Helicopter Stunts

Written by Mark Fadely Find the entire article on page 107 in the October 2011 issue. Read an abridged summary from the article.

Pilots are continually learning new maneuvers while perfecting the ones they already know. For those who are curious about new tricks, here is a list and brief description of RC helicopter stunts that are slightly complex:

Funnel—Sometimes called a pie dish, it is a circle flown sideways, either nose-up or nosedown. Getting the heli’s fuselage as vertical as possible makes this move difficult, but exciting.

Death Spiral—At altitude, the heli is put on its side with the fuselage parallel to the ground. Then, collective pitch is zeroed and forward- or backward-elevator is held, causing the heli to fall on its side while flipping forward or back. Don’t forget the pull-out.

Tic-Toc can be done with either aileron or elevator control. The helicopter cycles between a 10-o’clock and 2-o’clock fuselage position, with negative and positive collective pumps and cyclic control. Imagine a seesaw in a more vertical position.

Pirouetting flip—The heli’s tail spins while it executes a flip. You must stir the cyclic stick to properly execute this maneuver.

Chaos is a pirouetting flip that changes the nose orientation with each flip.

Pirouetting globe—Consecutive loops while pirouetting and changing flight paths on each loop to simulate a globe.

Tail slide—The helicopter is at a higher altitude when the nose is pulled up so the fuselage is perpendicular to the ground, and then the collective is neutralized. The heli falls with the tail pointed down. The helicopter can also be rolled during the slide.

Snake—This is a series of left and right turns combined so the heli keeps moving in the same direction, while oscillating back and forth.

There are many more moves than the ones listed. If one can do all of the tricks on this list, then he or she is in an elite group. Such maneuvers are what make 3-D flying so much fun. Pilot creativity is fueled by the helicopter’s expanded flight envelope and the extreme power-to-weight ratio of modern machines.

There is no reason to quit practicing new moves as winter forces flying indoors. Some of today’s small models are 3-D capable—allowing small, indoor arenas to become aerobatic training grounds. Another benefit is smaller models are less stable. The reduced stability requires pilots to be more proficient, which translates to more precision with larger models. Small helicopters require pilots to stay focused.

Learning new tricks with a heli can be frustrating because the pilot must relearn the move whenever orientation is changed. If a pilot is accustomed to doing Tic-Tocs with elevator control, then the same maneuver should be attempted using ailerons. The pilot should do the same with the helicopter facing the opposite direction. It’s difficult to master several orientations of the same maneuver.

In addition to RC helicopter stunts, Mark's article discusses small model precision, pirouetting flips, flying indoors, and basic fundamentals on page 107 in the October 2011 issue.

Not quite ready for stunts? Read our Beginner's Guide to Helicopters also found on page 26 in the October 2011 issue.

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Apply full forward or back elevator to commence the spiraling motion of the maneuver. Watch as the helicopter descends, and then apply the opposite aileron that you applied earlier to start the maneuver. If you applied 1/4 aileron right to start the stunt, then apply left aileron to complete the trick.

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