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HeliTorque :: View topic - Kneeboard - or not
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HeliTorque Forum Index » Student Pilots & Hour Builders

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Flying Foxy
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PostPosted: Wed May 04, 2005 7:53 pm    Post subject: Kneeboard - or not Reply with quote

Hi studious ones...

Being into serious map reading/nav/vor with SkyGod, I need about 3 extra hands and a couple more knees, not to mention a cockpit wider than I have.

I own an AFE A5 kneepad for my tech details and somewhere to clip a badly folded map but I need to know what is the best way to do all this? I'm advised to wear my strap-on (!) on my left leg as one rests a right arm on the right leg and would therefore cover up the details/maps etc. But wearing it on my left thigh feels like I can't pull up the lever enough as it gets in the way and is quite hampering. I did yesterday's sortie with it on my right thigh and eventually persuaded SG to hold the map for me but it's not ideal as I can't always take a human map stand with me (he is so costly to run).
More advice is to hold the map for the current location betwixt thumb and forefinger in RH and grip cyclic with the rest of the the closed hand.
Even MORE advice (from a different kind of skygod) is not to use a kneepad at all and be good at mapfolding, use of bulldogs and have an ample knee and keep looking at it!

I'm working on two things at present;
1) A screen projection unit to show the map on the bubble so you are 'overlaying ' the map onto the ground as you fly over it..
2) Using a music stand on the floor in front of the cyclic and this side of the pedals with a sand bag tied to it so it doesn't fall over in the 45?? turns - (clothes pegs are always used with music stands)

Any further input greatly valued please - experience counts in the field!

Cheers,

FF

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Last edited by Flying Foxy on Wed May 04, 2005 10:48 pm; edited 1 time in total
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R22-Adam
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PostPosted: Wed May 04, 2005 8:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My advice, on a serious note, would be firstly to fold the map down as much as poss, showing only the bit you need, or if it's a long leg, then fold it so that you can turn it over for the other half of the journey. And keep it in your left hand, or rest it on your knee.

As for the kneeboard, when I first started using them, I felt very uncomfortable, cos it always seemed to be slightly in the way. Once I got used to it, fine.

But then came my dreaded test day, my final flight test (LST). Everything being fine.....and then.....the examiner closes the throttle, tell me "practice engine failure", I lower the collective, but then it all goes hideous.....the knee board gets between my gut and the cyclic, and I can't pull it back any further without a lot of pain. As I try to dislodge it, I have to let go of the collective for a microsecond, and then all is well, but the auto was bloody messy to say the least.

I learnt my lesson from this, and will never wear anything on my leg that could even possibly get in the way in the event of needing to do an auto, or quick stop, or anything requiring a lot of aft cyclic, like spot turns on a windy day in the hover etc.

If this had happened to me during a flight with a friend, and no instructor, I think I would have quietly shit myself if that had happened.

I now make sure that the maps are folded so that they are smaller than the height of a kneeboard, so that the map wouldn't cause the same problems if on my knee at the dreaded time.

Be warned!
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PostPosted: Wed May 04, 2005 9:19 pm    Post subject: Kneeboards Reply with quote

Helllo Foxy! Hello Adam!

Funny you should mention kneeboards! Last weekend I did a navex (dual) from Wellesbourne to Gloscester. I decided to take my kneeboard along, which a nice chappie called WhirlyGuy had bought me last Christmas. It was my first time using a kneeboard and it is the kind with a clip in the middle, to hold the chart and two flaps which fold out at the sides - elasticated strap with a plastic clip on the back for obvious reasons! It's a specific helicopter pilots kneeboard I believe.

So anyway, I decided to strap it to my right leg as I had been warned about it getting in the way of the collective. Well I got going and as I was en-route to Gloucester I decided to check my position.

Well there was the first problem - my right hand was directly over the route I had plotted and so I had to lift it up to have a look rather than resting it on my leg, which is more comfortable. So my arm started to get quite tired.

A little further along I realised the problem had worsened when blme asked me if I had actually DONE my flight plan!! Well I said, of course, it's right th.... erm, ok it's gone!! My hand which had been resting on the line I had plotted had actually erased it with all the vibration! Don't ask me how (as it was a permanant pen I had used), but I guess after 20 minutes of the foam bit bouncing around on the chart combined with the fact that my white-knuckled hand was sweating a bit, the line mysteriously disappeared!!

I didn't experience the uncomfortable kneeboard aginst the gut thing as I had made sure it was further down my leg, but I can see it could be a problem if it started sliding towards you.

If it weren't for the flap on the left hand side I might have tried to put it on my left leg. I can understand that this flap might get in the way a bit, so perhaps I will tuck it under the chart so it doesn't get in the way.

