by Richard Sheffield
Tutorial 8: Autorotation
The term autorotation is often used to mean both the act of autorotating to maintain flight and the performance of a power-off landing. Above 100 feet, you're autorotating, or using the forward speed of the aircraft to keep the rotor spinning to provide lift without the help of the engines. Once you're below 100 feet, you shift from autorotation to power-off landing procedures. If you lose both engines below 100 feet, you can forget about autorotation and concentrate on landing in one piece.
Student pilots in the Army have this skill constantly drilled. They know that the IP (Instructor Pilot) is likely to shut down the engines at any time and any altitude and that they must react quickly and instinctively to maintain control of the aircraft.
Take off heading north and then level off at 300 feet and 100 knots. Point the aircraft toward an area with no hills. Jettison your Hellfires. Normally, by the time you sustain enough damage to have to autorotate, you'll have fired a number of your weapons.
To simulate losing both engines, hit the Rotor Disengage key. (If you lose both engines while flying a mission, the first thing you should do is to disengage the rotor so it will spin freely.) You'll start to fall like a rock! Pull back on the stick until you have an airspeed of about 70-80 knots. Don't worry about how fast you are falling, just maintain your airspeed.
When you get below 100 feet (it won't take long) pull back hard on the stick to pitch the nose up and slow your forward speed; at the same time, start hitting the Up Fast key to get as much lift as possible before you hit the ground. If you time it right, you'll come to a hover at 10 or 20 feet and settle slowly to the ground.
Reengage the rotor, take off, and repeat the process until you're comfortable with the procedure—starting at 300, 200, and 100 feet.
When you have practiced the procedure several times, restart the program and change your reality level to Real Landings. Now try the above lesson again knowing that if you land too hard you'll crack up your ship.
If you can master the skill of landing with no power, you have greatly increased your chances of living through some very tough missions. Even the best Gunship pilots occasionally get shot down, so take time to practice this skill, and you'll walk away from a pretty badly damaged aircraft to fly another day.