How does a remote control helicopter fly?

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RC Helicopter
RC helicopters are some of the most complex and versatile toys
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Simple Tips for Piloting a Remote Control Helicopter

Remote control helicopters can make wonderful, entertaining gifts for children, teenagers and even adults.  However, learning to fly a remote control helicopter can be quite challenging.  In fact, remote control helicopters are identified as some of the most difficult toys to master.

While the majority of remote control toys are fairly simple to control, such as trains, cars or boats that can move only forward and backward, helicopters are more complex and versatile because they can maneuver in six distinct directions: left, right, up, down, forward and backwards.

Anyone who has explored the question, "how does a remote control helicopter fly," with such a vast range of movement, knows that helicopter pilots can truly inhabit three-dimensional space, even fully rotating 360 degrees while inverted!

So, how does a remote control helicopter fly?

Radio signals from a hand held remote control the side to side pitch and roll motions, the throttle, and the tail rotor, which can direct the helicopter either forward or backward. Smaller helicopters, possessing a fixed or pre-set pitch will only require four channels of radio signal to control the craft. Larger helicopters feature more advanced pitch and tilt mechanisms may require five or six channels to transmit specific frequencies.

How does a remote control helicopter fly for lengthy periods of time? The particularly type of engine can have significantly impact the flight duration of a remote control helicopter. Nitro power engines and electric engines are the two most typical engine varieties. Nitro engines utilize nitromethane and methanol as a fuel, while electrical engines can be powered by batteries or re-chargeable devices. Generally, electric engines have longer flight durations that nitro engines.

RC helicopters, and other remote control planes and cars, are some of the best gifts and gadgets to provide hours of fun for children and teenagers. Younger children may require adult supervision, and more detailed instructive piloting lessons. If you are considering taking up RC helicopters as a hobby, or even if you are merely trying to master a toy helicopter, here are the key features you need to know.

What are the elements of flight for a helicopter?

Throttle:  The throttle controls the power or speed of the helicopter. Increasing the throttle will result in greater speed, while lowering the throttle will slow the helicopter.

Main Rotor Collective:  The main rotor collective maintains the pitch, or ascent and descent of the helicopter, by keeping the main rotor blades level with the fuselage.

Main Rotor Elevator or Cyclic PitchThe main rotor elevator, also referred to as the cyclic pitch, controls the forward and backward motion of the helicopter, as well as the in-flight altitude (climbing and diving.)

Main Rotor Aileron or Left/Right Tilt:
  The main rotor aileron, also referred to as the cyclic roll or left/right tilt controls the side to side direction of the helicopter.

Tail Rotor Yaw or Side to Side:  The tail rotor controls the yaw, which is what prevents the craft from spinning around in circles. Primarily, the tail rotor serves as a rudder, much like the rudder of a boat, to facilitate turning.

If you are just learning to fly an RC helicopter or plane, make sure to allow yourself plenty of open air space. Outdoor space is best, but spacious indoor rooms with high ceilings are also suitable.  Avoid trees, power lines, buildings or other obstacles that could damage your toy. 

With just a little time, patience, and practice, pilots of all ages can learn to fly a remote control helicopter!

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