RC Helicopter Terminology

Many of the terms used in the RC helicopter field can be confusing for the beginner. Model helicopter terminology is explained below.


Autorotation  allows the blades to continue spinning even if the engine cuts out which gives the pilot enough control to land the helicopter safely without any engine power.


Pitch is the angle at which the main rotor blades are diven through the air. Increasing the pitch creates more lift whilst decreasing the pitch reduces lift.

Fixed pitch helicopters

With this type of helicopter the pitch of the main blades are set in a fixed position. Altitude is gained or lost by increasing or decreasing the rotor blade speed.

Collective pitch helicopter

A collective pitch helicopter has the ability to adjust the pitch of the blades during flight, giving more control. Commonly the
throttle stick on the transmitter controls both engine speed and pitch. As the pitch is increased so is the engine speed to compensate for the additional drag of the blades through the air.

Cyclic Controls

The cyclic controls are used to move the helicopter left and right and forward and backwards. This is achieved by changing the
individual pitch of each blade during one full revolution or cycle, which changes the rotor disc orientation to provide you with forward/backward flight and left/right controls, the whole disc moves left/right, forward/backward.

This cyclic response is initiated by the paddles which are attached to the flybar. The size, shape and weight of these paddles directly affects the control response on the heli when a cyclic command is initiated. If a larger or heavier than normal paddle is used then the cyclic response will be slower (ideal for novices) and more sluggish when compared to a smaller, lighter paddle.


The Gyro is an electronc or mechanical device that senses any unwanted and automatically compensates for it. This makes the model more stable and easier to fly.

Direct Servo Control (DSC)

DSC enables the transmitter to be connected directly to the model to operate the servos. This is a great advantage when at a busy
flying field as you can work on your model without having to turn the actual transmitter on.