The Buttons below will take you through the different hints and tips that I feel will make your helicopter safer and more reliable.

Horizontal Stabilizer

Horizontal Stabilizer

  • The horizontal stabilizer on the older Rotorways is held onto the steel tube spar by 5each 1/8" aluminum pop rivets on the top surface and five aluminum rivets on the bottom. These rivets sometimes weaken and can show signs of coming loose at 60 to 100 flight hours in my experience. When the helicopter is moved it is natural to grab onto the horizontal stabilizer as a handle. If you are in the habit of doing this you will want to inspect these rivets carefully during your preflight inspection.
  • During forward flight the air flow over the stabilizer surfaces is substantial and the forces of the relative wind over the entire surface of the stabilizer is concentrated onto the narrow line of aluminum pop rivets along the spar. I have seen several ships where the rivets were so worn from movement of the skin that several of the rivet heads were completely missing and the owner was still flying the helicopter. Obviously the owner was doing a proper preflight inspection and should have repaired this area before further flight.


  • Several years ago I received a phone call from a Rotorway owner who had just survived a near-fatal crash in his Rotorway. He had been flying at altitude when all at once the nose of the helicopter began to pitch downward and even with full aft cyclic control input he was not able to bring the nose of the helicopter up from the steep dive it had entered. Somehow just before impacting the ground the helicopter hit a tree which brought the nose of the helicopter up. He hit the ground hard and survived with injuries. (Here again we see the crashworthy structure of the Rotorway's heavy frame saving two lives).
  • We surmised that the cause of the nose down pitch was that the owner designed and installed (not a Rotorway approved modification) horizontal stabilizer actuator had gone to nose down pitch rendering the aft cyclic input of the pilot ineffective in bringing the nose up. I will not fly in a Rotorway that someone has modified the horizontal stabilizer with this dangerous trim method.


  • If the rivets on your horizontal stabilizer show wear, you may wish to give that area of your helicopter some added attention. Here is one method that many have used to firmly attach the stabilizer skin to the steel spar.
    • a. Drill out all 10 aluminum rivets on each stabilizer(5 on top, 5 on the bottom)
    • b. Remove the stabilizer from the spar by sliding it outboard, de-burr and clean the holes
    • c. Mix up blade glue or JB weld and coat the top and bottom of the steel spar tube with the glue
    • d. Slide stabilizer onto spar and line it up with the original rivet holes
    • e. Install steel Cherry Max aviation-grade rivets dipped into the epoxy and then popped into place, this bonds the underside of the rivet to the skin so that there can be no relative movement between them. Be sure to check the thickness of the metals that you are installing the new rivets into and order your rivets with the the proper GRIP LENGTH for the combined thickness of the metals that you are riveting. The wrong grip length will not give you a satisfactory bond.
    • f. Wipe up excess
  • You will now have a very secure attachment of the stabilizer skin to the spar.


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