Hovering a Helicopter is Hilariously Hard – Smarter Every Day 145

Hey it’s me Destin, welcome back to Smarter Every Day If there is one thing that I learnt from the backwards bicycle experiment Is that knowledge is not understanding So a couple of years ago when I made the YouTube series about helicopter physics I gained the knowledge of how they worked, but not really the understanding so today on Smarter Every Day
I’m going to try hover a helicopter I’ve heard its the hardest thing you can do, specifically the Robinson 22 because it’s a pure helicopter, there is no augmentation So today on Smarter Every Day, we’re going to learn what goes into doing that and what her brain is doing It’s really quite incredible Let’s go get Smarter Every Day I’m going to be straight up with you I’m convinced that helicopter instructor pilots are either complete idiots, or incredibly brave I mean think about it They get into a helicopter with someone they’ve never met and give them the controls (Destin) This is my first rotary –
(Brandon) crash course No! I don’t want to take a crash course Notice that the controls are actually connected together which means if I do something stupid Brandon has to wrestle the controls out of my hand Or just trust that I’m going to let go That’s crazy Anyway, watch how bad I fly every single time he gives me the controls – – and you can easily tell when he takes back over (Brandon) Almost got it, there you go
Pedal to your heading (Brandon) laughs
(Destin) crap (Destin) So I’m going to try that, we’re going to taxi down
(Brandon)Yep (Brandon) So you have the controls
(Destin) I have the controls (Destin) okay you got it – laughs (Brandon) Alright so you have the cyclic, alright just try to hold this in this spot (Destin) Alright
(Brandon) Alright lets get us back over to that left… (Destin) Good grief man (Destin) Alright you’re going to have to take over (Destin) You got it?
(Brandon) Yep I got it (Brandon) A little forward (Destin) My bad (Destin) Jeez…Whoop, let’s don’t hit that sign I say (ATC Chatter) Destin and Brandon laugh (Destin) Yep you have the craziest job in the world (Brandon) Yep, it has it’s ups and downs (Brandon) Most…(laughs)…that’s an awful joke (Destin) So there is a moment when it clicks?
(Brandon) Yeah (Destin) How long does it normally take?
(Brandon) 6 – 8 hours Destin laughs
(Destin) How long is it going to take me? (Brandon) 6 – 8 months
Destin and Brandon laugh My next instructor was Tommy
We went in the R44 because the R22 was down for maintenance I started to watch how they teach And I noticed if I was starting to do something stupid their hands would get closer to the controls – and when I was doing something easy, like flying straight and level, then they get more relaxed Anyway, instructors call this part, when we’re learning how to hover, the ‘rodeo’ One of the best things that Tommy did for me was to teach me how to chill out The thing I was doing was called a: I was basically freaking out and over controlling, which made the whole aircraft wobble Once I chilled, I was able to stabilise Tommy got this to click in my brain by first teaching me how delicately to operate the controls – and then showing me how two controls interact with each other (Tommy) If you’ve moved the control, you’ve moved too much (Destin) If you’ve moved the control…
(Tommy) Do you see what I’m saying though?
(Destin) Yeah (Tommy) It’s that whole thought process of it all (Tommy) Alright, using the left pedal and only left pedal again, point me at that tree over there (Destin) It’s like…not even…a thought (Tommy)Right! There you go, so something just clicked in your brain I can tell
(Destin) Okay (Destin) Okay, I have collective, I have pedals, I’m going to try point at the stop sign – – I’m going to raise and I’m going to keep pointing at the stop sign
(Tommy) Oh yeah, look something else just clicked (Destin) So why do you have to move multiple controls to do one simple maneuver? Turns out, THIS is the secret of hovering a helicopter Okay, you’ve seen Rubik’s cube solvers right? These guys that like have it stored somewhere in their brain stem – and they can look at it and just instantly understand what they need to do right, to solve the thing Well that’s exactly what helicopter pilots are doing because if you think about it – every time you change something, on a Rubik’s cube, multiple inputs are changing all over the thing It’s a whole system, that’s the way helicopters work You have to come up with the most efficient and effective solution instantly to arrive at that perfect solution right of the bat That’s something you have to get in muscle memory somehow Okay there are three main controls for a helicopter
The first one is what we call: collective Collective is your power that you are applying to the rotor system Basically the swash-plate moves together and it rotates those rotor blades so that they’re taking more or less of a bite out of the air Now if you think about that, when you do that it applies more torque or less torque to the body of the helicopter right So you have to counter-act that with the pedals When she moves the pedals back and forth, that, of course, gives you more or less counter-torque on the body of the whole aircraft Another thing that you need to think about is that tail-rotor is blowing air, so it’s pushing the whole helicopter to the side, right – so the way you counteract that is what? Cyclic Cyclic is similar to collective in that it moves the rotors in the swash-plate, only it does it independently You can see that it is changing the swash-plate so that the rotors are moving independently of each other What she has to do, is she has to take all three of these inputs, make them work together Now imagine that happening several times a second, and you have kind of an idea of what’s going on in Michelle’s brain. Right? (Destin) No?
