How Do You Operate a Radio Controlled Helicopter?


Quick Answer

The standard radio controlled helicopter uses a pair of joysticks to control its flight surfaces. Forward and back on the left stick controls the collective, moving the helicopter up or down, and left or right controls the tail rotor and rudder, causing yaw. The right stick controls the cyclic, tilting the rotor blades in any direction and allowing for horizontal movement. These simple controls can be combined in multiple ways to make the helicopter move in three dimensions.

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Full Answer

The chief difficulty in flying a remote controlled helicopter lies in how the control surfaces change roles depending on the movement of the vehicle. For instance, if the helicopter is hovering, pushing the collective forward makes it move straight up. However, if the cyclic is pressed forward and the helicopter begins to move quickly in that direction, pushing the collective forward instead makes the helicopter increase its airspeed. The pilot must pull back on the cyclic in order to regain altitude using the collective.

Beginner RC helicopters may use extra radio frequencies to allow for simpler controls. For instance, the helicopter may manage throttle speed separately from vertical height, using an onboard computer to adjust flight surfaces to achieve the desired effect rather than relying on the pilot to manage collective and cyclic appropriately.

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