Today was pretty cold, it was around 35 with light clouds and no winds. I have 4.5 hours in the air.

The pre-flight and startup procedures were relatively uneventful. I’m getting slightly better powering through the startup procedure without spending 15 minutes doing so. Learning to fly helicopters in an exercise in repetition. Skipping any steps or rushing through something just isn’t done.  Take your time and do it right.

On to the flight. Hovering now is easier, but only slightly. I think Grant expects me to be able to speak and listen while hovering. That might happen soon but as for now… I’m doing everything I can to keep the thing in the same spot and 3 feet off the ground. I have a hunch he’s asking me questions like, “Dan, what is your name?” and I’m responding something like, “7”.

Level flying, trimmed out banks, speed, altitude… that’s all coming along, no real effort is needed. I think my 4 year old could possibly do some of that which explains why my Dad let us sit right seat and grab the controls when we were kids.  Anyway, the general tasks of keeping the thing in the air are not tough once you’re up. I was able to make a radio call that wasn’t a complete failure. You simply state what you doing and your tail number. So in our case: “One Two Left, clear for the option, niner hotel hotel”:

  • One Two Left (runway)
  • Clear for the option(making an approach)
  • Niner Hotel Hotel (our helicopter).

Make sense?  It’s slowing making some to me but I have mic fright so it’ll take some more time.  I am listing to ATC while at work and that’s helping a bit.

Approaches… Damn.  Those are not coming easily right now.  I’m too early on pulling power -or- I’m too late on pedal work.  Generally nothing is happening the way I want it too.  I can’t tell how much Grant is on the controls but I suspect a fair amount.  Not sure what I can do to improve this either.  We didn’t spend much time on hovering this lesson because I know he wanted me on more approaches, each one seemed to go wrong in a new and creative way.  In fact in the video below, right around the 23 minute mark, I settle into what looks to be a nice approach and then spin a left pedal turn for no apparent reason.  Dammit.  I think this will take a while.ETL

There were a few ah-ha moments in this flight…

I’ve learned what some of the shimmies and shakes of the helicopter mean… ETL (Effective Transitional Lift)is very easy to pick out now.   I also get a decent sense for when I’m in and out of ground effect.  I was hovering really high for a while and since correcting that, sticking around in that “cushion” of air it’s easier to remain in control.

So that’s about it for the 4th flight lesson.  I’m 5.9 hours in the air and feeling slightly better.

Those first few times up are brutal but if you stick with it for a while everything starts to click.  I wish I could say that for ground school but that’s another story.

Check out the video below, we’re getting better at capturing video and audio that will actually help illustrate what we are doing, when and how.