I passed the damn written on the second try. For the past 3 weeks I traveled relentlessly for work and while sitting in every airport, I studied. At home after the kids were down for the night, I studied. Weekends, I studied. I bugged Grant for help with VOR + weight and balance advice then, I studied. I also watched every terrible youtube out there. I was averaging 85% on my practice tests and decided it was time I gave it a shot again. Work is going super busy in about a week so might as well…
I took about 45 minutes to get through the exam then went though it again to make sure. I knew I passed it but I also knew I missed some… The questions I missed were not easy ones and there were answers that could be considered “more” correct than others. Anyway, it’s over and I passed and I got a decent enough grade. I know I need to keep studying for my oral and practical but that seems like a million miles away.
Here’s the thing, getting your helicopter PPL is 70% ground and studying. Flying is only about 30%. Obviously flying is the fun part but you can’t really have one without the other. I’m glad for all the studying lately. Makes me feel like I’m becoming less of an idiot up there. Things are slowly starting to click.
On to the flight.
It’s been almost a month since I’ve flown a helicopter. I’m at 43.5 hours and like I mentioned work has been getting the better part of me lately. I’ll be rusty. Poor Grant.
Weather is good and I’m looking forward to an hour in the air. I pull out the Mike Hotel and run through the pre-flight. I fire it up and we’re off.
Today we’re going to work on run-ons and autos.
My autos are still a little chunky and my run-ons feel pretty mechanical. Not a lot of smooth flying going on but I’m grateful for the time up in the after cracking the books for a few weeks.
As stated in other posts, a good (practice) auto starts when 15 seconds before you dump the collective. Get setup, set that airspeed, make sure you’re in trim, make sure you know where the winds are coming from, make sure you’re at the right altitude, be aware of what’s happening at the tower and with the other aircraft around you… Generally on the last few seconds of my downwind I check the outside of the helicopter, usually the towered has cleared me for the option so I look at my spot, look outside the helicopter then I look inside. Check that all the lights are off, gauges are in the green and we have good fuel. Then we’ll turn base and I can set my speed and altitude. Then I turn final and if I haven’t screwed it all up, we’ll enter depending on where Grant tells me to land it and the wind. If the wind is gusty or variable we might do a little S-turn to put it where we need to. Again, they are chunky but coming along.
Run-ons are a little different. We run a normal pattern, but on base to final we’re loosing a little bit of altitude. We make a shallow approach and as we get closer and closer to where we’re going to put the skids we’re trying to keep the helicopter on the good side of ETL. ETL is Effective Translational Lift, basically what that means is we have nice clean air coming through the rotor which give us some good lift. Why would we need to do this? We’ll maybe the DA changed from the airport we took off from or we’ve got a rough running engine or we’re heavy, either way we can’t sustain a hover so we need to run on.
It feels a little wrong to be coming in at 20-30 knots knowing you’ve got metal skids under you and you’re going to grind the crap out of them but… you deal with it. I tend to come in a little ass low. I’m not sure why but it’s common as I watch other students. Level is just a bit further forward then I think. You also have way more pedal power than you think you do so keeping on the pedals keeps the nose nice and straight.
1.1 more hours and I’m at 44.6. It’s going to be 2 more weeks at least before I can get up again but even that short 1.1 hours did me good.