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HeliTorque Forum Index » Student Pilots & Hour Builders

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MintedMav
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Location: Teddington, SW London, UK



PostPosted: Sun Jan 09, 2011 8:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sunday 9th Jan 2011

I am booked in from 9-1pm at Wycombe with Jonathan Penny and arrive to a beautiful winters morning with not a cloud in the sky and a 10Kt wind blowing straight down the 24 r/w.

Jonathan is running a bit late so I head out to preflight G-OCOV. I finish the preflight and am then going back through the emergency lights in the cockpit when Jonathan opens the door and introduces himself. He asks what I have been up to and asks if I have done any sideways hovering as a lesson (which I have) and then asks where I should be looking out before hovering sideways.... this will form part of the pre flight briefing as Jonathan is keen to drum home some lookout skills both on the ground and in the air.

I explain the lesson I had with Mark yesterday and suggest that a lesson on PFLs would be good as I have done a lot of autos including some to the ground but not found a field to land in "in anger". Jonathan agrees this is a good plan as we can get in a bit of flying to see how my skill level is (we havent flown together before) and suggests we can do a couple of circuits and EOLs as well if I am doing ok.

Onto the briefing and Jonathan explains what he wants from a lookout. Most important he doesnt want me having any accidents bumping into things on the ground and drills the required lookouts and clearing turns explaining exactly where the risks are etc. As he is going through this I realise my lookouts have room for improvement so all good. In particular clearing the tail boom before turning I have been taking a bit for granted (albeit on great big open airfields!!).

We then discuss where the greatest risk of collision comes from when making turns and how to reduce this risk as much as possible with clearing turns and good lookouts over the shoulder for as much of the blindspot as possible and also the concept of looking right before turning left (and vice versa).

Jonathan is one of the two examiners (i think) at Heli Air so its good to be getting in a few hours with him so that he isnt a complete stranger come test day. The other examiner is Q who I havent flown with yet either so may not help !!

Jonathan also briefs me on the PFL mnemonic that I should try and commit to memory for test day as the more of this I can remember the better. AWFUL MFI SHAM

Autorotation - obv you have to get into auto quickly - the rotors must be turning or its all over.
Wind - know where the wind is coming from and land into wind
Field - pick one, commit to it, into wind pref and green pref, no wires
UL stands for Up Light which refers (dont ask me why) to thinking about trying a restart of the engine. Jonathan thinks the answer for most PPLs is going to be DONT TRY though consider it if you can.

Mayday - transmit a mayday. Obviously for test following CAP413 is good although in real life Jonathan says getting out your POSITION is the most important. If you crash and need medical assistance the HEMS needs to know where to find you.
Fuel - turn the fuel tap off
Ignition - turn the ignition off. You dont want magnetos sparking on a hard landing.

Jonathan tells me that both Fuel and Ignition elements need to be "touch" demonstrated although he prefers "point" demonstrated as people have a tendency when they touch a switch to then want to move it !!

Surplus electrics - turn them off
Harness hatches secure, BRACE warning to passengers.

Jonathan explains my responsibility as commander for pax both in the pre flight briefing and during an emergency and the need to instruct a passenger to brace in a Forced Landing. The 3 types of brace position for a passenger in a light helicopter are seated upright with hands braced against their knees, seated upright with hands across the chest or seated upright with arms up over the face. Obviously the pilot doesnt have a brace posotion as he has to fly the aircraft down to the ground. The key thing with a passenger is that they do not touch the controls... grabbing the cyclic would cause very serious issues !!

A dditional MAYDAY to hone your position. Telling that you are landing in a farm with a white barn roof and a pond 1nm north of aylesbury gives the HEMS a much better chance of finding you quickly in that emergency.

Master switch. Needs to be turned off (point for training again).

We head out to the aircraft and I make the calls and taxi and departure to the north of Wycombe and follow the tracks up towards aylesbury climbing through to 3400 for the planned auto work. HASEL check (Height sufficient, not in controlled airspace, Area suitable not over major conurbations etc, Security doors and hatches secure no loose articles, Engine ts and ps in the green, carb heat as required and no warning lights on, Lookout including clearing turns etc as required).

We then do 4 or 5 PFLs which I find harder than I thought they were going to be. The glide slope is an R22 isnt exactly far so I was often picking a field too far away and then having to reassess. I was also looking for fields that I would have used in my fixed wing experience but Jonathan was picking other closer fields that were a lot smaller than I am used to. All the concentrating on picking out fields and flying into them meant my rotor RPM control wasnt as good as it has been on every other lesson I have done on autos due to overload and Jonathan had to intervene a couple of times to stop an overspeed. In real life an overspeed is that last thing to worry about and in fact it can be helpful to a certain extent as it gives extra rotor stored energy. For training though I need to be ensuring the rotors are not oversped as I have been doing on all my previous efforts... sigh!!

The other thing Jonathan shows me is that I dont HAVE to be so aggressive with a flare on entry into autorotation. Flaring increases the margin of safety in terms of time to get the lever down BUT it does kill some airspeed (in my case quite a lot of airspeed) which can reduce options in where you can land compared to if you had kept airspeed on the entry. A good tip.

After the 5th or 6th effort (none of which I would say I was properly happy with) Jonathan asks if I know where I am and how to get back to the airfield. I do and point to roughly the direction to head back to and Jonathan asks me to fly us back to Wycombe without any navigation support from him. Over the hill and I then pick up the railway that guides me to the golden ball.

I am flying us back around 70kts (pretty much the speed I have always been flying in my earlier lessons) and Jonathan asks me what the optimum speed for the cruise is to minimise fuel consumption and am surprised to find it is 83kts. Jonathan asks me to fly at this speed and keep this speed in the circuit as well which took some getting used to and meant I wasnt as accurate in my flying as at the lower speed I am used to.

Back onto the airfield and we auto down onto area November. Jonathan wants me to fly into November using a different path to the one I have been doing with previous instructors and so this overloaded by the extra speed on entry, controlling RRPM and flying an auto down to the ground all made for quite a bit of overload and errors here and there as a result which was annoying. I was hoping to impress Jonathan more than this on our first flying together and the additional workloads along with a bit of nervousness as Jonathan is an examiner all added up to losing a bit of accuracy. Oh well. We do another couple of autos down to the ground and other than my last one flaring a bit late and needing Jonathan to help add a bit more flare prior to levelling we go down to the ground engine off ok.

The hour is now up and we fly back to HeliAir for the debrief. At Zulu I make a spot turn into wind which is very random and Ive no idea why I did it other than it was hovering into wind but I now have the landing traffic behind me which i now cant see and the runway to my left so I can't see over my shoulder at the landing aircraft either. What I should have done was radio on approach to zulu to request cross and then hold the hover downwind or crosswind (from the right) so I had full view of the relevent action. Another stupid mistake grrr!!!

