Have you ever wanted to fly a RC helicopter inverted? I am sure you have seen the stunt pilots performing magnificent tic-tocs, pirouettes, grass cutting and tight loops in a high performance 3D heli. These guys are extremely talented and the best of them earn sponsorships to travel the world to compete in contests.
Think you can fly a helicopter upside down? I guarantee that you can with some practice - and there is no better tool than a quality RC flight simulator. I prefer Phoenix Flight Sim, but others will work just as well.
Please note. If you read my other tutorials on how to use Phoenix Flight Simulator with a DX6i, you will want to make sure that you set up these 3D Stunt Helicopters as a NEW model in the Spektrum DX6i. I keep one model for my planes, and a second model for the helicopters.
Variable Pitch Helicopter
Did you know that the pitch of the blades of these stunt (or 3D) helicopters are variable? That's right! They change based on the input from the transmitter. Push the throttle all the way up and the blades will pitch to exert downward forces which push the helicopter up into the air. Pull the throttle all the way back and the pitch changes to exert upward pressure which forces the helicopter down into the ground - UNLESS you happen to have the helicopter upside down!
Flight Mode (F-Mode)
The Flight Mode (or F-Mode) switch on the transmitter is the secret to inverted flying. Many people get confused on how this switch interacts with Phoenix. The short answer is: It doesn't! All the programming for inverted flight is done in the transmitter, not the simulator.
All that switch does is change the Pitch and Throttle curves in the transmitter itself.
In Normal mode (switch in the DOWN position), when the collective is closest to you, the speed of the rotor slows down until it stops altogether. As you move it up and away from you, the speed increases which lifts the helicopter up.
Compare that to F mode (the switch is in the UP position). When this switch is engaged, the rotor speed is not controlled by the collective. What DOES change is the angle of the blades.
When the collective is pulled closest to you, the pitch of the blades is at the maximum setting to fly inverted.
When the stick is furthest away from you, the pitch of the blades is just the opposite, allowing you to fly right-side-up. When the stick is in the middle (or neutral) position, the angle of the blades are positioned where there is NEITHER upward nor downward thrust.
Proper DX6i Settings
Shown below are the first settings that must be programmed in the transmitter. These settings are NOT entered in the Phoenix Flight Sim software, just the transmitter. You would be amazed at how many people get confused with that! (I was one of them for a long time!)
Proper Throttle Curve Settings
Proper Pitch Curve Settings
3D Heli Cutting Grass
Are You This Good?
It takes a lot of practice to get good at flying upside down. It is not intuitive and can be very awkward when starting out. After a lot of stick time on the simulator, you will be ready to move up to a 3D RC helicopter.
One of the most impressive tricks is "cutting the grass." Quite simply, it is hovering inches above the ground as the blades are so close so as to appear that they are cutting the grass. Get too close and you will be in for a spectacular crash! Ouch! (Your wallet will say OUCH too as you trek to the local hobby shop for repair parts!)
Phoenix Flight Sim - T-Rex 500
Not Sure How to Program the DX6i?
If you aren't sure how to program the DX6i for Phoenix Flight Sim, then check out this article that will give you step by step instructions.
How to Fly Inverted
I included a video to the right hand side. Note the orientation of the heli (upside down). Also note that the throttle stick is all the way down (closest to you). The flier has the model in Stunt Mode (F Mode switch is UP). The variable pitch of the blades is set for the helicopter to fly upside down.
Tip: Keep the F Mode OFF while taking off and landing. Only engage it (flip the switch UP) when you are well into the air. This is a habit that will pay dividends when you buy your own RC helicopter and take it to your local flying field.
Of course, you can't become good with inverted flying until you master simple techniques like the funnel. If you need help (and we all do) check out the various video tutorials and make sure you spend the cold, wet and windy days practicing on your favorite simulator. When you are able to make it back out to your club field, your heli-skills will be much better!
RC Helicopter Skill Training
Practice Other Advanced 3D Tricks
Watch the video at the right for a quick tutorial on how to do a tic toc. This special trick is so named as the helicopter resembles the movement of a pendulum of a clock.
Watch closely to see how the limited use of the collective is vital to achieving a smooth and effective maneuver. Are you ready to try it? Use the flight simulator to practice, practice, practice!
RC Soaring - Glider Simulation
Did you know you can add thermals and fly gliders in Phoenix? Here is a quick tutorial to walk you through the steps.
Common Problems and Solutions
Here is a list of the most common reasons people have trouble with getting the helicopter to fly upside down.
- The model type in the transmitter is not set to helicopter.
- The helicopter in Phoenix Flight Simulator is not 3D capable (look for "3D" in the description to start)
- The F Mode switch is not flipped to the UP position.
- The Throttle and Pitch Curves were modified (use the settings above).
M. Victor Kilgore on January 19, 2016:
Great info...will check it out in my Phoenix sim.
Mike on May 24, 2013:
Thanks man ! This was a super help !
Scooter259 on March 05, 2012:
This was very helpful.. How about a setup for a JR X9303 on the Phoenix flight sim?