Does anyone have any insight or tips to share on how to land a helicopter on a dolly?

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Looking for insight into the normal mmethods used to land a
helicopter on a dolly/trailer.

-- Mark Dalton, March 18, 2007


Paul gives good advice below. My best advice is to know your limits and remember your pilot-in-command responsibility. Teterboro is the airport where I'm most often required to land on a dolly. The line guys there will often ask me to do things that I consider unnecessarily hazardous, e.g., land on a dolly with a gusty 20 knot tailwind, right next to bizjet. This is the time to swallow your pride and call on the unicom frequency: "You guys are asking me to do something beyond my level of skill. You have to move the dolly so that it is pointed into the wind and at least 50' from any other aircraft."

Last time I did this at Jet Aviation at TEB, I landed on the ramp, let my passengers out (cousin and her daughter), had them reposition the dolly, and landed. I figured that if I were to disgrace myself with a dynamic rollover, it would be only me on board.

At Signature at TEB recently I landed on the dolly and ignored everything but the line guy's hand signals. He stood about 25' in front of the helicopter (brave or stupid?). I tend to be nervous and I think I did better concentrating on him than on looking down.

-- Philip Greenspun, April 5, 2007

There's nothing that special about it - I look at the front of my skid on my side, use peripheral vision to make sure that the skid is parallel to the edge of the dolly, and most of all, avoid over-controlling.

You should have an idea of how much room there is on each side of the skids - some dolly's are larger than others. I used to land on one that only had 12 inches on each side, so I would just make sure that my skid was within 12 inches of the side of the dolly. If it's too far away, that means the other skid (which I couldn't see) was too close to the edge.

If you've never landed on a dolly before, go practice landing on the pavement while looking at your skid rather than looking out the front window. That'll help you to hover/ land without over-controlling while looking in close to the helicopter.

Unrelated to landing on a dolly, it's a good idea to practice landing while looking at your skid - the front of it, the middle of it, the rear of it. It takes a little practice, but it's helpful for situations like landing on the dolly to be able to precisely place your skid. Again, it's all about learning to not over control. If you've never done it before you might want to do it with a CFI or safety pilot.


-- Paul Cantrell, April 5, 2007

I *strongly* recommend training with an instructor experienced in this operation! Don't accept an instructor's "I know how to do them" - ask the CFI how many, for how long, under what conditions, etc. Ask what experiences have *scared* them - if they say "nothing", then you know they either haven't done many or they're blowing smoke.

Low time pilots should *never* do a dolly landing. Period. Some higher time pilots shouldn't do them either...

There is an unfortunately too long list of pilots who have smashed up perfectly good helicopters attempting dolly landings - just visit the FAA's safety and the NTSB's websites and you can see for yourself. Dynamic rollover is very easy to initiate on a dolly and the outcome is *always* negative.

Pilots without adequate, qualified training, attempting dolly operations do so at their (your) own peril...

-- Mike Rhodes, April 5, 2007

Make sure it is chalked! Make sure it is chalked! Then...make sure it is chalked.

-- Tommy Alouf, December 12, 2007

When I was learning this the instructor had me paint a dolly on the grass and practise landing there before he would even consider letting me do it for real without him, looking back it was an excellent way of getting the confidence to put the helicopter excactly where you want it for many types of landings, just be nice and light on the controls, have fun.

-- Steve Coombes, August 22, 2008

Fortunately in this accident no one died!!!

As write from other, do some time with an instructor!

-- Timothy Prospero, February 21, 2009