the flip. Repeat the maneuver over and over and you have your: “Sustained Pirouette Flip”

Chaos Again this involves Piro-Flips however this time between each individual Piro-Flip, the axis of the flip is rotated. You follow the same principle that is being applied in the Piro-Globe.

Death Spiral

As the name suggests this can be a quite dramatic maneuver when performed to the limits.

Start with plenty of height in a stationary hover then 1/4 roll the model to knife-edge then Set collective to 0 deg. As the model falls apply fwd or bwd cyclic. The model will be rotating about the axis which it is falling. To exit, stop the application of fwd/bwd cyclic and 1/4 roll again. Depending on the direction you roll out, will lead to a normal or inverted pullout.

The rate of descent can be slowed by applying the Stationary Death Spiral philosophy.

Death Spiral – Stationary

The stationary death spiral is a development of a Fwd inverted circuit. By decreasing the diameter of the circuit until the model is effectively turning on the spot. To sustain height the model obviously isn’t knife-edge, as with the death spiral. However the model is at a very steep angle.

Once the stationary death spiral has been mastered the heli can be sent round circuits and climb in this manner, with the use of collective.


One of the 3D Masters set maneuvers. See pic. Basically a climbing then falling funnel. But, for this manoeuvre a skids in and out funnel are required.

Start in a Funnel, skids IN, and low (tail down for this example). Then power up vertical, maintaining the funnel. At no point should the diameter of the funnel increase/decrease.

At the top put the model Knife-edge tail down, but keep rolling the heli. Then transition to a funnel but this time skids OUT. Now bring the heli back down to the starting point, in the funnel.

For clarity the upwards and downwards section are shown side-by-side in the picture. But, the idea is to go straight up, then straight down. Like the Plunger on a ‘Detonator’.


See Pic. The example shown is tail-down inverted. This seems to be the most popular variant. But there are of course many different variants.

The funnel is a development of sideways circuit flying. By reducing the size of the circuit until the tail (in this example) is turning almost on the spot. Increasing the collective pitch while still maintaining height will force you to increase the angle of the model, and vice-versa.

The transitioning between the different variants of a funnel, is known as morphing funnels.


The ‘Hurricane’ is a high speed knife-edge circuit (Basically the same as a Wall of Death).

By using high collective values the angle of the model can be made to appear on the knife-edge.

TIP: By flattening out the circuit @ positions B/D allows more lift to be created, so that @ positions A/C the model can actually be put on the knife-edge. As A/B are the positions at which the spectators view the model on the knife-edge, it increases the illusion that the model is knife-edge all the way round.

Hurricane – Flipping

Move is seen in the picture from birds eye view

Tic Toc

A metronome is a way of achieving ‘knife-edge’ flight with a helicopter. See Pic. When viewed on (A) it appears that the heli is holding a knife-edge attitude. Also known as a Tic-Toc. Using the metronome as a flight mode, it is then possible to perform, metronomic circuits, Figure 8s, Loops and the Big Ben Clockface.

Pie Dish

Similar to a funnel but the size of the circuits is much bigger and the angle of the heli is lower, giving the ‘pie dish’ shape to the man’vre.

Pirouetting Globe (picture from birds eye view)

  1. Enter maneuver pirouetting traveling E to W.
  2. When central (C) to pilot/judges start Piro-Loop (PL1) travelling E to W.
  3. Complete PL1.
  4. When back at the center (C) rotate direction of travel by 45°.
  5. Perform PL2, starting loop traveling NE to SW.
  6. When back at the center (C) rotate direction of travel by 45°
  7. Perform PL3, starting loop traveling N to S. (i.e., looping into yourself to start).
  8. When back at the center (C) rotate direction of travel by 45°.
  9. Perform PL4, starting loop traveling NW to SE.
  10. When back at the center (C) rotate direction of travel by 45°.
  11. Perform PL5, starting loop traveling W to E (Parallel to flight line).
  12. Once PL5 is complete exit maneuver traveling W to E pirouetting.