During the debrief it is clear that Jonathan is very thorough and gives an excellent level of detail. This is something that is often missed a bit by instructors (referring to my fixed wing training as much as my heli training) and Jonathan and I discuss in detail a lot of the flight with him picking out the following in particular...

APT - I have a tendency to lower collective at the top of a climb rather than using that power to get an accelerative attitude before then selecting the appropriate power level. As a result the heli tend to "wallow" around a bit at the lower speed. Silly mistake and easy enough to correct again.

RRPM - Jonathan picked up on my RRPM auto control and that he had to intervene a couple of times to stop overspeeds. I tell him that i felt this was a bit of overload as it wasnt something i've ever missed before and we discuss some of the challenges/problems I faced picking a suitable field compared to my previous fixed wing PFLs.

Manoevre as required - Jonathan goes through the manoevres, s turns etc that can be utilised to get into a suitable field. The key thing for me was the general lack of glide capability in a heli... you are pretty much choosing something pretty close to where you are.

Go around - My go-arounds didnt involve increasing power immediately. It would take me several seconds to wind in the power. Jonathan wants me dialling in the power as quickly as I can and establishing an ascent as quickly as possible. He tells me this is something heli pilots arent good at because the need to go around doesnt happen as often as a fixed wing pilot. I should also be climbing on the go around INTO WIND unless there is a specific reason not to.

IAS - We discuss that this can be whatever I want in an auto and to use the speed I choose deliberately and for a reason. Similarly I can fly at up to 100 IAS in the cruise if I want and I need to get used to buzzing around at 83kts+ to get to where I am going faster and more cost effectively. When we start on the nav exercises this will be more important.

Climb Power/IAS - We discuss the climb cruise speed and power settings. If I am choosing 53kts for max climb I should be using the 5 min max power to ensure I have max climb rate. Otherwise what is the point of 53kts ?

Spot turn at Zulu - Jonathan picks me up on my spot turn at Zulu and questions what I was thinking at the time. Other than wanting to be into wind for the hover I didnt really have an explanation and we discuss the advance radio call I could have made to reduce waiting times at holding points etc.

Lookout - Jonathan points out I missed a couple of checks in the opposite side from the turn but is generally happy my lookout/airmanship is good and that I was pointing out aircraft as appropriate.

Jonathan hasnt realised that I have a further lesson with him straight after and is happy to find we have a lot more time (its 11.30am now).

He asks if I want to fly an hour solo and I say "if you are happy with my flying" to which he says he is. I am a little surprised as I wasnt overly impressed with the mistakes here and there in the last lesson but I am deliberately critical of my own flying accepting nothing less than as good as I can be in my flying.

Jonathan briefs me for the solo and we go through the exact circuit he wants me to fly including the approach over the low hedge to area November rather than coming in to the right of the runway and the left of the parked aircraft there. We also go through the approach path, speeds and J curve to practice. jonathan wants me to pick an initial aiming point and keep on that all the way down at 60Kts and then maybe 50ft above start to bleed off speed down to about 30kts and then level out and bleed the remaining speed off flying parallel to the ground extending from the initial aiming point. Because I have no vertical descent when flying slower than 30kts I am keeping well clear of vortex ring and by holding the 60kts down as long as possible am prepared for an engine emergency.

The final thing Jonathan wants me to do is experiment with the different engine power/speeds to see what rate of ascents I can achieve. I am to explore the different performance from varying speeds as if I was testing the aircraft and reporting back.

We do the paperwork and he signs me off for solo. This time I am being sent off to preflight the aircraft, check the fuel and oil and then start up, make the calls, lift and fly off from the heli air hanger with no support at all. I have no ballast this time either so mentally prepare for the fact the COG is going to be further back.

On lift I get up and am a little bit more wobbly than I was flying with Jonathan. The lighter aircraft seems more "skittish" than it has been in the past which is saying something given how tricky the R22 is. Its all in control though and I head to Romeo for hold before being given clearance to cross the runway and start the circuits.

I experiment with the speeds/power on climb out and find I can get 1500ft/min climb rate at 53kts and 23 inches power - very impressive performance and focus on my APT transition as discussed in the previous debrief.

I also focus on flying at 85kts in the circuit to get my skills at that speed accurate which gets a lot better over the hour. I am focused on my ts and ps, carb heat and warning lights checks and in ensuring the carb heat is fully out before any descents.

My first approach is good with no problems but my second approach I leave too late to get my airspeed back from 85kts down to 60Kts and dont get the lever down enough so end up crossing the motorway some 200ft above where I should be which would mean a very steep descent into november so I choose to go around and practice the immediate power on go around I had been picked up on earlier. I start the descent earlier on the next approach and get the speed back earlier and get it right.

After about 45 mins I am starting to feel the effects of flying all morning and the tension of flying solo. My back is getting a bit sore and holding the cylic so far forward compared to 2 up is tiring me as I can't pin my arm against my leg so easily. I make a landing after the next circuit and gather my thoughts before doing one more circuit to finish.

Heading back to area Zulu I call in advance of arriving requesting crossing and am given clearance behind the landing cessna. Crossing behind the cessna on the runway is no problem but about 10ft past the runway I get hit from the right hand side by either a large gust of wind or some wake turbulence off the landed plane and it throws the helicopter way off to the left. Its a big swing to the left and I overcompensate on the controls to try and get it back and the heli swings back to the right in that beginner learning to hover way and I think there was some forwards and backwards wallowing as well. I'm thinking FUUUUCK and tense up and immediately have a vision of one more swing back the otherway and it all going tits up. My mind races and says to my hands "small movements" and I make a small cyclic input to try and bring the oscillation under control. I also lift the collective to ensure I have some ground clearance and am thankful that I manage to get it back into a reasonable hover at about 10-15ft before I lower back down to a 3-5ft hover. Thank f**k for that. God knows what the guys in the tower watching me must have thought !!!

I am feeling more than a bit shaken up by the whole thing and have to talk myself through the hover taxi back to heli air which is a bit wobbly as I am now as tense as anything. I can feel I am tense and try and tell myself to relax and give myself a "relax shake" which works as much as its going to given the adrenalin rushing through me.

I turn to aim away from the hangers and fly backwards a bit to ensure I am fully on the concrete before making a good landing given how I am feeling. Down on the ground and I can relax a bit and think back through what was the biggest "wobble" I have had. I dont even think in my early learning that I got it that out of shape. If an instructor was on board with me I am sure they would have taken over but given I had to get myself out of the situation I am pleased that I had the concentration and where with all to manage it. It was quite a scare and just goes to reiterate that these machines demand your complete respect and concentration at all times.