(Michelle) This takes way more brain power
(Destin laughs) Alright the next flight is with Michelle, who happens to be really sassy When we got into the R22, she says “just so you know I’m a little bit more hands off” Which basically meant if I got into a pilot induced oscillation she was going to make me recover (Destin) Am I doing this or are you doing this?…Okay, thank you
(Michelle laughs) I kind of didn’t believe her though until she let me take off this horribly (Destin)Golly
(Michelle laughing) That’s one way to do it
(Destin laughing) You’re awful (Destin) So you ARE hands off
(Michelle) And we’re off
(Destin laughs) She basically forced me to straighten up by taking away my safety net, but I had gotten better really fast (Michelle) I thought you said you sucked at this?
(Destin) Ah, I do suck at this
(Michelle) Eh, looks good to me (Michelle) Alright you have the control
(Destin) So, first I’m going to take off, so that’s the first thing you have to do? (Destin) I’m teaching you how to do this now right
(Michelle laughs) I appreciate that (Michelle) Perfect, there you go (Destin) Alright…so there we are…we’re hovering (Michelle) We are hovering
(Destin) Poorly, but we are hovering
(Michelle) It’s happening (Destin) I want to try land over there
(Michelle) Okay (Destin) And act like I know what I’m doing, even though I dont (Michelle) I believe in you
(Destin) Okay, here we go (Destin) I’m looking outside, looking outside, looking outside, looking outside – I’m starting to commit, starting to commit, starting to commit, and we’re down (Destin) AH (Michelle) I appreciate you teaching me that
(Destin laughs) (Destin) Oh okay, I want to hold this…BOOM (Michelle) Very nicely done Okay so Brandon was crazy enough to start with me, and I decided to end with him so I could assess my progess By this point I could take off, navigate to where-ever he wanted me, shoot an approach and even land But remember, my goal was to be able to hover, and do it well Brandon had a test for that (Brandon) There is this stick over here, I want to see if you can land on it (Destin) Oh you want me to land with the skids ON that stick? (Brandon) Am I on it?
(Destin) Yeah you are! (Brandon) I can’t even…
(Destin) You’re on it!…Impressive! (Brandon) I want to see you put it down on that same spot (Destin) Okay, is this like the test? If I can do this, then I…
(Brandon) You go solo right (Destin) Dude! We’re touching the stick
(Brandon laughs) (Destin) BOOM! Touching the stick
(Brandon laughs) (Destin) I’m very excited (Destin) That’s a big deal to me
(Brandon) Yeah, that’s actually really good – it just helps teach you precision So there you go, hovering a helicopter is hilariously hard I thought it was up for up, down for down, left and right Oh no, it’s a complex coupled control system and you have to rewire your brain to make it happen
It’s pretty awesome Anyway, thank you to the cities of St. Petersburg and Clearwater, Florida They invited me down and sponsored this video to let me do this, it was amazing I got to hover a helicopter, while my kids were playing on the beach below
That’s amazing Also there is plenty of other stuff you can do They didn’t tell me how to promote them so I’m just going to tell you what we did We went to the Chihuly museum, which is one of the most famous glass artists in the world There’s a museum down there
Also the Salvador Dali museum You know the guy, melting clocks, burning giraffes
There is a huge museum of nothing but awesome art Also there’s an MC Escher traveling exhibit when we were there We got to meet Winter the Dolphin, you’ve heard of this dolphin The dolphin that’s missing its tail and they’re working with it We had a blast If you are looking for a place to take a vacation please consider the St.Pete Clearwater Florida area It’s a great place just to go chill on the beach If you get a chance, visit St. Pete Clearwater Please consider it, I’ll leave a link in the video description Ah, thank you for sponsoring this, I appreciate that Anyway, I’m Destin, you’re getting Smarter Every Day, have a good one (Destin) So you don’t think hovering is like that?…well you’re already messing it up I can tell you that right now (Destin) Are you going to be a fixed wing instructor?
(Brandon) No, I have no desire to be a fixed wing instructor (Destin) Why is that?
(Brandon) I don’t like flying airplanes – think about it…can you do this right here in an airplane? (Destin) No (Brandon) Alright then We’re here with Winter, the dolphin, at Clearwater Marine Aquarium and her trainers – and your names are?
Cammy…and Julie Alright and this is Winter’s prosthetic tail So this is were I practiced some helicopter maneuvers And this is the Dali museum (Destin) But you can do that with a helicopter quickly (Destin and Michelle laugh)