So you enter and exit the maneuver at the same point (C), but exit traveling in the opposite direction.

Now you could decrease the angle of rotation change to say 30°, 15°, 10°………etc. Therefore increasing the number of piro-loops to the globe. To make it look good, I think a 45° change is the minimum requirement.

The other variation is to continue rotating by another 45° after PL5 and continue round. This would give 9 piro-loops and exit traveling E to W. This is gonna be hard, because you now have to be able to piro-loop away from yourself.

Pirouetting Loop

The example shows 2 complete pirouettes per loop, you can of course do as many piro’ you like per loop. The pic shows a piro-loop, using right tail rotor input.

Pirouetting Outside Loop

The outside version of the pirouetting loop.

Pirouetting Vertical 8

One of the 3D Masters set maneuver.

Pitch Pumping

Not really a man’vre in itself I believe. Pitch pumping has arrived with the advent of big block powered machines, were pitch can now be used to add a dramatic visual effect to a more ‘traditional’ maneuver. As it sounds, pitch pumping is basically moving the collective from say -5deg to + 5deg in rapid succession.


A rainbow is basically a large 1/2 flip but holding the collective until the end of the flip. By varying the amount of cyclic and collective determines the size of the rainbow. The rainbow can be carried out Fwd/Bwds, Sideways and Piro’ing.


Basically a Pirouetting Tail Slide. As the falling speed increases, the demands on the tail system become VERY HIGH. Only attempt this maneuver if you are 100% confident in your model.


3D Masters Move – This maneuver consists of a series of tailboom-vertical metronomes with a half aileron roll between the metronome stop points. 6 pitch reversals are required, and the model will retain constant tailboom orientation. The roll will be centered at the mid-point of the arc.


The snake is performed on the ‘knife-edge’. Pic shows a birds eye view.

To perform the example shown, you need to be able to perform (1) A tail-first inverted clockwise knife-edge circuit and (2) A tail-first normal anti-clockwise circuit. Then bring the 2 together and perform 1/2 circuit (1) then transition to the other (2), and so on down the flight-line.

Like most tricks there are multiple variants to practice and master. (NOTE: Pic shows the heli completely knife-edge, this obviously is not possible, but it was much easier to create the pic that way)

Sudden Stop

One of Jason Krause’ signature moves. First get the heli traveling at great speed Fwd Normal Flight. Then pull back elevator quickly and do a 1/4 back flip to vertical, then punch more positive collective. The heli will suddenly stop its Fwd motion. The key to getting a dramatic sudden stop is the cyclic to collective timing.

Tail Slide

Take the model up high and then point the tail at the ground. The model will accelerate and end up falling tail first very fast !!!


The Tornado is a combination of a pie dish up-high morphing into a funnel down- low.

Wall of Death

The Wall of Death is basically the same as a Pie Dish, but with the heli at a near vertical attitude.


Another one of the new 3D Masters Set Maneuvers
The maneuver involves performing multiple funnels while sending the heli around a circuit.


Heli Flight school

Below you will find links to videos that will guide you through learning how to fly an RC Helicopter.  These short heli training videos are geared towards getting your RC helicopter up in the air fast by showing you what to practice.   Following these steps and practicing each level will build muscle memory, orientation, sport flying, 3D skills and give you the confidence you need to improve your rc heli flying at the field.   The intended audience is sport to intermediate 3d pilots.   Even if you are doing 3d moves test yourself and see if you have any weaknesses in these levels.  Make sure you practice and master each level before you move up.   In just 30 minutes a night or less you can learn to fly an RC helicopter and become a master 3d heli pilot.

Practice 30 minutes a day and try to master every move before moving up a level.  It may take weeks to master a level and you will crash a million times before some of these moves click.  Keep trying  every night!
Level 1 – Hovering upright


This video describes some of the first steps to learning radio controlled 3D flight. It is important that you have a solid foundation of skills in order to advance to the next level of flying. When I first started I searched high and low for information on how to learn to fly 3D. What I found was a lot of outdated information from an era before simulators. Hopefully this video series will help guide people on how to advance quickly with a simulator.
Remember to slowly transition what you learn in the sim to the field. Things don’t always go as well in real life. But learning tail-in, side-in and nose-in hovering will really boost your confidence and get you started.

