I had scheduled 2 flights this week.  Wednesday and Friday.  The Wednesday flight was canceled, the Guimbal was in for it’s 25 hours oil change.  It was actually a blessing because I could work out the bugs of capturing footage and audio. Here’s a quick sample:

On to the flight.  We did the pre-flight which basically consists of checking as much of the aircraft as you can without really dismantling it.  You check skids, external body components, engine components, tail components and finally rotor components.  Then you give it one last walk around to make sure you didn’t leave a gas cap off or the dipstick out.

After that was out of the way, we jumped in and ran through the checklist.  It went a bit faster this time and I understood more of what we were checking and why.

Grant got us to a hover, requested permission to go make some turns and off we went.  There was an amazing amount of radio chatter, lots of students around.  So much so that it was tough for Grant and I to speak, not to mention my David Clarks were acting up.  I think I might run them back to the store and grab a new pair this weekend.  Speaking of chatter, there was an ATC guy on the comms that sounded like truly enjoyed his job and was having some back and forths with the other instructors and students.  I’m still a little worried about calling my flight plans out to those guys, it’s tough enough with everything going on but having to actually tell someone what I’m going to do is… well, it sounds impossible.

We worked on a few things today.  Lots of hovering and more approaches.  Hovering is lost on me.  I constantly yank on the collective when I see the ground coming up to bite me.  I’ll get to 4 feet above the runway and a little gust of wind will hit us or I’ll be managing the cyclic and we’ll loose 1 foot of altitude and I’ll pull up.  After we get out of ground effect everything is a bit squirrelier.  My reaction comes from riding bikes I think, when you are in trouble with a dirtbike you gun the throttle and raise the front wheel.  When I sense we’re going to slam into the runway I pull power.  I’m also still chasing the machine and waaaay overcompensating.  White knuckling the controls too, I realize I’m doing it but I can’t keep myself from repeating that mistake.  If I hold the controls with a lighter grip it helps tremendously.  Also, Grant mentioned I should look out on the horizon a bit more.  That was probably the best advice I got all day.  Once he said that it changed the game a bit.  Not so much that I didn’t look like a complete ass out there but enough that I kept things in check a bit more.  One more tip – and this might not make sense but as you’re coming in on your final hover you pull power at the same rate that ground is approaching.

Some of the takeoffs felt right, or as right as they could, when you’re just trying to make it off ground.
Most of the approaches felt good, approaches seemed to get easier as the lesson went on.  I’m over or undershooting everything but only by 20 feet and what’s 20 feet between friends.

Finally and this was just starting to gel as we were finishing up… when I’d relax and just lead the helicopter down on an approach it seemed to all fall into place.  I wasn’t checking instruments which is probably a no-no but if I was in the moment and concentrating on where I needed to go and what I needed to do, everything just worked.  Strange.

Guimbal and a fuel truck