100 thoughts on “Hovering a Helicopter is Hilariously Hard – Smarter Every Day 145”

  1. I'd imagine the fancy computer controlled ones are as easy to fly as a drone? Even have "auto-hover" via GPS like a drone…

  2. Great video terrible helicopter. Wish they would let you fly a real helicopter like an AS-350B or a Schweitzer

  3. My father is profesional pilot, same as my two brothers, its theyr job. I tryed to fly helicoper with my dad, when i controled i was able to fly straight or somewhere without problems, but hovering and landing is insanely hard.

  4. The best part when learning someting tricky like this is having that kind of nervous laugh when it suddently ticks 😁

  5. Michell is a far better instructor! IMHO as another CFI. She did a great job of building confidence. Hands off takes confidence in both your student and your ability to allow the student to get in and out of trouble, and remain safe at all times. Thumbs up for Michelle.

  6. As a professional helicopter pilot in battlefield hardline I can certainly say it's difficult to fly a helicopter.

  7. I don't know if it's just me but I don't have any desire to drive on the road but I dream of flying a helicopter, any helicopter.

  8. I've flown flight sims for years, either exhibits or sims I own. Have had opertunities to fly real planes on a few occasions. Helicopters are a completely different animal. Went to the san Diego flight museum years ago and they had a full motion plane sum and a heli sim. Fondest memory was Goin on the full motion sum and had the tech do a carrier launch with an F-18. I told him to have no assists so as soon as I had airspeed, flaps and gear up i rolled inverted maybe 20 feet off the water. There was a camera display in the cockpit so I could see my family and anyone else who stopped to watch. I actually got a reaction out of the tech running the sim and it was hilarious.

  9. the smaller they are, the harder it is. the bigger ones react 'slower" but the reaction last longer, if that makes any sense. so small ones are more reaction based, and the bigger ones are anticipating reaction and reacting in advance for what it is about to do.

  10. Well done! It is really hard. Tried once for 30 mins. and flight is clearly easier than hovering. I got oscillations all the time and it was difficult not to tense up. :). If it wasnt 600 dollars an hour I would go again…

  11. Why not using electronics to get the sub-second stabilisation and provide a simpler/more intuitive control? That way the pilot just focus on manoeuvring. Quad drones do this quite well.

  12. Destin calling the female pilot sassy just came across as gross. Think he'd call the first instructor he had "sassy"? Even though he threw him a whole lot more shade?

  13. "Hilariously Hard", learns it in a day with probably no experience in sims

    Yeah, it's not that hard if you have a decent understanding of physics and your hands aren't screwed on backwards.

  14. If you like these kind of stuff, rent a excavator and teach yourself how to dig, its not as easy as you think.

  15. No it’s not! I do it in dcs every day. You could say the same thing when trying to ride a bicycle for the first time. Nothing is hard if you have skills

  16. When he started explaining the helicopter controls. I just thought

    “WHY ARE THERE SIX PEDALS?!” From Red vs Blue

  17. I've tried a few times and as long as you're moving its easier* , Hovering is sooo as you say hilariously silly. It just goes into the toilet bowl effect and then the pilot just stops your hand from moving the cyclic and it settles into a hover. The 22 is uber hard because its so small something like the Bell 206 or Medium 205 is a bunch easier. You've inspired me to install the duals on the next maintenance flight.

  18. Thank you very much for showing us “how to fly a helicopter” You are dead on when you say there is a “difference between knowing and understanding” Especially with Helicopters!!

  19. Flying a helicopter is much like a drone. Most people over compensate which then leads to worse and worse over corrections til they hit something or simple plow it into the ground… People like me seem to pick it up instantly and understand how it all works and other people can take months of practice and frustration to get it down. The 8 hour click that instructor talked about isn't going to be everyone, some people will get it instantly and other much longer.

  20. I can fly prettymuch any helo in Arma 3 pretty well and even autorotate the thing to the ground in one piece with a busted tailrotor.
    Give me a real helo and I'd probably crash that sucker before it can even take off.

  21. I’m about a 600hr Fixed Wing Com Pilot, SEL, MEL, and just took up helicopters and finished up hour 3 yesterday. The way I see it, airplanes want to fly and you have to do something stupid to make them stop. Helicopters are exactly the opposite. Maddening!

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