Why helicopters are more difficult to fly than airplanes?

A helicopter is quite a lot more difficult to fly than airplanes or aero planes/ airplanes. People make all these impossible analogies, when really it’s quite simple. An airplane is like a car. You steer it where you want it to go. A helicopter is like a motorcycle. You’re part of the machine, it’s part of you, and you just do what you need to do.

The hard part is training your ‘muscle memory’ to make that true, over the whole flight envelope. That takes more time than it does for an airplane, and is more important

The Difference in Flying

Airplanes are busy during the takeoff, departure, arrival, approach, and landing phases. During the cruise phase of flight, the autopilot makes things very easy. Airline pilots will often take that time to handle paperwork related to the flight, or perhaps review the procedures expected at the arrival airport. There are other things that you may have heard pilots doing up front, like reading the paper or books.

Flying a helicopter is a different type of flying. Whereas an airplane built with stability as an inherent property, helicopters are always unstable. Let go of the controls of a helicopter and see how long it takes before you are in an unusual attitude. It won’t be long. You must fly a helicopter from the moment you crank the engines until the moment the blades stop turning.

Helicopter Movements
Helicopter Movements

Some helicopters have autopilots, but most require the pilot to have his/her hands on the controls at all times. Additionally, most military helicopter pilots fly the terrain-flight mode, conforming their altitude to the terrain. This requires a very heightened state of awareness, which is very fatiguing.

All that being said, aside from aerobatics and thermodynamics, flying helicopters is more fun. You are constantly manipulating the controls, so you always feel like you’re flying the aircraft.

There is an old aviation joke that state a helicopter is a bunch of nuts and bolts flying in formation that are trying to kill you.


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