Look at that thing!

Guimbal Cabri G2I’m at 20.3 hours. It’s calm and sunny. We’ve had a decent spring here in the Midwest. I had to go to Cleveland and west Texas but when I climbed back in the G2 today things were good as gravy.  It was weird to get back in the hanger, I actually walked in looking to see if 9HH was there, like when you walk in and greet your dog.  My jeeps have taken me everywhere… to Alaska and back, saved me from hungry bears, gave me views I never thought I’d get.  Same with the dirtbikes, they took me all over God’s green earth and rarely let me down.  Even though these things are just machines, you depend on them and you know them.  They have quirks and tempers.

I wonder if you ever forget what you solo in?  How many people is niner-hotel-hotel going to train?

It’s been 10 damn days since I’ve flown a helicopter.

Writing those words is still… surreal, I never thought I’d get to do something like this.  In fact, if my medical came back as a no go, I’d say thanks for the time – I’ll look back on the last couple months fondly.  I’m late to the party but I’m glad to be here. (My medical did not come back as a no go, I’m good.)

Everything up to this point has been more than I ever would have expected to accomplish.  It’s tough to jam these thoughts into words but as God as my witness I am actually [read: poorly?] operating a helicopter and soon I will fly it without my instructor, Grant.  Oh crap, how will that work?

Mt RainierEvery time I tell my wife I’m about to head up or my friends ask me how it’s going… well, to be honest it’s hard not to dwell on the fact that it’s a completely awesome feeling to hover or pedal turn, or run through the pre-flight, on lucky days I get to dump collective, drop 1500fpm, spin a tight 180 and hit a spot on the 1000′ markers.  Damn.  I was terrified by autos the first few times we went through them but now I look forward to’em. Run on autos are so damn cool –  to be honest I’d wash 989HH just to be around it.  Weird.

I’m sure my friends are sick of hearing me talk about anything related to helicopters or flying but I fight for the window seat on domestic flights.  I climbed mountains to get better views.  I used to duct tape cameras and rig servos to every RC I ever owned to see what it looked like up there.  Sitting right seat with my Dad was the absolute best.  The typical statement is “this is was a life long goal and I’m finally…” yep, as cheesy as it sounds, it’s true.   This dude is a word smith and captures it so much better than I ever could: http://www.skyfaring.com/ Please check out that book if you have a minute.

On to the flight. We jumped in, ran through the checklist, fired up, requested to get in the pattern and off we went. We have something of a routine but it’s not written in stone, if I want to work on something in particular I just mention it to Grant and he ignores me… I’m kidding, that’s not true, CFIs spend their day doing things over and over and over, and we, the unwashed masses try to scare the living crap out of them. When you ask to do something that breaks the routine they are (normally) happy to oblige.

Our typical lesson looks something like this: if I nail a normal approaches we do steeps. If the steep looks good we do some quickstops. If the quickstops look good it’s on to autos. Getting to autos as soon as possible is normally my goal. I’m looking forward to confined approaches, but I have a hunch those are a ways off.  I’m also looking forward to soloing but I think I need (way)more time, I should probably be able to touch down like a pro at this point but for some reason it still eludes me. I hang out like 2 inches above the runway waiting to get the G2 as perfectly still as possible. I should just put it down and be done with it. Anyway, I just don’t have those down as much as I’d like. So we’ve been working on that a bit.

The lesson was great and I’m left wondering why I didn’t do this earlier, 21.7 hours.

On to the flight: