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.


Each and every flight requires a pre-flight.  It follows the manual exactly.  It might seem just a bit long and it does take about 10-15 minutes but it’s your life up there so… why not do it right.

I caught Grant finishing up the pre-flight in the hanger but then I thought it’d be a good idea that I whip out the camera and we do it all over again!  Why not it was only sort of freezing out side.

There are two definitions of pre-flight according to the manual.  An “Inter-Flight” and a “Daily”. Those are can be found in Section 4 of the manual, 4-2 and 4-7 respectively.  How formal.

So, here we go, the following is from the manual, it’s carried in the helicopter along with all the other important documents.

Guimbal G2 Cabri Preflight Stations

Remove airframe covers, pitot and static plugs, blade tie downs and exhaust plug.
In cold weather, remove all frost, ice or snow. 
Purpose of the following inspection is to :
Visually check the helicopter general condition
Detect leakage indications
Detect aluminum fretting marks : dark powder marks
Detect steel fretting marks : black or brown marks / residues
Detect overheating marks (color changing)
Detect damages (impacts, scratches, cracks, frictions corrosion…)

All castellated nut must be locked by cotter pin.
Lockwire must be tight.
Torque-seal marks must be intact.

Station 1:
Main rotor blades (each 3) : Clean, particularly at leading-edge
Leading edge – hand-check for damage or debonding
Tips bolts – Check lockwiring
Right door hinges – Check
Door hinge safety pins – Installed
Windshield condition and cleanliness – Check
Sideslip string indicator – Check
Lower windows condition and cleanliness – Check
Landing light – Check
Pitot tube – Cover removed, check
Static pressure port- Plug removed, check
Front gear bow attachment – Check
Left door hinges – Check
Door hinge safety pin – Installed

Station 2:
Fuel cap – Locked
Navigation light – Check
Front and main gear bow condition – Check
Landing gear pants and skid condition – Check
Skid shoes – Check
Fuel manifold – No leak
Drain valve – Sample
Cowling hinge – Check

Open the left engine cowling

Battery strap – Check
Battery terminals – Tightened
Breakers – All set
MAP lines – Check
Transmission belt – Check
Belt slack – Check
Electronic ignition coils attachment – Check
Ignition wires – Check
Engine and baffling general condition – Check
Engine skirts condition and attachment – Check
Exhaust pipes – Check
Heat muff and hose condition – No cracks
Mixture control – Check
Throttle control – Check
Air box attachment – Check
Auto carburetor heat – Check cold
Engine connector – Locked
Engine mount condition – Inspect for cracks or corrosion
Engine rubber mounts – Check
Magneto connection – Check
Fuel pump and hose – No leak
Oil cooler air hose – Check
Flexible push-pull control – Check
Left tail boom attachments – No crack
Cotter pins – Installed
Cowling – Close and lock front latch

Station 3 :
Left tail boom side general condition – No damage
Horizontal stabilizer – Shake and inspect
Strobe light – Check
Rotor duct – Clean
Tail rotor blades condition – Clean, no impact
Tail rotor blades slack – Check all 7
Tail skid and attachment – Check

Station 4:
Tripod attachments – Check
Tail gear box oil level – Check
Chip detector – Locked
Pitch lever and rod end – Check free-play
Horizontal stabilizer – Check
Rear transmission tube – Check while turning main rotor
Right tail boom side general condition – No damage
Transmission bearings bolts and plugs – Check tight

Station 5:
Muffler exhaust – Check and shake
Right cowling hinge – Check
Open the right engine cowling
Right tail boom attachments – No crack
Cotter pins – Installed
Muffler – No crack or interference with engine frame
Oil filter – Locked, no leak
Engine oil dipstick – Check 4 to 6 Qt and tighten
Engine mount condition – Inspect for cracks or corrosion
Fuel line condition – Check
Clutch distributor and attachment – Tight, no leak
Oil cooler pipes – No leak
VHF antenna – Check
Engine cooling intake screen – Inspect and clean
Ignition wires – Check
Engine and baffling general condition – Check
Rotor brake – Check pads and clearance
Flex coupling and bolts – Tight – no crack
Upper pulley – Check
Clutch actuator – Retracted
Main gear box oil level – Check
Chip detector – Locked
Inspection door – Closed
Engine skirts condition and attachment – Check
Exhaust pipes – Check
Carburetor heating hose – Check
Air intake duct and hose – Check
Gascolator drain – Sample
Fuel flow sender – Check
Aft landing gear attachment – Check
Cowling – Close and lock both latches
Front and main gear bow condition – Check
Landing gear pants and skid condition – Check
Skid shoes – Check
Navigation lights – Check
Open the baggage door, step for main rotor examination :
Blade bolts – Check
Elastomeric thrust bearings – Check elastomer condition
Main rotor hub – Check nicks or corrosion
Lead-lag dampers :
Elastomer condition – No crack
Rod ends – Free without looseness
All control rod-ends – Free without looseness
Droop stop ring – Visual check
Rotating and non-rotating scissors – Free with moderate looseness
Swashplate – Check no free-play
Main gear box upper fitting – Check
Air intake and MGB compartment – No foreign object
Engine air intake screen – Inspect and clean
Blades leading edge – No debonding
Step down and slam baggage door 


The guimbal is finally here and assembled. It was blessed by the FAA last week and after a little CFII training it’ll be good to go. Here is a couple hour timelapse if it getting put together and some specs on it.

