Hovering is a maneuver in which the helicopter is maintained in nearly motionless flight over a reference point at a constant altitude and on a constant heading. The maneuver requires a high degree of concentration and coordination.

Technique

To maintain a hover over a point, you should look for small changes in the helicopter's attitude and altitude. When you note these changes, make the necessary control inputs before the helicopter starts to move from the point of referance. To detect small variations in altitude or position, your main area of visual attention needs to be some distance from the aircraft, using various points on the helicopter or tip-path plane as a referance. Looking too close or looking down can lead to overcontrolling. Obviously, in order to remain over a certain point, you have to know where the point is, but your attention should not be focused there.

As with the takeoff, you control altitude with the collective and maintain a constant RPM with throttle (Governor equipped craft will assist you with that). Use the cyclic to maintain the helicopter's position and the pedals to control heading. to maintain the helicopter in a stabilized hover, make small, smooth, coordinated corrections. As the desired effect occurs, remove the correction in order to stop the helicopter's movement. For example, if the helicopter begins to move rearward, you need to apply a small amount of forward cyclic pressure. However, neutralize this pressure just before the helicopter comes to a stop, or it will begin to move forward.

After you gain some experience, you will begin to develop a certain "feel" for the helicopter. You will feel and see small deviations, so you can make corrections before the helicopter actually moves. A certain relaxed looseness develops, and controlling the helicopter becomes second nature, rather than a mechanical response.

Common Errors

Tenseness and slow reactions to movements of the helicopter.
Failure to allow for lag in cyclic and collective pitch applications, which leads to overcontrolling.
Confusing attitude changes for altitude changes, which results in improper use of the controls.
Hovering too high, resulting ina hazardous flight condition.
Hovering too low, resulting in the occasional touchdown.

Hovering is the quintessential aspect of helicopter flying. It is what sets us apart from our fixed wing bretheren. The hurdle again for the novice is overcontrolling. Use your peripheral vision and the horizon to detect changes in attitude, and remember to make your corrective inputs small. Time and practice is really the key to achieving stable hovering capabilities.


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Page Last Updated on: Dec-16-2004