• How To... Hover FS5 Helicopters

    Hover FS5 Helicopters

    by Liam Morris

    The basic trick to hovering any MSFS/FSFS helicopter is to understand that air must move through the rotor system. The rotors are referred to as rotary wings, and wings need air flowing across them in order to generate lift. It is often said in the helicopter industry that, on paper, a helicopter cannot fly. In practice, though, they can. The same is almost true of MSFS/FSFS helicopters. MSFS aircraft are not programmed to fly in a low IAS condition. This is where pilot inputs to the variables comes in.

    With enough airspeed, the three helicopters that I am familiar with all fly quite well. I recently started practicing hovering in a variety of conditions. It was hard finding just the right balance of wind, throttle, speed brake, and flap setting. Here's how they all work:

    Wind:  World / Airport/ Champaign, CMI Rwy 32 (My preference)
           World / Weather / Wind Surface Winds, Steady, Turbulence set to 0.
           Wind Speed 40, Direction 316. (My preference)
           Options / Aircraft / Bell 206 or SH-3D Sea King.
    If Mike Hill's CH-46 Sea Knight is in inventory, reduce wind to 15 kts.

    The wind speed is needed to provide the necessary lift through the ROTARY WING. As soon as things are booted up, check that PARKING BRAKES ON, FLAPS and THROTTLE OFF. If not done, the helicopter will literally be blown backwards.

    THROTTLE: The throttle setting you work with depends on how you configure the helicopter to fly. The throttle is used to overcome the relative wind conditions, not to drive the ROTARY WING. Normally about 75-90% thrust is needed to balance right.

    SPEED BRAKE: Toggling the speed brake [/] is used to counter excess power, or reduce the influence of too high a flap setting. It is also used to slow the helo on its approach for landing without having to introduce flaps too much. Do not use speed brakes too long. All lift and airspeed will be lost.

    FLAPS: The Flap setting is almost equivalent to COLLECTIVE. The more degrees FLAP selected, the more lift that is generated by the ROTARY WING. The available setting for MSFS flaps are: 0 (zero), 8, 15, 20 and 30 (full). On most keyboards, F5 through F8 control flaps, but for hovering a helicopter, 15 degrees flaps works rather well. Select 15 degrees by left clicking the MIDDLE setting on th flap control panel. (If some other cockpit is being used, double click on 20 deg, the flap indicator should stop between 8 and 20 deg.)


    RUDDER: If flight control is achieved with a conventional joystick, be sure to toggle Sim / Auto Coordination OFF. This will prevent the rudder input from the program when you are dancing around the airport. It should help you maintain heading into the wind. If flight control is achieved through a device which permits independant rudder input, so much the better. If a transition to forward flight is desired, select it ON. This will ensure a smooth, coordinated turn at all turn rates.

    It is simply a vertical airfoil. No rudder inputs are needed for flight transition. However, the rudder will have an effect when hovering in 40 kts of wind. Any input will cause heading changes, and the helicopter will react accordingly.

    VIEWS: To start out, use view ONE from the cockpit. It will help establish a ground reference point. Hovering is normally achieved with a NOSE UP attitude, to keep the reference point(s) in view, use [shift+ENTER] to adjust the view slightly downward. A proficiency is gained, change views [S] between TOWER and SPOT to evaluate hovering over a spot. Don't be afraid to select FULL SCREEN view [W] every so often to get the big picture. Views / Mini Controls can be selected to monitor airspeed.

    POSITION CONTROL: A SPOT view from either aft corner, [END / PAGE DOWN] will provide an excellent view of the helicopter hovering over its intended spot. Very fine and quick inputs are the key to stable flight. Inputs also require outputs. If the nose is dipped down, it must be pulled up a few moments later to stop the forward action. If the helicopter drifts to the right or left, opposite input is needed, first stop that action, then that input must be cancelled out by another, slight input to stop that action. BALANCE is the key.


    Toggle SIM / CRASH DETECT to OFF to prevent situation resetting. CRASHING WILL HAPPEN.

    Options / Preferences / Display / Aircraft Ground shadows ON will help visualize the helicopters relative proximity to the ground when using external views.

    Once all of the above settings are made, save it as a SITUATION, Options / Save Situation, name it *, select Options to save and select Weather, Aircraft, Views and Scenery.

    Remember, hovering is a very delicate balancing act, WIND, THROTTLE, SPEED BRAKES, and FLAPS, all must work in a coordinated fashion to achieve the desired results.

    Happy Hovering. Liam Morris

    Write me and let me know how things worked out for you:

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