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As the engine of a plane is failing, one might think that the aerodynamic postulates of that plane would potentially glide one down to safety. On the contrary, helicopters seem too clunky in comparison. Imagine one switched off the engine of the plane during flight, and the outcome of that would surely not be very pretty.
Neil deGrasse Tyson tweeted this past year that the plane with a failing engine is a glider whereas a helicopter with a failing engine is similar to a brick. Destin Sandlin from the YouTube channel SmarterEveryDay took the time to prove deGrasse Tyson’s line of thinking wrong with his own knowledge and with the help of a bunch of seasoned helicopter pilots.
Once they had enjoyed a cruise around the British Columbia lakes, they went on to exhibit how one can safely land a helicopter after the motor of the helicopter fails to function. The whole process employs what is known as Autorotation. Gerry Friesen was able to employ this technique with an amazing 16,000 flight hours to his name. Infact, even he is of the view that a helicopter with a failing motor is safer compared to landing a plane with a failing engine.
That does not mean that deGrasse Tysn was wrong, though. Let us assume that the propellers of a helicopter stop working, it is sure to drop in a way that a brick does. Though, if they somehow still move, the pilot of the helicopter can make a safe landing. Destin went on to explain in his video that helicopter pilots possess physics tricks to prevent the helicopter from falling like a brick. This entire process requires a simple lever as well as great amount of practice. You may have a look for yourself.