How Do Helicopters Fly Without Wings?
Articles Blog

How Do Helicopters Fly Without Wings?

September 24, 2019

Helicopters kinda look like fat bugs lying
on their backs flailing their legs around… so how exactly can they fly with more precision
than an airplane? Airplanes fly because their wings are curved
on the top and flat on the bottom, allowing them to harness the Bernoulli Principle. With speed, the air passing over the wing
is less dense than the air under it, creating lift. Helicopters have rotor blades that also create
lift. As the blades spin they move the air. Less dense air passes over the blades with
denser air passing underneath it. Put that way it sounds simple, but it’s
far more complicated, because while airplanes get lift naturally by moving through the air
helicopters have to constantly generate it themselves. This is how they can takeoff and land vertically,
and also fly backwards, sideways, and hover in place. But they can’t glide if something goes wrong;
they aren’t aerodynamic like planes. Helicopters fly by sheer brute force, which
is really incredible, but gives them some limits. Planes can fly upside-down — the fixed wing
means that as long as air is moving over the wing, usually by tilting the nose upwards
slightly, it still has lift. As a helicopter’s rotor spins, the generated
thrust moves upwards with the direction of lift, so flying upside-down would demand redirecting
the blades so the thrust is the opposite way, supporting an upside-down vehicle. That said, a helicopter could fly a barrel
roll if it was moving fast enough, but that’s a stunt you’re more likely to see at an
airshow than from a news helicopter over a city. Speaking of helicopters over cities, you always
know when one is out there. Because they’re loud. They’re loud not because of the engine,
but because the blades are running into turbulence from each other, properly called the blade–vortex
interaction: the tips of the rotor blades vibrate against the air as they whip around. Airplane wings have changed overtime to have
flaps and malleable shapes that react to flight conditions. Helicopters have done this too; different
blade shapes, tip shapes, and even materials have shown to decrease the noise of a helicopter. One kind of blade has flaps on edge of that
move 15 to 40 times a second to reduce the noisey blade-vortex interaction. Even NASA is looking into developing better
blades for a quieter helicopter, looking to a future where larger, versions can carry
a sizable passenger load between cities. Without runways, commuter chopper flights
could limit air traffic congestion. But helicopters with one rotor can only lift
so much. Which is why bigger choppers like the Chinook
have two. More blades can provide more lift, but it
also adds weight and complexity. For a heavier helicopter the extra lift from
the added blades is sometimes vital. Not only do those look cool, but they’re
useful. Just like a helicopter should be. For more epic stories of innovation that shaped
our future, check out Speaking of flying, every wonder why we get
airsick? We’ve got the answer in this video right
here. Do you still have questions about helicopters? Let us know in the comments, be sure to like
this video, and subscribe for more Seeker.

Only registered users can comment.

  1. Hey y'all! We reuploaded this one because we had a line that conflicted with the idea of autorotation, so we cut it out! We talked to Boeing engineers before we published and they were okay with it, but some commenters were not. In case you didn't know (we didn't!) autorotation is an emergency landing procedure where the blade's rotation limits the fall velocity of rotorcraft. Letting it "glide," (sort of). It's not always feasible, but, when possible, it can save the craft as long as the pilot initiates autorotation immediately after a failure (and if they're near a safe landing area). Thanks for keeping our feet to the fire, and thanks to Destin for publishing his awesome video on it which many of you cited in your comments! <3 trace

  2. Is Dnews now for retards? DUUR How does the helicopter fly if it ain't got those wing things. Idk maybe THE GIANT FUCKING PROPELLER ON TOP

  3. If a helicopter loses an engine it doesn't necessarily fall out of the sky. Check out the video on Smarter Every day about auto rotation.

  4. To make a rotor silent you can always add an encasing ring; but this of course adds too much weight reducing the lift capability, so it is rarely applied, even in the noisy drone pests (with 4 plastic rings and opposing pairs of blades they would be quite stealthy).

  5. I used to watch Dnews every day, but when Seeker happened, I watch once every 4 to 5 months. The videos or the writers are just not as good as what they used to be. Also, the topics are not as interesting as they used to be. Why am I still subscribed? Perhaps I'm hoping for the good old Dnews quality of videos to return. It may be wishful thinking or optimism, but I still have it.

  6. WRONG! Helicopters can "glide". Sorta thang (autorotation).. if the engine completely dies, they can still land on the ground in a safe and controlled manner. Check out the video on Smarter Everyday on this topic. Fascinating stuff.
    Not that I'm a genius here, I just happened to learn this from a video lol.
    Edit: Trace corrected this in the pinned comment.

  7. Helicopters can glide. They can fly upside-down and wings do not generate lift by the Bernoulli principle ! seriously how many things can you get wrong in one episode?

  8. Dammit! Planes do not fly because of the bernoulli effect! Stop spreading this myth. It's only a small portion of the actual lift created. Planes wouldn't be able to fly upside down if this were the case, would they?

    Euler figured out the necessary dynamics back in the 18th century. It's a combination of conservation of mass, momentum and energy. The bernoulli effect only relies on the first one.

    Check out:

  9. What we came for in short: helicopters fly by brute force. They spin their blades to make their own current of wind and generate lift.
    Gotta say I'm disappointed of this video. Still trying to get what kind of… special person wrote the words used at the first 8 seconds of this video.

