How Black Hawk Helicopters Work


In addition to controlling the disc rotation, the pilot can further increase lift by adjusting the swash plate assembly. This mechanism is a combination of two plates -- one fixed and one rotating -- that are attached to the main rotor. These plates control each blade's pitch, or angle of attack. A change in each blade's pitch creates uneven lift, allowing the helicopter to tilt and fly in a particular direction.

Torque created by blade rotation is exerted on the helicopter's fuselage, which will spin in a counter direction unless it's neutralized. A tail rotor, which is attached to the tail boom, is how most helicopters counteract the torque created by the main rotor. The tail rotor of a Black Hawk has an 11-foot (3.35-m) blade that spins to create lateral force and stabilize the helicopter. By adjusting the pitch of the tail rotor, the pilot can turn the helicopter left or right.

Photo courtesy Department of Defense - Defense Visual Information Center
A soldier performs a maintenance check on the tail rotor of a UH-60 Black Hawk.

Its power and maneuverability allow the Black Hawk to move soldiers quickly to strategic locations on the battlefield, and just as quickly get those soldiers back to safety. In the next section, you will learn more about how the Black Hawk is used to transport soldiers, artillery, and other equipment, and more about the built-in safety features that help the chopper survive if it comes under attack.

On the next page, you'll find out about the specifications of a UH-60L Black Hawk.