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.

Midwest Helicopter R22 and G2


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)

Guimbal Cabri Luggage


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…

Instrument Guimbal Cabri G2


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.  picture-7Grant 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.


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.


A break in the weather and the work schedule allowed me to grab a quick flight with Grant today.  The wind was at 15knts and the clouds were broken.  This is only my second instrument flight but turns out I’d actually improved.  Honestly it might have been the sim time I had the week prior.  The sim allowed me to screw stuff up without worrying about wasting time up in the air.  For a while I thought sim time wasn’t as valuable but now I’m actually thinking about buying something I can run on my computer just so I can get the VOR stuff down.  Anyway, on to the flight.

We picked up into the wind and headed north to the same smaller airport we had gone to last time.  We dialed in the airport and off we went.  I am trying to work on my scan which is tough.  If you take your eye off of anything at all it changes immediately.  I still don’t have my scan down yet but I think that’ll come as soon as I spend more time in the aircraft.  The wind had picked up a little at altitude and keeping us lined up was difficult to say the least.  I’m positive if you were to look at our GPS track it would have looked like I was trying to weave in and out of cones.  Altitude I was able to keep fairly level but I’d drop collective unknowingly and at least twice Grant had to tell me to pull some pitch.  After the second time I made a mental not to scan the RPM and how much power I was pulling every 5 seconds.  Midway through the flight I had a rhythm down.  Grant mentioned a few times that I was doing great but I couldn’t really tell if he was BS’ing me or if I had really improved from the first flight.  I have a hunch he was being forthright because he asked me to look up and we were pretty much where we had intended, headed right in to the center of the runway on 14L.  We made our departure and ran a couple more approaches.  Each one was pretty solid.

I felt good about the progress and we decided to head home.  On the way he asked that I close my eyes and take my hands and feet off the controls.  I wasn’t feeling awesome already and I had a hunch Grant was going to try to make me feel less awesome.  He said we were going to get into some unusual attitudes and then I’d try to recover quickly.  I shut my eyes and he banked left, right, up, down… roller coaster stuff.  He asked me to open my eyes and recover just by the instruments.  We did it 3 times and I think I pissed him off that I did it so easily.  Take that Grant.  The next thing he did was to ask me to get into a standard turn right bank and then close my eyes and tell him what I felt the aircraft was doing.  I watched it on video and after about 3 seconds I had started into a left bank and continued to point the nose into the dirt.  He let it go on for a little bit then asked me to open my eyes.   Whoops.  Not good.  I threw in some aft cyclic and wondered who decided flying around in clouds was ok.

That was it for the lesson.

Big lessons learned?

Little tiny corrections.

Things happen really really fast.

Learn how to scan the instruments in a efficient manner.

Weather here in the midwest has been particularly annoying. Windy, rainy, low ceilings. No one has been flying. So instead I got a few ground schools in and some sim time.

Midwest helicopter Instrument rating

Unfortunately I haven’t had a ton of free time but I am reading and re-reading this work of literary genius:

I’ve been sitting on a lot of planes lately – trying to read and pay attention to what we’re doing in the air.  It’s pretty cool to track the plane on foreflight.  Amazingly enough we track on victor airways and turn on VORs.  Crazy how that happens.

So on to the lesson.  The weather was garbage so instead of ground we decided to get some sim time.  The simulator at midwest is pretty cool.  It’s 3 huge screens and has a full instrument cluster / controls.

Grant threw the conditions into IFR and have me the brief rundown of what to do.  At first he left out any crosswind which was nice. All I had to do was point the nose of the aircraft into a specific radial and try to keep from porpoising / serpentine-ing (I don’t think that’s a word but it sounds better than swerving).  Anyway, I just tried to keep the aircraft pointed where I wanted, at the speed I wanted and at the altitude I wanted.  I didn’t do well but managed to find the airport.  He set up the same approach with a hefty crosswind and, well, I’ve done better.  It’s tough to fly in-trim and get to where you need to when every control input you make seems to amplify 1000 times throughout the helicopter.  Lordy.  It’s not simple.

He’d also give me vectors to follow as the tower would which was tough because he’d rattle off 3 or 4 commands while I was just trying to scan the instruments and remember where I was trying to go.  In short.  There is a lot going on and one mistake little mistake can turn into 20 pretty quick.

After an hour and 10 minutes I was done.

The big take away?

Get into a nice scanning pattern.  Spend 2 seconds on each instrument and move on.

At first I neglected or ignored the GPS.  Don’t do that.

