Now that I have my pilots license and an earth shattering 70-something hours I asked Grant if we could head up in a 22 so I could check out the difference. I flew a R22 when I basically had no time so it was a little lost on me. Today I got a little more out of it. I’ll keep score and tally it up at the end of the post.
I showed up at the airport and we preflighted the helicopter. The R22 is the type of helicopter that only a mother can love. I’m not saying it’s ugly but its not the prettiest thing to look at. The G2 has some nice lines and the fenestron is pretty easy on the eyes. Plus there is storage. Why would a trainer need storage? Good question, I have no idea, but a few months back we ferried a G2 3+ hours and stayed the night. It was nice to bring a few things with us. But, Dan, the R22 has under the seat storage. Right, it does, but it’s tiny and probably smells like gerbils.
We also shot some video with a drone a while back, throwing a couple cameras and a mid-size drone in the luggage compartment was easy. Doing that with the R22 would have meant having a crew drive out to meet us and where we went… no roads. 1 point for the looks of the G2 and .5 of a point for the luggage compartment.
Also… 3 blade rotor? Come on it just looks cooler but that’s subjective so no points. (also inertia)
The inside of the R22 was a little… dated. Don’t get me wrong everything worked and served it’s purpose. The instrument cluster, the seats, the seat belts, the cyclic and collective – they all did exactly what they were supposed to. Everything worked as expected but there was a little left to be desired. I ran through the checklist and the R22 fired up like a champ. I can’t be sure or not but the R22 might be a faster startup then the G2, who knows. Also, I got the feeling that there has been hundreds of thousands of hours on this airframe so everything that was in that helicopter had been through the paces. It was old – but sometimes old is good. I can’t award any points to it for being old though. Grant did mention R22s have a special place in his heart and I can understand why, dude has like 800 hours in it.
Anyway, as much as I like old. The new hotness has it beat. I don’t think I need to do much explaining with the image below. 1 point to the G2. I mean come on. Look at that glass. Also the cyclic and collective just felt a little more like what I thought a helicopters controls would so…
So again, grain of salt here because no one should take the word of a pilot with 70-something hours. I see the world through one type of lens. I only know what I know which in the helicopter world, ain’t much.
But here are a few thoughts on flying the two…
Picking up the 22 today was a little tough. Not because it’s a hard helicopter to fly, it just felt really really touchy, almost skittish compared to the G2. Once I picked it up pedal inputs required a light touch. A really light touch. The cyclic was loose and oddly sensitive, how can something that is that loose be so sensitive. I chased the helicopter a lot because of that… not good. Grant flew it over to 12L then let me back on controls. I spent some time hovering (poorly) but got it after a minute or two. I actually liked the super sensitive pedals after a bit. +.5 for the R22. The cyclic was brutal and weird and wrong. +1 for the Guimbal. I can’t describe why that cyclic is so wrong other than it feels like a limp wristed handshake with someone that you don’t want to be shaking hands with. Flying the G2 feels like holding a Colt 1911 which is the best handgun in the world and that is not up for debate.
He gave me the nod to take off and we ran down the runaway. The stages of takeoff were WAY more pronounced in the 22. I could feel transverse flow and ETL in way more detail than I can in the G2. Not sure how to quite capture that correctly but you can, just, feel the helicopter more. +.5 for the 22.
After take off though… the G2 has the 22 beat by a long shot. The G2 is easy to trim out and VERY easy to hold in a level flight in whatever crosswind. +.5 for the Guimbal.
Autos also seem easier in the G2. I don’t think I can honestly declare a winner here since I’m so low time, so I won’t, but… inertia. It counts for something and the G2 has more. Again, I can’t declare a winner because I’ve watched Grant shoot an auto into a 4 foot area in a 22 that he called from 1000 feet higher with variable winds but yeah. The G2 wins in my opinion.
Hover autos are also much much easier in the G2. You have 2 or 3 seconds to do your thing. In the R22 you have no time. You simply go through the motions and before you know it you’re on the ground with a thud. +1 to the Guimbal.
ALL IN ALL
The G2 wins with no disclaimer… In my very limited view of the world I’m a firm believer that the G2 is a far better trainer … for me.
There is a part of me that wants to believe if you can fly a 22 you can learn to fly just about anything because it is a difficult aircraft to fly. Maybe that’s true and maybe it’s not…
After the flight I was talking with Grant, he mentioned I had good control of the aircraft and could transition over to a 22 and have it down in a few hours -but- the G2 seems to be a modern & safe aircraft and that is precisely what I was looking for when I started.
I wanted to learn in something that was safe, built specifically as a trainer, and something that would provide a solid foundation for me in the future. I want to fly ECs at some point in the future and this seems to be the right path to get there.
Finally… and this really shouldn’t influence your decision making but… See this picture below? I’m not small. I’m about 6’4 and weigh 210 pounds. Grant isn’t a small guy either, well, maybe on the inside, not sure that dude has feelings. Anyway, see how unhappy we both are, that’s because we’re crammed in that little helicopter rubbing shoulders for an hour – not cool. That thing wasn’t build for me. The Guimbal is like a Lincoln Continental compared the 22.