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Flight School: Helicopter Course

Latest update by CMBF on Sep 29th 2013
There is no question that the copter portion of the flight school lessons is the biggest challenge for most players -- and if you read the boards you will notice that a lot of players simply cannot get through this. You are not like them though, and as long as you observe the tips here, you will have no trouble getting through the lesson.

Note though that we did not say you would have no trouble getting a gold medal -- for that you will have trouble with. After we get you through the lesson we will offer tips on getting the gold medal.

The Lesson
First you need to understand that flying copters is a lot harder than flying planes. Actually what that should say is flying rotary wing aircraft is more difficult than flying fixed wing aircraft, because it is.

To obtain a gold medal here you must complete the lesson in under 2 minutes and 40 seconds; to get a silver you must complete the lesson in under 3 minutes and 15 seconds; to get a bronze you must complete it in under 3 minutes and 45 seconds.

That may sound like a lot of time, but it is not. This is not a short course, and it requires you to do some pretty skilled flying.

Controlling a Copter
The first thing you need to take into consideration here is that unlike a plane, which is very forgiving, a copter is not. Its flight model is basically upward thrust that is interrupted by tilting the rotors forward in order to create forward momentum -- but while you are doing that you have to also apply power to maintain your altitude, and I am not even going to bother discussing the counter-thrust that keeps it from spinning in a circle since that really does not apply here in the game anyway.

The copters in the game use a simplified form of flight controls -- that does not mean that flying is simple, it is just not quite as hard as the real thing.

The following tips will help you in flying copters effectively:

(1) Try to use the bumpers to change direction rather than trying to bank the copter.

(2) When tilting forward to increase speed use the throttle to maintain altitude. Pumping the throttle will often help you to drop altitude in a more controlled manner.

(3) Try to make course corrections gently -- copters work best with a light touch on the controls.

(4) Having your flying skill maxed out to 100 WILL make a LOT of difference in your ability to control the copter.

The best approach that you can take here is to simply do the best you can on this particular lesson, shooting for Silver but accepting Bronze if that is the best you can do... Accept that for now -- later when you max-out the flying skill, and when you have more experience flying copters, then come back and run through it again to get the Gold.

Going for the Gold Medal
The first time you go through this, if you are following the advice above, you should easily be able to get a time of around 3 minutes, which will naturally net you a Silver Medal... Hitting this around 3 minutes is very good actually -- because you only need to shave off another 21 seconds or so in order to unlock the gold!

It is really a good idea for you to run through this several times anyway, since doing so will give you a lot of experience with the copter and, perhaps more important, will help prepare you for the next lesson, which is the Helicopter Speed Run, which is hands-down the worse lesson in the series if you ask most players. Certainly it is the most difficult.

When going for the gold the following tips will help...

(1) The shortest route is usually the best -- for example if your choice is to bleed away time by pulling back and gaining altitude as opposed to running at ground level under a bridge you are often better off going under the bridge.

(2) When a turn is coming up with a marker at it, you are much better off making that a shallower process by angling slightly away from it as you approach to the outside of the turning radius -- that way you enter the turn and change direction much more smoothly.

(3) You do NOT have to hit the center of the markers! This bears repeating -- you do NOT have to hit the CENTER of the markers -- this is helpful for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the marker just past the center of the airport near the control tower, which you will have a hard time in hitting the marker if you try for the center.

(4) Plan your route carefully -- plan your turns in advance -- try to plan at least two markers ahead. By doing it this way you will end up moving through the markers much more smoothly.

Repeating the run to perfect the best approach to each of the markers is your strongest tactic. Remember that the smoother you transition between the markers the faster it will happen. You really only need to shave off a small number of seconds from each marker and you will get gold.

(5) There are basically three areas of the course that will be problems for you, and these are:

-- The first marker since you are tempted to try to fly up over the water tower that is in the way. Instead fly to the side as you only need to hit the edge of the first marker, and you only need to avoid hitting the tower with your rotor, which is much easier to do.

-- the pair of markers between the bridges, which you will be tempted to drop a lot lower for them than you actually need to, which will cause you all sorts of problems when you approach the bridge ahead of each and thus, cost you time. Remember, you only need to hit the top edge of those markers, you don't need to hit the center!

-- Finally the marker that is just past the one above the control tower. The best way to deal with this is to bear to the left over the tall building before you reach the airport. That way you will do a much shallower turn to hit the tower marker, and the one that is just past it will line up much easier, allowing you to smoothly transition to the next one.

(6) You need to nail the landing. Even when you manage to do a perfect run on the course, the reality is that overpowering the landing will mess you up every time. The best tactic to use is to imagine a shallow arc that passed through the last marker and onto the landing pad and then follow it down in a descending arc.

Make the landing a single low arc and you will not need to adjust your position once you are near the ground.

Obtaining Gold
Once you put into practice the tips above, you really should have no trouble getting the gold medal. We used our own advice to score a gold medal on this and you can too -- just do as we say :)
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