So the question is, do we really need a kneeboard? I think besides the problems I experience using it last week, it was actually better than what happend the week before when the chart, my flight plan and my list of frequencies ended up falling off my lap all the time, so I think I will use it again! It's just a question of perfecting the technique! lol! I am flying again tomorrow so I will have another go!

Anyone have any suggestions? Care to share your experiences?

WhirlyGirl Cool
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PostPosted: Thu May 05, 2005 7:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

When I was doing solo navexes pre PPL, my instructor used a clip on an elastic strap (think I've mentioned this before, actually). No boards or anything. I guess, reading the posts here, that the map is more flexible than a board, so would crumple should it be in the way.

I did borrow it for my Qualifying Navex, and the Skill Test, but never really got on with it. Personally I don't like the idea of things strapped to your leg, so I will either take a human map holder, or simply have the map on the other seat. With the human map holder, you don't even have to worry about turning it over, or refolding it, etc. On the seat, you can spread the map out a bit, so that makes the refolding/turning less of a problem anyway.

Even in the rare cases this perhaps isn't so practical, then I find that (at least for R22/R44) tucking the map to the right of the pilot seat (between the seat and the door) keeps it secure, and it's fairly easily retrieved when you need it.
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PostPosted: Thu May 05, 2005 8:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I use my little kneeboard with my Pooley's pages on it and my flight plog, strapped to my left thigh. It's not perfect, but I get on ok with it and certainly haven't experienced the problems mentioned. I never wear it on my right thigh as I'm not sure I would be able to comfortably hold the cyclic in the R22 or R44.

If I am flying to a regular destination or just playing locally then I tend to just attach relevent Pooley's pages to the chart itself, which I always keep folded with four bulldog clips, and slip it down to my right between the seat and the door, as already mentioned, or on the lft seat if I'm flying solo.

I do the opposite to Adam in that I keep the map folded to a larger size - I find it is easier to handle in the cockpit and I can rest it across my lap, the top of the cyclic and my hand when I need to. This may only work as I'm 6'4'' and my knees go up a long way in the '22! I notice that the Pilots' Shop in Biggin Hill sell a Helicopter Pilots' Kneeboard which is considerably slimmer, with slimmer plogs available too, so I may give that a go.

I often envy our plank colleagues for the ease with which they can play with clipboards, charts and pens, but then they can't hover, can they..? Wink

DBChopper
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PostPosted: Thu May 05, 2005 8:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

In theory too, if we are all doing our nav corrently, you should only need to refer to your plog and map about once every 5 mins or more.

Once you've got your heading and speed and time for the leg, and if the machine has a clock on the dash, which all of ours do, then you sould be able to pop the map and plog between the seat and the door, and get it out when you need it, or as I do, leave it with the human map stand until you need it, or on the seat if you're lonely enough to fly solo.

I spent a LOT of time thinking about this issue, after my frightening episode with the kneeboard. You can't mount it on the cyclic, as it obstructs the guages, you can't hang it from a rubber sucker on the plexiglas, as it obstructs your lookout, your right leg, which seems the most logical is no good for the reasons WG discovered.

I came to the conclusion that the passenger seat, occupoed or otherwise, is by far the best.

And if your passenger is not a pilot, it's quite exciting for them to feel like they are helping out, so show them how to read the plog and even fill it in, and let them do some of the work for you. Trust me, most enjoy it Smile
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PostPosted: Thu May 05, 2005 11:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

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Last edited by weekend warrior on Tue Jun 06, 2006 2:17 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Thu May 05, 2005 4:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes - I like the human-map-rest in the pax seat as it becomes auto folding at that point and they can advise and feel useful etc.

The Schweizer 300 I fly, is P1 LH so the trapping space is against the lever and the door with little room for man??uvre and this is (I think) why the kneeboard on the left is tricky as there's so little space for your arm against the LH door when you have a plog and map all in the same area. Once the licence is obtained, one isn't under such pressure from that person in the 'other seat' giving you grief about where you are in relation to your line and asking where certain points are on the ground in relation to your position in the sky! The clock in dear old Juliet Echo is totally useless except for cool down - once reset in the air, it sets off at its own pace and can be showing 8 hours of time elapsed before you even get to taxi-ing for t/o...
I too am 6'4" but thankfully of sylph-like racing snake proportions so it's only my arm that gets in the way. Maybe perseverance is the way but it really does feel like an appendage which ought not to be there. I look forward to the skymap option - that's just the job (with a paper map on the P2 seat in reserve as there are no batteries to fail in that).

Thanks for all your input!

FF

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PostPosted: Thu May 05, 2005 4:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'll second (third?) the human-map-rest idea. I flew the London heliroutes today in the '44 and my instructor came in very useful as map holder / folder / general direction-pointer!