Main performance
Equipped empty weight 420 kg (925 lb)
Maximum Gross Weight 700 kg (1542 lb)
Maximum level speed @ 100% (s.l. ISA) 100 kt (185 km/h)
Cruise speed @ 85% 90 kt (166 km/h)
Vne (s.l.) 130 kt (240 km/h)
IGE hovering ceiling (@ 700 kg) 5000 ft
Hovering ceiling (2×77 kg + fuel 2 hrs) 7500 ft
Range @ 85 % (15 min reserve) 380 NM (700 km)
Maximum endurance @ 50 kt (no reserve) 5 hr 40
Noise level @ 100% (certified) 75.7 dB SEL

Main rotor
Type Articulated, soft-in-plane
Number of blades 3
Diameter 7.2 m (23.6 ft)
Chord 180 mm (7.1 in)
Speed 530 RPM

Tail rotor
Type Fenestron®
Number or blades 7
Diameter 0.6 m (23.6 in)
Chord 42 mm (1.6 in)
Speed 5148 RPM

Primary transmission Belt with a reduction ratio of 0.855/1
Main gearbox Bevel spiral gear with a reduction ratio of 11/47
Tail Gearbox Bevel spiral gear wit a multiplication ratio of 25/11

Engine model Textron Lycoming O360-J2A with STC EASA E.S.01001
Type Horizontally-opposed, four-cylinder, air-cooled
Atmospheric, carburetted
Double-ignition with one magneto and one electronic ignition
Displacement 361 cu.in (5.9 litres)
Max continuous power 145 shp @ 2585 – 2700 tr/min (108 kW)
Nominal speed 2650 RPM
Cooling Direct-drive squirrel-cage blower

Magneto Bendix
Electronic ignition LSE Plasma II – HG
Condenser discharge
Variable spark advance

Fuel system
Max capacity 170 litres (45 US Gal)
Unusable quantity 1.5 litre (0.4 US Gal)
Approved fuel type Avgas 100 LL

FullSizeRender 38

Damn. I have new life goals. Having strategically placed hangers around the US and Canada filled with helicopters, dirtbikes and a Unimog is one of those goals. I need to work really really hard or hit that powerball on Wednesday.

Seeing the Guimbal arrive in a crate was pretty damn cool. I feel lucky to see it fresh out of the box. Jessie and Chris seemed super pumped today as well. All the instructors, students and the guys that keep these things flying were all gathered around checking it out… good vibes.

The fellas at Midwest are doing 100 hour on the EC 120. That should be buttoned up on Wednesday which means the Guimbal is next in line for some attention, I’ll do a time-lapse of them putting it together and post it here. After the Guimbal is back together the FAA takes a peek at it and with any luck it’ll be time for me to get going. I cannot wait. I’m traveling all of next week… STL > DETROIT > PHILLY > NY > VT > NY > STL …I’m not bummed because we’re starting a new project with an outdoor retailer company that is pretty awesome. The project will include us hanging from a rock wall in Moab, Utah and kayaking down the Colorado – so it could be worse but I’m itching to get in the air.

I’m hoping we can squeeze something in over the weekend. Finding time to do this is clearly going to be an issue but my family is supportive and the company is on a good track this year. It will be interesting to look back and see how I juggled it all.







Last week I stopped by Midwest to talk about next steps.

The G2 is in the states somewhere. It’s being delivered to the hanger on Tuesday.  Slight chance I have to run to Philly but if not I’ll be there watching them unpack the helicopter I’ll be training in.  AMAZING!  I’ll post a timelapse of them putting it together.

The FAA is going to give it a once over then I guess it all gets real.While I was at Midwest I jumped into their sim.  I thought a little before and after video would be cool but I can’t bring myself to post it.  It’s terrible.  I’ve been reading and researching and reading some more.  I’ve also been watching tons of video but what books and youtube can’t do is really give you any idea of the physical sensations, which I believe plays a HUGE part???   Anyway, I can’t post that video.  It’s terrible.  Instead I’ll post this one of a quick trip up hwy 40 in STL and landing at Midwest.

I don’t want to fail on this, especially in plain view of the web, family and friends.

Guimbal Cabri G2Documenting this experience real time is putting a little pressure on me.  What if I say or do something stupid? What if I damage this BRAND NEW probably very expensive hunk of technology and aluminum and carbon fiber?  What if I can never remember what “L” is in ATC talk.  Is it Lima??