I shut down and head back in and briefly discussed my "wobble" with Jonathan and my wake turbulence assessment of what caused it which Jonathan thinks is likely. I will discuss this in more detail with him next week and see whether there is some work we can do to practice getting the hover back under control should a wild oscillation like that happen again.

That ending put a bit of a dampner on what, looking back, has been a very thorough 3.8 hours of learning with huge amounts covered. I am due back with Jonathan again next week. I also plan to get the Met up to speed for exam this week if possible.

Total 23.4 hours
Solo 2.0 hours
Instrument 1.0 hour.
Exams passed - FRTOL practical, Communications written, HPL, Air Law.
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MintedMav
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 15, 2011 2:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Saturday 15th January 2011

Am booked in with Jonathan again out of Wycombe for a 9am to 1pm slot. Looking at the weather last night I am not overly hopeful of being able to fly as the cloud base is 1200ft with 15G30 wind.

I arrive at dead on 9 and Jonathan is parking up as well. He seems confident we can get in some flying and tells me the limits set by the CAA for the start up and shut down of the R22 is 25kts although Frank Robinson hasnt set such a limit on the aircraft himself.

Anyway as long as the ground wind is below 25kts which it is we are ok to fly although Jonathan warns me the flying will be challenging. We check the 2000ft winds which are forecast at 50kts so groundspeed is going to be really high or pretty low depending on the direction we are flying.

Jonathan brings out a document from the CAA that outlines everything in detail to do with the skills test and suggests I download and print a copy and go through it after each lesson to ensure that I am fully prepared for everything that could be asked of me during the test. Its the standards document 19(H) and you can find it with an internet search.

We head to the briefing room and I discuss last weeks wobble on my solo. Jonathan tells me not to worry too much about it and that everyone gets these now and again. The fact I chose to gain some height and then recovered the situation with "little movements" were good. He goes over the issues and thinks it may have been some loss of yaw control that instigated the wobble as the secondary effect is then a nose drop which I would then have compensated for on cyclic and the rolling cycle starts. He reiterates the things to do in these instances which is relax on cyclic with small movements, maintain heading and attitude and gain height to 10-15ft to ensure ground clearance during recovery. Obviously too much higher and you are in the avoid curve.

Jonathan then briefs me on the radio navigation. We start out discussing the ADF (automatic direction finding), what an NDB is, what it looks like on a map and how to follow it (think of it as a light bulb that you are flying towards). He also points out the common problem with wind that it will blow you off course and you have to keep turning back towards the "light" as you compensate for the drift giving a "tear drop" approach to it.

Now its onto VOR directional finding, the symbol on the maps which are easier to spot from the large compass rose around them, the fact it works for all 360 degree radials, what it looks like on the ground (a circle of white lights with a larger mesh around it usually on legs) and what the instrument looks like in the cockpit.

We then go through the process for setting the VOR. I am to use SITS which is Set the frequency, Indentify the beacon from the morse code, test the display by centering the dial, then checking 10 degrees either side deflects the needle fully and then selecting the appropriate radial.

The needle now will either be to the right or left on the instrument and the "from" or "to" flag will show. This is unless I am exactly 90 degrees to the radial in which case it wont work. Keep flying a bit and wait for it to sort itself out again.

We then go through the intercept procedure. Lets say we have set the radial at 320 degrees. If the instrument has the line to left then we need to set our heading to intercept at 30-45 degrees less than 320. So 275-290 degrees in this case. If it was to the right then set heading at 30-45 degrees more so 350-005 in that case. Follow this heading and at some point you will join the radial at which point you then turn onto that radial and follow the course.

Easy as in the case of no wind. In the real world, and in particular todays conditions, there will be considerable drift.

Jonathan gives me some great tips for working out drift in your head. Firstly you have to work out your Maximum Possible Drift which is a set formula and which you can do on the ground before you start flying. MPD=60/IAS * Wind Velocity. So today with 50kts at 2000ft and flying at 80 IAS we have a MPD of 60/80*50 = 37.5 degrees.

Next you need to know how much that wind is effecting us which depends on its bearing from us. Fully abeam us (ie 90 degrees) gives max drift and it reduces down to the point where its head on and there is no lateral drift.

The next piece has to be memorised. 15 degrees = 0.25, 30 degrees = 0.5, 45 degrees = 0.7, 60 degrees = 0.9 and 75 degrees = 0.97.

So if you have the wind 15 degrees from your left on our example the drift is going actually be the MPD of 37% degrees * 0.25 = 9.25%. So we would turn 9-10 degrees into wind from our bearing to account for the drift. Seemples.

Jonathan asks if there are any more questions (we have spent 80 minutes going through all this and a number of examples) and at this point no further questions so I head out to preflight G-OCOV which is easier said than done given the wind gusting all over the place and the door openings blowing around.

We have 15 gallons of fuel and just over 4 of oil so all good to go. I head back inside and jonathan briefs me on the route we are going to fly and the bearings we need for the VOR. We are going to be flying south west (into wind so we can get back to Wycombe without a problem) heading initially down to Henley. The plan is to then pick up the VOR for CPT on 114.35 for the 250 degree radial. Once on this we will reset again and pick the 260 radial and then fly back to the golden ball on the 60degree radial which we have measured.

Into the hover with the wind from the left and its challenging conditions to say the least. We get clearance to depart to the SW directly from heli air and I fly us up to 1800ft which is about 200ft below the cloud base. I put on the cyclic trim, add a bit of cyclic friction and set full collective friction to hold at Max continuous power and level flight which is an IAS of between 80 and 90.

Once into the VOR work it is clear that cockpit workload is considerable. Keeping the aircraft level was a constant challenge and we were getting blown about a lot which meant keeping the heli straight wasnt all that easy either. The moment I focused on the VOR and what I had to do I tending to climb at which point I then had to fly us back down to 1800 and then my VOR or track was out. Grrrrr. Once onto the VOR I also made the mistake that Jonathan had warned me of which was tracking along the line nicely but not being aware of my location over the ground. This was made worse by their being two rivers on the map running E/W being the Thames and the Kennet. For some reason I think we are along the kennet and I guess the town to our left may be newbury where as actually we are north of the thames with reading over our left shoulder. I do eventually work it out with some help from Jonathan. Where is my lovely microlight GPS !!!

The thames starts to head up North and we cross it just before a railway bridge by lower basildon which confirms our position and I then manage to follow the radial all the way over the disused airodrome and directly over the VOR round lights/mesh installation. Now I know what the look like on the ground Smile

As we fly over the instrument changes to go from "to" to "from" (if you get what I mean).

