Exercise 11: Transition



In this lesson, the student will learn how to transition from the hover to forward flight, and from forward flight back to the hover.




  1. Fully brief transitions from hover into forward flight, and forward flight back to the hover. Ensure that the student understands power required/available; flap back/Flap forward, inflow roll, translational lift, tail rotor drift and the height velocity diagram.
  2. Begin with the transition from hover into forward flight. If available, use a line feature along the ground for ease of explanation/demonstration.
    • Establish and maintain a steady hover into wind
    • Elect a suitable reference point on the horizon, aligned with the ground line feature
    • Do hover checks, note power required to hover and surplus power available
    • Prompt the student to look up towards the reference point
    • Slowly apply forward pressure on the cyclic
    • Allow the helicopter to accelerate in its own time
    • Point out to the student, whilst the helicopter is accelerating, the effect of leaving the ground cushion and the increase in power demand and necessity for left pedal input to maintain direction.
    • Point out to the student, whilst the helicopter is accelerating after leaving the ground cushion, when translational lift can be anticipated and how its aerodynamic effects can be compensated for by timeous forward cyclic pressure input, easing out of the left pedal by application of right pedal as the power demand reduces. Allow for a gentle climb.
    • Point out the tendency for the helicopter to roll right shortly after translational lift as a result of inflow roll, and how this is to be corrected by slight left cyclic pressure application.
    • Maintain heading along the line feature with the pedals.
    • Maintain correct height according to height velocity diagram.
    • Allow the helicopter to accelerate to 40Kts (rotation speed) at 10ft at which climbing power must be applied to achieve a positive ROC, and accelerate to 60/65kts as per the H/V diagram take off profile.
  3. Begin the transition from forward flight back to the hover following the standardized height profile, into wind, following previously used line feature if available.
    • Initiate the transition to the hover by leading with the collective
    • Maintain the correct decelerative attitude with the cyclic; slight forward pressure may be necessary to maintain the attitude.
    • Point out to the student the reverse effects of flap back (flap forward), the loss of translational lift, the associated increase in power demand and necessity for left pedal input, the presence of tail rotor drift at hover power and the left cyclic pressure required to correct for it.
    • Maintain the correct height as per the height velocity diagram, and keep the helicopter straight along the line reference.
    • When the helicopter stops, the nose will tend to settle into the hover attitude by itself, and slight aft pressure on the cyclic may be required to maintain a stationary hover.
  4. Point out the dangers of a very low nose attitude during the acceleration phase from 0-40kts and the necessity to manage power and speed.
  5. Teach the student from the onset, the importance of translational lift speed and the point at which its benefits are gained or lost. This concept becomes the foundation of later exercises on power management.




At the completion of this exercise the student will be able to: lift off into wind, establish a steady hover, transition to forward flight and set up a climb to assigned altitude, fly straight and level, establish a descent and transition back to a hover, and touch down. At this point in the syllabus, the student will essentially be responsible for every phase of flight. Their airmanship and situational awareness would have further matured, and their decision-making can be assessed and expanded upon during flight. They should also be fully proficient on the radio, and their checks at the various phases of flight should be competent.

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