Helicopters are perhaps not as commonly seen, but are a very important part of the military and civilian life. Helicopters are also more difficult to fly than jets or planes according to pilots. Most of the time, especially in military operations, the pilot must stay very close to the ground and maneuver trees and hills. The same types of principles apply to a helicopter as a plane though.
The helicopter basically has three parts that are vital to enable flight controls: the collective, cyclic, and tail rotor. The collective is used to control the altitude of the helicopter. This occurs because the collective changes the angle of the blades on the main rotor, which provides the lift. The main rotor has three or more blades, but typically it has four. The blades work the same as a wing of a jet, creating lift in the exact same way, following Bernoulli’s Principle. The only difference in the blades is that they are turning to create lift, where as the wing of a jet is being moved through the air by the thrust of an engine.
The helicopter cyclic is another essential part of the flight. The control is used to tilt the rotation plane of the main rotor, which enables the helicopter to move forwards or backwards. Without such a control, the helicopter could not move anywhere, except up and down, which is not extremely useful. The final part essential to flight is the tail rotor, which is located at the back of the helicopter. According to Newton’s Third Law of Motion, there is an equal and opposite reaction for every action. This means that if helicopters did not have tail rotors, the helicopter fuselage, or frame, with pilot and all, would spin in the exact opposite direction of the main rotor, because of Newton’s Third Law. In order to avoid this unpleasant situation, designers added the tail rotor to counteract the main rotor, thus preventing the spinning action.
The combination of these three parts and the ideas and principles taken from planes enable a helicopter to operate. The helicopter and plane have very similar concepts, yet they are completely different machines that serve humans in a very different way. Helicopters have changed the lives of so many, yet they use some of the simplest concepts to create something so versatile.