The entry into a climb from a hover has already been covered under Takeoffs, therefore this discussion will cover a climb entry made from cruising flight.


To enter a Normal Climb from crusing flight, apply aft cyclic to obtain the approximate climb attitude. simultaneously increase the collective and throttle to obtain climb power and maintain proper rotor RPM. In a clockwise rotor system, increase left antitorque pedal pressure to compensate for the increased torque. As the airspeed approaches normal climb airspeed, adjust the cyclic to hold that airspeed. Throughout the maneuver, maintain climb attitude, heading, and airspeed with cyclic; climb power and rotor RPM with the collective and throttle; and longitidunal trim with the antitorque pedals.

To level off from a climb, start adjusting the attitude tot he level flight attitude a few feet prior to reaching the desired new altitude. The amount of lead depends on the rate of climb at the time of level off (the higher the rate of climb, the more lead needed). Generally, the lead is 10 percent of the climb rate. For example, if your climb rateis 500 feet per minute, you should lead the level off by 50 feet.

To begin the level off, apply forward cyclic pressure to adjust and maintain a level flight attitude, which is slightly nose low. You should maintian climb power until the airspeed approaches the desired cruising airspeed, then lower the collective to obtain crusiing power and adjust throttle to obtain and maintain crusing RPM. Throughout the level off, maintain longitudinal trim and heading with the antitorque pedals.

Common Errors

Failure to maintain proper power and airspeed.
Holding too much or too little antitorque pedal.
In the level off, decreasing power before lowering the nose to cruising attitude.


A Normal Descent is a maneuver in which the helicopter loses altitude at a controlled rate in a controlled attitude.


To establish a normal descent from straight and level flight at cruising airspeed, lower the collective to obtain proper power, adjust the throttle to maintain rotor RPM, and increase right antitorque pedal pressure to maintain heading (in a clockwise rotor system). If cruising airspeed is the same as, or slightly above descending airspeed, simultaneously apply the necessary cyclic pressure to obtain the approximatedescending attitude. If cruising speed is well above the descending airspeed, you can maintain a level flight attitude until the airspeed approaches the descending airspeed, then lower the nose to the descending attitude. Throughout the maneuver, maintain descending attitude and airspeed with cyclic; descending power and rotor RPM with the collective and throttle; and heading with the antitorque pedals.

to level off from the descent, lead the desired altitude by approximately 10 percent of the rate of descent. (The example is the same as that described above for leading off of a climb). At this point, increase the collective to obtain cruising power, adjust the throttle to maintain proper rotor RPM, and increase left antitorque pedal pressure to maintain heading (in a clockwise rotor system). Adjust the cyclic to obtain desired crusing airspeed and a level flight attitude as the desired altitude is reached.

Common Errors

Failure tomaintain constant angle of descent during the maneuver.
Failure to lead the level off sufficiently, which results in recovery below the desired altitude.
Failure to adjust antitorque pedal pressures for changes in power.

In addition to climbs & descents, another maneuver I like to perform for training is what I call "Acell/Decel's" - Acceleration/Deceleration in level flight. This is typically taught prior or conjunctively with climbs & descents. The object is to maintain level flight while going from a low cruise airspeed to a higher one, then back again, without gaining or losing altitude. This requires you to coordinate cyclic attitude inputs for airspeed, while adding or decreasing power appropriately. you also maintain heading adn longitudinal trim with the antitorque pedals throughout.

Being able to change airspeed and maintain level flight, smooth climbs and descents are the goal for the novice pilot.

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Page Last Updated on: Nov-06-2017