Helicopter Hovering - Forward Flight, Sideward Flight, Rearward Flight Techniques and Common Errors

Hovering—Forward Flight

Forward hovering flight is normally used to move a helicopter to a specific location, and it may begin from a stationary hover. During the maneuver, constant groundspeed, altitude, and heading should be maintained.

Technique


Before starting, pick out two references directly in front and in line with the helicopter. These reference points should be kept in line throughout the maneuver. [Figure 1]

Helicopter Flight Maneuvers
Figure 1. To maintain a straight ground track, use two reference points in line and at some distance in front of the helicopter

Begin the maneuver from a normal hovering altitude by applying forward pressure on the cyclic. As movement begins, return the cyclic toward the neutral position to maintain low groundspeed—no faster than a brisk walk. Throughout the maneuver, maintain a constant groundspeed and path over the ground with the cyclic, a constant heading with the antitorque pedals, altitude with the collective, and the proper rpm with the throttle.

To stop the forward movement, apply rearward cyclic pressure until the helicopter stops. As forward motion stops, return the cyclic to the neutral position to prevent rearward movement. Forward movement can also be stopped by simply applying rearward pressure to level the helicopter and allowing it to drift to a stop.

Common Errors


1. Exaggerated movement of the cyclic, resulting in erratic movement over the surface.
2. Failure to use proper antitorque pedal control, resulting in excessive heading change.
3. Failure to maintain desired hovering altitude.
4. Failure to maintain proper rpm.
5. Failure to maintain alignment with direction of travel.

Hovering—Sideward Flight

Sideward hovering flight may be necessary to move the helicopter to a specific area when conditions make it impossible to use forward flight. During the maneuver, a constant groundspeed, altitude, and heading should be maintained.

Technique


Before starting sideward hovering flight, ensure the area for the hover is clear, especially at the tail rotor. Constantly monitor hover height and tail rotor clearance during all hovering maneuvers to prevent dynamic rollover or tail rotor strikes to the ground. Then, pick two points of in-line reference in the direction of sideward hovering flight to help maintain the proper ground track. These reference points should be kept in line throughout the maneuver. [Figure 2]

Helicopter Flight Maneuvers
Figure 2. The key to hovering sideward is establishing at least two reference points that help maintain a straight track over the ground while keeping a constant heading

Begin the maneuver from a normal hovering altitude by applying cyclic toward the side in which the movement is desired. As the movement begins, return the cyclic toward the neutral position to maintain low groundspeed—no faster than a brisk walk. Throughout the maneuver, maintain a constant groundspeed and ground track with cyclic. Maintain heading, which in this maneuver is perpendicular to the ground track, with the antitorque pedals, and a constant altitude with the collective. Use the throttle to maintain the proper operating rpm. Be aware that the nose tends to weathervane into the wind. Changes in the pedal position will change the rpm and must be corrected by collective and/or throttle changes to maintain altitude.

To stop the sideward movement, apply cyclic pressure in the direction opposite to that of movement and hold it until the helicopter stops. As motion stops, return the cyclic to the neutral position to prevent movement in the opposite direction. Applying sufficient opposite cyclic pressure to level the helicopter may also stop sideward movement. The helicopter then drifts to a stop.

Common Errors


1. Exaggerated movement of the cyclic, resulting in overcontrolling and erratic movement over the surface.
2. Failure to use proper antitorque pedal control, resulting in excessive heading change.
3. Failure to maintain desired hovering altitude.
4. Failure to maintain proper rpm.
5. Failure to make sure the area is clear prior to starting the maneuver.

Hovering—Rearward Flight

Rearward hovering flight may be necessary to move the helicopter to a specific area when the situation is such that forward or sideward hovering flight cannot be used. During the maneuver, maintain a constant groundspeed, altitude, and heading. Due to the limited visibility behind a helicopter, it is important that the area behind the helicopter be cleared before beginning the maneuver. Use of ground personnel is recommended.

Technique


Before starting rearward hovering flight, pick out two reference points in front of, and in line with the helicopter just like hovering forward. [Figure 1] The movement of the helicopter should be such that these points remain in line.

Begin the maneuver from a normal hovering altitude by applying rearward pressure on the cyclic. After the movement has begun, position the cyclic to maintain a slow groundspeed—no faster than a brisk walk. Throughout the maneuver, maintain constant groundspeed and ground track with the cyclic, a constant heading with the antitorque pedals, constant altitude with the collective, and the proper rpm with the throttle.

To stop the rearward movement, apply forward cyclic and hold it until the helicopter stops. As the motion stops, return the cyclic to the neutral position. Also, as in the case of forward and sideward hovering flight, opposite cyclic can be used to level the helicopter and let it drift to a stop. Tail rotor clearance must be maintained. Generally, a higher-thannormal hover altitude is preferred.

Common Errors


1. Exaggerated movement of the cyclic resulting in overcontrolling and an uneven movement over the surface.
2. Failure to use proper antitorque pedal control, resulting in excessive heading change.
3. Failure to maintain desired hovering altitude.
4. Failure to maintain proper rpm.
5. Failure to make sure the area is clear prior to starting the maneuver.