April 5, 2022

How to Rappel from a Helicopter?

by Roger

Rappelling from a helicopter is a process involving five different steps. You need to have a rappelling instructor nearby to direct you on what to do.

Besides that, you have to undergo training. The 5 steps involve getting your gear in order, positioning yourself, throwing the ropes, and setting off, which will be discussed below.


Table of Contents

What is Helicopter Rappelling?

Helicopter rappelling is descending on a rope from a helicopter, but it’s harder than it looks. Firefighter rappellers and military personnel use the technique in rescue rappelling operations to land in areas that craft can not get to. 

How to Rappel from a Helicopter?

You’ve probably spotted it in movies or played it on your PlayStation. In reality, rappelling from a helicopter is more challenging than it seems.

Then there’s the arduous helicopter rappelling training under the supervision of a “trained rappel master.” It’s a gentle drop to the surface in a location where the difficult topography or, in the instance of special operations, the project’s rapid pace will prevent a good landing.

According to their altitude, rappelling from a helicopter is classified as low, moderate, or high: low is less than 75 feet; moderate is 75 to 150 feet, and greater is more than 150 feet.

Helicopter Rappelling

Time Involved in Helicopter Rappelling Training

Air Assault Training is a 10-day intensive program. It begins with a simple lock-in rappel and then progresses to a Hollywood rappeling. Hollywood rappelling is the kind you watch in the films.

Lastly, students perform a combat rappel, similar to Hollywood rappelling but involving around 30 pounds of equipment and fake weapons.

People’s height interpretation begins to deteriorate at about 34 feet. The last bit helps determine those with vertigo and phobias.

Rappelling Gear You’ll Need

Rappelers must always use helmets and protective goggles provided by a flying helmet’s visor. It’s also critical to have the correct rappelling gloves.

Rappelling gloves must be strictly leather to safeguard the fingers and hands from the high heat generated from the rope slide friction.

Again, safety belts, strong harnesses, and a tether. This equipment works in unison with the L4 nylon rope for controlled descents.

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Helicopter Rappelling Step-by-Step Instruction

Since helicopter rappelling is loud, you must be familiar with the exact orders and the hand and arm gestures that go with them. A rappelling master gives all orders while rappelers follow them.

Step 1) Prepare Yourself

Conduct a final inspection of the connection, rappelling harness, rappelling rings, and related gear with your rappelling instructor. Also, repeatedly inspect the anchor point connections by weighting the rope.

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Step 2) Throw the Rope

You will get the rope out using your guiding hand. Your rappelling master will signal when to lower your rollout bag outside the chopper.

Ensure that the rappel rope is not caught in the helicopter’s side or the skids. Before you touch the ground, the rappel master will ensure the rope is tangled and knot-free.

Step 3) Sit at the Door

That’s when things start to heat up. You need to assume a sitting posture by swinging your feet toward the helicopter’s exterior.

Step 4) Position before the Jump

This is the preparation period for the plunge. Rotate at an angle of 180 around the skids to face the chopper’s interior and the rappelling instructor.

The legs should be a shoulder’s breadth spread, then lock your knees. Place your feet on the skids, and lean toward the chopper at your waist. Lastly, your braking hand should rest on your lower back.

Step 5) Jump

Wiggle the knees and zealously deflect off the skid hardware when the “execute” order is given. Allow the rope to flow in your braking and guiding hands.

There must be no abrupt pauses, and the fall must be about 8 feet in one second. Once you’re approximately midway to the surface, you should begin slowing down with your braking hand. 

To control the descending pace, loosen the rope strain and slide the braking hands at 45. Slip the rappelling rope into the rappelling ring so that it can be free as you get to the surface.

Again, when the rappelling master certifies that you are no longer on the descent, he will lower the rope down from the helicopter, freeing you to move freely on the ground.

Helicopter Rappelling Terms

  • Guiding hand: Your upper hand is your guiding hand. It is used to direct oneself along the rope by softly gripping it.
  • Braking hand: The lower hand is the braking hand. Its controls the rate at which you descend.
  • Deployment pack: The deployment pack contains all of the equipment you’ll require on the terrain. Rope deploying backpacks from Black Hawk feature hooking and a loophole for quick rope deployment. It has an interior loop to hold the rope’s hook point. The pack’s weight might assist in maintaining the rope steadily aside from storing your gear. 
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  • Donut ring: It is the main anchoring point for the rappel line. It’s made of a 12-inches solid ring and half an inch of folded steel rope. there are also seven parachute’s static rope snapping clips, four 12-inches U-shaped bolts, and chains within the kit.

What is the Role of Tactical Rappel Instruction in Helicopter Rappelling Training?

The role of tactical rappelling instructions is to equip individuals with rappelling training tools. The highly qualified instructors have years of combined expertise in police departments, including SWAT and combat training.

