Exercise 21b: Tight circuits



In this lesson, the student will learn how to fly a size reduced circuit from a chosen point on the ground, to reposition for a point 150m/200ft AGL abeam the LZ, followed by a descending decelerating turn whilst the speed is reduced to 40kts/10ft into wind, to reposition for landing. This exercise will further develop students control coordination, spatial and situational awareness, timing and judgment.




  1. Brief the tight circuit
  2. Recap circuit terminology
  3. Demonstrate Tight Circuits:
    • On the ground, positioned into wind, select a reference point aligned with take-off direction, and a second 150m abeam the LZ in circuit direction.
    • Take-Off and conduct hover checks.
    • Fly a normal transition, maintaining 10ft up to 40kts.
    • Rotate and assertively climb to 300ft AGL on take off heading.
    • At 300ft AGL, turn 30° in opposite direction of circuit direction to allow for spacing.
    • Continue to climb to 500ft AGL (time approximately 7-10s on 30° offset heading until reaching 500ft AGL)
    • Upon reaching 500ft AGL, select level flight attitude and power, and initiate crosswind turn.
    • Roll out on downwind, and establish a descent configuration, aiming for 200ft above assigned offset reference point.
    • Complete downwind checks
    • From abeam the square, overhead the reference point, time approximately 3-5s past the reference point (depending on wind strength) initiate the base leg turn.
    • Without reducing collective power, fly the helicopter down through the turn. (The helicopter will naturally descend, using the speed to assist)
    • Half way through the turn, increase power slightly to maintain height with increased bank, apply left pedal for balance.
    • Ensure that the speed does not decrease below 40kts in the turn
    • Roll out on final approach at 10ft, 40kts and align with the original reference point.
    • Raise the nose to allow the speed to gradually decrease into a hover taxi and transition back to a hover over original LZ. Reaffirm that it is not a quick stop!
    • Establish a steady hover and land.
  4. Allow the student to first practice a tight circuit to the left, once proficient with left hand tight circuit; allow them to practice to the right.




At the completion of this exercise the student must be able to perform quick stops into wind maintaining constant height. They will be able to correctly assess control requirements to maintain height and be able to smoothly manage simultaneous collective and cyclic control whilst maintaining balance. They will be acutely aware of conditions leading to the onset of vortex (Descending through transition/performing quick stops downwind) They will be able to correctly manage power OGE, and be aware of the limitations, they will also exercise good airmanship in maintaining constant tail rotor clearance and to be aware of its position at all times.

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