I’m combining a few flights because we literally just worked on autos and run ons.  While it was very interesting to me, it likely won’t be interesting to you.

I’m starting this group of flights with 46.8 hours and leaving it with 52.  For those 5.2 hours of hours Grant and I solely worked on autos.  Straight-ins, 180s and hover autos.

We broke up the time a little bit with a confined or two but really we spent much of our just getting autos nailed down in different types of wind conditions.  For some time 180 autos gave me a bit of trouble.  I would try to do everything at the same time.  The spot would pass over my shoulder, I’d drop collective and throw in some aft cyclic and left pedal as I turned, as soon as I was nearly done with the turn I would roll off the throttle, pull collective to fight the high rotors because of our tight turn – it would get as messy as that run on sentence…

After watching me struggle with a few Grant suggested I do one thing at a time.

Drop collective.
Left pedal.
Aft cyclic.
Trim.
Set airspeed.
Roll off.
Turn.
Trim.
Set airspeed.
Pull collective.
Put collective down.
Trim.
Roll on.
Sync needles.
Pull collective.
Put collective down.
Flare.
Land like a boss.

It’s as easy as that… wait… that sounds terrible.

It’s not really that bad as all that but it does take some practice.

The trouble is practice is sometimes few and far in between.  Imagine being a toddler that only gets to try to walk 3 times a month, that toddler might take a while to learn.  I am a toddler. In a helicopter.

The good news is everything really started clicking and I felt more and more comfortable.  I guess the one take away is that at 20 or 30 hours a new helicopter pilot can go through the motions of an auto but at 50 hours you might also have a better understanding as to how to tweak a tiny control input to get the desired effect.  You’ll also have a better understanding of what outside forces are acting on your aircraft and what they are doing to your auto.  The first time I did a 180 in winds greater than 10 knots I ended up in a much different spot than I thought I would.  Understanding what DA will do to your aircraft on a hot day will also change how you manage your aircraft.

It all takes time and understanding.  I wonder where I’ll be at 100 or 200 hours.