Flight 19 – There are ugly babies in the world – Part 31

I’m at 25.6 hours now. There were some broken clouds, it was fairly cool and not too windy.

It’s funny, I’ve started this helicopter almost 20 times at this point and while I feel I should have memorized the startup procedure by now – I know I shouldn’t. You can memorize your tail number and you can memorize your procedures on maneuvers but checklists are there for a reason. They are there for us to look at, check a box, move down to the next item and check that box. If you forget one of those boxes… bad things.

Speaking of checklists and practice tests (bad segue)… there are checklist questions and aeronautical decision-making questions showing up on my practice tests more and more. I’ve been taking practice tests twice a day now for the last week or so. I’m averaging 75% because I cannot get a handle on VOR or airspaces. I missed those classes and Grant and I haven’t covered it yet. I need to get that done… Both of those things are pretty damn important.

OK on to the flight, once we were up I made my call and we went straight in to 12L.

We did our usual. Normal, quick stop, run-ons, autos… I don’t mean to gloss over the normal stuff but at this point I can do everything fairly well it’s just not textbook perfect. Don’t get me wrong I can completely blow an approach and can’t set the helicopter down with elegance and ease but I’m remembering to turn the throttle back on in autos. Baby steps.

Grant mentioned something in this lesson that made some sense. He said something to the effect of: “don’t just dump in a bunch of left pedal because that’s how we describe the procedure, do it because some desired effect is required from that input.”

When you start down this road you hear procedures constantly. For instance, a hover auto is: “Pedal – Settle – Pull”. You hear that over and over and over – if you just mindlessly put in those inputs without reacting to what the environment has caused the helicopter to do in the last millisecond then things won’t go smoothly. You’ll end up with an ugly baby. If you plan your inputs along with what that gust of wind just did to you or the fact that you’re a little high or low or whatever the end result probably won’t be so ugly. Make sense? It’s tough to describe but the gist of it is, react to what your aircraft is doing.

Anyway, progress is progress and now, I’ve got 26.7 hours and I’m focusing on doing things the right way and doing them well. When I’m approaching I don’t want to just get the helicopter to the runway. I want to get the helicopter to the runway in the middle of the 1000′ markers. (Dammit, I’ve turned into my Dad, any job worth doing is worth doing right)

I’m still rough on pick ups & set downs and my hover autos are pretty ugly but they are “passable”. Next few lessons I want to dedicate to figuring those things out… soloing is coming up and I want those to be perfect.