I was recently flying my quadcopter and it started to go out of control. It was because I was flying it below a ceiling fan which acted as a mini downburst shoving the little quad to the ground.

So have there ever been reports of a helicopter accidently flying into a downburst?

  • $\begingroup$ Helicopters in general trade-off performance vs cost vs efficiency etc and do not have much "spare" power. A downdraft is going to result in a loss of contol in that you will not be able to maintain altitude or other axis. Helicopter pilots (and I suspect most GA pilots in general) avoid anything that might produce a downdraft. Mountain flying needs a particular set of skills and knowledge to conduct safely and knowing where downdrafts are likely to be encountered is a key part of that. Attempting to pull collective to maintain height is going to result in a loss of RRPM. $\endgroup$
    – Simon
    Oct 22 '15 at 7:11

Yes, it would be really amazing if it had never happened. Since "reports" are only required in the case of accidents, here are extracts from three NTSB summaries:


During descent for an off-airport pinnacle landing, the helicopter encountered a downdraft about 75 to 100 feet above ground level (agl), and the pilot receiving instruction increased collective input. The flight instructor advised the pilot receiving instruction to be less aggressive using the collective as the flight continued to the landing area. As the helicopter descended through about 10 to 25 feet agl, it encountered a second downdraft, and the pilot receiving instruction increased collective again, which was followed by a decrease in rotor rpm.


During the approach to the 5,657 foot level site, the pilot said he encountered a downdraft as the helicopter approached the site, and the helicopter descended below his anticipated approach path. He initiated a go-around, but the helicopter continued to descend, and landed hard, about 150 feet short and down slope of his intended touchdown point.


As he flew the helicopter out of the leeward side of the peak, he encountered a downdraft. He maneuvered the helicopter toward a wide open valley that descended about 5,000 feet below. The downdraft pushed the helicopter into the face of the mountain, despite the pilot's application of full collective and descending flight into the valley.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ beware flying on the leeward side of a ridge $\endgroup$
    – rbp
    Oct 23 '15 at 22:27
  • $\begingroup$ @rbp Yea, that isn't a downburst, its just flow over a mountain. $\endgroup$
    – casey
    Oct 24 '15 at 17:36
  • $\begingroup$ I was addressing the third example $\endgroup$
    – rbp
    Oct 24 '15 at 18:06

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