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.