Little corrections, tiny corrections, itsy-bitsy corrections.

Midwest Helicopter Simulator

2.4 hours as an instrument student…

Back in the saddle.

After copious amounts of celebrating and patting myself on the back I decided to call Grant for the instrument intro. He told me to bring something to puke into. I couldn’t tell if he was kidding. Turns out he was only kind of kidding.


We talked a little bit about what it’d be like and what the goal was. I have looked at plates before but this is a whole new world. We printed out some approach plates (are they called plates?) and he described the document. I caught / understood 10% of what he was saying. Damn. This will be difficult. We watched some youtubes, he drew some terrible sketches of teardrop patterns, and told me what books to by. We talked about using VORs and what kind of patterns we might be making, etc.. It was a ton of info and I need to do my best to study everyday. Lots to absorb on this one. WAY different than the PPL. Damn again.

After not understanding 90% of what he was saying we decided to go fly the helicopter.

We called our departure and took off to the north. I put on the bonnet of shame and he gave me fairly simple instructions. “Keep this line here and this mark there.” He also said if we keep X amount of power with the atmospheric conditions of the day we should end up here after X time. I was having trouble just maintaining level flight and doing standard turns. At one point I think I might have pointed the nose directly and the ground because I glanced at the rate of decent and, well, it wasn’t good.  Also why are we doing 100 knots all of a sudden.  Whoops. I tried to develop a pattern of looking over the instruments as he suggested but that was tough to say the least.  SO MUCH HAPPENING SO FAST.  I thought about the first person that decided flying in IFR conditions was a good idea and why you might ever consider that.  Sort of like the guy that decided to eat an oyster or a lobster the first time.

We successfully navigated to the VOR and decided to try to point the helicopter at the airport.  As luck would have it we found it and ran a lap, I was surprised when Grant told me to look up…  Holy dammit. We’re at an airport.  I wonder if it’s the right one.  I asked Grant and he confirmed we were most likely at the right one.

We decided to head home and mercifully he handled the radio.  He asked that I listen as they vectored* us in.  I caught most of it and stayed the course / altitude / airspeed.  We got 3 calls from the tower, I think… Again, massive amount of effort just to keep the helicopter, in trim, on target, at altitude and at the airspeed.  He told me to look up and, again, huge surprise we were at KCPS.  I have a new found respect for pilots that fly IFR without incident.

We landed and I felt like a complete newb again.  Also slightly nauseous.

Key learnings:

Grant likes to point at instruments.
Spacial distortion is very very very real. (my body was telling me I was turning left when in reality I was turning right and down)
This is going to be difficult.
The bonnet of shame makes you look stupid.


NEW WORD: “vectored”
Aircraft vectoring
is a navigation service provided to aircraft by air traffic control. The controller decides on a particular airfield traffic pattern for the aircraft to fly, composed of specific legs or vectors.

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Guimbal Cabir G2 at Midwest Helicopter Academy

So this is it.
After nearly a year of studying and a few less than stellar flights it’s time to take the checkride. We scheduled it at 8am.

Stepping back a bit though…

This entire thing started when I was a kid. My pop was a pilot, helicopter, fixed wing, jet, lighter than air so being around pilots, airports or things that flew wasn’t all that rare.

The weird part was that every time we took a flight or put up the balloon was that feeling of, this is completely badass and not everyone gets to do this, and that never went away. As a kid, my days were spent climbing whatever was around, a tree, the house, a building, later mountains and dirtbike rides up to 12,000ft plus the odd unmanned construction crane… getting that better view was all I was looking for.

For some reason RC planes and gliders were also fascinating. I spent way too much time building and rebuilding balsa would models. It never got old, even in college I had a few gliders around. I took a few breaks from it but even as recent as a few years ago I built a balsa wood model from scratch with my 3 year old, I tried to explain CG and what the airfoil was but he was more interested in breaking the spars and punching things. My interest never faded even with wife or college girlfriend giving me shit about it…

Last year a lucky run in with some very awesome folks, Chris, Jess and Grant turned into one of the cooler and more rewarding things in my life. I said it in a previous post but there are a few firsts that stick with you through your life. Soloing was one of those things for me… I wish I had better words that could capture the weight of the experience.

I would like to take a second and thank everyone at Midwest that has helped me along the way.

Midwest Helicopter AcademyGrant is my instructor. He’s cranky but a very talented instructor. He’s safe, understanding and was willing to go way way way far beyond what was expected. Dude showed up to my work more than a few times to help with the ground classes I missed.

