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Funnels are a nice looking maneuvar that at first may look difficult and or complicated, but once you understand the fundamentals of what a funnel really is they are not so bad.Pre-requisites
This maneuvar only requires you to be able to do forward or backwards flight, and the willingness to retrain your brain to do circuits with different controls. Inverted funnels are obviously much more difficult and require some proficiency at inverted forward and backwards flight.Analyzing Funnels
Funnels can be flown in many different orientations. There are 8 in total. Nose Down, Tail Down, CW or CCW, Upright or Inverted. Some may also know that there are 8 general orientations of forward flight circuits as well. Nose Forward, Tail Forward, CW or CCW, upright or Inverted...
Coincidence? No not really. The reason is that a funnel is exactly the same type of maneuvar as any other type of circuit. The only difference is the orientation of the heli and the controls you use for aileron and elevator.
What do I mean by this? Well think of flying a ccw upright circuit for a second. You generally use left aileron to turn into the bank and back elevator to pull back through the turn. Now think of the same circuit but with the heli tail down instead. Think of the left side of the heli (as looking from behind) as being the "nose" or having a big nose put on it. Now elevator is acting as the aileron, and aileron is acting like the elevator (specifically down elevator is acting like left aileron, and right aileron is acting like back elevator). The controls have simply phased 90 degrees. If you were to turn your radio 90 degrees to the right (don't try this) you'd see that controls would be exactly the same as the nose forward circuit. The good thing is that the rudder control always stays the same.
So what all this means is that you already know the mechanics of flying a funnel, it's no different from a regular circuit. You just need to train yourself on the control changes.Let's get on with it
If you have a sim, definitely start with that. You are going to get disorientated easily when starting these out...
Let's start with a ccw nose down funnel. The easiest way I've had learning funnels is to start a regular circuit and then apply a little extra rudder to move the nose or tail to point down. So start with a ccw forward flying circuit and give a little extra left rudder to get the nose to point in. When the nose points down, now your elevator is going to control your bank angle. Pulling back will flatten you out, and pushing forward will steepen the bank. Also aileron is now acting as your elevator. Left aileron is now "pulling" through the bank just as pulling back on the elevator will do on a regular banked turn.
For a tail down funnel start with a backwards ccw circuit, and give a little extra left rudder to bring the tail down. Now right aileron is used to pull through the bank. Forward elev flattens the bank, and pulling back steepens it.
It definitely gets confusing getting used to the control phases, but here's one thing to keep in mind that will help simplify the process a little bit...
In another thread I discuss what I call "coordinated
" and "uncoordinated
" controls. Coordinated controls are when the aileron and rudder are used in the same direction, and uncoordinated is when rudder and aileron are used in opposite directions. Forward flight upright circuits are coordinated, and backwards flight is uncoordinated. Likewise nose down funnels are coordinated
and tail down funnels are uncoordinated
. For example in a tail down funnel your rudder and aileron movements will be in opposite directions. If you keep that in mind when doing funnels it will help you remember which controls to use.
Hope that helps a bit. It reads more complicated that it really is. Just keep practicing and you'll quickly get the hang of it. The hardest part is getting used to the elevator controls during a funnel, so just keep working on it and you'll have it in no time. Oh and don't worry about inverted funnels. Keep working on upright funnels and by the time you're ready for inverted funnels you'll already know everything you need to do them inverted.