I turn left and head down to the M4 and follow that along for a couple of miles before then setting the radial for the return to wycombe. Our groundspeed at this point with the wind directly behind is c 130kts and we are covering ground at a hell of a rate. I set my course at 30 degrees till on the radial and then turn onto 60 degrees which does indeed get us back to the golden ball. Along the way we flew over Chiltern Air Park which had no activity which wasnt surprising giving the conditions and through the south east of the Benson Matz. We made the call for Matz penetration but nothing heard so we return back onto Wycombe's frequency.

At the golden ball I make the call for rejoin and as there is nothing else around are given clearance at "any height we choose". Given that choice we fly along at 1500ft above ground for an autorotation onto the airfield.

We enter the autorotation leaving it late so we are well over the airfield as the wind is so strong ground speed is going to be next to nothing. I enter autorotation and fly us down keeping reasonable control over the RRPM this time. 65 kts and RRPM at the top of the green Jonathan talks me through the flare, I level and then bring up the collective to cushion the touchdown. Zero groundspeed on touchdown and there seemed to be ample rotor inertia making this auto to the ground seem like a piece of cake which makes a nice change. The advantage of a strong wind.

I bring us up into the hover and its a reasonable effort but as soon as I turn us to the left (so wind from the right) the hover becomes a whole load more challenging and the peddle work needed is very significant and its clear that not getting the peddles right does indeed induce the helicopter to start rolling around. Jonathan shows me what is needed and I take back control and try and hover us back to heliair with the crosswind which is extremely challenging and I dont have it fully under control. Its a sobering lesson that there is still an awful lot to learn about these machines. Jonathan takes over and shows me just how much work is constantly needed on the cyclic but with very small "finger tips" movements and not "arm movements" and also the amount of balancing that the feet have to do. He lands its for me with the crosswind and I do the shutdown.

A short debrief and Jonathan then discusses with Pete what to work on with me tomorrow. Plan is to do some dead reckoning and following a track work which is required for the navigation part of the test. I ask if the wind is like this to do some hovering work in it although Pete suggests it can be a bit counterproductive as I wouldnt be flying in these conditions until I have a good 100-200 hours under my belt. I think it would be good practice though if nothing else to practice some recovery from wobbles.

A 4 hour lesson in total but only 0.9 hours of flying. No wonder instructors dont earn much !!

Total 24.3 hours
Solo 2.0 hours
Instrument 1.0 hour.
Exams passed - FRTOL practical, Communications written, HPL, Air Law.
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 15, 2011 5:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Personally I think to take you flying with your knowledge and hours is wasting your money in those conditions. I stopped my students today as it was 25 G 30 kts with 45 kts at 2000 ft . At your stage of learning you need to make the lessons as productive as possible, then again its your money ! Evil or Very Mad
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 16, 2011 12:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

MintedMav wrote:
I put on the cyclic trim, add a bit of cyclic friction and set full collective friction to hold at Max continuous power.


Full friction? Shocked

Are you able to move the collective at all with full friction applied? Always nice to know you can get it down in a hurry if the engine quits.

Sarah
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 16, 2011 6:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

WhirlyGirl wrote:
MintedMav wrote:
I put on the cyclic trim, add a bit of cyclic friction and set full collective friction to hold at Max continuous power.


Full friction? Shocked

Are you able to move the collective at all with full friction applied? Always nice to know you can get it down in a hurry if the engine quits.

Sarah


Along similar lines also tends to make you too relaxed about having your (left) hand on the collective at all times it isn't doing something else.

W.
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MintedMav
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 16, 2011 6:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi All,

In G-OCOV we have practiced entry to autos with full collective friction on and its easy to push through the friction on that machine. I probably wouldnt do that if I was on my own but with an instructor there to push down if it all went quiet as well as me the risk is reduced somewhat.

In terms of flying in those conditions it wasnt particularly an issue at altitude as there wasnt much turbulence - just a strong wind affecting our drift and ground speed. Given we were tracking nearly directly into wind and then directly with wind behind it wasnt too unfair. I was happy flying the aircraft throughout the lesson other than trying to hover the thing crosswind which was beyond my skill level.

Plus I do think its good to get some exposure to these sort of conditions if nothing else to know to avoid them when low hours or out of practice due to the real difficulties of hovering out of wind.
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 16, 2011 8:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sunday 16th January 2011

Am booked in with Pete from 1pm to 4pm out of Wycombe. The weather is similar to yesterday although the wind is not quite as bad 15Kts at ground level with gusts reported up to 28Kts and 40Kts at 2000ft.

Pete wants to spend some time doing a dead reckoning exercise to see how good my map reading/ground reference navigation is. I have also asked to spend a bit of time practicing hovering in these conditions so we plan to do some of that on the return to Wycombe.

Pete talks me through the navigation element of the skills test and what I am expected to be able to do and the tolerances allowed.

He then draws in a line from Bradenham station just north of Wycombe to Brill, then a line from Brill to Quainton and then from Quainton to Stone. I am not allowed to work out any headings or wind drift calculations to do it all by reference to the ground and the map. This is how I navigate most of the time when I fly the microlight so I am not expecting any major issues (although I do have my lovely Airbox GPS when flying in that).

On start up I discuss with Pete an extra check that I had noticed the CAA asking to be included in one of the R22 handbooks I had been checking. This requires an alternator light check after the mag checks. Basically you should turn off the alternator and see if the light comes on within 30 seconds. If it doesnt you then turn on the landing lights and see if this brings on the alternator light. If none of this works the system isnt working and you shouldnt fly. Pete confirms this is a requirement and so we turn off the alternator switch and the warning light comes on so all good. Turn the switch back on and the alt light goes out - pretty quick and easy check.

I lift off and head over to area November under reasonable control despite the crosswind from the left. We are cleared to cross the runway and head out into the circuit and out to the golden ball. I pick up the railway and follow it to our start point of bradenham station noting the heading on the DI so I can stick to that for the rest of the track. I continue on leaving the railway well on my right (but paying careful attention to possible oncoming traffic given the left hand rule for line features).

Aiming to the right hand edge of the high ground to the right of Chinnor. Over this I positively identify Chinor with its large open pit. I keep on the heading and next reference point of Thame with its glider site. Past that and follow with the road running parallel to my left and the railway line to my right. I can see a village up on the high ground and given the 646 elevation just after brill on the map am sure that is going to be the correct village. A quick scan around and I can see the lake to the right of brill which further confirms that its the correct place. I turn just before the town and take a track just to the right of the lake and note the heading. I fly that and Westcott disused airfield comes into view. We look for and find the NDB at the end of the runway - so I now know what these look like for real. Pete points out some giant mannor house on the hill at Waddesdon which was being used for some filming as had a giant green screen on the front of it.