Chris and Jess run the place. They are extremely honest and hard working people. I value their friendship and believe them to be very very genuine human beings that truly care about the quality of their product and the people around them. They do not stand for mediocrity. We run our businesses the same way which is maybe why I feel so lucky to have found them.

Everyone there was EXTREMELY helpful. Everyone made time for me, everyone answered questions, everyone was of solid midwestern values. I believe anyone of them would be an awesome instructor and I hope I get to fly with them more. I think I could call Maddie or Fretz or anyone at anytime and ask for help and without pause someone would lend me a hand…

I don’t want this post to go on forever so here is what happened the day before and the day of my ride.


The day before Grant and I went up for a spin just to knock the rust off. It had been a few days since I was up with him last. It went poorly, it was a solid C+ effort, not the A+ I was hoping for. I was missing my spot on my autos and I was flying out of trim.

We got down on the ground and talked about the oral a little bit. I told him I felt fine and after a few questions he let me off the hook. He said I needed to work through a flight plan, which I actually looked forward to, I like getting out the sectionals and doing it by hand. He also said I needed to bang out a quick weight and balance which I did without too much trouble.

We booked the time with the DPE for 8am. I got a restless night sleep and left to meet Grant at 7am at KCPS. We went over my book one last time and he asked me a few questions. I felt alright but was nervous. I failed my written and did not want to repeat the experience with my Oral or my flight. Later that night we were celebrating a late Christmas with my wife’s family and telling everyone that I failed wasn’t something I really wanted to do. Before I knew it the DPE showed up and it was time. As soon as he walked in I wished I had studied harder.

For the next two hours we talked about what I could and could not do as a pilot. What the helicopter could and could not do as a machine. What we could do and where with that helicopter.

We talked about why certain airspaces are restricted, prohibited and what requirements they have for weather and equipment. There were so many answers that were right on the tip of my tongue but for some reason would not come out in an articulate and meaningful way. I sounded like an idiot more than a few times. It’s my job to sit in rooms and chat with CEOs and CIOs of billion dollar companies and figure out how we are going to write this patent or build this software but being asked about weather requirements at 10,100 feet over this complicated airspace and I froze. DAMMIT. I needed a couple breaks to grab some water and calm down. At one point the DP did as well. He had asked a complicated question and gave me the option to look it up. Grant was right out side so in a moment of weakness I asked him where to find it in the book, he looked at me, raised his right hand and gave me the finger. Grant’s honest to a fault.

We finally finish up and I thought he was just going to send me home and tell me to hit the books. Oddly enough I had gotten through that portion. AMAZING. If nothing else I’ll get to fly today…

We walked outside and preflighted Mike Hotel. I went through every nook and cranny of that helicopter. I took a LONG time doing it. Looking back I might have taken a bit too long but it’s a habit I’ve gotten into. While the rest of my life is lived by the mantra “safety 3rd”… when in and around aircraft I take a slightly different approach. Safety 1st.

We jumped in and I started the preflight inside. I also took my time here. For some reason I just go slow on this part probably to the annoyance of anyone in the cockpit with me but that’s life… I also listen to the ATIS three times. Which came to bite in the ass later.

The pattern wasn’t super busy which was awesome so once we popped up we departed north. We went over to spot to do a confined landing. I’ve been here before but the DPE wanted to land in a new spot. It looked tight for an entry and an exit for where I thought the wind was out of.  We talk about LTE and what I could have done better and then I pull 969MH into a max performance.  I keep it right at 99% on the way out.

I shake it off and we head to join the base of 30R. He pops off the governor and we come in for a fairly shallow landing. I’m doing my best to keep the RPMs right in the green and did ok. Solid B effort. We do a lap and come in for a stuck pedal which I’m not super comfortable with yet but it went alright. We did a run on with that stuck pedal and I don’t know if he was on controls or not but it looked pretty damn awesome from my seat, I give myself an A on that one.

After the run ons we did some Settling With Powers which took forever for us to get into but I was able to fly out of without any effort. I let one go on for a while because I thought he wanted us to be in a little more of a obvious state of Settling With Power but turns out he just wanted me to get in and out. Whoops. I should have communicated that I was going to hang out in the decent for a LONG time. I noted that and started talking a lot more about what I was doing and thinking.

