This book covers all the sequences required through to a commercial pilot licence, plus night flying and basic instrument flying.

For a student,  it details what the student can expect from each lesson, and how to conduct themselves within that lesson.

For instructors, it gives an insight into how various sequences should be taught, what the instructor can expect from the student, and what they should expect from themselves.

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This sample contains around 5% of the full publication.



To increase power, raise the collective. To reduce power, lower the collective. Don’t let the nose roll or turn, and don’t let it pitch up or down as you move the collective, and then check the instruments to ensure the helicopter IS doing what you want it to.

After every power change, check the RPM and the balance.


Balanced flight means keeping the aircraft level laterally and allowing for any cross-wind with heading adjustments.

Trimmed flight means equal airflow over each side of the helicopter in forward flight. If you had the windows open (or the doors off), there’d be an equal amount of air coming in each window or door opening.

Trimmed flight requires either a trim string attached to the outside of the front windscreen or off-setting the balance indicator so the ball’s in the middle at normal cruise speed even though the helicopter’s not level. This means you have to maintain your lateral attitude in accordance with the string (which can’t be seen at night) or the (offset) balance ball. It does give a slightly higher airspeed, but below 100 knots the difference is almost imperceptible, and the offset balance ball is only relevant at the power and speed the manufacturer has used when re-setting the balance ball.

I prefer balanced flight, as it’s more comfortable for the occupants and it’s achievable by ‘feel’, whereas trimmed flight isn’t, and you (and your passengers) will feel the out of balance forces on your body.

If you don’t want the helicopter to turn, you must keep it level with lateral cyclic, and keep it straight with pedals: this will ensure balanced flight.

If the helicopter’s level laterally and it’s travelling in a straight line, i.e. – it’s not turning, it must be balanced regardless of whether it’s an R-22 or a Jumbo Jet, and regardless of its airspeed; so make sure it’s level at all times unless you want to turn.

During power changes, if you keep it level as the first priority, and then stop the nose from yawing with the pedals, you’ll keep the balance very close to where it was. Check the balance ball, and if the ball’s out to the left, look at your reference point and, using the pedals, turn the nose slightly to the left, don’t let the nose roll, you’ll need opposite cyclic to prevent the nose rolling as you move the pedals.

Don’t look at the balance ball (or string) as you do this – look at your reference point.


If you want more speed, lower the nose. If you want to slow down, raise the nose.

Don’t allow the nose to rise or fall unless you want a speed change.


Flapback is the automatic opposition to a change in airspeed (2.19).

If you lower the nose in forward flight and then hold the cyclic stationary, the airspeed will increase and then the nose will flap up of its own accord, which causes the airspeed to reduce.

If you raise the nose in forward flight and then hold the cyclic stationary, the airspeed will decrease and then the nose will flap down of its own accord, which causes the airspeed to increase.

This is easily countered by selecting the attitude you want, and then using the cyclic as necessary to prevent any unwanted changes, i.e. – use the cyclic to maintain the desired attitude.

This also occurs in the hover if the cyclic’s moved and the change in attitude isn’t monitored and controlled.




This is one of the most important lessons in the entire syllabus, and the basics covered in this lesson should be repeated many times throughout your training, not necessarily as a complete lesson, but certainly some parts should be practiced as you’re flying to and from the training area rather than just plodding on with your mind in neutral.

You’re going to learn how to fly straight and level, how to turn, how to climb and descend to a pre-determined altitude and then level off, and you’ll learn how to increase and decrease your speed whilst maintaining a constant altitude.

Regardless of how intricate or complicated a manoeuvre is, it’s just a composition of these basic manoeuvres.

During this lesson you’ll experience the effects of the power required at different airspeeds, and dissymmetry of lift and flapback. These effects need to be understood in order to fully understand what makes a helicopter perform the way it does, and to enable you to anticipate what the helicopter’s likely to do next.

The Best Rate of Climb speed (BROC speed) will be referred to frequently throughout your training. It’s the speed at which the greatest margin of power’s available, over and above that required for level flight, that can be used to make the helicopter climb. The BROC speed is also the minimum rate of descent speed (Min ROD speed), and the speed that uses the least amount of fuel to maintain level flight (the best endurance speed).

