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.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Oct. 27th Flight lesson 1

 My first lesson started off with ground school. We went over a few emergency conditions, how they occur, how to avoid them, and procedures to follow if they happen. We touched on mast bumping and low G maneuvers. Mast bumping is a result of incorrect response to a low G condition and or turbulence, and is where the rotor hub actually strikes the rotor mast. Low G conditions are generally caused by an abrupt forward cyclic input during straight and level flight or more easily produced out of a climb.

Out on the tarmac I was introduced to the preflight check of the helicopter. This inspection consists of visually checking over the helicopter for any abnormalities, faults or points of concern. I then went through start up procedure while Bryan performed the steps. Once the helicopter checked out every thing was running smoothly we where off. The days flight lesson consisted of practice take offs, landing patterns, and hovering. We flew South to Long Acres and practiced in the empty cow pastures.

We first practiced controlled landing patterns  and take offs. during the landing pattern straight and level flight for the down wind leg typically is around 500 ft and 60-65 knots. When turning to base leg you want to start your deceleration to no less than 50 knots and drop to an elevation no lower than 300 ft by your turn to final approach. During final you hold 300 ft and 50 knots until you are in position to start your normal decent. Ultimately you want to reach zero air speed and your hover altitude (3-5 ft off the ground) at the same time. This as it turns out is a lot easier said than done! I was able to practice the maneuver 5 times during my flight. I also practiced hovering, I have a tendency to drift to the right but apparently that is normal due to pilots tensing up with their right hand and it inadvertently pulls to the right. Once I was made aware that Bryan was correcting for my pull I was able to correct it for a short period of time, but due to the fact that hover is difficult and demanding new pilots have a tendency to tense up and again I was drifting right. Before our final take off back to Boeing Bryan challenged my to hover for 1 minute, I was able to go 30 sec before straying to far. Once back at  Boeing I walked through the shut down check list as Bryan performed the tasks.

Back in the office we debriefed and reviewed what I should study for the night.

Oct 26th 2010 Intro to Flight School

On Oct. 26th I arrived at Helicopters Northwest, the weather outside was crummy. The cloud ceiling was around 1000 ft, there where 17 knot gusts and it was raining, not the ideal day to start flying. Bryan and I went over which books and supplies I would need right away and a more in depth overview of how lessons and scheduling happens. I was to meet for lessons the remained of the week @11am  for 2 hour block lessons.

After my meeting I made my way to the flight store and proceeded to purchase and be genuinely interested in more books, charts and calculating tools than I had ever dreamt of during high school.

Demo Flight #2 @ Helicopters Northwest, Boeing Field Seattle Wa, 9-3-10

So for my second demo flight I was scheduled to fly at Helicopters Northwest with a pilot named Bryan.

Arriving at Helicopters Northwest I found their office nestled in a corner unit on the top floor of a small office building. Their office was divided into three rooms from front to back, the first two rooms contained a single desk and the rear room contained three. There was various pictures and posters of all different kinds of helicopters up on all walls. There where multiple photographs of students and pilots and even a 5' chunk of main rotor blade with first flight signatures all over it. The office had an immediate friendly and pleasant feel to it. I was greeted by my pilot and he went over the way the school works, the differences between this school and others and how he became to be a part of it. He also let me know that the owner of this school was also the owner of many of the Robinson helicopters in the greater Seattle area and 3 other schools. The owner is also the in house mechanic and they are a certified Robinson helicopter dealer.

Bryan went through my demo flight briefing with me and let me know that due to the fact that I was taking the demo due to my interest of making it a career he was going to treat the demo flight as if it where a lesson. He explained that we would be flying to the south of Boeing field and to a place called Long Acres where there are empty cow pastures for us to use as training grounds. There he would let my try my hand at hovering and let me experience controlling a take off, also he would give me a brief demonstration of the helicopters ability and agileness.

