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Flight Simulator Settings for Helicopters

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Helicopters are, by definition, inherently unstable. They will not fly like a fixed wing when you take your hands off the controls. They require constant input to fly level and a lot of hand-eye-foot-brain co-ordination in the hover. Because they are so unstable, you must have the ability to respond to their smallest movements with your controls to make them do what YOU, the pilot want them to do.

So what we need to do is ensure is that the helicopter is able to respond to your control inputs as fast as possible. Many people will tell you that the helicopter is uncontrollable with the settings I am going to give you.

This is blatantly untrue.

Sure, these settings seem to make the chopper twitchy and sensitive, but that is exactly what it is in real life, and exactly what you need in the sim to be able to control it.

If you have the settings lower (further to the left) than these recommended settings, you do NOT have a helicopter that is easier to fly, you end up with a helicopter on Valium. It is actually harder to fly that way!!

The single setting that seems to have the most effect on the overall performance of the chopper is the �GENERAL� slider. I recommend that this slider is moved ALL THE WAY TO THE RIGHT, and then backed off 1 click (Very Important). All the other settings can be all the way to the right.

Go to AIRCRAFT_REALISM SETTINGS on the main menu bar and configure your helicopter as shown:

Aircraft->Realism Menu settings.


Now we need to configure our joystick.

The first thing you must know is that you absolutely need either a joystick with a twist-handle for rudder control, or a set of rudder pedals. Without either of these, you are not going to be able to fly a helicopter well.

The very best set up will be a digital joystick with a throttle control and a separate set of pedals. However, a digital joystick with a twist handle for rudder will also suffice until you decide that you are hooked on helos and want to upgrade.

Regardless, get the best you can afford without breaking the bank.

If you have a force-feedback joystick, turn the force-feedback off, right now. It�s a nice gimmick, but totally unrealistic when flying helicopters and will only impede your progress by giving you false feedback and false cues.

The first thing you need to do is to calibrate your controls/joystick. Follow the manufacturers recommendations on this. To calibrate your controls, go to OPTIONS, CONTROLS, CALLIBRATE JOYSTICK and follow the instructions. An improperly calibrated joystick is of no use to anyone.

The next thing, and perhaps the single most important tip I can give you, is to set up the sensitivities and null zones of your joystick/controls for maximum performance.

These settings are quite different from those I would use if I were flying a fixed wing.

What we want to achieve here is to set up the controls so that they have maximum sensitivity and minimum null zone.

Remember earlier when I said:

� Helicopters are, by definition, inherently unstable. They will not fly like a fixed wing when you take your hands off the controls. They require constant input to fly level and a lot of hand-eye-foot-brain co-ordination in the hover. Because they are so unstable, you must have the ability to respond to their smallest movements with your controls to make them do what YOU, the pilot want them to do.�

So to be able to respond to the helicopters movements and maintain a maximum level of control, we need to make VERY SMALL , and I repeat, VERY SMALL joystick corrections. We cannot do this if the sensitivity is low or the null zone is large.

A null zone, by the way, is an area of movement of the joystick that has no effect on the simulator. The software ignores movement of the stick when it is in the null zone. So, the first thing we do is remove all NULL ZONE from our controls. We need the stick to be able to respond to the slightest movement of the helicopter but we do NOT want to be moving the controls like we are mixing a cake.

If you have ever seen a real helicopter pilot flying his or her machine, you would think that they were actually not doing anything, as their hands and feet never seem to move. What they are actually doing is making constant, minute inputs to their controls to keep their bird doing what they want it to do.

The other thing we need to do is set the sensitivity of all axis to maximum.

A joystick with a throttle and a twist rudder has 4 axis.

Aileron

Elevator

Rudder

Throttle

These are fixed wing terms, but for now we will use them.

So, we go to; OPTIONS, CONTROLS, SENSITIVITIES and set up our controls to look like this.

Control sensitivity settings.


I hope this helps.

Steve





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