We moved on to autos and while I feel good doing those he had slightly different technique than Grant does. To be completely honest mine might be slightly behind the aircraft, I don’t preemptively move the collective expecting the rotors to do something because I’m a little worried that the ONE TIME physics will fail me and I’ll drop the RPMs too low. It’ not a reasonable concern but still… The DPE tended to roll on slightly earlier than I do with Grant and he really wanted to see the RPMs stay right in the green the entire time, never ever let it touch the yellow. It’s a little tough to perfect that but he let me know we should not fly that helicopter out of it’s limits at anytime. I agreed and selfishly wanted to sit and do autos all day with that dude. Not that Grant isn’t a great instructor, he is a GREAT instructor (he’s probably reading this so I have to say that(kidding)), but the DPE must have had thousands and thousands of hours in rotor craft, he just had a different way of doing things and has likely shot an auto for real.

After the straight in and 180 autos we went to do a slope and hover auto. The slop was fine, a solid B but that hover auto… friends, if you could have seen that hover auto. It was probably, in the history of rotorcraft flight, the most perfect in both function and form. I’ll set the scene as it was more dramatic than that scene in Apocalypse Now when they come in with that song Ride of the Valkyries and bombs exploding everywhere….

The wind was mightily blowing 29007KT with mechanical turbulence all around. The sky was an ominous clear and blue. It was frighteningly quite, not another helicopter, fixed wing or jet around. The control tower was eerily quiet as well. We had just discussed dynamic roll overs and the DPE said, well head on over to the numbers on 23 and we’ll do a hover auto. I moved over with all the precision of a 60-something hour pilot and he said go ahead. Time slowed down, seconds seemed like minutes. I rolled off throttle, threw in my pedal input, pulled collective all at the absolute perfect time. We gently drifted down to the earth like a leaf with a parachute landing on pillow. We did not yaw even 1 degree. The DPE was clapping and trying to shake my hand as I threw down the collective … I can imagine Grant was sitting in his office being angry about something while a slow smile creeps across his face and a feeling of well being over came him.

OK. So NONE of that hover auto stuff really happened except the awesome execution on my part. If I did one thing right it was that auto. Truly was a thing of beauty and I will pat myself on the back for that one thing.

He asks me to put it back on the ramp and that’s it.

I grab the checklist and power the helicopter down. We don’t say a word. I know I failed it but hey, that hover auto… I get the blades stopped and we’re hop out.

He says, well, “you met the standard”. I want to hug the dude. I want to thank him for his time. I want to ask him to go grab lunch and a beer and tell me all the stuff I did wrong or right or whatever. I’m beyond happy. It was amazing. I don’t know how long we stood out there talking but it seemed like a while. I had so many questions but didn’t want to take away from his day. I do remember asking him one thing. I paraphrasing but I asked him if I was a good pilot. I told him I have a family, I have kids, I have 15 people at work that I’m responsible for… If I’m not a good pilot or there is no skill level there I don’t want to do this. He mentioned that was not the case, I am a pilot as of today and there are many things to work on but I have met a standard. We chatted for a while and walked inside to do the paperwork. We had a quick conversation about a few things that I reserve the right not to talk about on this blog but he had a really really great perspective on life and work in general.  He gave me advice on how to think like a pilot once I crossed the yellow line.

That was it. It was an amazing day.
Next up. Instrument.

Guimbal Cabri G2 at KCPS

This all took place from mid December to a few days ago.

Grant suggested I do a pre-checkride with Maddie, one of the other instructors.

It was rainy and cold and pretty average flying from me.  I started the flight with her with around 59.4 hours and ended it with about 1.2.  I preflighted and we departed to the north.  We went to a confined spot and I rushed into the landing a bit but she assured me it was passable.  Mental note: SLOW DOWN.

Guimbal Cabri Slope landing

The slope she had me do was a little mechanical.  There was moss on our spot and I thought we might slide so I came in very gingerly and gently.  I was worried about dynamic roll-over but I don’t usually twist on my slopes or my set downs but that stupid moss made me tense up a bit.  Not terrible but not an A+.

We rejoined the pattern and did some run ons, some autos and some hover autos.

They were all ok in my book but not great.  I think Maddie was making me nervous, she’s known to be a great pilot but she has this quiet way about her that makes her seem like she’s judging you harshly which is exactly what she’s paid to do.  She offers good advice but every time I fly with her I have a hunch she just wants to grab the controls and say, “watch this dummy.”  I outweigh her by double but I think I might be frightened of her?  She can certainly fly circles around me…

Anyway, we ended the flight with a few more autos and called it.  I demanded she give me a letter grade and she thought it was a B-.  I thought she was being kind and gave myself a C.


