You could believe (or prefer to believe) that if an airplane’s engine fails, its aerodynamic features could let you descend to safety. On the other side, helicopters have a really bulky appearance. So, if the engine were shut off in the middle of flight, you might definitely anticipate some ugly outcomes.
Last year, Neil deGrasse Tyson tweeted something to the effect of, “FYI: An airplane whose engine fails is a glider. Knowing a thing or two about helicopters, Destin Sandlin from the SmarterEveryDay YouTube channel made the decision to engage the assistance of three skilled helicopter pilots to disprove deGrasse Tyson’s claim.
Gerry Friesen, a helicopter pilot with an impressive 16,000 flight hours under his belt, believes landing a failed helicopter using this technique is even safer than landing an airplane with a busted engine. After taking a cruise around the beautiful lakes of British Columbia, they then demonstrate how to safely land a helicopter when its motor has failed using a technique called “autorotation.”
Of course, deGrasse Tyson does have a point. The helicopter would crash to the ground like a brick if the propellers failed. However, if the propellers are still turning, a safe landing is still conceivable.
It only takes a simple lever and a ton of practice, as Destin explains in the video: “If the rotor blade ceases moving you are going to fall like a brick – but helicopter pilots have a physics trick to avoid that from occurring.” Watch the video below to see it for yourself.