On the subject of useless clocks in helicopters, I invested in a little digital timer from Transair, with a clock and two timers on it that clips neatly onto my kneeboard to help with the elapsed times and ETAs when navigating. So now I have something else to forgot on departure and to neglect to reset at the next waypoint... Confused Seriously though, it is a handy tool to keep a check on total airbourne time and time to the next landmark.

By the way, if you have never flown the London heliroutes then find an instructor and have a go - it must be about the best fun you can have with your clothes on and crossing Heathrow at 800' over the downwind end of the runways is a sight to behold, including hearing the words, "After the landing British Airways 777, cross 27R..."

If I can work out how to do it again, I'll post the pics.

DBChopper
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PostPosted: Thu May 05, 2005 9:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'd completely agree with DBC on this one.....the heliroutes are fantastic. I've done them four times now, once in an EC120, and the rest with me flying in an R22....and I still love it each time.

Great for keeping you on your toes with RT, as well as very accurate height and timings....and the view is, well, absolutely stunning.

One odd thing.....when you're at 2000' over general areas, you feel like you're at 2000' , but when you're over the Thames at 2000', it feels and looks a lot more like 1000' for some odd reason.

I also do trips from Rotorvation, so if anyone wants to come on one, just give me a knock some time.

Adam.
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PostPosted: Thu May 05, 2005 9:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello again!

Well, I have to say the kneeboard on the left leg worked better than on the right!! I made sure that the flap did not in any way obstruct the collective, and that it was strapped on tightly enough so it didn't move (but not so tight as to stop the blood flow to my left leg!!).

The line survived the whole trip to Gloucester and I felt my radio calls were 100% better than last time, plus I could read the chart without having to lift up my cyclic hand.

Weekend Warrior, that's a good idea, however the aircraft I was flying today had no GPS, which was good as it put my nav skills to the test! Didn't do it on my own today as it was too windy by the time I had come back from the dual trip, but it was a fantastic day nonetheless!

I know I will have a spare seat when I do it solo, but I still feel I should take the kneeboard now I have more or less got to grips with using it! Don't you find that when the chart is on the left seat (or right in FF's case) that it's difficult to glance at it without losing control of the other zillion things you're supposed to be doing?

WhirlyGirl Cool
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PostPosted: Thu May 05, 2005 9:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Adam - And that 750' bit between Duke's Meadows and Brentford feels seriously low!

WhirlyGirl - Glad you got your cross-country done. The answer is, yes, it is tricky looking at the chart on the left hand seat, but somehow you will come up with a system that suits you. With more experience you will find you need to look at it less anyway, as you form a mental picture of the route and tend to trust your planning a bit more. I don't think there is an easy answer to the chart-in-an-R22 dilemma other than trial and error.

DBChopper
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PostPosted: Thu May 05, 2005 9:17 pm    Post subject: London Heliroutes Reply with quote

I have been extremely privileged to fly down the Heliroutes more times than I can record!! Lucky me!! But I would never tire of the experience!! Wonderful, fantastic.........

We used to land, and park, at Battersea Heliport for the day on a regular basis (say, once a week!!)....

What an experience Very Happy Very Happy

Every qualified heli pilot MUST get the chance to fly the Heliroutes!!! If you do happen to fly into Battersea Heliport, the groundcrew are very friendly and helpful. SATCO also very friendly and helpful Smile

We have had to 'HOVER' over London Bridge, and other river landmarks, for aeons!!! Hard work!! Woe betide if you deviate!!!! - and, if you manage to hover over 'land' - you get a good telling off from Heathrow - which we never have had by the way!!! The heliroutes flying is very very strict, but worth it!! Study the helitorque route chart, because of the change of heights of flying at each section of the river, and you won't go wrong!! But, you MUST fly down with an instructor first if you want to land at Battersea, because you have to see Satco and register that you have flown in with an instructor, then after that, if you are up to it, you could possibly fly down solo!!! But, I wouldn't!!!! Too many restrictions, such as railway bridges, etc......wingovers, torque turns within the confines of the river bank boundaries....

By the way, I HAVE PICCYS of the heliroutes!!!!
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PostPosted: Thu May 05, 2005 9:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Catwoman,

I looked down enviously at Battersea today, but I understand it now costs considerably more to land there than it would cost me to fly there and back in the first place!

You are quite right about the accuracy required, a fact that Heathrow will kindly remins you of if you forget... Wink . I was lucky today - no holding required except one orbit at Sipson to slip in behind a landing 777 - magic!

DBChopper
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PostPosted: Thu May 05, 2005 9:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

DB Chopper - I noticed your human map rest on your heliroutes slideshow!! Wink

WhirlyGirl Cool
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