Flight 14 – Autos, pick ups and set downs – Part 27


I’m entering the flight with 18.7 hours.  It feels like I’ve been away for a long time.  Which it has.  Nine days to be exact.

I love / hate my job.  I get to travel to cool places, meet cool people and work on cool projects.  Last week I was in NY with a few other folks.  Bernie Sanders and Hillary.  I know this because traffic was stupid even by NY standards and there was a helicopter that hovered outside my hotel for an hour.  Eye in the sky I guess?  Anyway, the pilot had some skills, he just crept along keeping it basically at the same altitude in pretty windy conditions.  I would have been all over the map.  His lights are the sorta solid light trail in the lower 3rd of the photo.

Anyway, this lesson we concentrated on a couple approaches, they looked and felt alright to me.  I need to work on keeping that nose straight but other that they were ok.  After each approach Grant is asking me to land.  I land like a person parallel parking for the first time.  It’s super ugly.  I can’t hold the thing still and look down at the runway right by my feet.  I don’t know where the skids are.

We did a couple quick stops, those are feeling pretty good and looking like a solid B-!  I’ll take it!

Next up autos.  The first few always scare the living crap out of me.  It doesn’t seem natural to be doing this over and over again.  The feeling in the pit of your stomach, the momentary negative G feeling, the instruments freaking out… none of it feels right.  How is Grant so calm.  Damn.  So to enter, you’re at around 1,200 feet and 70-80knts, you dump collective, add a little left pedal, aft on cyclic, two big rolls off the throttle and fall out of the sky.  At some point, still unknown to me you roll on 1 big bite of throttle and a little squeeze.  You’re keeping your airspeed at around 50knts and “glide” into your spot.  Glide is the wrong word but I can’t describe the feeling… maybe surf it in?  I don’t know it’s an odd feeling.  At around telephone pole height you start a baby flare to slow the decent and loose speed, add in some pedal then a larger flare with some collective. AGAIN, this feels super wrong right now.  I can’t fully describe what to do in an auto but I know my wife would hate it.

Here is one thing to remember, if you do everything described above, physics will takes over.  It’s the law.  The energy stored in the rotor is there, it won’t magically disappear.  You are trading the altitude for RPM in the rotor, carefully… it all makes sense in theory.   I won’t pretend to be able to describe it in great detail but what I will do is post a video of a very in-depth walk through of it.  I will set up 4 or 5 cameras so we can cover the collective, pedals, cyclic, instruments and the outside of the helicopter.  MUTLICAM for the win!

So that was the day, pattern work, a couple quick stops so I can prove to Grant I can flare, a couple set downs and then 3 or 4 autos.  None of it is boring, none of it is mundane, none of it is work.  I could do this for a year and not get bored.

1.6 more hours in the books, which puts me at 20.3 hours.  Awesome.  I think I’ll write a little synapses of the first 25 hours and post that in the coming weeks.