I cross the railway line and positively identify Quainton and make a plan to turn and head down to the railway/road crossing point to establish my heading required for this track. I head down crabbing the nose well to the right which feels weird. Over the river thame and the town of stone is obviously the one to the right (as we are looking) of Aylesbury which is a massive sprawl. I have to make sure its not Dinton but the roundabout in the middle and the roads leading out of it confirm our location.

Pete is happy that my navigation is fine and asks me to fly us back to Wycombe. I fly us back to Wycombe picking up the railway line that takes us back to the Golden ball. We get joining instructions back to area November and I bring us down and into the hover into wind no problems.

I hover there for a bit and its all under control. In particular I am concentrating on finger movements rather than whole hand movements as Jonathan had been showing me the day before and this is helping my control.

Pete asks me to spot turn to the left so I have the wind from the right and it takes a LOT of left peddle to get us moving around which requires extra power and as we start to get around it becomes increasingly hard to keep control of the heli. The foot movements are significant and the heli wallows around a bit as I work to control it. I get it a bit out of shape and give ourselves a bit more height and turn back into wind to bring it under control. Pete tells me that you can always do this if you ever do get into problems out of wind.

I am struggling not to be tense with the work load required as I put it back into a crosswind hover. A few minutes of this and I have it under control ish although its not what you would call steady and its not exactly over the same spot the whole time. It is safe enough though given the space we have here. 5 minutes of this is enough for me though as its exhausting flying so I suggest we head back to HeliAir. I spot turn and head downwind to Zulu. Pete reminds me I have to keep it slow to ensure I dont require too much power and the cyclic is a long way back in these conditions to keep to a walking speed. Other than that the control is fine and there isnt much bad yaw peddle control in this configuration.

Down to zulu I call for crossing and get clearance straight back to heliair. Crossing the runway again is challenging and it takes all my concentration to keep the heli under control. If you ever think you have cracked hovering take a go in an R22 in crosswinds of 15-20kts+ with an instructor on board. Doing say may reintill that level of respect for the machine that keeps you out of trouble later on and keep away the overconfidence monsters.

Onto the heliair pad and the turbulent air coming off the hangers makes it tricky over the concrete. I head forward too much and get quite close to the edge which has a bank. Getting the heli backwards is challenging and the 10 mins of concentration I have had up to this point means I elect to ask Pete to help me reposition back a bit which he does before letting me back onto the controls and land the heli. Nice to be down and its been a really good hours flying.

On the exam front I didnt quite get fully up to speed for the Met exam. I've been through the book twice and made all my notes but need some question practice before I sit it hopefully next week.

Also of note I am in discussion with 6 other pilots about setting up a 10 pilot R44 group in West London. We have found an R44 Raven II at a really good price and are looking for 3 or so other pilots to join to make up the numbers and keep the up front investement and monthly fixed cost to a minimum. Likely costs will be 15k each up front for your 1/10th share, 175 per month fixed fee to cover insurance and hanger plus 175-195 per hour to fly the R44 wet. Anyone seriously interested with that sort of money available please PM me for more information.

Total 25.3 hours
Solo 2.0 hours
Instrument 1.0 hour.
Exams passed - FRTOL practical, Communications written, HPL, Air Law.
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 17, 2011 10:26 am    Post subject: Collective full friction Reply with quote

Interesting comments about full friction from Sarah and PilotWolf on the collective - I learnt at HeliAir HW and also fly with full friction on the collective (though I don't remember them teaching this !) - which coincidentally was picked up by an instructor from another school only last week. When I handed over control so I could take some photos, he commented on collective being stiff and was I aware of full friction being on - of course I was as I put it there - and regularly fly with collective FULL friction !

As a relative newbie (110 hours R22), I apply full friction pretty much on leaving the circuit and setting myself into the cruise (and remove as I prepare to re-enter the circuit) - its not something I really consider how much to add, I just wind it on.

Next time I might add less and just see how it feels, I understand the comments re: need to drop in emergency if needed, and with less friction added there is more requirement to keep your hand "at the ready" so you don't become too unguarded....

Interesting also that as a relative newbie I am constantly making small adjustments to power (as oppose to max continuous and control with cyclic), yet still find it easier with full friction.....

Just my thoughts.
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 17, 2011 11:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

When I was taught by the mil if you flew a 341 below 500 ft with hand off the collective you were given a slap in the head ( just as well we wore helmets)
Personally if you have to put full friction on a machine to hold a setting then there is something wrong with the set up
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 17, 2011 11:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I never fly hand off - maybe just more relaxed as I don't "hold" a constant power - the collective friction assists.....
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 22, 2011 6:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Saturday 22nd Jan 2011

Am in at 9am at Wycombe for a 9-12 slot with Jonathan again and arrive with a low cloud base and some light drizzle which I had been expecting from the TAFs the night before.

Jonathan is running a bit late so I head out into the hanger to preflight G-OCOV in the warm. Checks all done and she has 13 gallons of fuel so no need to put in any more at this stage. I grab a cup of tea and head back out to reception as Jonathan arrives.

We head out the back for a briefing. Jonathan has printed out the weather to see how my met skills are and asks me to read off the forecast for our location on the 215. General drizzle and light rain with some haze, 5000m vizibility and cloud base down to 1000ft with dewpoint and temperature nearing zero. We also check the freezing level which is 4000ft so above the altitude we would be flying at today.

We look at our phones for the latest TAF's. I have been using an app called pilotwizz which I find useful and Jonathan shows me a couple of additional features on the Aeroweather app which I also had but didnt use much. He also tells me that MVFR is marginal VFR (I had guessed at minimum VFR).

I read off the TAF and METAR for Benson and there is currently freezing drizzle. Jonathan asks me about whether our heli can fly in icing conditions and I answer that it can't and that i didnt think any GA helicopters were. Jonathan tells me that is correct and If I ever find myself flying in rain or drizzle in zero degrees I have to get down into warmer air or land if it is freezing down to the ground.

I decode another couple of TAFs and its clear that its not great conditions for flying just yet so Jonathan says we will do an extended brief while we are waiting.

I am introduced the another acronym I may come across DVE which is simply degraded visual environment.

I am introduced to the MATED pre flight acronym which is broken down as follows.

Met - check the weather, 214 and 215, METARs and TAFs for airfield en route and use apps such as WeatherPro for rainfall and cloud satellite and radar images.

Aircraft - you need one, it needs to be legal for flight, paperwork checked, preflight completed, fuelled etc

Traffic Control - Check notams, work out the ATSUs you will speak to en route, their frequencies, radio aids and the service you want (eg Basic service).

Exercise - understand the exercises you will do in the flight or the plan for the flight if it cross country, landing off airfield, etc

Duties - agree who is commander and what duties each person will do. Brief non pilots on what you expect or need them to do/not do.