  10. Helicopters can, in fact, glide. Air rushing upward from underneath the blades forces them to spin, allowing for a slower, controlled decent if the pilot is skilled enough

  11. You sound stupid if you think the blades need to spin in the reverse direction to generate lift. Look up RC heli stunts and it shits on your theory i expected more from you guys…..

  12. Stop driving these air vehicles. They are not efficient and they make the planet warmer. You can almost always go on the ground faster than over the air because of less friction.

  13. My older brother's friend has friends who work for the government. Helicopters that don't make sounds already exist and they are barely visible at night.

  14. 2:07 "Even NASA is looking into developing better blades for a quieter helicopter, Looking into a future where a larger versions can carry sizable passenger loads between cities." Yeah, definitely not for carrying larger ammunitions into battles undetected. Helicopter transport is so common nowadays

  15. I wish you covered two additional topics.

    1: Autorotation.
    2: What happens to the advancing blade as it reaches the speed of sound.

  16. I identify as a helicopter and you can't just comment on my lived experience from your privileged position.

  17. 2:20

  18. A helicopter is a type of rotorcraft in which lift and thrust are supplied by rotors.

    This allows the helicopter to take off and land vertically, to hover, and to fly forward, backward, and laterally.

    These attributes allow helicopters to be used in congested or isolated areas where fixed-wing aircraft and many forms of VTOL (vertical takeoff and landing) aircraft cannot perform.

    The English word helicopter is adapted from the French word hélicoptère, coined by Gustave Ponton d'Amécourt in 1861, which originates from the Greek helix (ἕλιξ) "helix, spiral, whirl, convolution" and pteron (πτερόν) "wing".

    English language nicknames for helicopter include "chopper", "copter", "helo", "heli", and "whirlybird".

    Helicopters were developed and built during the first half-century of flight, with the Focke-Wulf Fw 61 being the first operational helicopter in 1936.

    Some helicopters reached limited production, but it was not until 1942 that a helicopter designed by Igor Sikorsky reached full-scale production, with 131 aircraft built.

    Though most earlier designs used more than one main rotor, it is the single main rotor with anti-torque tail rotor configuration that has become the most common helicopter configuration.

    Tandem rotor helicopters are also in widespread use due to their greater payload capacity.

    Coaxial helicopters, tiltrotor aircraft, and compound helicopters are all flying today.

    Quadcopter helicopters pioneered as early as 1907 in France, and other types of multicopter have been developed for specialized applications, such as unmanned drones.

  19. This video is a joke right? Everybody knows that the helicopter's wings are the rotor blades. Or are americans really THAT stupid?

  20. The explanation given for wing shape being critical to airplane wing lift is an old and very commonly perpetuated myth. The main cause of lift is simply that the wing center line is higher at the front than at the back. Thus, air is forced downwards. This is also possible with a perfectly flat wing, but the common wing shape has aerodynamic advantages for subsonic flight. Wings on supersonic airplanes are often symmetrical, instead of different top and bottom shapes. See this explanation:

  21. Well, at low Much speed, we treat air as incomprehensible, so the dense/ sparse explanations is seriously flawed. Please just stick to the speed and pressure explanation.
    Also, there's the "Autorotation" for helicopters, it's like the glide mode, so helicopters actually do have a chance to land when lost all engines.

  22. Helicopters can't actually fly, that would be against the laws of physics. Instead, they just beat gravity in to submission by sheer ugliness. (Joke told in aerodynamics class as an aerospace engineering student – a class taught by a retired Sikorsky helicopter engineer…)

  23. It's a ROTARY WING aircraft. The blades are the freaking wings. Bullshit title, not even gonna watch this stupid shit.

  24. This video has many flaws.
    1: helicopters can glide, it is called autorotation.
    2: they can also fly outside down using the same principle of drag than airplanes use, just changing the pitch of the blades.
    3: The bernoulli principle is not the correct explanation why helicopters or airplanes fly, it is more complex than that.
    Seeker team research: failed.

  25. They do have Wings…They Just move in revolutions in order to create lift, while airplanes have stationary wings because it uses Forward Speed in order to create lift due to its design.. See my Point of view? 😅

    Majority view wings as The ones you see in planes but I view them as the Lift creaters,

  26. I am fairly sure that your theory of aeroplane lift is incorrect.

    (Disclaimer: I am a biology student, not a physicist)

    The standard Bernoulli explanation for aeroplane lift is technically true for some wing designs, but it is entirely insufficient to explain the massive lift generated. In fact, the explanation is much simpler and more elegant – the wing is angled in the airstream, by virtue of either its shape, or its angle of attack. This deflects the air which hits the wing downwards, and Newton's third law tells us that this results in an force of equal magnitude being exerted in the opposite direction – upwards.

  27. Autogyros were "gliding" through the air with non-powered main rotors decades before helicopters. If a helicopter loses power the pilot performs an autorotation, using the autogyro's principle to glide to a landing. It is a maneuver taught and practiced by pilots.
    PS: Have seen many radio controlled helicopters flying quite well upside down, so it is possible.

  28. that's not the proper explanation to lift, and you guys should know it, it's a combination of many principles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *