OCT 07, 2017 08:41 AM PDT

The Science Behind Helicopter Flight


Unlike airplanes, helicopters don't have super-long wings to control the aircraft in flight. Some helicopters have stumpy wings to help stabilize direction and airflow, but most of the magic happens in the helicopter's rotor blades at the top of the vehicle.

The rotor blades have a distinct shape and orientation that, much like an airplane's wings, pushes denser air underneath to create lift. Mainly, the faster those blades spin and generate lift, the higher the helicopter can climb in the air.

Moreover, helicopters couldn't fly with just one rotor. Most helicopters have two, including a much smaller one oriented sideways in the back. This secondary rotor is critical; without it, the main rotor would make the helicopter move in the opposite direction that it's spinning. The smaller rotor adds stability by counteracting that force.

You've probably also noticed just how loud helicopters are, and that's because they use an active lift-generation method that's continuously working to keep the aircraft in flight. As it turns out, you hear more noise from the rotor blades spinning than from the engine itself; as they rotate, their tips encounter air turbulence, causing vibration and noise.

Depending on the application, helicopter rotor blades come in various shapes and sizes and are made from different materials. Many are intentionally flexible to reduce turbulence and to give the helicopter the best maneuverability possible while in the air.

Helicopters are intricate pieces of machinery and make a plethora of everyday tasks possible. Whether they're intended for sky-based new-reporting, life-saving hospital air-lifts, or military personnel and supply transportation, helicopters play an instrumental role in the modern world.

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
SEP 06, 2018
Chemistry & Physics
SEP 06, 2018
Superconducting Levitation "Roller Coaster"
You probably have seen this a thousand times: a liquid nitrogen-chilled, superconducting puck levitates over a large magnet or zooms back and forth on a ma...
SEP 15, 2018
Videos
SEP 15, 2018
A Hangover Cure in a Pill
A night of drinking can lead to a morning of regret for many people, but science is working on a solution for the physical pain....
SEP 26, 2018
Cannabis Sciences
SEP 26, 2018
Marijuana Helps Opioid Addicts Stay in Treatment
Chronic marijuana use appears to help opioid addicts stay on their anti-opioid treatment regimen. At least that's according to a new study published in...
SEP 26, 2018
Videos
SEP 26, 2018
Why do leaves change color in the fall?
We know that deciduous trees drop their leaves every winter in order to avoid wasting precious resources on keeping them alive during the long, hard, cold ...
OCT 03, 2018
Videos
OCT 03, 2018
The Use of Cannabis to Treat Chronic Pain
Chronic pain can lead to depression, addiction to opioids, anxiety, other side effects, and more. The first video from Howcast talks about clinical tr...
OCT 07, 2018
Videos
OCT 07, 2018
Certain Foods Encourage a Gut Microbe, and Colon Cancer
Researchers reveal more evidence that refined grains and sugars and processed meats are bad for colon health....
Loading Comments...