Learn upright hovering, rudder control and orientation.  Hovering side on, tail in and nose in be difficult.  This video shows you in a few minutes what to practice to hover an RC helicopter upright.  Practice:
  • Tail at 45 degrees offset
  • Side in viewing the helicopters left and right side
  • Nose in with the tail directly away and offset
  • Stretch: Pirouette back to tail in. Backward flips
  • Bonus:  Forward flight circle
Level 2 – Hovering inverted

Learning to hover inverted can be challenging and frustrating.  But in the last few years simulators and computers have really advanced.  So learning to fly upside down can be as easy as upright.  If you want to learn to fly 3D and are just getting started make sure you start on this step within the first couple of months.  Once your brain realizes that RC helicopters can hover upside down as easily as upright you will be well on your way.  Make sure you practice Nose in, side in and tail in inverted hovering.
It will take some time for this to sink in completely.   Just keep practicing 30 minutes a night and it will come to you.  When you first try this at the field make sure you have a lot of altitude and know which way you want to bail out.

Inverted hovering is difficult because our brains don’t want to believe a heli can fly upside down.  Follow along on this video and master rudder control and the soft feel you need to hover an RC helicopter while inverted.  Practice:
  • Tail offset 45 degrees on each side
  • Side in looking at the heli on the left and right
  • Nose in inverted
  • Stretch: Forward flips, Rolls, Inverted piro to tail nose in.
  • Bonus: Inverted forward circle
Level 3 – Flying in circles

Finally the start of some real flying.  In this step you will learn to fly in circles.  It is really important that before you move into this level that you have a really good grasp on upright and inverted hovering.  If you can’t hover in an orientation you can’t fly in it.  A lot of people get started learning figure 8’s first but I like to focus on circles first.  The reason is without good practice in grooving a circles you end up doing lazy figure 8’s.  In lazy 8’s the circles are elongated and cross like an x in the middle.  If you learn circles first you will be able to focus on the transition in a figure 8 and not so much how to maintain flight.    I’ll leave it for a later lesson but the transition in a figure 8 is the key to a lot of 3D flight maneuvers.

Keep up your hard work on this lesson.  You will likely crash every time but just keep trying the flight directions equally.  It will pay off in the end and you will eventually get it!

Learn to fly an RC helicopter in circles and keep it on a constant heading without increasing to decreasing in speed.  Controlling the cyclic and elevator movements you will learn to groove the heli into a circle and keep it there.  Practice:
  • 5 forward circles left and right
  • 5 backward circles left and right
  • 5 inverted forward circles left and right
  • 5 inverted backwards circles left and right
  • Stretch: Forward loops, Backward loops,Tail down tic tocs
  • Bonus:  tail down rainbows, stationary piros
Level 4  –  Flying in Figure 8’s 

In this video lesson you will go through how to learn to fly figure 8’s.  This is the next step beyond learning to fly in circles and will help you groove in your circles even better.  Figure 8’s are great to practice to improve your orientation and advance your 3d flight.  In the bonus section you will see morphing figure 8’s, stall turns with changing orientation and side on tic-tocs.  Make sure you practice this every night and keep trying until you can complete 5 figure 8’s in a row without crashing in each orientation.

Once you complete circles the next step is to learn to fly an RC helicopter in figure 8’s.   The main thing you are learning is the transition between one circle to the other.  Don’t cheat and do lazy 8’s make sure you come around in as perfect a figure 8 as possible.  Practice:
  • Switch this move so the figure 8 crosses towards you and away from you.
  • Forward
  • Backwards
  • Inverted
  • Inverted backwards
  • Stretch:  Snake transition in figure 8 with 30% bank angle, Side on Tic-Tocs
  • Bonus:  Stall turns changing orientations at the top of the turn
Level 5  –  Learning funnels

Learning funnels can be challenging work.  Once your have a solid foundation in circles and figure 8’s a natural place to go is funnels.  But most people get discouraged by how unnatural this flight direction can be.  This video will walk you through how to get started learning funnels.   The video also emphasizes a training plan that has you perform 5 funnels in a row in each flight orientation until you have mastered the skill.   Learning to fly funnels can be a lot of fun and trust me your brain will give up eventually and agree that sideways flight is possible.

