Helicopter Lessons: Landing a helicopter in the garden (Video)

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The video shows a base leg and final approach to a garden in an R22 helicopter.

This approach follows at least one orbit overhead to recce the site generally, high enough to avoid annoying the neighbours if there are any, but low enough to be able to check for size, suitability, and security of the site. Security is mainly wires and animals. Wires are often hard to see; the poles they are carried on are usually easier to spot.

Rolling out of the orbit into wind, I make a power check, for which I slow down to 53knots to see how much power I need under today’s conditions to maintain straight and level flight. I know I’ll need about 5″ (of Manifold Air Pressure) above that for a normal landing at just above sea level at a moderate air temperature, and my theorectical maximum power available is 24.5″ today, so it follows that my 53knot MAP reading has to be less than 19.5″. Once I’m happy with the theoretical power margin available, I then raise the collective to my theoretical maximum, to make sure the engine is in the mood actually to deliver it. Sounds complicated but it soon becomes second nature.

A nice long downwind leg allows landing checks to be made, and gives a nice long, unhurried final approach, during which the site can be further assessed for surround, slope, surface and security again. If it were not your own dog running across the landing site as in this video, known always to run away in good time, you’d definitely be going around.

The nice long approach also gives time to bleed off airspeed and height in a measured way, to avoid ending up in the confined area with more height and speed than there is space to get rid of. In the R22 it’s really important to stay in translational lift for as long as possible, as the out of ground effect hover performance is not its strongest suit. Depending on what it’s surrounded by, and how big it is, you’ll be selecting one of your recently learned advanced landing techniques. Consideration has to been given to getting out of the site afterwards before committing to landing.

It’s a set piece, and very satisfying when you get it right. I can teach you this technique, together with the skills required to judge whether it’s actually safe to land. If you’re a recently qualified pilot, it’s well worth having a session or two on this topic before going off on your own to land at private sites.


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