PPRuNe Forums

PPRuNe Forums (https://www.pprune.org/)
-   Rotorheads (https://www.pprune.org/rotorheads-23/)
-   -   Advice on learning vertical reference landings (https://www.pprune.org/rotorheads/614537-advice-learning-vertical-reference-landings.html)

Weads 19th Oct 2018 13:48

Advice on learning vertical reference landings
Hey guys, I recently started trying out a few vertical reference landings I.e landing my heel on a spot. Sometimes i seem to get it and other times itís impossible! Besides experience and practice can anyone offer any insight or tips that might help. Iíve done a lot of dabbling in trying to understand the aerodynamics of a helicopter when operating on the air cushion or just a few inches about the ground but not much can be found. Any tips or advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance

paco 19th Oct 2018 15:05

From an old friend (170'):

“Take a CD marker pen and put a few straight lines across the skids and cross tubes, anywhere you think will be in your peripheral vision, when looking straight down at the hook. Maybe mark each line with a number, say 1-10 along the skid and A-J along the cross tube…

Go into an OGE hover (or have another pilot do it from the other seat) and look down at the remote hook. In this perfect hover, the hook might hang at the imaginary intersection of lines D cross-tube and 5-skid. Hold the hover, and try to imprint this sight picture in your mind, with the aid of the index marks. Remove the ones you don’t need on the next landing and in future, anytime you’re told to “ fly the hook, not the helicopter”, fly the sight picture, not the helicopter!”

Hope that helps


Gordy 19th Oct 2018 16:12


I do not think he is talking about vertical reference like you and I know it.....He is talking about a "heel" which I assume he just means landing on a spot.

Weads 19th Oct 2018 16:46

You are correct Gordy but I greatly appreciate the info on the long lining Paco

SASless 19th Oct 2018 17:05

Are you trying to land on a dolly or some unique spot or are you just trying to figure out where the heels of the skids are on the landing gear as you touch down?

I am thinking what you are trying to do is learn "the ability to know where the heels of the skids are...." which is a learned ability that comes from practice.

An example....until I developed the "feel" for the Chinook's aft landing gear position....landings were easy enough if they were on a somewhat smooth flat area.

Later on....I was able to place the Aft Gear wheels on a Rice Paddy Dike without coaching from the crew.

I also "learned" where the Cargo Hook was.....and could put the Hook into an up held sling donut without coaching from the crew.

I cannot tell you how it happens...but in time you will pick up that ability and it is just a learned ability that comes to you over time.

I also advocate visualizing exactly where you are going to land the helicopter starting with the very first reduction of Collective as you begin your approach to your landing site/airport/helipad.

Then keep that visualization going until the aircraft is firmly on the ground.

That will make for better approaches which also make for better landings.

RVDT 19th Oct 2018 18:01


You are on the right track and need to investigate "further effects" of controls and what is happening in "ground effect" among other things.

FYI it is described as "ground cushion" but actually there is no such thing.

The classic aircraft that stumps people in characteristics to fly smoothly is the AS350. The design accentuates a lot of the effects and you see people fighting them constantly when they are all "pilot induced".

With few exceptions 99% of all landings are slope landings. Understanding what is going on with the aircraft and a bit of practice and its a no brainer.

Shell out for Ray Prouty's books for a start.

Weads 19th Oct 2018 18:07

what is the name of prouty’s book? Your right about “ground cushion’ though......try googling it absolutely nothing of any help really. People always say lower the collective, settle, lower and push through and keep forward momentum.......like it’s impossible to hover at three to four inches.

[email protected] 19th Oct 2018 18:09

Weads, pace out the distance between your pilot seat and the heel of the skids, measure it and practice walking around dispersal (or even a parking lot) trying to visualise that distance behind you - place your self in a particular position forward of a line or other marker (without looking at it) where you think the skid heel would be and then measure how far out you are. The more times you do this, the better your judgement should be.

We used to encourage pilots to do this to help assess where the tip path plane was so that their judgement of how close the tips were to trees or cliffs improved.

It's the same as learning to park your car or squeeze it through a gap - practice makes perfect.

RVDT 19th Oct 2018 18:41


Ray's books - Helicopter Aerodynamics Vol 1 & 2 are available all over the place these days -

Amazon in hard copy paperback.

Apple Books electronic.

They are published by Eagle Eye Solutions LLC i.e. Shawn Coyle.

To have complete control of the aircraft you need to understand what is going on. Too much training these days is just based on "rote" and the details are missed or not understood.

