Can an aircraft or helicopter run into its own wake vortex?

I was recently flying my rc helicopter and I would sometimes turn it around and move it forward and sometimes I lost control of the helicopter while doing that a few times and crashed it everywhere (accidently crashed it into my poor cat). Every time I fly this helicopter it randomly starts turning to the left uncontrollably. Also I have had where I kept the thrust at the same level and then I would fly it into a different room and it would start raising in altitude uncontrollably. So can a helicopter or aircraft fly into its own wake and was it the wake of the helicopter that caused these problems with my helicopter?

• If you fly round in circles you could run into your own wake, but this isn't likely to be much of a problem with a model helicopter small enough to fly indoors. More likely you haven't trimmed the model properly, or you're flying it out of line-of-site - some of these models use infra-red and not radio. Or maybe you just need more practice.
– user11516
Oct 7 '15 at 3:01
• Also, the very small size makes it very susceptable to air currents. A blowing vent, a fan on an electronic piece of equipment, or just air convection could cause something like fly it into a different room at it would start raising in altitude uncontrollably. Especially a ceiling fan. Dec 17 '15 at 23:53
• Was the cat OK? May 25 '18 at 1:32
• Late but a roll to one side during high speed flight might be retreating blade stall, but from the info in the question does not sound likely. Jan 30 '19 at 10:58

Helicopters are not easy to fly - whether full-scale manned aircraft or RC models. I would bet that your issues are more related to pilot error than any fault of the machine (other than the fact that it is a helicopter, and inherently unstable).

That said, almost any aircraft can be maneuvered in such a way as to encounter its own wake, and the helicopter is no exception. In fact it's much easier do to this in a helicopter than in a fixed-wing aircraft: A condition known as "settling with power" (or "vortex ring state") can occur when a helicopter descends into its own rotor wash, e.g. by descending directly vertically in calm air. The results of such an encounter can be "unpleasant" - a number of helicopter accidents have been attributed to this sort of encounter.

• I think I ran into my own downwash. I would fly around in circles above my bed and that could be the cause of why I keep descending without control. That downwash from a little helicopter is so powerful. I didn't even think that a little helicopter like that could blow the sheets off my bed. Oct 7 '15 at 12:15

I've certainly run into my own wake turbulence when doing steep turns in a Cessna 172. In fact, it's the mark of a well-executed 360 degree steep turn that you do feel the bump of running over your own wake after coming full around. :-)