Helipaddy Community, Site Owners

A Site Owner’s Guide to Helicopters

S = Slope

Quick answer: if it were a sloping tennis court, the far end should be less than 1 meter higher than the near end.

Slopes can make life difficult but a rule of thumb is that it is not a factor when up to 3%.  A man standing 200ft away makes a 3% slope. 

Most helicopters, however, hang “one skid low” e.g. the left skid hangs low in an R66 with its tail rotor on the left hand side of the tail. This means a 3% slope is actually quite convenient if the pilot is able to settle the heli down across the slope.  Here is our instructor putting down on a 10 degree (17%) slope!

This is what a 17% slope looks like!

Finding the Landing Site From the Air

We wanted to mention this because it is only when you have been up in a helicopter that you realise how the countryside looks like a big patchwork quilt from 1000 feet.  Fields are often different colours to Google Satellite view, hills and slopes are obviously not visible and the approach direction may have unfamiliar landmarks to the site owner.

When Helipaddy speak to land owners it is quite common for them to tell us that the landing site is “in front of the house” or “near the oak tree” or “by the driveway” and so on.  It is essential that owners familiarise themselves accurately with the points of the compass and only describe landmarks this way.  Try to imagine obvious visible landmarks that are a mile or so from the helipad and explain where the landing site is relative to these.

Site Owner to Pilot: “Our landing site is marked by the arrow and the field of wheat” – see the following image to understand the problem of vague instructions.

How sites can look from the air

Site owners concerned about liability should have a look at Helipaddy’s compliance guide. You have a few options including indemnification and insurance but in all cases you have a duty of care towards visitors. Helipaddy’s owner dashboard makes it easy for site owners to provide and maintain the right level of information regarding landing sites.

The author has his own landing site and is also a pilot.