Guimbal Cabri G2 Confined LandingThe next 3 flights with Grant are all preparation for my checkride.  We’re thinking it might be around 12/20/16.

The flights with Grant aren’t anything new.  It’s autos and it’s run ons and it’s confined landings.  I polish and Grant picks at what he can.

I feel ready.

I’m at 64.8 hours.

My ground is good.

I’m ready?


I’m studying non stop.  I think I’m going for my checkride in middle December.

That is all.

Guimbal Cabri 3d Print

Wait… that is not all I printed a 3d model of a Guimbal Cabri, then I bought a little RC A-Star.  I’m stealing the RC components out of the A-Start and mounting them into the Guimbal model I made.  I have achieved a new level of nerd.


In middle November I asked Grant if we could head up and drill on some 180s.  He agreed and we did so for an 1.2 hours.

It wasn’t the most exciting footage so we’ll just say it went as expected.  I was tightening up and smoothing my autos and all went well.  We did happen to shoot the footage in a new and exciting way but we’re debating showing that.  Working though that… and if we decide to publish it I’ll make a note of it and embed it on this post.  I hope we get to show it because it really is a new and novel way of showing more precise input controls.

Anyway, I left that flight with 56.4 hours.


The next flight was a long cross country.  I wanted to plan another long XC, do the weight and balance, check the weather and set off my own again.  It was important for a few reasons.  I spent the evening with the charts then foreflight.  I got up the next morning, checked the weather again, reviewed my sectionals, checked the weather and drove to the airport.  It was a perfect day.  The wind was light and variable and you could see for a million miles.  There are a ton of reasons I wanted to go on the flight, some are personal some are not but in the end I got to spend about 3 hours flying a helicopter solo over southern Missouri.  I set down at KFES and looked around counting my blessings, picked up and went to KFAM, did the same and then lifted off again.

All of my calls were solid, my approaches were where I wanted them to be and my landings were smooth.  This concluded my solo cross country portion of requirements and while I was sad to see that part be over it was a very fitting ending.  I headed back flying a little slower than I could have.  I did about 60 knots just enjoying the day and the time and feeling completely blessed.  I’ve been hitting the books super hard and work hasn’t been easy but this day was amazing.

It was 5ish when I got back to KCPS and they cleared me straight in to hanger 12.  I landed and wondered if that’ll be the last time I solo in a helicopter.  I pulled the helicopter into the stable and called it a day.

Three hours in the books and I’m at 59.4.

Guimbal KFES


Guimbal KFAM


Guimbal Over River


IMG_8941So I happened to be out in Seattle, WA and Portland OR for bidness and decided I would check in on some friends of Midwest.  It’s a company called Precision Helicopters. They have a bunch of Guimbals, A-stars and a few other odds and ends.

I got in touch with them a week before I went out and had a loose plan.

I finished up with my meetings and started heading south.  The drive from Portland to Newberg was pretty sweet.  Nice country out there.. it’s all wine and logging.

I met Nigel and we went through a quick ground and risk assessment.  All looked good so we grabbed a G2 and walked around it for the preflight.  We hopped in and fired it up.  We were around 3000 MSL and had around 18 gallons of fuel on board.  The idea was we’d very slowly and carefully introduce me to mountain flying.

We made our calls and we were off.  We flew past a few vineyards and within 5 minutes we were in the foothills.  Nigel demonstrated a bunch of pinnacles and a running takeoff.  I followed on controls for most of it then we started in on a few pinnacles.  AMAZING.  Everything is different.  You come in sort of like a steep but your spot is an imaginary place above the ground by 10 feet.  You plan for your ditch so far in advance and at a moment in time there is a go / no-go point.  If it feels right you continue down to that spot that is 10 feet above where you are really going to put your skids down.  We drilled on that for 15 or 20 minutes then Nigel demo’d another running takeoff.

Every landing was a slope and every takeoff was close to a max performance. So so so cool.  I learned so much in just 1.5 hours.

We headed back and we did some autos that were… possibly the coolest display of control I’d ever seen.  I hadn’t seen an auto done with such surgical precision.  (When I left I actually went out and bought the dude a bottle of bourbon and drive back to the airport because I was that impressed.)

I met David the owner, thanked him for the time and left with a huge smile on my face.  I didn’t get to shoot any video but it was eye opening to put it VERY MILDLY and I promised myself I’d head back out.  Hopefully this spring I can find a window to head out when the air is nice and cool.

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