Day 7 of Ground school – The Flight Environment – part 19

We spent a pretty big chunk of this class talking about issues that come up when taking off, in-hover, in-flight and when making an approach.  We also spoke about not putting yourself into dangerous positions in the first place but focused on how to get out safely.

You could never cover every single situation you’ll find yourself in but as with anything – practice practice practice and maybe one day when you find yourself in an unsafe or uncomfortable situation you’ll have an understanding of what to do.

So on to it.

We started out talking about typical hovering operations.  Every pilot I’ve spoken to said hovering will click at some point.  They were right, it did click but it’s still something you need to concentrate on when in wind or there is a lot going on.  Suffice it to day you are managing many inputs: pedals for yaw or pivoting, collective for altitude and cyclic for ground track.

If you’re to the point in ground school where you are discussing the flight environment, you’ve likely got some practical experience.  At this point I’ve got ~10 hours of flight.  Hovering clicked for me around 7 or 8 hours in.  You stare out at the horizon and make tiny corrections.  Don’t chase the helicopter – what I mean by that is – the helicopter is slow to react so manage your inputs or else you’ll swing around like a pendulum and the CFIs will make fun of you.  I can keep the helicopter in a 5′ box on a calm day and a 10′ on a windy day.  The CFIs keep it in like a 1″ area.  Skills.  A student pilot can also pivot around objects and keep pedal turns in a confined area around this time.  If you can’t you will be able to soon.

CrosswindAfter hovering we jumped into crosswind considerations.

If you’re lucky you get to train in calm conditions, if you’re not lucky you’ll fly in wind.  There will always be wind.  Sometimes it will be gusty, sometimes constant, sometimes variable.  Grant, my CFI likes to keep it under 16-18kts with me at this point, other more accomplished students in bigger helicopters, fly in windier conditions but for me, right now it makes sense to keep it safe.

So when hovering or flying a pattern at some point you’ll be flying into it the wind, you’ll have a tailwind or a cross wind.  The wind will push you around so you’ll need to make steeper or shallower turns which means your inputs won’t be the same when initiating a turn from a tailwind into a cross wind or a headwind into a cross wind.  It’s not something you can easily grasp in ground school until you’re crabbing in 16kt wind, once you do that that image over there makes complete sense.  We spent some time discussing that but hands on makes it click.

The next topic in class: autorotations. I’m taking a wild guess here but we’ll be practicing autos for the remainder of my flight training.

Here is the definition: an autorotation is a maneuver that scares me… That’s a terrible description, lets use wiki:  Autorotation is a state of flight in which the main rotor system of a helicopter … turns by the action of air moving up through the rotor … rather than the engine power driving the rotor.  In my words, and I’m not sure I’m 100% correct but it makes sense to me, you’re trading altitude to keep the rotor spinning at a certain RPM so at some point you can flare and land..  Kind of like gliding an airplane so make good choices with what little time you have.

Below is a video of Grant in an R22 demonstrating an auto while I try not to freak out in the right seat.  Mind you this is really my first auto and it’s in a 22 which I’m not super comfortable in anyway.  (excuses)