We then move on to discuss the VFR requirements. Under 3000ft AMSL I correctly remember my air law and state we need to be clear of cloud, in sight of the surface and with viz greater than 1500m. I also correctly state that anything that doesnt meet that is IFR and Jonathan tells me that is the effective definition of IFR (ie not VFR). He shows me the relevent sections of the ANO that cover all these rules and the various exemptions for helicopters on airfields. We also go through the low flying rules and exemptions. He also shows me some of the IFR rules that are relevent if I go on and get a night rating and also that a commercial helicopter pilot has some extra priveledges to fly IFR without an IR in certain conditions.

Jonathan goes on to talk to me about the risks of flying in rain and with rain drops on the windscreen. This reduces our eyes ability to judge depth and this is a particular problem with large expanses of green grass like we have in area november. There are people that have lost depth perception in rain/with droplets over the windscreen and simply flown straight into the ground on departure. He tells me in these conditions that we should double our hover height and keep this higher heigher (10ft or so) for hover taxi and departure in these conditions and be equally aware of the situation on coming back into the hover on the approach.

We check the forecasts again and they are gradually improving so we decide we will be able to get into the circuit to do some confined area work with a small piece of triangular land by some hangers in the far corner of the airfield (which from my viewing is a very small landing area indeed).

We discuss the various different levels of confined area. The first one allows us a normal descent in and enough area to make our level off and slow down at hover height. This allows us to get in without having to come to a high hover OGE (out of ground effect) which requires less power available (see later below). We then discuss the same area but with a couple of trees in the way meaning we would have to make a two stage descent path shallow down to above the trees and then steeper down into the landing area. We then discuss the very confined clearing in a wood type of landing sites which would require a full hover OGE above the tree line and then an almost vertical descent down into the clearing. Jonathan describes the problem of losing airspeed as you descend down below the tree line due to the trees shielding you from the wind and the translational lift lost. To go into these sorts of sites you need to ensure you have sufficient power for vertical ascents or there is no way of recoveing if the site becomes contaminated during your approach.

We go on to discuss the power required for these manoevres and how to do the power available checks. There are two power available checks. The first one is to fly at 53kts S+L and see what power you have available. Compare this to your max 5 minute power will tell you the excess power. So for example if 53kts S+L uses 16inches of manifold pressure and you can use 23 for 5 mins max power you have 7 inches available.

The next check is the take off power available check. Hover the aircraft 6inches off the deck in a stable hover and see how much power this is using. Again compare this to the max power available and work out the difference. So if your 6 inch hover uses 21inches you have 2 inches available for your take off and departure work.

Looking at the Take off power check first you can do the following based on inches of power available.
<1 would require a running take-off
>1 would require a cushion creep take-off
>2 is sufficient for a towering take-off
>3 allows full vertical take-off

Now for the in flight checks for our landing work.
<4 would require a running landing
>4 a zero / zero landing where you come to zero descent and zero airspeed as you touchdown.
>5 allows you to hover IGE (in ground effect)
>6 allows you to hover OGE
>7 full vertical performance available.

Typically for a PPL you want >6 available for an approach into a confined area so you have sufficient room to manoevre and can hover OGE if necessary. You would need >7 to try and go into our example of a tight clearing in a wood needing a steep or vertical descent.

On that note the weather is good enough to go and have a flight of an hour or so. I head out to the aircraft and start her up while Jonathan goes off to fill out the paperwork for flight. I go through all the start up checks and she is just reaching warm up temperature when I see Jonathan out of the corner of my right eye asking me if he can approach. I nod for him to join me in the cockpit and then complete the horn check and radio for circuits.

Take off and Jonathan reminds me of the problems associated with the droplets on the windscreen and the need for a higher hover today. It is indeed harder to judge the depth and the extra safety margin is good. We cross over to area november and are on 06L today so have to hover downwind to the other end of November for our departure. I bring us into the hover at the edge of the field with the wind coming from behind me and from my right (120 degrees from front). Jonathan asks me to spot turn to face along the runway and asks which direction I should be turning.
I suggest turning to the left (having been drummed into me in early lessons the benefit of going round to the left). Its a tricky turn though and I have to pull in some more power as we go round and there is quite a bit of footwork required.

Jonathan takes control to show me the effects of the wind on spot turns. He shows me the turn I have just done which he does "as a typical student would do" which is not quite over the right spot and not so quick on the peddles. Its clear the heli drops quite significantly as it turns left (facing downwind) and a lot of power is required to not go down to the deck.

He then shows me the turn to the right which comes into wind after 120 degrees. The heli still starts to descend a bit but it then holds its height without descending further and so not much extra power is required and its also a lot more stable on the peddles (cause its into wind obviously). This is a great demonstration of how to use the wind to your advantage and to think about this when deciding on spot turn direction. I take control and repeat the demonstration to my own satisfaction.

Out into the circuit and Jonathan shows me the confined area we are aiming for. We do a tight circuit (and its Left hand which isnt ideal given I am in the right hand seat). On the downwind Jonathan tells me to start to slow down and make our descent for the area. Full carb heat on and I start to descend before turning base and then onto final. There is a clear long rectangular field under the approach so thats good. However I make the approach too fast as I am used to 60Kts on the approach into the airfield and that isnt going to cut it into this tiny area. I am also a bit low as we get close and have to slow down into a hover OGE dialling in quite a bit of power just before the landing site before then bringing her in, gently gently and down to the hover before landing.

We towering take off and go round for another go. This time as I turn off base leg I have the speed back at 40kts and make a much more gradual appraoch keeping a bit more height. This gives us a lot more time to control the approach and keep it accurate which is needs to be. I bring us over the hedge bits and down into the hover and then land. My landing isnt so good on this one as the heli yaws left a bit as I touch down due to me not looking forward enough, i had looked down at the hedge immediately in front of me rather than "through it" which would have allowed me full attitude references.... grrr silly mistake. I compound this by not fully lowering the collective after touchdown which Jonathan also picks my up on.

Another towering take-off - this time keeping a bit more distance from the shooting range which is immediately behind the confined area we are playing in.

Round once more and this time on the approach I am to imagine some high trees are in the way of our path which requires me to bring it in about 70ft off the ground, stop in a high hover and then make the descent into the area once I am sure the tail is clear of the trees. Quite challenging stuff.

We do one more of these and one more normal approach (without the imaginary high trees) and then do a downwind departure from the confined area as there are times when there is only one way in or out of the landing site and you cant use the wind on the nose to help. Towering take off to get over the hedge and then build up airspeed, build up and up and then start to make the turn back into wind at sufficient altitiude.

