Copyright © A. Filippone (1996-2005). All Rights Reserved.

Reference Desk
  • Helicopter Aerodynamics

Books on helicopters include aerodynamics only in part. These books, in fact, also contain chapters on dynamics, stability, control, design, performance, etc. Autogyros are less popular.

  1. Shapiro J. Principles of Helicopter Engineering, Temple Press Ltd, London, 1955.
    Review: Written a few years after helicopter started flying for commercial purposes, it contains all the basics of aerodynamics of the rotor, performance analysis, control and stability, design issues and rotorcraft classification. Useful glossary included. A readable book.

  2. Stepniewski WZ, Keys CN. Rotary-Wing Aerodynamics, Dover Publ, Inc., New York, 1984.
    Review: Large volume starting from basic aerodynamic theory and ending with a case study of real life helicopter sizing (2 volumes in 1, in fact). The book includes discussion of blade dynamic stall, unsteady aerodynamics issues and the basics of momentum theory. It is a recommended book, although the typographical layout is rather primitive.

  3. Seddon J. Basic Helicopter Aerodynamics, BSP Professional Books, 1990.
    Review: As the title implies, short book (less than 150 pages). It covers some fundamentals of helicopter performances, and a chapter on aerodynamic design. A very useful book for an undergraduate university course, and for anybody who is curious about helicopters but cannot afford the time required by more specialised textbooks.

  4. AGARD. Aerodynamics of Rotorcraft, AGARD R-781, (VKI Special Course), April 1990.
    Review: This report is a collection of technical contributions, including a general overview, basic aerodynamics, aerodynamic design issues for rotors, interference problems, loads, wakes, aeroelasticity, aeroacoustics, CFD applications, experimental methods and more. There is a good balance of subjects. Recommended as a further reference.

  5. Bielawa RL. Rotary Wing Structural Dynamics and Aeroelasticity, AIAA Educational Series, 1992 (Chapter 12).
    Review: Here I discuss only Chapter 12, that is related to the unsteady aerodynamics and flutter characteristics of the helicopter. With a high professional standard the author reports 3-D theories, wakes, unsteady airfoil characteristics (dynamic stall), an explanation of the lift deficiency function, the pitch damping, the decay parameters, Theodorsen’s and Wagner’s functions for 2D airfoil motion.

  6. Newman S, The Foundations of Helicopter Flight, E. Arnold Press, 1994.
    Review: This is book geared toward flight characteristics, but is has a few interesting features, namely: autorotative performances in forward flight, tail rotors (brief), rotor ground resonance and related effects. There are sparse useful data.

  7. AGARD. Aerodynamics and Aeroacoustics of Rotorcraft, AGARD CP-552, August 1995.
    Review: State-of-the-art conference proceedings dealing mostly with research and development issues. It includes aeroacoustics, experimental techniques and heavy-duty CFD.

  8. Coyle S. The Art and Science of Flying Helicopters, Arnold, London 1996.
    Review: If you are a pilot (as the author of this book), or just interested in the intricacies of the helicopter aerodynamics, this is a book to start from. There is a first section for beginners, with all the basics and useful graphics, and an advanced second part that contains more technical details.

  9. Coyle S. Cyclic and Collective, Helobooks, 2004.
    Review: This book is an improvement of the above art and science. It is extended over the previous edition, and is aimed at the pilot. However, it contains a lot of interesting stuff on advanced helicopter flying, special flight mechanics, problems, etc.

  10. Leishman JD. Principles of Helicopter Aerodynamics, Cambridge Aerospace Series, Vol. 12, Cambridge Univ. Press, 2000.
    Review: This books is an outstanding scientific volume, with many modern issues of helicopter aerodynamics. The book starts with a history chapter with useful vintage photos, but it is a very comprehensive work, including: fundamentals of rotor aerodynamics, unsteady aerodynamics, computational methods, wakes, tip vortices, airfoils, conceptual design of the helicopter. With extensive bibliography. MUST HAVE.

  11. Johnson, W. Helicopter Theory, Princeton Univ. Press, NJ, 1980. (Dover edition, 1994).
    Review: This thick book is a classical text in helicopter aerodynamics. My Dover edition runs to 1089 pages (the bibliography alone is 128 pages). It is so thick that it is difficult to handle it. However, it contains the fundamentals of rotary wing aerodynamics, rotorcraft performances, aeroelasticity, stability, controls and noise. A “monumental resource”.

  12. Prouty RW. Helicopter Performance, Stability and Control, Krieger Publ. Co. 1998 (reprint).
    Review: This is a book with excellent contents from the engineering point of view, with clear discussion of helicopter aerodynamics (including airfoil and airframe), stability, trim, control and basic aircraft design. It is a standard reference for practitioners in the field.

  13. Prouty RW. Military Helicopter Design Technology, Krieger Publ. Co. 1998 (reprint).
    Review: Despite the title, it is not a design book. It contains some technicalities and a lot of photographs. It is a general review of rotorcraft technology, including anti-torque systems, components and something on the design process.

  14. Cooke, AK. Helicopter Test and Evaluation, AIAA Educational Series, 2002. Review: This book deals with the experimental (e.g. flight testing) evaluation of helicopter performance, including stability and control.

  15. McCormick, B. Aerodynamics of VSTOL Aircraft, Dover Ed. 1999 (paperback, from original edition of 1967). Review: There is a chapter on basic helicopter aerodynamics, in addition to one on propeller aerodynamics. The book is otherwise less focussed than it might sound, with several topics at the basic level, instead of an advanced level (for example, wing aerodynamics).

  16. Gessow A, Myers GC. Aerodynamics of the Helicopter, The College Park Press, College Park, MD, 2000 (reprint from 1954 edition). Review: This is a classical book, first appeared in 1951. It contains some fundamental aspects of helicopter aerodynamics, stability and performances. It includes autorotations, aerodynamics of hover and forward flight, blade dynamic stall and vibration problems. I find this book pleasant to read, and I recommend it, in spite of its age.

  17. Layton, DM. Helicopter Performance. Matrix Series in Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering, 1984. Beaverton, Oregon. Review: Very simple and short aerodynamic analysis of helicopter performance. Do not bother with this book.

  18. Dommasch, DO. Elements of Propeller and Helicopter Aerodynamics. Pitman Publ. Co., New York, 1953.

  19. Nikolski, AA. Helicopter Analysis, Wiley, New York, 1951.

  20. Payne, PR. Helicopter Dynamics and Aerodynamics, Pitman and Sonds, London, 1959.

[Top of Page]

Copyright © A. Filippone (1996-2005). All Rights Reserved.