Start listening to the noises the helicopter’s making. By doing this, you’ll soon be able to pick up any changes in the RPM or abnormal noises indicating the possibility of a problem. It’s difficult to tell the difference between having the RPM at the top of the green versus the bottom of the green, but it’s easy to hear the RPM changing this relatively small amount, and if you hear the RPM change, check the tacho (RPM indicator) to see what RPM you have, and then adjust it if necessary.

Start to learn what the attitude required for cruise, climb and descent looks like with reference to a fixed feature in the helicopter. One method is to set the attitude with reference to the relationship between the horizon and the compass housing, or marks or rivets on the support strip between the two windscreen panels.


If you look at two features in the distance, one beyond the other, if the gap between them decreases you’re losing height, and if the gap between them increases you’re gaining height. Obviously as you get closer the gap between them will increase, so this only works for objects in the distance.

With practice, you’ll pick a change of height before the altimeter reading moves more than 20 – 30 feet.

While you’re standing, try looking at two objects in front of you, one beyond the other, and then bob down and see the gap decrease.




Make sure you have the correct RPM and airspeed for the intended approach as you turn onto final, normally back to a maximum of 40 knots by 300’ AGL.

Don’t commence the descent until you can see your aiming point in the clearing over the trees at the approach end of the clearing.


Don’t come in too slow where you’re almost hovering down the approach path, but don’t rush into the clearing too fast. Fly in with a closing speed that you can comfortably reduce to zero as you arrive at your approach point in the clearing.

During the approach you must constantly check and re­check your approach path and the landing area for any obstacles you might have missed on the recce flight. You must also continually check your groundspeed verses airspeed to ensure that you aren’t approaching down wind.

Any cause for concern is enough to warrant aborting the approach. If a go-round is required, it should be initiated before coming below ETL speed, and before descending below tree top height, and don’t increase the power while you’re in a decelerating attitude or you might enter a vortex ring state of flight at a height that would make recovery impossible.

In the late stages of the approach, the proximity of the tree tops gives a false illusion of having a faster groundspeed that you actually have. You must control your speed by reference to the rate of closure to the landing area and not your apparent speed over the tree tops.

During the approach, you must be continuously seeing more and more of the clearing at the approach end of the clearing. If you don’t see more of this part of the clearing as you approach, you’re descending into the trees at the approach end of the clearing.

To ensure you don’t over-shoot and hit the trees on the far side of the clearing, you must be progressively seeing further and further underneath the trees on the far side of the clearing.



You can turn in less distance than you can stop.


To change direction, the pedals are more effective up to approx 20 knots, and the cyclic or a combination of cyclic & pedals are more effective above that speed.

The quickest way to change direction when flying at 40 knots or above is to roll into a turn and immediately start raising the nose. When the helicopter’s at a reasonable angle of bank (usually after it’s turned through approx 45o), raise the collective. You need to wait for a reasonable angle of bank before raising the collective to ensure the additional lift is directed into the direction of turn to ensure it decreases the radius of turn without causing the helicopter to climb.


In a low level autorotation, the basic requirements are the same as performing one from the cruise, except that your height and speed at the time of the engine failure will have a large influence on how much you can lower the collective, and how much speed you can wash off before landing.

You need to :-

  • lower the collective as quickly as you can, and as much as you can;   and
  • reduce the groundspeed for touchdown as much as you can.

If you haven’t started to regain R/RPM prior to the point where you’d normally flare, the flare takes on a different priority; it’s now used primarily to increase the R/RPM and regain the rotor inertia required to make a safe landing.

You can’t judge whether this is necessary unless you know what the R/RPM is during the descent.

In order to recover the R/RPM from a low setting, the flare must be more severe than normal, and must therefore be delayed slightly to ensure you don’t run out of groundspeed when you’re too high. Unfortunately, due to the low R/RPM prior to the flare (the only reason you’re flaring more severely), the helicopter won’t respond to the cyclic movement quite as fast as normal. These conflicting requirements make the judgement of when to flare more difficult.

