Flight 17 – Weird stuff on FRIDAY the 13th – Part 30

Pretty decent weather today. It was 75ish, low wind, sunny, and relatively clear.

Going in I have 23 hours.

As mentioned in the title, it was Friday the 13th… a couple weird things happened.  A C-17 flew over us(low pass), someone poached our runway and I nailed a few things I was working on… which I mention because me nailing something is rare.

Anyway, on to the flight.

We picked up and sat in a hover for 5 minutes while traffic cleared itself out.  We prompted ATC and they finally let us in.  I did not mind hovering for 5 minutes in the least. I felt like I accomplished something by not running into a hanger or another helicopter or a fixed wing or a person. Why didn’t we set it down and wait? Because helicopters… I practiced blowing a soda can around the tarmac. I hope my DP makes me do that when I take my checkride. “Dan please head to Bravo 2 and move that dr. pepper can over to the ditch by the taxi light.” “Roger, wilco.”

Once in the pattern we fell into our routine.  A normal approach led to a quick stop.  Quick stop lead to another quick stop – this second quick stop may have been my masterpiece.  The nose stayed straight, no ballooning and we had a beautiful steep approach to the ground.   I showed my wife the video when she got home, she didn’t seem to think it was as cool as I did.

On to the steep approach which felt good.  My site picture was a little off but I was able to fixed it and keep the sink rate where I wanted it. Right after we got down to our hover we were overflown by a C-17.  About 2 seconds after it came over ATC got on the radio gave us the warning of wake turbulence.  ATC said it was at 2,500ft. No comment.

We did another steep then a shallow run on.  I haven’t got used to these. They don’t seem natural, the G2, like most trainers, doesn’t have wheels so this only adds to the “why are we doing this” feeling.  That feeling intensifies when you hear the grinding of the skid pads.  So why on God’s green earth would you do that to your awesome helicopter?  Well, something bad might have happened – maybe your engine is having trouble or you’re at high density altitude and can’t sustain a hover, maybe you have stuck pedals… either way if this is happening to you in real life, you’re having a bad day. It’s a good idea to drill on this. You approach low, and stay low, keep the helicopter right above ETL at the lowest speed you can, then set it down and let’er slide.  It’s weird but once you’re on the runway you can control helicopter quite a bit, a little pedal work keeps the nose straight.

After we did a few run ons, we did some hover work on Bravo 2.  Pick ups and sets down were good so I asked Grant if we could try something.  I’ve been wanting to do this forever… fly backwards. I have no idea why but side-stepping and flying backwards seem awesome.  Again, I can’t properly explain myself but… it’s pretty damn cool to see a fixed wing guy in front of you and know that there is no reverse in that 172.  If he wanted to move back 20 feet he’d have to do all sort of maneuvering, where we just… fly backwards, we don’t even have to turn around if we don’t want to.  It makes no sense, I know, but the feeling was cool.

After Grant let me screw around for 15 seconds it was back to work. We did hover autos which are complicated but awesome.  It goes like this.  Dump throttle, pedal, settle and pull. Which means…  roll off throttle while not moving the collective, (that’s harder than it sounds) throw in some left pedal to account for the torque, let the thing come down a few feet, then pull collective to use the last of the inertial in your blades.  Simple right?  Nope. I don’t have’em yet.  They might take a while.

After some hover autos we got back in the pattern and did some regular autos and a couple 180 autos. They felt alright, I flare too early and grab too much power. Damn. I need to break those habits. They aren’t as clean as I’d like but maybe, just maybe, they are passable? Next few lessons I’ll ask Grant if we can concentrate on autos, 180 autos and hover autos.

With that there is another 1.5 hours in the books – bringing me to 24.5 hours. Thinking about it now… this lesson might be where things clicked.