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HeliTorque :: View topic - The CPL(H) Diary (at long last)
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HeliTorque Forum Index » Student Pilots & Hour Builders

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DBChopper
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 16, 2010 12:08 pm    Post subject: The CPL(H) Diary (at long last) Reply with quote

Hello fellow Helitorquers,

Well the moment has finally come and I have started the CPL(H) course. It has been a long and slow road to get to this point but at last the flying starts. Having benefitted from many peoples' experiences and posts on Helitorque in the past, I thought I'd warm up the keyboard and give you a blow-by-blow account in as honest a form as I can manage. I hope it is of interest and use to some of you.

So, the story so far...

After a brief play with (I'm sorry if you are easily offended...) fixed wing planky things some years ago, I finally saw the light back in the summer of 1999 and started my PPL(H) with Thurston Helicopters at Redhill, Surrey (later to become London Helicopter Centres). On 10th April 2000 and with a massive 43.3hrs logged I gained my licence and was let loose on an unsuspecting public. My plan was always to eventually gain a CPL(H) and to instruct, but I have been in the pleasant position of rather enjoying my day job with no plans to give it up, at least not until I can retire from it in another 6 years' time when I can start career number two. With that in mind I set about slowly plodding along with the hour building, pottering round the SE of England, visiting airfields, hotels, private sites and carving an airborne trench along the London Heli-routes, with which I never get bored.

A couple of years ago I hammered out the CPL written exams. Now I tip my hat to anybody who has done these by self-study as I did. I have to say, that mine was a particularly good example of how not to go about it, as I was ill-disciplined, inattentive and made it about as difficult as I could for myself! Basically, if you have the time and money to do any kind of intensive course then do it, as I found trying to fit study around any kind of normal life to be almost an impossibility. The day those exams were finally all passed was a very happy one Cool

So here I am, with around 190hrs logged and about to start flying proper. I'm doing the course with Marcus, Head of Training at London Helicopter Centres and it'll be in the R22 so it's time to do battle with the English weather! Crying or Very sad I'll be doing the course part-time as work commitments prevent me from committing more than about a day per week initially, but there is the potential to increase that after a couple of months.

Right, where's that smouldering credit card...

Wink
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CPL(H) finally!
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flingingwings
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 16, 2010 12:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I half expected your first post to begin:

'Once upon a time, in a land far, far away...............'

Enjoy matey Smile
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 16, 2010 1:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

As long as it ends, "happily ever after" then it might as well do Wink

Cheers Captain Cool
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 16, 2010 2:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good luck DB...... I shall refrain from any references to Shrek!!!

Keep us posted!
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 16, 2010 4:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

DB is more Donkey Laughing
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 16, 2010 5:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good luck - I've just started the CPL self-study theory a few weeks ago and I know what you mean about fitting it round normal life, don't think I'll ever pass!
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 16, 2010 5:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks all Smile

niho - I feel your pain. Just keep plodding on with it and get yourself on one of the online question banks like ATP online. The guys who turned up at the consolidation weeks having already hit the question banks were far better prepared than I. It also helps to book the course up as soon as possible as then you will have a deadline to aim for.

By the way FW - there are far worse names to be known by than donkey Razz
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 16, 2010 6:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

DBChopper wrote:
Thanks all Smile

niho - I feel your pain. Just keep plodding on with it and get yourself on one of the online question banks like ATP online. The guys who turned up at the consolidation weeks having already hit the question banks were far better prepared than I. It also helps to book the course up as soon as possible as then you will have a deadline to aim for.


DB makes a good point - you've GOT to know you're material (i.e. don't just learn the databank questions off by heart), but they do give you a "health-check" as to where you're at... and then feel happier about coughing up the cash for the exams!

Good luck with it!
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 16, 2010 7:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good luck DB!! Keep us posted on how the course goes!

Best wishes,

Sarah
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 16, 2010 9:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good luck DB, It dont matter how long it takes to get there as long as the journey is interesting. Keep us posted.
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 25, 2010 8:36 pm    Post subject: Meanwhile, back on the CPL(H) course... Reply with quote

Thanks for all your good wishes folks.

Right, well the first day of CPL(H) training came and went. I was set a navigation evaluation exercise involving a heading hold from Redhill to a village, a track crawl to a church in a smaller village, then another track crawl to a town, followed by some VOR work and a diversion. I sat and planned, drank some tea, did sums, drew lines, whizzed my whizz-wheel, drank some more tea, checked NOTAMs, listened to a nice man talking about the Red Arrows and worked out that with Marcus and I in the helicopter we can only carry a teacup of fuel. Armed with that information (and another cup of tea) I then briefed Marcus on the plan. All was going well until we then came up against the Great British Weather. Now I suspect I will be mentioning the Great British Weather many times over the next few months, so I will from now on employ the acronym GBW as it will be quicker to type (and read) and Im sure that using that many fewer letters is kinder to the environment, or something. In any case, the GBW had decided that it would be fun to lower the cloudbase to 700 feet and make it pretty pointless going flying. So we didnt.