When conducting these autorotations from 50′ AGL and 55 knots in the R-22, H-300 or B-206, it’s not uncommon to hit the aft cyclic stop and have to hold it there to ensure the attitude change occurs before losing too much height, so they should only be conducted by Instructors who are current in this procedure.




This sequence is an introduction to the level of instrument flying that’s required for flying at night; it’s not intended to make you an instrument pilot.

If the attitude changes, the aircraft will pitch and/or roll, which will alter your altitude, speed, and/or heading, whereas if you maintain a constant attitude and keep the aircraft in balance, it’ll maintain a constant flight path unless disturbed by turbulence.

Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as it sounds, and if the visibility’s such that you can’t see the real horizon, you must get your attitude reference from the (much smaller) artificial horizon. This takes some time to master and doesn’t give the same sense of being in control as the real horizon does.

Humans are essentially ‘ground based mammals’ and, in day-to-day life, the ability of the human body to function correctly depends partly upon a person’s ability to correctly determine their position relative to the earth, which is normally achieved from visual, vestibular, and postural information.

If we aren’t standing on a solid surface where we can see and feel whether we are vertical in relation the vertical structures around us, and there are few visual cues available, such as when flying in reduced visibility, the brain will accept the vestibular signals, which are far less accurate than the visual signals, as the sole means of orientation. If these vestibular signals aren’t accurate, or there’s conflict between the various inputs, the person will suffer from spatial disorientation.

Recovery from spatial disorientation requires visual reference to either fixed points on the ground, or the flight instruments, so if you can’t see the ground and you don’t trust the flight instruments, you’re doomed.


The basic procedures to achieve a particular flight path are the same, regardless of whether you’re flying visually, or on instruments. You set a power and an attitude that you think is appropriate for what you want to achieve, and wait long enough for the aircraft to respond, and then you check the instruments to make sure the aircraft IS doing what you want it to do.

Note – All attitude changes made by the human pilot (as opposed to an auto-pilot that progressively moves the attitude into the correct setting), are an initial ‘guess’ followed by a series of corrections (unless you happened to get your initial ‘guess’ right), and pilot experience improves the accuracy of the initial ‘guess’.

If it’s not, you assess what you need to change, and how much you need to change it, and then you make the change, wait for the appropriate time, and check to see if the aircraft’s now doing what you want it to do.

When flying on instruments, it’s most important that you don’t ‘chase’ the instruments, you must allow time for the aircraft to respond to any changes you’ve made before making another change.

As the artificial horizon’s your primary instrument, and it has a manual setting for the position of the aeroplane symbol, this should be set before take-off to give you a reference for the initial climb. Most people set it at this time with the wings of the aeroplane symbol aligned with the horizon bar. When established in the cruise, it needs to be re-adjusted, and most people once again set it with the wings aligned with the horizon bar, but some (including myself) like to set it with the wings just above the horizon bar with a small gap (around 1/2 the thickness of the wings) between the wings and the horizon bar. By reducing or increasing the width of this gap, you can maintain the attitude more accurately than trying to judge whether the horizon bar’s in the middle of the thickness of the wings on the aeroplane symbol.

This is a personal preference, as is including the VSI in the primary scan pattern, and it mainly depends on how quickly the aircraft you’re flying responds to an attitude change, and helicopters respond to an attitude change much quicker than most aeroplanes.


Let me make one very important point before we discuss this.

To get into an unusual attitude means you’ve lost control of the aircraft, and if you lose control of the aircraft whilst you were trying to maintain control, the chance of you being able to recover is almost nil. So don’t think this amount of training qualifies you to fly through cloud, or in other non-visual conditions.

Recovery from unusual attitude procedures assumes the aircraft has got into that attitude whilst you were otherwise engaged, not that you were unable to maintain control.

When recovering from an unusual attitude without visual reference, it’s vitally important that you don’t aggravate the situation by moving a control in the wrong direction, and for this reason it’s strongly suggested you don’t try to make multiple changes at the same time.

The aim of the recovery is to regain straight and level flight, once that’s regained then, and not before, the correct heading and altitude can be restored.