I’m at 42 hours and today I get to do something new. Winds are around 10 knts from the SW, clouds are broken and it’s around 85. Not a bad day to head out.
I’ve spent the last few weeks flying solo patterns but today we’re going to go try something different. We’ll purposely put the helicopter into settling with power and then we’ll work on recovering. We’ll also work on some confined landings.
I run a preflight, call for fuel and we’re up in no time. We’re headed North, a change of scenery is welcome. We get to a nice big open area with zero power lines and lots of options if things don’t go as planned. Grant and I talk about what settling with power is and how you recover from it. I have a pretty good idea what it is since we’ve talked about it for months and I’ve watched a ton of videos about it. We talk about how we’re going to enter into it and steps to get out. What I wasn’t expecting was how it… felt. It feels like someone kicks the chair out from under you. The setup feels terrible. You bring the helicopter to a hover, you start a decent rate at greater than 300fpm and then, damn, nothing works right. I followed on controls LIGHTLY but it’s pretty obvious you have mushy pedals, the collective doesn’t do anything and nothing feels right. The nose pitches from right to left and you have the distinct feeling nothing is going as planned. After what feels like 10 minutes you drop some collective, pitch forward a bit and a couple hundred feet lower the world is good again.
My turn. As I set up it took a little more time to get us to just a hover… in space… It didn’t feel right. I couldn’t reduce airspeed for some reason. I know there is inertia stored in the rotor but bringing the helicopter to zero IAS that high AGL seems wrong. Then throwing it in a decent rate seems like the worst idea ever. Finally after fiddling around with the controls, we’re in it. Settling with power feels wrong. The helicopter is bucking around, there is a weird vib and your controls aren’t doing what you want them to do. You lower collective, push forward and all of a sudden when you get just a bit of airspeed back and you’re out of the downwash everything is perfect. I ask Grant if we can do another.
Next up is confined landings.
Generally the name of the game is to follow some pretty simple rules. You fly a high reconnaissance(1000’AGL), you check the wind (trees, water, weeds, smoke, whatever is moving take note), look at overall suitability, make sure your power is fine. You also want to understand places to ditch if something unexpected were to happen, I look for a way out when if I get into a low recon and don’t like it. For the most part you don’t take your eyes off the prize but keep an eye out for power lines or more importantly transmission towers since power lines are pretty much invisible. If you feel the place will work you go in VERY cautiously for a low recon(500′ AGL). While you’re taking laps run through the 5 S’s. Size, Shape, Slope, Surface, Surroundings. If everything fits you might want to take a run at it knowing you can bail and you don’t have to commit.
Not a bad way to spend a day and it’s a lot more interesting than making right turns for an hour.
We head home after an hour and call it a day. 1.5 more hours puts me at 43.5.
I’m taking the test in a few days… so notes on that coming soon.