Tuesday, September 11th, 2012 08:34 am GMT -6 Tuesday, September 11th, 2012 08:34 am GMT -6Tuesday, September 11th, 2012 08:34 am GMT -6
 
Helicopter physics videos

These videos on the physics of helicopters are (dare I say it?) good.


 

 

 

Introduction

I am not much of a helicopter pilot. I like helis just fine. In fact, the last time I checked I owned three. It is just that I am fascinated by airplanes. I also love airplane design. Designing and building your own helicopter is not really very practical. You would have to be a machinist so you can create your own gears and other metal parts.

I ran across these series of videos and I was really impressed. The videos are professionally shot and surprisingly entertaining. They actually tackle some of the trickier aspects of how helicopters fly.

Helicopter Physics

The focus is on demonstrating the physics principles discussed. I did not see any equations in the videos that I watched. They are kept lighthearted and there are lots of cuts to other segments.

On the downside, there is a strong bias towards entertainment as opposed to education. For example, one video tackles gyroscopic precession. This is a difficult concept, but no attempt was made to explain why it happens. The entire video was focused on demonstrating it. In typical fashion, the principle is discussed and demonstrated several different ways.

Another video says that a propeller blade gets into trouble when it reaches Mach 1. This is not true for two reasons. First, the sound barrier effects come into play before you reach Mach 1. Second, the air speed reaches Mach 1 over parts of the blade long before the propeller blade as a whole gets there. In fact, the blade could be rotating as low as Mach 0.5 and you could already be suffering from the sound barrier effects.

In the most part, the videos are clear and accurate. I even managed to learn a thing or two about helicopters. I think they are well worth your time to watch them. I hope you enjoy them.

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