Man, I really need to find as much time as possible to crack the books.  Thankfully I don’t have to travel too much for work for the next 60-90 days.  (Oh yeah, I forgot to mention I’m going to try to do this in 60-90 days weather permitting.)  I do need to head to New York in a week but I’m going to take the train down from Albany to the city so I’ll have 4 uninterrupted hours on the train with just the books.  I’m excited for that.   I’m not the best student, I learn by doing not by reading and right now I’m terrified of bad radio calls.

I need to find learning tools.

Here are the books Chris, my instructor, suggested. I know some of these are free from the FAA. Awesome. Thanks FAA.

Helicopter Flying Handbook

Pilots Encyclopedia of Aeronautical Knowledge

2016 FAR/AIM

Aviation Weather

Aviation Weather Services

ASA Private Helicopter Pilot Written Test Prep


DavidClarkH10-60HOn to the headsets. Like I said my Pop was a pilot and handed me an old set of david clarks when I told him what I was doing. Everything was cracking, crumbling and they smelled like hamsters. I’ll hang on to them for posterity’s sake.  I checked out the Bose A20s and a few others but decided the old man has made it through 40+ years of flying and his suggestion would probably be fine for me.  I grabbed the David Clark H10-60H, damn that is one rough website…  After some research the price fit the budget and the reviews were great..

By the way that helicopter is a Guimbal Cabri G2, yikes two ugly sites in a row!  Anyway, that’s what I’m training in. I have a hunch I’ll want to train on a R22 and R44 as well.  But we’ll get to that.

So what else do I need?  Sounds like everyone likes foreflight, looks very very well done and as a guy that has released over 80 iOS apps, that company did it right.  Well done.

Still looking for learning tools on the iPad but I’m sure I’ll come across that as I start taking the classes.

That’s it for the day…

here is a video from a few weeks back.



For as long as I can remember some form of aviation has been in my life.

IMG_3638In my early years my Dad bounced us around the states in a Beechcraft Bonanza. Actually, he flew a bunch of aircraft – fixed wing, helicopters, jets, balloons… There’s a good chance I’m doing this because of all that time around those little planes and hot air balloons.  Looking back we didn’t camp or throw a football around, we went flying.  How cool would it be to take him up for his 70th.

Anyway fast forward to early 20s I was living down in Belize I got to sit right seat in more than a few Cessna Caravans, it was cool to island hop all over Central America.  Hurricane Iris was on her way and I was on the last flight off the island, flying ultra low to stay out of the chop and I knew one day I’d be in the left seat.  When I moved back to the states, a private charter flight in a King Air here or there and I started to seriously think about grabbing my fixed wing.

Too expensive, too time consuming and I’m running a company… my day job requires my full attention.  Also, I have a wife and 2 kiddos that keep me busy.  How am I going to convince her?  She wants a new kitchen and the backyard needs to be cleaned up.  If I do this will I have to give up camping trips on the dirt bike?  I told myself – I’ll get to it at some point but for now I’ll just buy these books and read a bit at night.

I knew I’d do something with aviation eventually, maybe for my 40th and when the company settles down. I’ll make this happen one day…

Well, that day is finally here!  I should back up just a bit more though.

How did it come to be that I’m getting trained by Midwest and why did I choose them?

I have, for lack of a better term, an advertising and innovation company.  We build complicated software, mobile applications, websites and in some cases physical components that talk to the apps we build.  Our clients are awesome and I’m lucky to count Midwest as one of them.  -We built this website.

Anyway, I needed to shoot some video for a client, Anheuser Busch, their original brewery is right downtown and we needed a couple quick shots for this app. Awesome, time to charter a helicopter!  So, after talking to a few folks in the area everyone directed me to Midwest.  The description was always the same – “safe and professional”.  Super close to the brewery too.  Perfect!  I called and booked some time and the following day we went out to grab the video.  Whoa.  That was rad. Am I the type of dude that can possibly fly one of these?  Helicopters are expensive… I’ve always had RCs and recently, pro quality flying cameras otherwise known as drones. Sadly in my youth I spent a bunch of time playing with flight sims, building and flying models.  Nerdiness abounded. My wife barely tolerates me dragging out the drone to take family photos.

An actual helicopter though, that’s a lot different then playing dodge the clouds with your pop on the way down to Florida or nerding out with a DJI inspire.  Hmmmm.  I should research this.  Don’t I have to get my fixed wing first?  Nope.  Isn’t helicopter training expensive?  It is right?  Surely fixed wing is cheaper?

I’ll charter a 172, I have to go to Springfield, Mo. for a client -might as well see if I still like sitting right seat after being in the R44.  As soon as I got back I decided fixed wing wasn’t for me right now.  Maybe later but not right now.  I called Midwest for another shoot and that was it.  When I landed from that flight I let Jessie know I was ready to figure out a way.  Crap.  My wife is going to punch me.

So with any luck this will be a pretty complete account of what it’s like for someone starting from scratch.