Something about remote control helicopters in sideways flight looks cool and seems so wrong to our brains.   Think about doing circles and focus on grooving in your funnels.  The key is to reverse your aileron and elevator cyclic movements  from a circle and let them go.   Practice:
  • 5 upright tail down, left and right
  • 5 upright tail up left, and right
  • 5 inverted tail down, left and right
  • 5 Inverted tail up, left and right
  • Stretch: Funnel figure 8’s
  • Bonus:  slowing down funnels and changing the speed
Level 6  –  Learning loops

Learning how to fly loops in every orientation is essential for the developing 3D pilot. In this video you will learn how to fly loops in every direction and get key insight on how to perform the loops. Make sure that you keep the loops parallel to yourself and the flight line. This will be key later in your flying when you start to mix loops into your routine. Also, it looks much more impressive when you have the loop centered in front of yourself and the heli is side on the entire move.
Make sure you practice this for 30 minutes a night until you can perform at least 5 loops in each flight direction without crashing. And when you get to the field start off by trying these loops high enough that you can recover if you make a mistake or get disoriented. As with the previous videos in the Flight school training guide this is a fly along video. Basically you want to practice exactly what I am doing in the video.
Enjoy and good luck

Performing large loops with an RC heli can really be fun.  Work on these and controlling your inputs on the simulator before you go the field.  Also remember with a flybared helicopter that you will need to give constant cyclic inputs during a loop to keep everything in sync.  Practice:
  • 5 inside forward, left and right
  • 5 inside backward left, and right
  • 5 outside forward, left and right
  • 5 outside backward, left and right
  • Stretch: Vertical loop figure 8
  • Bonus:  Sideways loops
Level 7  –  Morphing or Transitions 

At this stage you have developed a good base level of skill in hovering, circles, figure 8’s, loops, rolls and flips.  The next step is to work these moves into your 3D heli routine by morphing from one flight orientation to another.  In the old days it was difficult to practice this.  But with the use of a simulator and regular practice you will be switching orientation right in the middle of a figure 8 or hurricane.   Doing transitions and morphing between orientations really adds an interesting piece to your flight plan.   Start by practicing half flips and rolls until you are comfortable.  then add rudder until you can perform a roll and go from tail in upright to tail in inverted.  If you have trouble stabilizing the heli after this maneuver then you should go back and practice hovering.

Learn to fly figure 8’s, hurricanes and the mobius with your RC helicopter.   The video lesson will show you how to practice morphing from one orientation to another in flight.    Follow the video and steps below and practice:
  • 5 of each figure 8 morphing orientations
  • Forward upright to inverted going left and right
  • Backwards upright to inverted going left and right
  • Upright funnel to inverted left and right
  • Verticle loop figure 8’s left and right
  • Horizontal loop figure 8’s going left and right
Level 8  –  Rolling travel

  • Rolling in a straight line forwards and backwards
  • Rolling circle forward left and right
  • Rolling circle backwards left and right
  • Rolling figure 8’s
Level 9  –  Pirouetting travel


In this video lesson you will learn how to break down and practice pirouetting moves with an RC Helicopter. First you will work on hovering while pirouetting and move into piro travel in a straight line and eventually piro circles. Following piro circles you will start to work on the move everyone wants to do at the field the famous piro flip. Once you have a good grasp of the piro flip you will work on morphing piro flips and piro snakes.. anything is possible.
Remember nothing is as hard as you think. It might take you a very long time to get this down possibly even months just to piro hover. Stick with the training because one day your brain will get the movements and it will become automatic. I have been working on this move for 18 months now and as you can see I still have flaws in my skills.
Enjoy and good luck.

