Ok boys and girls think back to the first lesson of your training and the feelings you had before, during and after that amazing first experience behind the controls of a chopper...
To say that I had been waiting for this moment for a long time is a bit of an understatement. I was basically a bit nervous, very excited and chomping at the bit to get into an R22 since making my decision to "go for it" earlier this year. I couldn't wait to start turning the dream into a reality.
Now yes I had been on a TIF and while you do get a hands on try, I think half of me was still trying get over the joyride side of feelings and I remember having to remind myself that this was actually the start of the learning process (and evaluating at that stage) and to stop staring at the poor bastards on their way to work that morning in the painful peak hour traffic (crap I knew I would soon be joining them to try and get back to work before the boss got in).
Having been given briefing notes some weeks earlier I had read effects of controls more than a couple of times over so I felt prepared from a theory point of view. This is definitely one aspect I will be determined to carry with me over the remaining year of training. MUST prepare before the session if I hope to get the full benefit. If I expect my instructor/s to put in the hard yards to make me a good pilot, the very least I can do is prepare well for them.
Pre-flight - turn this on, press that, look at that, check those, dip that, don't turn that the wrong way, if that's not there or on or too worn then your not flying...get in my boy.
Checks, grab the placard - where's the hobbs meter? Is that friction on tight enough? Some of the checks seemed familiar while some felt foreign. There's a bit here to remember and remind myself - it will come in time...I've since made a placard for myself, laminated it and leave it under the visor in the car and if I'm stuck somewhere or have a few minutes I'll run through some of the checklists.
Let's go flying! Taxying over to the pad he said just follow me through gently on the cyclic and collective - I couldn't wait until I was "driving". Up and off to the training area. Explanations of what seemed a thousand points, facts and things to expect (i'm sure it wasn't) - I listened, watched and when the time was right, off I went, keeping somewhat of an attitude, an airspeed(/s) and about an inch within an inch for MAP. I think that little compass will become my friend in the future. Trying not to strangle the little blighter, I just reminded myself a couple of times to relax and most of all have fun - and you guessed it, it was.
Being a relatively short flight, it felt like no time until the instructor had made the radio calls, we were on base, then over the pad and taxying back to the school. During the de-brief, I suppose you take the good with the bad, you know, you did this good but try not to do that - as long as with experience there's more of you did this good and less of you did that bad, I'll be happy. Having done a small amount of plank flying 16 years ago, some aspects like airmanship and good communication came flooding back while the control aspects were all so very new. I've booked in for the next lesson, a bit more effects and co-ordination - can't wait (how many days until the next lesson?).
In closing, I'll remember this comment for the rest of my life - while we had been taxying over to the helipad the instructor looked at me obviously seeing the smile on my face and said, this will be the best thing you will ever learn to do - I have no doubt he is right...
Until next time...
Follow choppernut on his journey to CPL(H).
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