You might believe (or prefer to believe) that if an airplane’s engine fails, its aerodynamic features could let you descend to safety. On the other side, helicopters have a bulky appearance. So, if the engine were turned off in the middle of the flight, you could probably anticipate some messy outcomes.
Last year, Neil deGrasse Tyson tweeted last year, “FYI: An airplane whose engine fails is a glider. A brick is a helicopter with a failed engine. Knowing a bit or two about helicopters, SmarterEveryDay YouTuber Destin Sandlin decided to ask several seasoned helicopter pilots for their assistance to disprove deGrasse Tyson.
After taking in the breathtaking British Columbian lakes on a cruise, they show how to use “autorotation” to land a helicopter whose motor has failed safely. With the help of this method, Gerry Friesen, a helicopter pilot with an impressive 16,000 flight hours under his belt, even thinks that landing a crashed helicopter is safer than landing an aircraft with a damaged engine.
Without a doubt, deGrasse Tyson is correct. The helicopter would crash like a brick if the propellers stopped working. It is possible to land safely if the propellers are still turning.
Helicopter pilots use a physics method to prevent this, as Destin explains in the video: “If the rotor blade quits turning, you are going to fall like a brick.” Simply a lever and a ton of practice are all that is needed.
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