We head back to area zulu and I make an approach to zulu from about 400ft. The wind is directly from my left (the worst place for it) and it is blowing about 10-14kts looking at the windsock. This is advanced transition work which is for another lesson but Jonathan is interested to see how I cope. I do a pretty good job on bringing us to the hover over zulu at 10ft and whilst there is a lot of peddle work the hover is stable and under control. Given my problems in recent lessons with strong crosswind hovering this is good news. I had been working hard on my two fingers, one thumb grip on the cyclic throughout this lesson and am starting to feel the benefits in additional control that this affords.

I radio to cross the runway and am told "cross to Romeo and back to Hotel". I say "cleared to cross and taxi back to Hotel via Romeo" and Jonathan says I shouldnt use the word "cleared" which is reserved for take-off clearances. Simply repeat back the instruction as the controller had said it to me. A good tip Very Happy

Back to HeliAir and we spot turn to face into wind on the apron for the landing. Jonathan leaves me to shut down the aircraft while he heads off to prepare for the debrief. I shut her down and note the time on the datcon - we packed a lot into a 0.8 lesson.

On the debrief Jonathan covers the following.

1. Artificial environment. I wouldnt normally be doing a confined approach in a left hand circuit which did make it more difficult.

2. Rain/DZ - In these conditions we need a hover height *2 whilst remaining under the avoid curve. 10ft is a good height which is our skids level with an R22s on the ground blades. Using a reference point such as the windsock as a heigh visual reference for the departure was also a very useful technique in these conditions. Anything to give depth and height perspective.

3. A/D familiarity. Our initial taxi clearance was to area Romeo. Now I know where area Romeo is but checked with Jonathan that we did still go that way even though we would depart from the other end of teh runway. Lesson is to trust your knowledge and if you need clarity then ASK THE CONTROLLER. They are there to help.

4. Accuracy. My speed accuracy wasnt 100% on my departures. We were using a tight circuit and I need to nail 53kts and 23 inches to get to circuit height as soon as possible. I crept over 60kts on a few occasions and power crept down to 22inches on occasions as well.

5. On the approach to a confined area SLOW EVERYTHING DOWN during base and final. Use a slightly steep or steep approach rather than a very shallow approach.

6. Be prepared to come to a hover OGE. Do this by dialling in power earlier rather than doing an abrupt flare and needing a large amount of power at that point.

7. Always have an escape route in your mind and also consider that you can definately depart from the site again if you do go into it.

8. Landing the aircraft. Make sure I look ahead and dont get my eyes drawn down just because it is a confined area, Control the yaw and make sure a landing ends with the lever fully down.

Tomorrow I am booked in with Simon Browne fron 10am to 2pm. Jonathan wants me to follow up this lesson with some confined work off airfield and also to start to do some steep approach and advanced transitions work. Sounds like a fun lesson.

Total 26.1 hours
Solo 2.0 hours
Instrument 1.0 hour.
Exams passed - FRTOL practical, Communications written, HPL, Air Law.
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 23, 2011 2:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sunday 23rd Jan 2011

Am flying with Pete for a 10-2 slot at Wycombe. The weather isn't looking promising though with a low cloud base of 600-700ft above ground and general poor viz in haze etc.

Pete has been briefed by Jonathan on yesterdays lesson and so we agree to do some more confined work and steep approaches planning on using the compass circle in area November for the steep approaches.

Round the tight circuit and the cloud base is just below 600ft. I bring us round and hold 600ft over the airfield boundary and set up for the steep approach. Speed bleeding back to 50,40,30 whilst ensuring the descent rate is less than 500ft per minute. I hold the glide path making small adjustments in speed when its clear I am going to end up short or a bit long. As I approach the ground at about 100ft I start to dial in more power to reduce the descent rate further and bring the aircraft into the hover over the grass.

Pete asks me to go forward a bit and land on the concrete in front of the circle. I had told him about my yaw on landing issue from yesterday and the concrete will show this up. Landing was pretty good though.

He tells me that was a really good first effort. He wants me to try and keep on the same glideslope all the way down if possible though rather than having to make speed corrections here and there.

A few more goes and Pete is happy that I have it down to a sufficient standard.

We head round the circuit again and this time make the steep approach into the confined area I was flying into yesterday. This goes well and I make a good job of it. Second time round I am a bit lower on the approach although again get into the site ok.

Back onto the airfield and we do a couple of cross wind approaches to the compass circle which go ok although bringing it into the hover with the wind from the left takes quite a bit of work on the peddles.

We then do 3 or 4 engine off landings from the hover which I do an ok job on. The first one I didnt catch the right peddle enough and we yawed a bit to the left. The second one was better on the yaw peddle and cushioned well. The third one on touch down my cushioning with the collective gets us back slightly into the air which surprised me but I catch it ok and fly the cyclic to put the skids back on the ground. I thought there wasnt enough energy in the blades to get back off the deck but Pete says it can happen and that you have to lower the collective back down from the cushioning once you are on the ground. This is particularly important in the R44 as that has enough energy to easily get back into the air if you dont.

On that note we agree to head back to HeliAir and wait to see if the weather gets any better.

I hang around for an hour with the plan to get in an hours instrument flying if possible but the weather doesnt improve and we agree to call it a day there.

I am not flying next week but am booked in for 2 double slots with Pete on the following sat/sun and again the week after that. Ideally I want to get the navigation work completed including the qualifying cross countries but need the weather to take a turn for the better to do that.

On the debrief Pete picks up on a couple of errors.

1. With the low cloud base and the short circuit I was using left peddle when turning onto the downwind leg. This meant I was flying quite a bit out of balance. Pete felt this was some overload and me resorting back to my earlier fixed wing training. Must concentrate on not doing this in the heli.

2. I must check Carb heat after departure as a few times it was well in the yellow by the time I had checked (usually after levelling off). Pete tells me 300ft is the time to do it.

3. I have also got out of the habit of putting the carb heat back in for the last 300ft of the approach. I need to remember to do this to give the additional 1inch of power that is available when you do so. I think I have got lazy on this because there has been ample power available particularly the last couple of days with the huge high pressure system improving performance.

Total 26.9 hours
Solo 2.0 hours
Instrument 1.0 hour.
Exams passed - FRTOL practical, Communications written, HPL, Air Law.
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 07, 2011 12:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Saturday 5th February 2011

Arrived at Wycombe for my 4 hours with Pete under grey skies and a strong gusting wind (20ktsG30kts).

Pete has been in for a while and tells me that the weather has instrument lesson written all over it so we go and brief on the instrument work for the day.

I go out and preflight G-BYIE but the cloudbase has lowered since my arrival and its looking about circuit height. We fuel up anyway and Pete suggests we head out into the circuit and see how things are which is fine by me.

