Once you have the idea of controlling the helicopter at altitude, you will be introduced to the joys of hovering. The R22 is quite skittish in the hover which makes it a real challenge. Do not expect immediate success. Hovering requires practice, practice …………………. and more practice.

It is important for you to have a comfortable, relaxed seated position. Your right forearm should rest on your thigh and your feet lightly on the pedals. You may need to develop personal relaxation methods because learning to hover requires heaps of concentration and may make you a bit ………………………….. t-e-n-s-e!

It is imperative to look well out – at least 20 metres – for your hovering reference points. Most students look too close to the helicopter. If you do you will tend to over control because close reference points show up movement more than distant ones. Your left hand holds the collective loosely at the ‘collar’. The throttle must be allowed to turn under your hand (allow for governor control).

A hover is described as maintaining the helicopter in one position on a constant heading at a constant height.


To learn to hover the helicopter.

A relatively open area will be chosen for hover training. NB Always look towards the horizon while you are learning to hover, this helps to prevent over controlling.

Select a reference point for hovering. Do not get fixation on an object. In the beginning each control will be practiced individually and once more competent, all three controls will be handled simultaneously.

  • Pedals

The most difficult of all three controls to master. The trick is to maintain strict directional control by using lots of small pressure inputs instead of single, large input on the pedals. Show no mercy on the pedals. If you experience a yaw in any direction (inadvertently), let your eyes follow the horizon in that direction. Don’t stare at a fixed point on the horizon.

  • Collective

Controlling the collective is the easiest of all three controls, provided you make smooth, small and gradual inputs. Smoothly lower or raise the collective to maintain a 3-5 ft skid height hover. Notice how wind and the ground cushion effect the need for collective inputs. In the beginning it is easier to start to learn at about 10 feet skid height. (Always be aware of the H/V diagram, however!)

  • Collective and Pedals

Now control height as well as direction. Don’t forget that an input on the collective requires a corresponding change in the pedals.

More collective = more left pedal and less collective = right pedal (less left pedal)

  • Cyclic

The cyclic controls the movement or position of the helicopter, over the ground.

A constant slight left pressure will be needed to overcome tail rotor drift. Also, the trick with the cyclic is not to over control and to find the ‘neutral’ position.

This is the famous ‘Hover Attitude’. If the helicopter for instance moves off to the right, left cyclic needs to be applied and just as the movement stops, return the cyclic to the neutral position and hover over the new position.

I never teach the student to go back to the original position, over the ground. He must rather adopt the hover attitude, over his new position. Tracking comes later in the syllabus. However, you might feel that you are constantly ‘tracking’ whilst trying to hover! Don’t tense up and stress; everything comes with time…. it’s just a new skill that you will have to learn.

There is also lag from when you move the cyclic to when you notice the change in the helicopters position.

Therefore, you must anticipate.

The cyclic needs constant adjustment to be able to maintain a hover however these adjustments are pressures and not large control inputs. There is a lot of “change… check” control in the cyclic. You must make larger inputs in the beginning. Once you have a good feel for the cyclic, your inputs can be reduced until it is only small pressure inputs.

There are a lot of forward/aft inputs on the cyclic in the hover. Be careful not to start over controlling in the roll plane!

  • Collective, Pedals & Cyclic

All three controls together. You will notice that if you do not control your line (heading) with your pedals, you will attempt to fix the heading with the cyclic.

This results in the Robbie ‘waltz’: graciously moving over the ground in circles until the beast becomes uncontrollable… Look towards the horizon and don’t over control. Do not fix the heading with the cyclic! Use the pedals and…. Good luck!!

My slogans:

Pedals – show no mercy (to maintain your line)

Collective – handle with care

Cyclic – feel, feel the attitude


Tenseness and slow to reaction to movement of the helicopter.

Failure to allow for lag in cyclic and collective pitch, which leads to over controlling.

Confusing attitude changes for altitude changes which results in improper use of controls.

  • Hovering too high, creating a hazardous flight condition.
  • Hovering too low, resulting in the occasional touch down
  • Fixing heading with cyclic
  • Fixation on horizon
  • Looking too close to helicopter.
  • Not sitting up straight; leaning towards instructor
  • The right hand/arm is not resting on the leg and hovering will become unstable.
  • One foot is higher on the pedals than the other.
  • The ball of the foot must be in contact with the pedal, not the toes.
  • Not holding the collective on the throttle grip.


Maintain a good scan monitoring the temperatures and pressures. Beware of the tail and its proximity to the ground.

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