Helicopter Turn[PDF]


There are several techniques for turning a helicopter. They mainly depend on when the pilot has to make a turn.

Two types of turns are possible:

  1. Hovering Turns
  2. turns during cruise

This distinction is made because, depending on the type of turn, not the same flight controls will be used in priority¨

During a hovering turn, the heading is controlled with the anti-torque pedals. For a turn during cruise the heading is controlled by the cyclic pitch control
Never do the reverse manoeuvre

In practice

1.hovering turns

First of all the helicopter has to be in a hover (see Helicopter Hover). Remember that, during a hover the position, the height, the rotor RPM and the heading remain constant.

The goal of the hover turn is to change the heading by keeping the other 3 parameters constant

The picture below illustrates a left hovering turn

Hovering turn.png

1. The helicoter is in a hover, visual reference points on the ground were taken: Apply a slight pressure on the left pedal → The helicopter starts to turn left

2. Add more left pedal pressure as the helicopter turns to the crosswind position. During the turn, do not forget to use the cyclic (usually into the wind so on the right here) if the helicopter begins to lean to the left and thus to move horizontally

3. After the 90° part of the turn (end of position 2), apply less pressure on the left pedal and continue to turn in a constant rate until reaching 180° of the turn (position 3) and keep ready to apply right pedal pressure in case of need due to the helicopter’s tendency to weathervane between position 3 and position 5 (the passage from a downwind to a upwind position)

4. At position 4, it depends of the wind and of the helicopter type: sometimes the right pedal has to be used to continue the left turn in a constant rate (due to the helicopter’s tendency to weathervane), sometimes continue to apply a little pressure on the left pedal is necessary and sometimes the helicopter continues to turn with the pedals in neutral position. The most important thing in any case is to continue the turn in a constant rate and in the hover

5. The left turn is terminated, the helicopter is about to complete a 360° left turn, appply pressure on the right anti-torque pedal to stop the turn

In Summary

  1. Apply slight pressure on the left pedal
  2. Before the 90° part of the turn apply more pressure on the left pedal
  3. Between 90° and 180° apply less pressure on the left pedal and keep ready to use the right pedal in case of need
  4. Continue the left turn with the left pedal or with the right one depending of the wind and the helicopter type but in all cases keep the same rate of turn
  5. Return in a Hover position after a 360° turn to the left by applying pressure on the right pedal
Don not forget to use the cyclic to remain the helicopter's position constant and the collective to keep the rotor RPM and the altitude constant

2. Turns during cruise

For this kind of turns the cyclic is used to control the helicopter's heading

To turn during straight and level flight, just apply sideward pressure on the cyclic in the desired direction. It is the first thing to do, no need to touch the anti-torque pedals to initiate the turn

Do not use the pedals automatically to turn; they will be used for compensation only if needed

See also


  • FAA Helicopter Handbook


  • VID 514786 - Creation


  • 12:48, 23 February 2021


  • This documentation is copyrighted as part of the intellectual property of the International Virtual Aviation Organisation.


  • The content of this documentation is intended for aviation simulation only and must not be used for real aviation operations.