While Pete does the paperwork I start-up the aircraft and wait for it to warm up at which point pete joins me. We get permission to lift and head straight over to November as there is no other traffic out in these conditions. Over at November I put us into wind for some hovering and we hear a plane radioing for ATZ crossing. Pete calls to the tower to request a cloudbase report from that aircraft and it comes back at about 600ft AGL. We decide thats not enough for the instrument lesson and so I practice a bit more hovering including some out of wind hovering in these very blustery conditions and do a reasonable job of it.

After about 10 minutes of this I fly us back to Hotel and with the crosswind from the right find it very challenging. The bit I struggle with the most is keeping my groundspeed down with the crosswinds which I must concentrate on and with the higher groundspeed I find the peddle movement more pronounced. Pete takes over for the final part to put us safely on the apron into wind and I then complete the landing.

A total of 0.4 hours but on the plus side I am invited to sit in the back of an R44 for some autorotation work at all up weight for one of the other heliair instructors doing his line check (Mark who flies out of Silverstone). Jonathan makes it clear to me that this is not a public transport flight but is a training flight that is to include emergency procedures and on that basis I accept the offer. Pete is in the back with me as well for a good 25 minutes of engine off landings to the ground which was very interesting to observe in these conditions.

Sunday the conditions are the same and Pete texts me at 8am to advise that there is no point coming over for the lesson. Fingers crossed next week is better.

Total 27.3 hours
Solo 2.0 hours
Instrument 1.0 hour.
Exams passed - FRTOL practical, Communications written, HPL, Air Law.
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 28, 2011 9:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Given the state of the British weather my next lesson isn't booked until Sunday 20th March by which time it will be almost 2 months since I've had a decent lesson.

The joys of learning in the winter !!
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 26, 2011 4:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sunday 20th March 2011

I arrive having not flown for a couple of months for my 9 to 11.30am lesson with Jonathan. I am expecting the lesson to be getting myself back up to speed with airfield hovering, circuits and maybe emergency procedures but Jonathan wants to do a navigation exercise with me.

We check the weather which is good although some haze expected which will reduce forward visibility a bit and require us to fly at about 1500-2000ft. We check the winds at 2000ft from the Met Office website and its expected to be c20kts from the south west.

I dont have my flight computer with me so we plan the flight using the Maximum possible drift calculation and the sine rule to work out our headings required to account for wind drift and to work out our groundspeeds and timings. (I checked these at home afterwards with my flight computer and the accuracy was amazing).

Our flight is planned to leave Wycombe, pick up our first heading from overhead Bradenham railway station to Old Stratford (north west tip of Milton Keynes) and then route to Sywell via the gap in the forest just past the M1 and then using the white water tower and lakes south of Sywell to help with the route.

En route to Old Stratford we assess our likely drift which is about 5 degrees to the left and double the difference to get back on track which is noticable as we cross the A421 and see the prison to our right (R214 zone) before taking up our planned heading with a small allocation for the drift we had experienced before.

Approaching Sywell I make the radio call and do a pretty good job although I did miss out giving our position. I correct this as we enter the ATZ giving our position due South as we enter and again on the overhead as we turn onto our next heading West towards Wellesbourne. Wellesbourne would be the full route of the qualifying cross country but we dont have the time for that today so Jonathan asks me to route down the A43 once past Northampton.

Jonathan then demonstrates a call to the Distress and Diversion frequency on 121.5 asking to make a practice PAN call and then giving the PRACTICE PAN stating heading, altitude and last known position and asking for a location fix. Within a few seconds they have come back with our location just north of Towcester with its horse racing course on the eastern side which is clearly visible and the roads of the A5 and A43 heading out south east and south westerly directions. We cancel the PRACTICE PAN and change heading down the A5 to pick up the southerly electricity pilons just to the east of Silverstone taking our altitude down to not above 1250ft to simulate having to navigate from lower level.

Jonathan then gives me some detailed tuition on the use of the GPS and how to select the VRP of the Golden Ball so that if I ever did get lost I had some electronic backup to help out.

A couple of times Jonathan asks me for a fix on our exact location and it wasnt always very quick or easy to do this with having to fly the aircraft and looking at the map. In the microlight I fly one handed or even hands off when navigating and this allows me to have a finger on the map and always know exactly where I am. In the helicopter this is much more difficult as you need a hand on the cyclic at all times and ideally a hand on the collective as well so I have to balance the map on my lap and then each time try and find our position on it again. Obviously I know I am still flying along the power lines and that I have x minutes still to go before the next "major" landmark (be that a road or a bigger town etc) but Jonathan is asking for even more awareness of exact fixes.

The other problem I have been having with the flight up to now is maintaining an airspeed of 80-85kts. Whenever the workload increases I tend to pitch up the nose and bleed off airspeed back to around 70kts. This is not good if you need to be flying a speed for fuel consumption etc and I must get more accurate at maintaining the correct airspeed. My heading control was generally very good and my height control reasonable although I did deviate a bit higher than the 1250ft at points when I am again being overloaded trying to get a position fix on the map.

Arriving at the electricity base by east claydon I correctly select the next pilons to follow (they go out in a number of directions from the base station) and this gets us down to Aylesbury where I then use the compass to fly down over Stone and over Princes Risborough where I make the radio call to join Wycombe again. Jonathan had asked me to do the radio call in full but rather than open with "Wycombe tower this is helicopter Golf Oscar Charlie Oscar Victor" i add "request join" at the end of the opening message and so am given the full joining instructions immediately which I then repeat but am not able to give the normal full radio call with identity, routing, position, level etc. Jonathan says "so what happened to the full call then" and we discuss when you add a bit on the end of an initial call. This is only done for when requesting a ATC service such as a basic or traffic service. For other calls if you want to give the full radio message the opening message does not have "request join or similar" at the end of it.

There is no other helicopter traffic as we approach Wycombe and Jonathan requests a high in approach to Zulu to simulate a confined area approach which we get clearance for. I make an excellent approach having remembered to apply carb heat before startign the descent, bleeding back the airspeed to 30-40kts and making a controlled even approach to the zone bringing us into a steady hover. I radio for crossing runway 24 and am given clearance back to hotel.

On my hover taxi back (and on my hover out earlier in the lesson) I am flying very nicely and in control but am a little bit slow. Jonathan wants me to start speeding my hover taxi up to a good fast walking pace going forward.

A total of 1.5 hours and a very good lesson. I need a bit more accuracy particularly on speed and partly on altitude control and need to get used to quickly finding our place on a map in the difficult environment of the helicopter cockpit.

The plan for next week is to do the full dual cross country flight of Wycombe to Sywell to Wellesbourne and back which will include two out landings (I think) before I am then let loose to do this solo.

Total 28.5 hours
Solo 2.0 hours
Instrument 1.0 hour.
Exams passed - FRTOL practical, Communications written, HPL, Air Law.
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