20.5. Backwards flight


"I always lead with the tail. As I watch the heli I'm keying off the tail, as far as I know, and I steer along with the tail."

 --Todd Bennett, Model Helicopter Technique #35

Backwards flight is tricky because it requires unlearning some of the reflexes learned for forward flight. You will need to fly backwards by concentrating on the tail of the helicopter (not the nose!), and the controls to slow down and speed up are reversed.

You will need to be very careful about letting the tail tilt too low, because it will hit the ground and flip the helicopter over.

If you don't have a good heading hold gyro by this point, I highly recommend you buy one now. Backwards flight is much more difficult without heading hold because the tail will have a strong tendency to weathervane suddenly and flip around, which can cause you to lose orientation and crash.

If you have a horizontal fin on your tail boom, you will want to remove it, because the fin will pull the tail up or down during backwards flight and make level flight difficult.

You may want to perform the "fly between two points" exercise mentioned in the forward flight section in a backwards orientation to become comfortable with backwards flight.