Especially at low speed, such as during takeoff, while hovering, and while landing, helicopters are famously difficult (impossible) to control for someone with no experience. Is there a documented instance of any person ever successfully taking off, hovering, and landing a helicopter with no actual flight experience? It must all be in one flight, first time--someone teaching themselves over multiple short flights / hours does not count. Simulator use is OK and does not count as actual flight experience for the purposes of this question.

  • 14
    $\begingroup$ What about the first person to ever fly a helicopter? $\endgroup$
    – Thomas
    Dec 1, 2015 at 7:05
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Those guys went step by step over multiple flights. I'm looking for someone who went up for more than just a few seconds on their first ever flight, remained in control, and landed. $\endgroup$
    – user12492
    Dec 1, 2015 at 7:32
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I very much doubt it. This guy tried and failed $\endgroup$
    – Simon
    Dec 1, 2015 at 8:13
  • $\begingroup$ I've never flown a helicopter, but I think if it as being like operating a motorcycle, where each limb has specific combinations of things to do in order for smooth operation. $\endgroup$ Dec 1, 2015 at 22:19
  • $\begingroup$ By 'flight experience' do you mean 'helicopter flight experience'? $\endgroup$ Dec 1, 2015 at 22:34

1 Answer 1


Yes, Eric "Winkle" Brown took delivery of a Sikorsky R-4 and flew it after reading the flight manual and getting a briefing from a USAF Sergeant. He had no experience or training in helicopters. He wrote about it in "Wings of the Weird and Wonderful".

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ His story on the linked wikipedia page is outstanding -- well worth the few minutes to read it for anybody with an interest in aviation history from the 1930's-40's-50's era. $\endgroup$
    – Ralph J
    Dec 1, 2015 at 22:14
  • $\begingroup$ While having no helicopter flying experience, Brown was an experienced fixed wing pilot. $\endgroup$ Dec 1, 2015 at 22:33
  • $\begingroup$ Brown made several practice attempts before his flight. Great example of a self-taught heli pilot, but doesn't count. $\endgroup$
    – user12492
    Dec 2, 2015 at 1:35

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .