Saturday, February 26, 2011

Feb. 26th, playing catchup!!

So since my last entry I have had 16 flights with an average flight time of 1 hour.
This is going to be a catch up post, I am going to summarize most of what I have learned and then hopefully be back to posting every flight.

My last posted lessons was dealing with speed and altitude control, for the most part I have got it down. I have moved on to more technical aspects of flight such as autorotations, precision hover. steep normal and shallow approaches, hover autos and max performance take offs. Also due to my body size I have been having a little difficulty with my pedal control. The pedals on an R22 are fixed and can not be moved as is the seat. To try and correct this I have spent a few flights mainly dedicated to pedal control.

From the 16 flights there are 4 exercises that have had a huge impact on me, precision hovering, autorotations, hovering in 25knts, and left pedal direction control.

For precision hovering there is an abandoned gravel pit down by Auburn that we use. There is places to practice confined area and pinnacle hovers in the pit. When hovering in open spaces the pilot uses a horizontal line of reference. When performing confined area or pinnacle hovers a vertical line of reference is used.The difference is that in an open space a slight amount of movement is not a bad thing and for the most part doesn't need to be worried about, but when in confined areas the slightest movement could be very VERY bad so your point of reference is more specific and very close in relationship to the helicopter.
The intensity and difficulty of this practice was very intriguing to me and reminded my of all the ski movies that I watch where skiers are dropped off at the top of mountain and the helicopter has just one skid in the snow so that the skiers can gain access to unbelievable terrain. I see a potential future use for this type of practice.

Autorotations are an emergency procedure that must be learned to obtain your private license and possibly save your life one day. Practicing autos is made easier for me due to the fact that they are fun and I enjoy them. In an autorotation the power to the rotor system is removed and you literally start to drop out of the air. To perform the drop safely you must keep your rotor system turning, to do this you remove all pitch from the blades so that the upward air continues them spinning. When getting close to the ground the spinning rotor system will be used to reduce your speed to near 0 both horizontally and vertically.  When practicing autos you obtain 600ft+ agl and 65knts, once we have our position for the proper glide angle you lower the collective and roll off the throttle. As you start to descend at 1500ft per min. the rotor system starts to spin faster and faster, so as to not over speed the rotor system you have to pull up on the collective. At the bottom of your decent you start a flare 40ft or so above the ground by pulling back on the cyclic and pulling in a little more collective, as the forward speed reaches 0 you level the helicopter back out. On a full down you would use what is left of the collective to cushion the landing. In practice autos at level off we roll the throttle back on and pull into a hover. The best way to describe the initial feeling of an auto is that of the down hill section of a roller coaster where you stomach starts moving towards your throat..... good stuff, and your in control.

Earlier this month there was a day of steady 10 knts winds at Boeing filed with gusts up to 25knts. What makes hovering in conditions like this interesting is that ETL (effective transitional lift) is 16knts air speed. So with the winds that were present during a hover you would randomly enter ETL and then leave it again with out warning. ETL is the difference in the rotor system creating lift as individual blades  or the complete disc. In ETL there is less manifold pressure required to obtain lift and more cyclic move needed to initiate movement. So when hovering while entering and leaving ETL randomly there is much cyclic and collective movement. Do to the difficulty and concentration required this is in the top 5 of my most favorite moments in the helicopter so far.

To help me with my pedal control I flew a whole day with out shoes and part of that lesson I flew with just the left pedal. The left pedal is the one used to counter the torque of the main rotor system. When hovering, if you release all pressure on the anti torque pedals the helicopter will turn to face into the wind and no pedal inputs are needed, the helicopter will continue to weather vane into the wind. From that position I used just left pedal to turn to the left and then swing back to the right by releasing pressure. I practiced stopping at several indicated spots from Bryan while using this technique. By the end of the session I felt I had a really good feeling and better understanding of the anti torque pedals.

The other main highlight from my lessons is cross country flight. I have done 2 to date. For the first x-country I flew from Boeing field to Arlington to Harvey field back to Boeing but I got to do the flight in an R44 and Bring my girlfriend. R22's have all manual controls so you can feel a lot of response back trough the controls but in a R44 all the controls are hydraulic... that took a little while to get used to.
my second x-country was done today. We went from Boeing field to Shelton to Bremerton and back to Boeing. The first part of the flight was done by pilotage and the return was flown using dead recogning. Pilotage is where you fly using a map and compass course and dead recogning is navigation using the features that on the ground.

My next flight wont be for a week but I will work on posting after every flight.... again sorry for the major gap in posts.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Nov. 11th, Altitude and speed control

Today ended up being another good flying day, calm winds out of the south and scattered clouds at 4500 ft.

The second day back in the pilots seat felt really good, I was more relaxed and comfortable behind the controls. As we left Boeing field headed south to Auburn I worked on altitude and speed control. These two are a little harder than they seem at first and I have been having trouble with them up to this point. When flying a helicopter the cyclic controls your direction of travel and the collective controls your main rotor pitch angle which in turn controls the amount of lift that your main rotor system is providing. To obtain flight you must raise the collective and to obtain a direction you must move the cyclic in the desired direction. Now if you are in forward flight and you are flying 60 knots and want to go 70 knots you must move the cyclic forward but unless you raise collective to sustain your altitude you will start doing 70 knots but also start loosing altitude.... no good. And on the opposite if you are traveling at 70 knots and want to do 60 knots then you must bring the cyclic back but unless you lower the collective you will start to gain altitude at 60 knots. So to make it simple your speed control is your cyclic and your altitude control is your collective. Now to maintain an altitude and speed with out looking at you gauges all the time you need to use the horizon as a reference point and a maker or object ( I learned to use the center window mounted compass) inside the helicopter to reference to the horizon. Once I received this piece of knowledge and I applied it I became quite more successful at maintaining my speed and altitude.

Once we made it down to Auburn I went through a few practice patterns, landings and take offs. There where 3 other various aircraft using the airport with us at any given time so to be efficient we taxied to a holding area at the north end of the field to practice pick ups and set downs. Being as tall as I am and as small as the Robinson R22s are I have found that I need to do a considerable amount of slouching to become comfortable. Once I found my comfortable seating posture it made a world of difference the way the controls felt, every thing felt a little easier.

To finish off the days lesson Bryan ran me through 3 auto rotations the last 2 of which I took control of the collective. The collective during an auto determines your rotor rpm, R22s have a very low inertia rotor system so it is very important to maintain proper rotor rpm so that you have enough inertia built up in the rotor system to cushion your landing.

Back at heli pad 6 I made a down wind landing and a successful cross wind set down. (the helicopter, as I left it, should still be there for me to fly tomorrow:)

Nov. 10th, Back in the pilot seat!

So today turned out to be a very good day for flying, not hardly a cloud in the sky and only a 4 or 5 knot wind out of the North. Needless to say after being out of the seat for over a week I was a little rusty! I tried to do the initial pick up to move us out to heli pad 6 and was very thankful that Bryan was there to make some corrections. It took a good 1/2 hour till I finally started to feel comfortable back in the seat. We flew down to Auburn and practiced take offs, landings, and landing patterns. By the end of the flight I was feeling comfortable and was make the landings and pick ups with more fluidness and ease. My total flight for the day was 1.2 hours and I hope that the weather doesn't rob me of any more time this week. I was surprised how much of the feeling for the controls I had lost in just over a weeks time.

Nov. 9th, Mother nature is still not cooperating.

My flight for today was cancelled do to poor flying conditions.  Better luck tomorrow.

Nov. 6th, Grounded due to weather:(

I was scheduled to fly at 9am but Boeing airfield was operating under IFR (instrument flight restrictions) meaning that the cloud ceiling was under 1000ft. This is the first real day I have been grounded due to weather. We still put the day to good use though, I was taught the different classes of airspace and what there restrictions where and how they appeared on the chart. I was also taught how to interpret the basic need to knows for the charts as well.

My next day is scheduled for Nov. 9th.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Oct. 29th, Flight Lesson 3

Today my lesson was started with ground school. We addressed the emergency procedures for , ground resonance, stuck or inoperable anti torque pedals, settling with power and loss of tail rotor effectiveness. As with most emergency procedures with helicopters it is best to learn what can cause these emergency situations and stop the problem before it becomes a problem. The main nugget of knowledge that I gleaned from todays ground class was that the tail rotors only job is to counteract the torque from the main rotor. So if you have an problem at all with the tail rotor and your heading starts to change undesirably just remove the torque of the main rotor system by letting off on the throttle. And if all else fails autorotation!!!

For todays flight lesson high altitude reconnaissance, and maintaining flight speed during climb and decent and maintaing altitude while varying speed. I also continued to review and practice all the things I've so far. For start up I performed the whole task, then executed a lift off to hover, a hover taxi to pad six and running take off. Today we flew out east of Auburn on top of the ridge to introduce high altitude reconnaissance. This is maneuver that is performed 500 ft above ground level (AGL) and consists of making a right hand turn in a circle around an object such as a potential landing spot so that the pilot can stair out of his window and take in an pertinent information about the spot. I practice 2 full circles around 2 different spots before heading back to Boeing Field. On the way back I have done the coolest thing in my life to date. Just west of the white river amphitheater we dropped down to the white river river bed and buzzed the river for a good 2 miles. This stuff is better than Xbox!!! It was such a blast cruising along at about 50 knots having to dodge trees that where sticking out of the bank and winding with the river toattly getting to feel the helicopter respond to your every input in a confined space....I was in heaven!:) So after the little adrenaline ride it was back to straight and level flight back to Boeing Field where I performed a normal approach to a hover over pad six, a hover taxi back to my landing spot and a set down from hover.

Due to my work schedule I will not fly again until the 6th of november. I am a little bummed because I feel as though I am getting the hang of fly and am enjoying it immensely!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Oct 28th Flight Lesson 2

Today was slightly overcast, 5000 ft ceiling and sprinkling.... but still flyable!!

We went straight to flying, I performed the pre flight check and the start up procedure as Bryan read off the start up to me. All was in working order, Bryan took the controls and hovered out to helipad 6. Once we had clearance Bryan handed over the controls and I performed a south bound take off. We headed through Long Acres and south to Auburn airport. I practiced flying more take off and landing patterns with more precision. Once I had executed 3 patterns Bryan threw in set downs at pickups to and from hover. Set downs where considerably easier that pickups. To perform a set down you obtain a steady hover and ever so slightly reduce collective and let the helicopter lower to the ground till the skids touch then drop the collective all the way to settle the helicopter. Pickups are the opposite but due to the power increase you have to be more active on the anti torque pedals there for making it a little trickier. As I was practicing the maneuvers there was plane taxiing for take off so we had to clear the run way. We found a patch of taxi way to practice my hover where I was again challenged to a minute of hover. This time I sustained a fairly controlled hover for more than a minute and succeeded in hover taxiing back out to the run way to perform an interesting take off where my left and right brain had a slight conflict and I found the helicopter performing a right hand dog track takeoff. On the way back to Boeing I made the radio calls while in Long Acres. For radio calls you announce who you are, where you are, and what your doing. Back at Boeing I performed the landing, taxi hover, set down and shut down.

Back at the office we debriefed and went over the nights homework.

This new experience is awesome and I couldn't be happier with my decision to start learning to fly helicopters.