Besides, they brag about various rappel education courses offered to feds, military, local, and corporate security forces that conduct domestic or overseas special operations. 

Other roles include the following list.

  • They aim to deliver secure and convenient sharp-angle rope activities by concentrating on specialized rope applications, rescues, law enforcement, and combat activities using more up-to-date methods. They advise learners to look at accessible structures and practice them to fulfill their rappelling demands.
  • They move to request a location or demand agencies to offer training.
  • They offer all the necessary rappelling gear for the lessons.
  • They offer rappelling courses customized to your agency’s needs, and they have a variety of options for various levels of experience and activities.

What Does a Helicopter Rappelling Course Include?

Helicopter rappelling courses are grouped into three parts, the tactical rappel course, rappel master instructor, and the helicopter rappel master course. 

The tactical rappel courses 

The Tactical Rappelling program takes 8 hours and is carried out in one day. It’s relevant for police enforcement agents, paramedics, firefighters, first rescuers, and army personnel.

It’s not just about how to rappel; it’s a program that helps students train for practical operations in urban and countryside settings. You’ll be guided in an introductory way. This involves the fundamental rappelling knot tying and safety ties and rope kinds.

The essentials of rappel are then introduced to the trainees, including building operations, rescue tactics, belaying techniques, and fast-roping. Additionally, you will be taught how to manage a rope and rappel off the skid.

Rappelling master instructor course 

The Rappelling Master Instructor program is meant to prepare trainees to build up and gain adequate skills. They get to instruct other students on the fundamentals of descending and safely breaking rappel towers.

The course involves getting on and off towers through rappelling, gear maintenance, and rope safety techniques. It also incorporates rescuing skills, rappelling commands, and rappelling off a helicopter.

Helicopter rappelling master course 

The Helicopter Rappelling Master Program takes 40 hours and lasts for five days. It’s suitable for military personnel, paramedics, firefighters, and rescuers.

Trainees are taught how to safely manage a rope to rappel from a towering height. Again, they must have a mastery of commands, rescuing skills, and how to get off the chopper on a rope flawlessly.

However, the training can be designed to suit the requirements of a certain unit or organization. It may also be tweaked to suit the needs of firefighters. 

Can you rappel from a helicopter?

Yes, you can rappel from a helicopter. The technique involved is called fast-roping. Rappelling from helicopters has been around for a while and is common if you have to land people in locations where the helicopter can’t land.

Helicopter roping is especially beneficial to soldiers, who may utilize it to board warships or achieve land-based objectives. 

It’s faster than normal rappelling, but it’s riskier since the rappeler is weighted down with lots of gear and weaponry. Again, rope descenders are not used.

Instead, the individual slides along the line while donning gloves, and they may choose to use their feet or not. Multiple people can rappel on the same rope simultaneously at a three-meter interval. 

Where can I rappel from a helicopter?

You can rappel from a helicopter at the United States Army Air Assault School if you are a soldier. If you are training for an adventure, you can contact the Tactical Rappel Instruction and organize a day to do it.

Lastly, the Salmon Academy also offers helicopter rappelling courses in the U.S. It specializes in training rescuers, but you can still join them for training and actual rappelling. 

How do you rappel military-style?

You will need all the tools necessary for normal helicopter rappelling. The only difference with military rappelling is that you will be given fake weapons and military gear in your backpack, which makes the rappelling fast.

To rappel in the military style, you have to start with the normal helicopter rappelling discussed above, then advance as you gain the skills. 

How do you rappel an air assault?

When rappelling air assault, you harmonize all your rappelling gear and ensure the anchor pints are in order by weighting them. Then you will be required to throw the rope out of the helicopter and ensure it doesn’t fall on the skids.

Then position yourself while facing the helicopter’s interior and lean towards the helicopter with your waist. From this point, you can disengage your feet from the skid and regulate your descent speed with your braking hand. 

How is helicopter rappelling used in the military?

Helicopter rappelling is a technique that consists of descending from a helicopter by rope. The technique is commonly used for natural disaster relief and military purposes.

Rappelling can be used to deploy ground troops and equipment quickly or to evacuate injured personnel from an area with rugged terrain (such as mountains).

What is the distance when rappelling from a helicopter?

With rappelling, climbers descend a wall or other vertical surface using a rope. For example, when rappelling from a helicopter, rappels are organized into three heights: low – below 75 feet; medium – 75 to 150 feet; and high above 150 feet.

What happens to ropes when helicopter rappelling?

As soon as you reach the ground, remove the rope from the rappel ring. When the rappel master verifies you have finished rappelling, he drops the rope away from the helicopter, allowing you to return to the ground.

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About the author 

Roger

Roger was born into a family of climbers. As the youngest of his siblings, he was also the most ardent climber of them. Small and agile, he practiced climbing all day. Today, Roger teaches children how to climb the large rock walls safely.

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