Flight 9 – Steeps + Quickstops – Part 22

I was lucky to get another lesson in this week.  It was back to the pattern but new maneuvers today.

I started the lesson with 11 hours.  We had a morning flight, clear skies with 8-12 knots – gusting to 15 out – of the north west which means we’d probably be on 30R.  It was an outstanding day to be up in the air.

Once up in the air we made a normal approach and then a few pedal turns.  Even with the wind pedal turns were decent.  Progress!

Fig_2-82We moved up to about 600ft AGL to practice steeps.  A steep approach is just like a normal approach just from higher up with a, you guessed it, steeper angle down to your spot.  There are risks that come with steeps like settling with power.  Settling with power is also know as Vortex Ring State.  As I understand it, the helicopter is “settling” into it’s own nasty down wash.  To correct the issue there are several techniques.  What we’re being taught right now is apply forward cyclic to find some new clean air, if possible lower collective to reduce risk of a blade stall.  If possible should be in quotes.  There is another technique called the Vuichard Recovery Technique (good read here) but it’s not “approved” in our school as of yet.

Back to the steeps, one important thing to keep in mind is that your descent rate should be below 300 feet per minute before you lose ETL (Effective Translational Lift).  If you remember way back to when we talked about ETL early on in one of the first posts, it’s a mild shake where the helicopter is getting into some nice clean air.

Steeps can be dangerous especially if you’ve got a tail wind.  It’s important to pay attention to what the instruments are saying and what your helicopter is feeling like.  Make sense?  It took a while but this is all fitting together nicely after doing it in practice a couple hundred times.



Grant, and I think every CFI, has their students on a very specific set of tasks that when combined equal a maneuver… steeps prepare you for some tough ones.  Quickstops and Autos.  Who knows what steeps are also the foundation for but for right now, they lead us to quickstops.


As I mentioed above – pedal turns + steeps were warm ups for quick stops.  So a quickstop is, among other things, a nice way to shake up the day and scare the crap out of anyone in or around the helicopter.  If you need to avoid an obstacle or if there is an issue on takeoff a quickstop is your go to.  The procedure goes something like this, down collective, left pedal, aft cyclic, add collective, right pedal, level off, hover like a boss.  (Remember I’m not in a Robbie)

So to go into more detail…

DSC_0017Something jumps in your way on take off.  For the purpose of this post, we’ll say it’s a woolly mammoth.   So you’re at around 45knots about 25ft AGL and out jumps Jim.  I named the woolly mammoth Jim.  You see Jim and need to react quickly to ask your passenger to snap some photos because there is a woolly mammoth in front of you and no way you’re missing that. National Geographic is going to be all over you!

1)  Jim is 150ft in front of you, you are 25ft AGL – 45knts. You drop collective and need to add left pedal to deal with the torque correct / protect against any yaw.  This pedal + collective input are nearly simultaneous.  Collective is first obviously.

2)  Jim is now 100ft in front of you, you are 25ft AGL – 45kts.  You bring the cyclic aft.

3)  Jim is now 60ft in front of you.  You are gaining altitude because of the aft cyclic but not ballooning because of your down collective input, you are maybe 35ft AGL – 30knts.  You are controlling your yaw by pedal inputs.

4)  Jim is now 40ft in front of you, you are 20ft AGL – 20knts.  You are flaring still but thinking about leveling the helicopter off, applying collective and right pedal to deal with the torque.

5) Jim is 30ft in front of you, almost perfect distance for a shot of a woolly mammoth, those things are huge.  Anyway, you are 15ft AGL in a controlled steep approach – 10knts. Leveling and controlling your decent with collective and pedal input to deal with any wind and torque.

6)  Jim is 20ft in front of you, you are 5ft AGL in a perfect ground effect hover.  You win.

To recap it, down collective, left pedal, aft cyclic, add collective, right pedal, level, steep approach, hover.

As with everything in a helicopter it takes a while to get through the motions before it makes sense.  I can’t count how many I’ve done but I know I will be doing hundreds more.

So that took up the bulk of the lesson and it will take up the bulk of a few more.