In this paper, we address the attitude and vertical stabilization problem for small-scale helicopters. An emergency controller that would successfully stabilize the helicopter in a safe flight mode when a pilot/autopilot fails to control it, owing to unexpected reasons, is of outmost importance in flight control systems. In this direction, we propose a low complexity nonlinear control scheme that drives the angles and the vertical speed to zero with prescribed transient and steady state response, without incorporating any knowledge of the dynamic model parameters in the control design. The stereographic coordinates were employed to model the attitude state of the helicopter in an attempt to guarantee the safe stabilization for every possible initial orientation without introducing any representation singularities as in the Euler angles representation or increasing complexity as in conventional four element quaternions. Moreover, the transient and steady state performance of the proposed scheme is a priori determined even in the presence of external disturbances. Furthermore, the overall control scheme can be easily implemented on embedded flight systems equipped with low-cost sensors. Finally, simulation and experimental results on a realistic platform verify the efficacy of the proposed method.