Out on the tarmac Bryan went through the pre flight and start up with me briefly while he went through it. Again I was back up hovering over helipad 6 listening to the tower giving us clearance for departure, this time to the south. As we headed south Bryan talked me through what he was doing and what he was going to want me to do. Again I was given the controls one at a time but this time I received all controls, including the collective. Once we had reached Long Acres and sighted our empty cow pasture, I was instructed to enter a landing pattern and aim for the middle of the field on final approach. Bryan took over controls about 20 feet above the ground and brought us into a controlled hover. From the hover Bryan demonstrated the agileness and ability of the helicopter and then brought it back to a steady hover. Here is where I got to try my hand at hovering, I was given back all the controls except the collective due to the fact that I was going to have enough to think about horizontally without worrying about vertical movement. Trying to hover was like trying to balance on a beach ball in the pool, just when you thought you had it .... splash! I spent a good 5 minutes trying to hover before it was time to start our flight back to Boeing Field. We hover taxied to the far side of the field to get in position for a running take off so that I could experience effective translational lift (ETL). ETL is the point at which the helicopters rotor system becomes more aerodynamically efficient during forward flight and starts to generate more lift with no main rotor pitch change. I was allowed to flight the helicopter all the way back to Boeing flied and gave the controls back to Bryan about 20 feet above the ground. Once the helicopter was back on the ground the shut down procedure was explained to me as it was performed.

Back in the office I was debriefed and got to go over any questions I had. feeling that I had found my school do to the demo flight experience I asked about cost and possible financial aid. To my surprise Helicopters Northwest has an in house financial aid program.

My over all experience at Helicopters Northwest was very pleasant and as a potential student the experience was phenomenal. I was able to have complete control of the helicopter for 95% of the demo and got a true experience of what my lessons would be like once I started my training.

Demo Flight #1 @ Classic Helicopters, Boeing Field Seattle Wa. 9-2-10

This demo flight is the first of 2 that I have scheduled. My next demo flight is scheduled for the 3rd at Helicopters Northwest. The purpose of my demo flights are to get a first hand experience with the Robinson R22 that I would be learning to fly in and an overview of the schools that I have an interest in attending. Each demo flight will consists of a ground debriefing and a 30min flight.

When I arrived at Classic Helicopters I was greeted in a friendly office cubical environment by the receptionist at the front desk. When I met my pilot for the day he was dressed in a dark green flight jump suit. As we made our way to the helicopter very little about the school or flight education program was explained to me. While starting the helicopter I sat by and watched as he went through his preflight routine, again very little explanation of what was happening and why.

This was my first time EVER in a helicopter, I was stoked. As we hovered out over helipad 6 on the east side of boeing field the pilot called into the tower for take off clearance. Once clearance was given we where off. The pilot explained to me that we would be taking an areal tour of seattle and that once we where in a safer airspace he would start handing the controls over to me one at a time. We flew the west shore line of Lake Washington and between I-90 and 405 I was given control of the anti torque pedals first and the cyclic second. The pilot explained that he would keep control of the collective because of past experiences he had had with beginner pilots and he felt safer that way. Once we reached the UW we headed to the west towards Green Lake and continued out to Carkeek Park. On this leg of the flight I was encouraged to play with the anti torque pedals to gain familiarity. There where two tell tail pieces of yarn mounted to the devision between my windshield and the pilots, if the strings where bowing to the right I had to input left pedal to achieve straight flight and if they where blowing to the left I had to input right pedal. Next I played with the cyclic control. the cyclic changes the main rotor pitch path, it is essentially your steering wheel. You push left you go left, you push right you go right, you push back you ultimately go back after considerable loss of speed. At Carkeek we made our way out over the water, back down the locks and into lake union from there we headed to the Space Needle where we made a left 360 around it and then back to boeing field. The flight was Fun and I got to see seattle in a way I never had before, but the flight was defiantly touristy feeling.

Over all I was stocked to have gone on my very first ride in a helicopter and got to control it... kind of. As far as making a good lasting impression to a potential student i didn't find a whole lot of what happened during this demo flight to be useful, I feel that I could have gotten the same experience by finding a pilot that was going up and just asking if I could ride along, it turned out to be more of a $100 joy ride.