One good thing about helicopters
is that they can land almost anywhere, assuming the rotor systems
are functional. Loss of engine power would spell disaster
with a fixed-wing aircraft
, but the helicopter can land easily using something called autorotation
if there's enough altitude.
Let's say a helo loses all engine power at 10,000 feet. Not having wings, it tends to plummet due to that nasty sucking habit of the earth called gravity. What an experienced pilot will do is set the pitch of the blades such that as the helo falls through the air, it pushes the rotor blades faster (trailing edge up). This process continues until the helo is at a particular altitude, then the experienced pilot will yank up on the collective stick, just as if they were making a non-emergency helo suddenly try to climb (trailing edge down). Since the rotors are spinning quickly and they have a lot of inertia, the blades will create enough lift to either slow the helo to a survivable crash or actually cause it to hover for a few seconds. In the military, helo pilots practice this maneuver constantly. It takes practice and proper timing to gauge when to pull up on the collective stick.