I had to head to Utah for a client photo shoot. There are worse things in the world then getting paid to go rally around in the desert with models.

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Upon return I was worried I had forgotten what to do with my hands and feet while up in a helicopter. I have a hunch my instructor saw that coming so we took it easy and flew out to an airport I grew up near.

I started the lesson with 9.6 hours. The winds were light and clear skies. I’ve been wanting to fly to KSUS for a while and when he asked where I wanted to go it was an easy choice. Maybe not the most productive of days but it gave me time to reacquaint myself with the Guimbal and check out the GPS a bit more. Also, there is something to be said for straight and level flight in a helicopter… not really but I needed a refresher.

Picking up the helicopter was a little rough (Grant was on the controls more than me) but once we departed west over the river it seemed to come back, cyclic – collective – pedals – gauges were all where I remembered them. The ATC guys still speak another language but it’s one I can sorta understand and respond to. I can [finally] let the tower know what I’m doing and not sound like an idiot. Same with my hovering, most people tell you your hovering will be locked down around 10 hours which it was in my case, maybe even around the 6 or 7 hour mark. Even in wind I can keep it relatively stable and keep a pedal turn fairly smooth. Heavy wind or gusty winds can beat you up a bit but in calm conditions I feel decent about my hover. All in all I’m embarrassing myself less.

Anyway, back to the flight. It’s about 20-45 minutes to drive, depending on traffic, out to Spirit from my house. It’s a boring drive that I do often because my parents live out that way. I can’t say how nice it was not have to do that drive or sit in that traffic, we cruised out there making around 80 or 90 knots and crisscrossed the highway a few times. From KCPS to KSUS it was maybe 15 minutes. Awesome. We made a normal approach, did a pedal turn while we waited for traffic, did a quick stop or two, ran the pattern once more and headed back home to CPS.

Back at CPS we sat in the pattern for a bit then called it a day. Nothing shocking.

I was a little surprised at how rusty I wasn’t. I might have even surprised Grant a little. Things are falling into place a bit. Well, I say that now… I know we have a curriculum to follow. Easy patterns and hovering aren’t tough, they are the foundation for steep approaches and quick stops. Steeps and quick stops are foundations for autos. Autos are foundations for not falling out of the sky when things go south.

As everyone said things will click around the 10 hour mark, which they finally did… I look forward to every hour in or around the helicopter. I look forward to class and understanding more about the vortex rig state and sectionals. There is something about being up there and having a view that few people have.