Whether you are brand new to RC helicopter operations or a seasoned pilot, there is most likely going to come a time that your helicopter just does not respond and fly on the straight path you chose. When this happens, it is easy to become overwhelmed by all of the troubleshooting tips and forum suggestions out there. In the end, you just want to get your RC copter back to center as quickly as possible.
What causes an RC Helicopter to veer off when trying to fly straight? Common issues that cause an RC Helicopter to lean to the left or right immediately upon takeoff or during flight are:
- Damaged or defective parts
- The gyroscope is out of balance
- You need to improve your skills as a pilot
No matter what may be causing your specific issue, we are here to help you get it fixed and flying straight in no time. We’ll provide you clear and concise instructions on understanding your particular problem to deliver a full diagnostic rundown of the most likely culprits.
Common Reasons Your RC Helicopter Is Flying Off-Course
When an RC Helicopter leans to the left or right immediately upon takeoff or during flight, it means that there is most likely some damage to one or more of the propulsion and stabilizing components or one is defective (if the helicopter is new)
Other issues may include operator error, manufacturers defect, and lack of appropriate trim set. We’ll get into some details below.
Your RC Helicopter Has Damaged or Defective Parts
Over the course of your piloting time, you will inevitably crash or tumble a time or two. Each time your helicopter crashes into the ground or floor, you should fully inspect every part to ensure there is no damage to anything.
In many cases, when the helicopter is able to lift off or land just fine but has issues when flying across some distance, it is a damaged blade or beam that is an issue.
Damaged by User Error
Even the best pilots will crash their copters now and then. As a result, you’ll encounter bent parts from time to time. We always suggest keeping an extra set of blades on hand. This is the easiest change to make in most RC helicopters and the most common cause of shakes and flying difficulties.
If you have just unboxed your helicopter and veering or turning occurs on your maiden voyage, you may want to consider contacting the seller to see if there is a chance of manufacturer defect and what to do.
Additionally, if you are an experienced pilot and know that your last flight showed no sign of damage, then you may want to investigate your storage space for something that may be causing the issue.
Normal Wear and Tear
Of course, even the best copters out there will have issues when used over and over. In addition to the rotor blades, the shaft that holds the rotor can warp or bend with extended use or repeated strikes. In some cases, you may get lucky enough to be able to straighten the shaft on your own.
However, once the shaft has bent, it will be more likely to do so again. The next time you fly and crash land it may cause significantly more damage. For this reason, we suggest avoiding fixing a bent shaft and urge you to replace it instead.
Many pilots also choose to have new shafts fabricated from titanium. These titanium shafts will withstand more use and are lightweight enough to not cause any balance issues with your helicopter.
Please remember that replacing any parts with fabricated upgrades may require you to make adjustments to the trim and gyro (see below) of your chopper in order for it to fly straight.
Gyroscope Out of Balance
There is a mechanism inherent to every helicopter that keeps and maintains flight. This is the delicate balance that is found in the gyroscope controller. This controller syncs with your transmitter. If your gyroscope is out of balance, your tail rotor will not properly compensate for the main drive rotor, and this will cause your helicopter to spin.
Always check with your owner’s manual before working on parts of your helicopter that you are unfamiliar with, or take it to a repair shop if you are unsure or uncomfortable working on it yourself.
Many helicopters feature a small gyro sensitivity adjustment screw that can help to properly sync the two rotors together. Other helicopters require manual adjustment. Whenever manually adjusting or working on your helicopter, please remember to remove the primary blades to avoid serious injury to yourself.
If, after replacing your blades and proper adjustment, your gyroscope is still not performing correctly, you may want to consider replacing the part.
In some cases, the rotor motor of the tail motor or even the main rotor may become worn and need to be replaced. This is especially common in RC helicopters that feature brushed motors, as they wear down much more quickly then brushless motors. When replacing the motor, it may be time to consider an upgrade.
You Need to Improve Your Skills as a Pilot
Everyone who owns and operates an RC helicopter knows that there is always going to be room for improvement. Even pilots of full-sized copters take regular training sessions and keep their flight hours current to maintain their licensing, RC helicopters require the same dedication. We decided to provide you with a few tips to help you improve your flying skills.
The best way to improve your flying ability is to practice, practice, practice. We all started out as newbies at some point, so you will find that there is a great camaraderie within the RC helicopter community. Do not expect to fly like a pro from the start. Even the pros have flying issues from time to time.
Find a Group
One sure-fire way to really learn about flying your RC helicopter is to find a group of RC helicopter enthusiasts. Helicopter pilots are a unique breed in the RC community, so do not fall into the trap of just any RC group, take the time to find local and regional groups dedicated to the love of RC helicopters.
Not only can be involved in such a group provide endless opportunities for socialization and education. RC helicopter groups are the go-to source for anyone wanting to improve their piloting techniques, answer questions about the latest and greatest upgrades and features available, and just all-around fun.
There is an entire section on the RCUniverse Forums dedicated to everything RC Helicopter, from beginners to advanced pilots and everything in between. Another forum site, RCGroups offers member access to Heli specific topics.
Either one of these online locations is a great starting point for finding local enthusiasts to chat with and get to know each other, share tips and tricks, and overall, just have fun sharing a passion for such a fun hobby.
Many people are more than willing to share some tips and tricks that they have learned over the years especially if you are an active participant in the community.
When Veering and Turning Isn’t an Issue
While we’ve delved into reasons an RC helicopter might fly off course, it is also necessary to understand that there are a few times when there is absolutely no need to be concerned about how your copter is flying or if it tends to veer off, particularly if it goes to the left.
The first thing new pilots seem to encounter is the sudden left spin that occurs during lift-off. Due to the design of most RC helicopters that have only one tail rotor, this is a normal function of a single rotor. Over time you will learn to compensate for the lean and even eventually do it automatically.
Many helicopters have adjustable trim settings. This is usually a stick adjustment found on your transmitter. This can be adjusted during takeoff to help avoid the left spin. It is important to remember that most trim adjustments only need very small movements to obtain a big change. Err on the side of caution to avoid a tip-over or sudden crash.
If your helicopter keeps spinning in circles you can find some tips to fix it in the video below.
As you may have realized, a turning RC helicopter is an extremely common issue that many pilots face. We hope that you have found the information we have provided helpful in pointing you in the right direction.
From novice to professionals, mini-helicopter to scale gas-powered helicopters, we all have a deep passion and desire to see this amazing pastime continues to grow. We wish you all the best and safe flying in your future.