Crosswind Considerations During Helicopter Takeoffs

If the takeoff is made during crosswind conditions, the helicopter is flown in a slip during the early stages of the maneuver. [Figure 1] The cyclic is held into the wind a sufficient amount to maintain the desired ground track for the takeoff. The heading is maintained with the use of the antitorque pedals. In other words, the rotor is tilted into the wind so that the sideward movement of the helicopter is just enough to counteract the crosswind effect. To prevent the nose from turning in the direction of the rotor tilt, it is necessary to increase the antitorque pedal pressure on the side opposite the cyclic.

Helicopter flight maneuver
Figure 1. During a slip, the rotor disk is tilted into the wind

After approximately 50 feet of altitude is gained, make a coordinated turn into the wind to maintain the desired ground track. This is called crabbing into the wind. The stronger the crosswind, the more the helicopter has to be turned into the wind to maintain the desired ground track. [Figure 2]

Helicopter flight maneuver
Figure 2. To compensate for wind drift at altitude, crab the helicopter into the wind