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All helicopter pilots must have a basic knowledge of the aerodynamic principles that enable helicopter flight. While the principles that apply to a helicopter are the same as those that apply to other aircraft, the application of these principles is more complex due to the rotating airfoils. Chapters 2 and 3 of the Helicopter Flying Handbook (FAA-H-8083-21) and Aircraft Weight and Balance Handbook (FAA-H-8083-1), form the foundation for this chapter.
- Forces Acting on the Aircraft (Part One)
- Forces Acting on the Aircraft (Part Two)
- Forces Acting on the Aircraft (Part Three)
- Helicopter Airfoils
- Hovering Flight
- The Coriolis Effect, Ground Effect, and Gyroscopic Precession
- Miscellaneous Helicopter Aerodynamics Topics
As with any training, begin the presentation of new material at the student’s level of understanding. This can be determined throughout the introductory meeting with the student simply by engaging conversation about helicopters and general flight. Any previous flight experience will be apparent during preflight and while flying. Written or oral testing on the first day of flight school could deter a student from further flight training. A proficient, certificated flight instructor (CFI) should be able to determine the background and expertise of a student by careful use of the initial introductory meeting.
The student’s aviation background determines when to introduce different aspects of aerodynamics. The student must have the appropriate background knowledge to comprehend the subject matter. Periodic reviews during the course of instruction help the instructor tailor the lesson to the student’s comprehension and arrange the material to fit the student’s needs. Define new terms when first introduced.
The overall objective of this chapter is to help the instructor review the aerodynamics found in the Helicopter Flying Handbook (FAA- 8083-21, as revised) and help the student understand how those effects practically affect their helicopter flight. In order to control a helicopter in flight, the student must have the consistent ability to identify and compensate for varying aerodynamic forces in flight.
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