Self-Help: How to escape in a helicopter part III

You’ve stolen a helicopter, but don’t feel bad, the owner was a jerk and you didn’t feel like walking. The helicopter is flying toward a flat area at about 100 mph, the collective is halfway up, the joystick is 1/3 of the way forward, you’re level (not going up or down), and the front of the helicopter is kinda pointed in the same direction you’re flying. Make sure your seatbelt/straps are fastened if you haven’t already. It’s time for magic. It’s time to land.

Remember what I said about French* helicopters in post I.

Gently ease the joystick back an inch. Look out the side. The buildings/trees/mountains are getting smaller, so you need to push the collective down a tiny bit and push on your right* foot to keep pointed at the flat spot. The key is to do this in little increments. The good news is you have time because you picked a flat spot that’s far away. Keep doing this until the helicopter starts to vibrate.

When the helicopter starts to vibrate, push the joystick forward one inch and freeze. Buildings/trees/mountains are slowly getting bigger, you’re at the magic speed. It’s time to land.

As you get closer to the flat spot, push the pedals to line your nose up with the way you’re going. Again, do it in tiny steps. Keep the joystick and collective where they are. If it feels like you’re going to land short, pull the collective a tiny bit up. If it feels like you’re going to land more than halfway down your flat spot, push it down. Try to keep the joystick where it is, and only make small changes. Don’t pull it back farther than where you started vibrating, or you’ll die.

When the first half of your flat spot and your feet line up with your eyes, push the collective down and use the right* pedal to stay aligned with the way you’re going. Keep doing this. At some point, you’re going to notice that you’re going straight down toward that first half of the flat spot and it’s staying lined up with your feet. Take a moment to think about all the good things you’ve had in life: your first kiss, your favorite meal, and maybe an achievement you’re proud of. The helicopter will come down within a few feet of the ground and level out. This is a special form of magic called ground effect. You’re now flying at about 45 mph over your landing zone.

I have bad news. You’re not a pilot, and that flat spot isn’t flat unless you found a runway, so your ass is going to roll. You don’t have time to worry about that, though, because you’re running out of landing zone at 45 mph. Push the right* pedal until you’re pointing just slightly right* of center, and push the collective down. Do both of these at a steady rate until the collective is all the way down. Don’t worry about where the ground is; don’t worry if you bounce. Just keep pushing it down because it has to go all the way down for you to stop. If you don’t line the helicopter up with the way you’re going or you hit something, you’re going to start tilting.

This is your only job at this point. This is going to make sure you live. If you start tilting, push the joystick to the right*. Do it hard. The helicopter is going to flip several times, the blades are going to snap and zing through something or someone, but you’re belted in so you should be okay (maybe). Congratulations, you escaped in a helicopter.

If you tilt to the left* or you forgot you’re in a French* helicopter, the engine was just pulled forward through the cockpit, so you’ve got nothing to worry about anymore.

Want me to write about something else? Leave a comment or send me an email at dj [at]


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