Anatomy of a helicopter

Helicopters are quite different from the fixed-wings counterparts and, although there are varied designs and shapes, most helicopters revolve around a classic design that can be seen in popular helicopters such as the Bell 206 or the AS-350.

This article was made having recreational flight simulation in mind. Under no circumstances, it should be used for real flying or for real flight training.

In this tutorial series, we will talk a lot about how a helicopter works and what does what so we will need to know and understand the different parts of a helicopter.

This section will be very short just to get you acquainted with these machines. Don’t worry, we will dig a lot more into it later.

In the image below you can see the main components of a helicopter. We will learn a lot more about these in the future but, for now, it’s important that you familiarize yourself with it so that you understand how helicopters work.

Please note that the descriptions provided in this article are very simplistic. We will not get into details now but you should understand what parts do what.

How to fly helicopters - anatomy of a helicopter

The main rotor is the part that provides lift and allows the helicopter to move up, down, forward, backwards and sideways.

The tail rotor allows you to move the helicopter around it’s rotor. It’s somewhat like the rudder in a fixed-wing aircraft (but, at the same time, nothing like it). It’s complicated but the information to retain is: the tail rotor controls yaw.

The skids are the landing gear of a helicopter. Some helicopters have a landing gear with wheels but most of them use skids.

The tail boom is the tail of the helicopter and it usually has the tail rotor at its end.

These are the main external helicopter parts and those that we will talk about in the next sections.

How to fly helicopters series

Check out the other articles on this series. Click here to see all the available material we have.

Sérgio Costa

About Sérgio Costa

Sérgio has been a flight simulation enthusiast for nearly 25 years. His passion with helicopters developed during MSFS 2000 when he discovered the complexity of these aircraft and the challenge it was to control them. Since then he has been primarily a helicopter flight simmer, trying his best not to crash and kill all his virtual passengers. Sérgio is HeliSimmer's editor and writer and one of the Three Grumpy Simmers, a YouTube series and Podcast produced together with YouTubers Bel Geode and NovaWing24, obviously dedicated to flight simulation.

Proud partner of