I did learn some things that day though, so please allow me to summarise:

If you want to do the CPL(H), practice, practice, practice with the whizz-wheel (CRP-5 or similar) and use it for all your trips while hour-building. Fortunately I have, so using it in the limited time allowed to plan the trips should not be too taxing (I hope);

Im pleased I am doing my course with an instructor who uses phrases like, I dont want to waste your money, rather than getting me to plough on in bad / marginal weather it makes me feel confident that I have chosen the right place to train (and its one of the reasons I have flown there for so long);

If you order the cheeseburger in the cafe, get them to melt the cheese on the burger as it tastes nicer and ask for no red onion on the salad it tastes pleasant at the time but the aftertaste is a bit much;

If you are planning on typing a long post on here, type it on Word then cut and paste it, because I got this far last time then my computer froze and I had to close Internet Explorer. That made me say lots of rude words and is the reason for the delay in posting.

My next session is booked for tomorrow and the GBW is not looking much better. Lets hope they got it wrong and watch this space...
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 25, 2010 10:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

DB, great to hear from you and please keep the diary posts coming. The GBW is very good at working its magic during CPL courses. Usually it decides to send blizzards of snow and hail, fog banks and other such nasties, although that was in the winter, so at this time of year it's a little kinder and just sends us low cloud and drizzle, gale force winds and heavy rain....

...but it's character building and improves your tea-drinking / weather checking skills no-end!

So do you think the tea-cup of fuel you worked out you can carry on board the R22 will be inversely proportional to the number of cups of tea you drink whilst waiting for the weather to improve?

Best of luck with the rest of the course and fingers crossed for better weather. Keep us posted!

Sarah
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 25, 2010 11:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

WhirlyGirl wrote:
So do you think the tea-cup of fuel you worked out you can carry on board the R22 will be inversely proportional to the number of cups of tea you drink whilst waiting for the weather to improve?


Isn't that the same as if you eat your sandwiches you don't need to factor them into the luggage weight for the W&B calculations? Smile

W.
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 26, 2010 7:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

DB, great to hear to have finally started the flying course and the best of luck to you!

Every course I taught we would start out with an evaluation flight, mainly Nav exercises. It is amazing how alot of CPL candidates actually have not done any "real" nav since PPL training and most of the CPL course has to be spent kicking their arse back in to shape.

My advice to anyone starting their hours building is plan a Nav exercise to everywhere you go and get accurate!

However we all know that after gaining your CPL you will track crawl everywhere unless you are IFR (but I didn't tell you that). If you are needing to plan a heading hold on a VFR flight then, you are either IMC which you shouldn't be, over a huge volume of water which you probably shouldn't be, or the dessert... in which case you are employed by HRH and most likely avoiding gunfire.

Most importantly, enjoy the course and learn as much as you can!

HH Very Happy
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 26, 2010 11:05 am    Post subject: Another cup of tea..? Reply with quote

Well hello from Redhill, which even as I type is disappearing further under a soupy clag of greyness.

Fortunately, having re-written my flight log last night for the same planned trip, all I had to do this time is to fill in the gaps (today's wind vector, headings, ground speed etc.) in pencil, so that they can be rubbed out and filled in for next time. Yes folks, the GBW seems to have beaten me again Crying or Very sad

That 700' cloudbase is really not conducive to the nav-ex and although we did discuss the possibility of some general handling, we have decided to bin that idea and go with Plan A, which is to wait for the weather to improve and go with the planned trip. Whenever that might be Confused

Sarah, my tea-drinking skills, perfected after many years in the Met (where it is considered a prerequisite for good performance) continue to improve. I even added a latte into the mix to accompany my "early riser" breakfast (I actually ordered the green salad, but chef messed up and I didn't like to argue).

And HH, thanks for your good wishes. I absolutely agree with you about PPLs' nav and I am grateful that I have deliberately never been GPS-reliant and have diligently drawn lines on charts and whizzed my wheel for all those years. I must admit to being a little perturbed by:

Quote:
you are either IMC which you shouldn't be, over a huge volume of water which you probably shouldn't be, or the dessert...


...as I had some ice cream and meringue last night - it wasn't the best dessert ever but I didn't realise it would affect my flying! Wink Yes, I know - I'm sorry, but I have to amuse myself somehow Smile

Right, back to flying stuff. Here's what we are looking at for Gatwick but a few miles South of here:

LONDON/GATWICK EGKK 260456Z 2606/2712 VRB05KT 6000 -RADZ BKN006 BECMG 2606/2609 9999 NSW BKN012 PROB30 TEMPO 2608/2612 BKN015 BECMG 2617/2620 04010KT TEMPO 2618/2706 4000 RA BKN006 BECMG 2708/2711 SCT015

For the uninitiated, that basically translates as "poo." Watch this space - again...
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