28th May 14:44
What a way to end the week..
Got my 4 hops in this week. Except for the minor maintenance "delay"
at the beginning of the week, everything worked out well. Flew all 4
R22s the school has and logged a little over 4 hours. Each ship sure
flies differently and they all have their own quirks and I certainly
have my favorite..
Today was a "fun" day. We went exploring to the northeast of the
field looking for more practice areas. We found a pretty cool little
valley with some large flat areas, several nice spots for practicing
pinnacle landings and slope operations. The southern end of this
little valley has a cool little stand of trees that would be perfect
for taking a break and taking a mid afternoon nap under them. I told
my wife I'd take her there for a picnic once I was cleared to take
We started out with a quick look at the chart to figure out a heading
and some basic times. Dead reckoning on the quick. Picked out a
couple checkpoints - a lake and a dam - to look for and headed out.
No real airspace issues to worry about, the floor of the Class B above
us was at 4800' and the local hills were about 2000' tall, but we were
headed for a river valley so I climbed up to 1500' and established 75
knots. I flew these numbers without trim for most of the trip out and
managed to keep within practical standards so at least I'm doing ok on
straight and level.
Once we hit the damn that was our 2nd checkpoint, we turned to the
North and I pulled the trim knob - and promptly lost 150' of
altitude.. At least the pressure was off the cyclic once I got back
to 1500'. My instructor, who hasn't said a whole lot on the way out -
I assume this is a good thing - suddenly wants the controls and enters
an autorotation. I didn't understand why until he'd done a 180 degree
turn and come to a hover above the floor of this little valley we'd
found. As soon as he said "Who say's helicopters are less safe than
airplanes" I realized the reason for the auto.
The day before, as I was preflighting the ship, a man drove up to one
of the other helos in a golf cart. I saw my instructor chatting with
the guy for a few minutes and when I came back from dropping off my
dispatch papers in the office, the golf cart guy was gone. I met my
instructor at the ship and as we're buckling in he says "That guy told
me his Cessna was much safer than my helicopters."
OK, now I'm no multi-thousand hour pilot and I have to admit I used to
think the same thing. Engine quits and you can glide an airplane.
I've completely changed my mind in the past few months. I replied,
"You've got to be kidding. You need a stretch of land to get an
airplane down. All we need is a spot large enough to clear the rotor
"He's just ignorant."
I had to laugh at that. Hence the auto. Back to the flying.
While we were there, we did some quick stops and more approaches. I'm
beginning to get really frustrated with my normal approaches. I get
'em set up good, get my angle and rate of descent good and am good
until the last 20 seconds or so. I'm still trying to fly like I'm
back in the old Cessna; I just can't get the "picture" I'm looking for
on the last portion and I keep getting the nose down. Too much
forward cyclic as I'm pulling in the power. I know what I'm doing,
but can't seem to get my brain to fix the problem.
Not nearly as tensed up as I was the past couple days, but still had a
few moments where I found myself with a death grip on the cyclic. So
much so that on the drive home, I discovered a small blister on my
palm, just near the 1st knuckle of my right index finger. I'm not
entirely sure if it's from flying or not, but I hadn't noticed it when
I washed my hands after the preflight.
The flight back was a bit odd due to the controller we were talking
to. We were approaching from the East and called for my usual
approach and we were asked to circle down to the Southeast a few miles
and then turn North to the field and then make the same approach we'd
asked for when we were 5 miles East of the field. It wasn't
particularly busy and once we got within a mile of the field, the only
traffic I saw were 3 taxiing airplanes and one of our other helos on
the N/S runway doing some hover work. Don't know why we had to make
the approach the way we did. Oh well, something else learned.
The final approach back to the field was good right up until the last
20 seconds or so. I was high and slow as usual. My instructor
finished up the approach for me and then let me taxi us back to the
pad. I was fine until the last foot or so and the death grip came
back and my hover went to hell. Took about 30 seconds to get
stabilized and get the ship set down on the pad. Jeezus am I getting
annoyed with my lack of consistency. I know there are going to be
good days and bad days, but this is getting ridiculous.
For giggles, when I got home, I broke out my old fixed wing log book
and checked out my entries and my notes. I noticed something
interesting. I seemed to go through a similar "plateau" with fixed
wing shortly after I'd soloed. I soloed at 9.5 hours but right around
14 hours, it fell apart for 4 flights and once I'd hit about 20 hours,
things got better and I was able to progress at a pretty decent pace.
I'm hoping this is just another case of this and I'll get it figured
out in the next few flights. I do know I'm doing nothing but
approaches until I get them figured out. I've just got to exorcise
that airplane flying DNA from my system. Too many hours in front of
the computer playing Falcon 4 or IL-2 I guess.