• Initial test flights should be limited to hovering and very mild maneuvering. During this time check for proper blade tracking and any signs of vibration. Minor changes to the control linkages will bring the blades in track. Foam in the fuel tank could be an indication of an engine misalignment, while vibration in the main landing gear could indicate an out-of-balance condition in the head or rotor blades. A vibration in the vertical fin suggests an out-of-balance condition in the tail rotor.
• If possible, try to fly with both the sun and the wind at your back. This will make the helicopter easy to see and the wind will aid in keeping a safe distance between you and the helicopter.
• Make all turning maneuvers away from yourself. Should you become disoriented
or unfamiliar with the control response of your new helicopter, this will again keep
the helicopter pointing away from you.
• Having a safety spotter can be a great aid when several helicopters are in the air. He
can keep track of any potential conflicts and warn you should another helicopter
get too close to you.
• Everyone in your club should have what I call an “attitude of safety.” By this, I mean
when anyone sees a potentially unsafe situation developing, positive steps should
be taken to correct the problem. Going out of your way to be proactive where safety is
concerned may be the difference between a fun afternoon of flying and a dangerous
Keeping it Real
Overconfidence in both your helicopter and flying skills can lead to a false sense
of security. Our helicopters deserve our respect, but we should continue to be a
little afraid of them — the same fear we would have for any piece of machinery.
Although we can’t eliminate all the dangers of our hobby, keep a safe distance
between you and the helicopter, and always be prepared for a mechanical malfunction
or pilot error. Even as a spectator, it’s important to stand clear of the flightline
and pay attention to the helicopters that are flying.