DCS UH-1H or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Helicopters
This article is dedicated to my dear friend Gabriel, who is the helicopter pilot that first opened my eyes to the wonders of the rotary wings so many years ago. Thank you so much. For a lot of years I have felt a sense of awe when looking at a helicopter, be them civilian or military. I have fond memories of spending hours upon hours on a mall's terrace as a child, looking at the only airport that my city has and the air traffic that came and went. Many of those hours were spent looking at helicopters, mainly at the Twin Hueys and Mi-2s that the national Air Force had based there.
I always liked them but it never beat the feeling of a King Air 200 passing 100 feet above me on final approach. It was not until my country, for good or bad, decided to acquire some Mi-26 helicopters that I realized how amazing helicopters were, not only as aircraft but as marvels of human engineering. When I saw the Mi-26 fly, I was shocked at the sound and the sheer size of it. In fact, I was so impressed that between me and my friends we always called them the "Flying Whales".
But my real life amazement for helicopters was not one that I shared in simulators. For years all I ever used were fixed wing aircraft, for reasons which I can not pin-point with accuracy. Maybe it was the speed of the fighters or the comforting sound of a turboprop, I really do not know why I was and am so drawn to fixed wing aircraft. I, willingly, never gave any helicopter a chance in any of the simulators I have had since the early 2000's.
It wasn't until recently when I finally decided that I would give the rotary wings a go, both for my sake of trying something different and to allow myself to create more diverse content for the website. But I was not willing to take a full dive into helicopters just yet, hence why my first ever experience with rotary wings was the Kamov Ka-50. I had previously heard that the Ka-50 was a highly automated machine with tons of autopilot aid which should make the flying experience much more friendly to a novice.
And in fact, what I heard was true. It was a bit tricky at first because I was not used to using my throttle as a collective, which led to some very embarrassing crashes. Once I got used to it, it became second nature to me so I started doing more interesting things with the Kamov, such as cargo lifting and scout operations in multiplayer servers. But it didn't take me long to realize that the Ka-50 does not offer the true helicopter experience I was searching for.
I was not using my "anti-torque" pedals as much as I thought, nor was I correcting for many undesirable effects. Hovering it was a piece of cake, even without the auto-hover being enabled. In my eyes, it felt much more like a fighter aircraft than a helicopter. For a complete summary of my feelings on the Kamov, and why I like it despite everything, I suggest you check out my DCS: Ka-50 Black Shark 2 review.
During the last DCS sale, I took the decision to buy the UH-1H for review purposes but-oh- how it surprised me. I went in thinking that this would be different experience when comparing it with the Kamov but I did not expect it to be a figurative night and day difference.
The Huey is a very different beast, one that requires much more attention. I found myself not only enjoying myself but I also found myself having the same feeling of amazement that I had in real life. I will not lie, it took me a while to adjust from the Kamov to the Huey but now that I feel confident enough in my flying I can truly understand what I was missing with the Ka-50.
I went from barely using my pedals in level flight to using them constantly. The way I use the cyclic and the pedals is much more different than how I used it on the Kamov, with the Huey requiring much more hand-foot coordination in order to counteract the torque. Torque was the main thing missing from the Kamov but that is to be expected due to its co-axial rotor system.
This experience changed my mind when it comes to appreciating the work of a helicopter pilot and the precision one has to have in day-to-day operations. I also realized that a fixed wing aircraft is inherently stable by design, which makes them much more simple to fly in most scenarios. To put it bluntly, in a fighter aircraft I find fun by employing the weaponry that they have, in the Huey I find fun just by the sheer experience of flying it.
Hence, the title of this article. The DCS Huey is the digital helicopter that convinced me to stop worrying about the complexity of learning a helicopter and taught me how to love them.
I can not wait to see how the DCS: Mi-24P, the Mi-8 or any other helicopters differ from this one once I get my hands on them, consider me impressed.
About the writer:
Santiago "Cubeboy" Cuberos
Longtime aviation fanatic with particular preference towards military aviation and its history. Said interests date back to the early 2000's leading into his livelong dive into civil and combat flight simulators. He has been involved in a few communities but only started being active around the mid 2010's. Joined as a Spanish to English translator in 2017, he has been active as a writer and content manager ever since. Twitter | Discord: Cubeboy #9034