Thursday, October 28, 2010

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.