Flying an RC helicopter while is is pirouetting can be challenging.  This video will walk you through how to learn to fly your RC helicopter while it is doing a piro.  Or as most people describe it this the video with show you how to fly piro moves with an RC helicopter.
  • Pirouetting in a straight line left right, inverted
  • Piro circle upright
  • Piro circle  inverted
  • Piro flips
  • Piro Figure 8 Upright
  • Piro Figure 8 Inverted
Level 10 Direction
Go back and practice all above in the direction you were most uncomfortable.

Level 11  –  3D Genius – Mastery
  • 4 point tic-tocs and traveling tic-tocs
  • Death spiral and low tail slides
  • Flappers
  • Piro Rainbow
  • Piro Snake
  • Piro Loop
  • Piro Tic-Tocs
  • Big Ben
  • Piro flip Reversal
  • Pitch Pumping
  • Flipping Hurricains (circles)
  • Slinky (circle, 45deg circle, edge loop (viewed as loop from side), 135deg circle, circle)
  • Smackdown Flying
  • Smooth transitions between moves
 Level 12 –  Unbelievable stuff
  • Chaos (piro flip with rotating axis)
  • Piro Snake Figure 8
  • Piro Globe
  • Fliping Funnel 8
  • Reversing Piro Tic-Tocs
  • Reversing Piro Rainbow
  • Reversing Piro Snake
  • Kruezenburger
  • Reversing Piro Funnel
    Wheel of Fortune
  • London Eye(piro tic-toc loop)
  • Piro Vertical Figure 8
    Piro Slinky (variation of globe where you start with piro circle (start at left or right side of pilot), piro 45deg tilted circle, piro loop, piro 135deg tilted circle, piro circle (opposite side of pilot from the first circle)



An autorotation is a procedure where a helicopter can make a controlled approach and landing after motor failure, or deliberately cutting the power mid-air with the throttle hold switch on the transmitter.

An autorotation consists of two phases. Immediately power is lost, the collective is lowered and the pilot establishes an autorotative glide, where air flowing through the main rotor from bottom to top causes the rotor to maintain RPM (much like a windmill) and generate sufficient lift to make a controlled descent. As the helicopter approaches the ground, the pilot executes a flare, converting the helicopter's forward speed into additional rotor velocity and lift, and allowing the helicopter to establish a brief hover before landing, or perform a gentle running landing.

The main rotor is able to freewheel during autorotation due to a one-way bearing in the transmission. Depending on the location of the one-way bearing in the transmission, the tail rotor may (or may not) be driven from the energy gained by the main rotor, making it easier to maintain or change the helicopter's heading throughout the autorotation.
Autorotation performance is greatly affected by the size of the helicopter. 450-size helicopters can be autorotated but there is very litte spare energy at the end of the approach. Larger helicopters, such as 600 size machines, are much easier to autorotate and have much more hang time---the amount of time the helicopter can hover before the main rotor loses useful lift---making the procedure much more tolerant of error.

Autorotations can also be performed inverted (with positive collective pitch added): often the inverted section will be flown backwards, to enable the flip to upright to be made a part of the flare while minimizing the risk of hitting the tail on the ground. Another variation are blade stop autos, where the pilot deliberately adds positive pitch to slow the main rotor almost to a stop, then gives negative pitch to spin the rotor again---hopefully giving enough energy to complete the autorotation with the helicopter in on piece.

Autorotation practice is typically started by performing hovering autorotations from no more than 1 meter above the ground so the pilot can learn how much energy is stored in the main rotor. As the pilot becomes more confident, short practice autos can be performed from 1-3 meters in slow forward flight in approach for landing. Ideally, autorotations are performed into the wind, as the increased airspeed will give the helicopter increased translational lift. In practice, the engine may fail at inopportune times!

An autogyro is an aircraft that generates all its lift by a constantly autorotating main rotor, with forward power provided by a pusher prop.

Pilot : Zahidin Mohd Zahid 

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