You should have the ability to control and land the aircraft as easy as parking a car as per Crab and most people do. You can do it the hard way by "practice" or understand what is happening beforehand.

Ray's books are worth every penny.

Weads 19th Oct 2018 18:46

Here is a video of the type of flying that I’m referring to.

Weads 19th Oct 2018 18:48

Thank you for the information RVDT. I agree 100% with what your saying. I don’t merely want to be able to do it, I want to understand what’s going on.

Gordy 19th Oct 2018 23:04


Used to do this every day for about 9 months. Use visual references on the truck to do it.

LRP 19th Oct 2018 23:13

The pilot of the UH-1 is using vertical reference to put it on the trailer. If you want to try it, pull the door on whatever you're flying and practice picking it up and setting it down while looking out of the door at the skid toe. You'll probably over-control at first, but you'll get the hang of it. Once you do, lean out a little farther and start using a reference farther back and under the aircraft, when you get better hang a line and start flying the hook:)

gulliBell 19th Oct 2018 23:18

Originally Posted by Weads (Post 10287294)
Here is a video of the type of flying that Iím referring to...

Not a good example. That looks like a Bell 205. And as many of us know, they tend to land themselves, and where they're supposed to, and without requiring much thought or effort from the pilot.

SASless 19th Oct 2018 23:33

Gordy and LRP are right....the closer in you look the harder it is not to over control.

Picking up reference points, and shifting your scan as needed for alignment and distance is the key....height can be done by braille once you are positioned properly.

As to Gordy's photo....what he means is he drove the truck and backed under the hovering helicopter.

Weads 20th Oct 2018 13:52

SASless your last comment made me laugh. I think over controlling might be my biggest problem right now, it’s hard to do the mind over matter thing when it goes against all training like vertical reference stuff does.

Weads 20th Oct 2018 13:54

Originally Posted by gulliBell (Post 10287440)
Not a good example. That looks like a Bell 205. And as many of us know, they tend to land themselves, and where they're supposed to, and without requiring much thought or effort from the pilot.

Iíve never flown a 205 so I wouldnít know that, thanks for the info though.

SASless 20th Oct 2018 14:47

One trolley I landed a BO-105 on after every flight was very small and did not leave a lot of room for error.

Fore and Aft we were very constrained in that the aircraft had to be well forward on the trolley so the hanger doors could close behind us after we were winched inside.

To aid that....we used an ATV Fiberglass Warning Pole....but removed the flag and added a Tennis Ball.

The trick was to touch the Tennis Ball with the nose of the aircraft.....and a trick it was as the fiberglass rod was very flexible and wallowed around from the down wash.

Over time it became second nature and was not at all difficult unless we had a really strong gusty wind blowing around the hospital building.

JohnDixson 21st Oct 2018 01:17

The Army had a vertical reference mission in 1964, for which they devised a creative guidance approach.

The mission involved carrying a sling load at the end of a 2000 ft cable, and flying the load around a specific course, and then landing the load precisely and softly, back at the start point. Moonless nights only.

The load was a full size model of the UH-1B and it was built with a double skin, separated by a dielectric. The skin was separated into a good number of sections, each with individual electric connections to a battery powered tape recorder.

The mission, flown by a CH-47A, would begin by landing next to the model and hooking up the sling. A WWII searchlight was oriented vertically, with a beam that extended well beyond the needed 2000ft. The ship was hovered up the beam, slowing near 2000ft so as to gently lift the model.

After pickup the beam was shut down and the CH-47 would fly assigned headings on a dedicated FT Bliss radar.while the assigned weapons for the night would fire live ammo at the model. each night flown involved a different weapon, varying from 30 cal to 40mm. Each hit on the model would be recorded as the projectile would short the two skins in that area.The return of the model to the takeoff site involved the reverse searchlight procedure. The CH-47 would stay a bit off to one side of the beam so as to keep the cable from draping all over the model.

Simple and innovative, the testing was almost completed, when one night with the larger caliber weapon in use the sling was shot away half way to the CH-47 and it was decided that sufficient data had been collected.

SuperF 21st Oct 2018 02:03

Putting the UH1 onto the trailor, the pilot probably isnít looking right back at the heel of the skid, you just have to lean out too far to do that.

you simply have a mark where either the front cross tube or step goes, and as long as you are straight while landing it then all good.

our Huey trolleys have a mark for the step, as long as we line that and are straight itís all good.

best bit of advice I have been given would be to stop using the cyclic to move the helicopter and start using the pedals. It really helps with long lining and short sling work as well.

All times are GMT. The time now is 00:07.

Copyright © 2018 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.