A Record of important things…


Lee's first helicopter ride

Shortly after getting my ticket, I took Lee up for a quick helicopter ride. She didn't like the fact that a minor shove would open the door, but overall had a good time. Linked below is an abbreviated video of that flight.

LEE's First Passenger Flight.

Finally the Ticket!!!

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Finally and at long last!  As of this afternoon the key words “ROTORCRAFT HELICOPTER” are now added to my ticket.  I ended up spending far more time in training to get my helicopter license than my fixed wing.  I logged about 65 hours in training to get here.

The exam and checkride process was very detailed.  About 2 hours talking helicopters for the oral portion, and 1.4 in the air.  Very thorough.  We must have gone through every maneuver in the book.  The most challenging was the surprise power cut on downwind.  Had to do an auto “for real”. Decide where to go and execute.  I elected to do a 180 auto back to the runway based on where I was - and it all worked out OK, though the added second of recognition when it is a “surprise” allows the rotor RPMs to drop a lot lower than when you’re doing them for practice.  That was an eye opener.  I caught it in time, and the 180 degree turn helped bring the RPMs back up quickly.  It even surprised me just how automatic lowering the collective was. Once I got over the “Hey, you can’t do that...” reaction.

Much like the fixed wing license, I am quite conscious that simply holding the license does not make me an expert, but merely minimally competent and equipped with the tools to help prevent me from doing myself in while piloting one of these unlikely machines.

I will try to stay current, but will definitely be back for a bunch more training prior to attempting to pilot the Helicycle.

More Training Toward Ticket

11/20/11 - Still slow.  Lots of work travel.  Two trips to California, Miami, Norfolk, Atlanta, Pittsburgh, and more I have probably forgotten.  Maybe three more sessions before the checkride.  Looks like the first or second week of December.  I did probably my best straight-in and then a 180 auto today.  Feeling pretty comfortable in a helo at this point and it is still intensely cool.

Still Training

10/10/2011 - Well, things have slowed down with the Fall.  I WAS at Reno.  Yes, Reno where the Galloping Ghost had his mishap.  I certainly hope that I did not witness the last lap to be raced at Reno.  That’s a story that deserves its own page, not this one.

Two weeks of rain followed and there goes a whole month without flying a helicopter.  I got up this weekend, but am off to Taiwan next week, so who knows how much longer this will drag on.  Halloween was the target.  Maybe Thanksgiving at this rate.

Slogging Through Requirements

At this point I have been slogging through the requirements and am just about done.
10 hours solo with 3 of cross country.  3 hours night time.  Night cross country. Controlled traffic patterns.  Pinnacles. Confined Areas. Slopes. Autos. Autos. Autos. 3 hours checkride prep.  Now it’s time to hit the books and maybe put in another 2 hours to sharpen everything up and hit my spots.  Then we’ll see how it goes. I had hoped to have this done by Reno, but maybe by Halloween.

Confined Area Training

Confined area training.  No better place to do it than my yard.

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Getting closer.  About 8 more hours of solos, a cross-country, then check-ride prep.  Maybe another month.  Better get cracking on the Helicycle.

Helicopter SOLO!!

First Helicopter Solo!!!  Well, we finally got a break in the crappy weather.  After some hovering and a couple of laps in the pattern, Corey jumped out and I was on my own.  Now, I remember my first airplane solo like it was yesterday.  Heart racing and sweating buckets.  It wasn’t that bad this time, but still pretty intense.  It got the heartbeat to the aerobic stage I am sure.   There is no greater sense of focus than flying a new type of aircraft by yourself for the first time.

Probably working against me was the fact that I watched the Robinson R22 safety seminar video on DVD the prior night.    They go through the many ways that R22s fall out of the sky and how to get into and how to avoid unrecoverable situations.  Pretty damn sobering and definitely forefront on my mind as I took the mighty R22 up on my own.  All was fine, though and as with my airplane solo, the first couple patterns and landings were probably my smoothest to date.

Cool.  Cool.  Cool.  10 more hours of solo and 3 of checkride prep and we’ll be pretty darned close to the rating.  More incentive to get cracking on that Helicycle.  Let’s get back to building!!!

Training Restart

It’s been about 2 years since my last stint of helicopter training.  When I stopped I had about 10 hours logged, but my schedule at the time only allowed for maybe one lesson a week.  With weather delays and the like, those ten hours took over three months to acquire.  The first half of every lesson was spent relearning the last with the long delays between sessions.

I decided to restart the training, but this time I would take a week off of work and schedule two sessions a day to make as rapid advancement as possible.  I started last Sunday (the 17th), and finished my week today.  I logged about another 11 hours, doubling my total time in the span of a week.  A couple of days were washed out due to New England springtime weather.

To my surprise, the basics came back quickly.  I felt like an idiot during the first pre-flight as I had forgotten where everything is - a bad sign.  But, the muscle memory was still fundamentally intact.   The first 30 seconds were hairy, but I could still almost hover.

By the end of the week, I feel pretty OK about hovering, and there is some level of confidence that if my instructor Corey were to drop dead in the left seat, that I could continue the lesson and return the ship to C&R, insuring that his family got paid for the full lesson, without any bent metal on the ramp.

Autos are still not mastered.  I can do one acceptably, but on the next one lose track of airspeed or RPM, or heading.  It is not reflex yet, but still an intellectual process.  Until the responses and control are semi-automatic, and the big three (RPM, airspeed, and position) are more in hand I would question my ability to complete one without balling up the machine.  I am still having to THINK - RPM low, lower collective, OK, too high-raise it.  Ooops, too much, back down.  My responses are not fluid enough such that if I start chasing one parameter or the other, then we’re in for a roller-coaster ride.

Lee came out to watch one day.  She hid behind the trailer there when I started schwanging the mighty R22 all over the sky.

Still, comparing the start of the week to now is night and day.  Whereas a wind gust during hover at the start would take 20 seconds to restabilize from, now it’s almost immediate.  We’ve started to talk about the big solo.  Maybe another 3 or 4 hours and we’ll be there.  I want to feel much more confident about controlling the parameters in autos before we take that leap.

Here's a short video clip of a Platform Landing.  Crappy Video quality from a distance. Just take it real slow