What's been happening the last couple of weeks...
Passed Air Law last week - just O P & P to go...must study
Last of the low level lessons - I had my 5th lesson on low level and it was just combining all the aspects learned and put them together into a course. So the instructor asked me to over fly the site, go through my swat and then descend to the termination point I had selected. After settling into a hover I handed over control and he asked me to follow him through on a course. Start off over a line of trees, dip back down a bit left turn over some more trees, down along a fence, pedal turn, up and over a hill, down to another turn around a tree, then over a fence and quick stop into wind and return to a hover. Sounded all right, I probably just allowed more of a gap between machine and tree lines which didn't make it look as pretty and tended to get variations in the speed which didn't help the flow of the course. As with everyone of these low level lessons after you've had a couple of turns or laps you can pick up the little things like speed, power settings and control inputs which allow you to achieve the desired outcome. As I came over the fence in the last run before the quick stop into wind I spied a bucket in the middle of the field and used that as an aiming point for the stop. We did another lap and while I wished low level was double the hours in the syllabus, it was time to head back. It has been good with respect to the 5 lessons as I've had 5 different instructors and all of them have had something different for me to take on board.
In between exams and the dual lessons I've been attacking the remaining general handling solo component to get that out of the road and can just concentrate on the R44 endorsement and the remaining dual lessons getting ready for the flight test. With about 37 hours until 105 mark it's about making sure all bases are covered (from a syllabus point of view) and that it's evident that consistency and proficiency are being attained in the lead up to the date with the examiner .
I've decided to complete 20 hours of the remaining training in the R44. Last week I was handed the pilots operating handbook and told to get familiar with it. This morning was the first time behind the controls. I was asked to retrieve a step ladder from the hangar to assist with the pre-flight and one of the charter pilots walked around with me and talked about the differences to the 22. It surprised me just how much bigger it seemed when you get up close, I suppose everything up from the 22 is just bigger. It must be interesting for you guys and gals who fly bigger machines and then get back into a Robo and think why the hell am I getting back into this "Mini". Obviously everything seems a bit more enclosed and there's more panels to work your way through to check various parts etc, but it's just getting used to a larger version of what I'm used to (especially the tail and MR blades). As we jumped in, I pulled out the checklist and noticed some items were essentially the same but a few things were in a slightly different position. Fuel cut off not up there, down there, Carby heat on the other side of the cyclic and getting used hydraulics etc etc. Definitely sounds like it's got more grunt and with only two of us on board and half fuel I was about found out how much it didn't have to struggle as opposed to it's smaller brother.
As I pulled it up into the hover, I was very conscious of the longer tail boom and that little bit extra space you have to allow when moving one of these around. Inputs will have to be alot smoother in this machine courtesy of the hydraulics. We contacted BK ground and commenced the slow way to the main paid. Back to good old hovering lesson, but this time it was in a different beast and quite rightly there was a bit more emphasis placed on getting right in the middle of the centre line and making sure there was no deviation or fudging / slipping around the taxiways. We travelled around to take a look at the Skycrane and then back to the main pad for a few stop and go's.
Cleared from the tower, we were off, and I was pleasantly surprised that it took no effort to climb away. Circuit height came up very quickly and it was pointed out that there's no need to pull as much power in this thing as the smaller version, in fact it became quite apparent that downwind would be fast if I didn't get onto the power early, and on final, that power had to come down or we wouldn't. Do you even get past 60% power in say a "light" A109 or AS355 for a circuit and time for your downwind checks and the radio call?. After coming in, the next one was take off power and maintaining 40kts reaching circuit height after turning crosswind. Got the power wound back a bit earlier and didn't feel as rushed. Next one, straight up to 100ft and then forward to 40kts. Found that a little bit harder to judge the correct attitude to hold once moving forward as I didn't have that immediate ground reference to go off. Around again and early downwind flicked the hydraulics off - oh man. Now my instructor had asked me earlier if I'd been to the gym this week and I looked at him and replied no. Now I know why he asked me this question. Not the most pleasant of flying conditions and it doesn't allow for that fine control you need when approaching for a landing (but of course you don't choose when the system may depart from your operational requirements!). We flicked it back on at about 100ft and was pleased to have the load off again. Off for the last one and this time downwind the governor was turned off. Now I haven't done this even in the 22 for what seems a while and I find your concentration tending more on the tacho's inside rather than the outside. There was some fire / rescue services practicing a scenario today so the western pad was off limits at BK. Direct to the hangar and reported on the ground. Still getting used to the fact that the skids start from the front about where your knees are so it is a bit different to the 22 and allowing for the tail, you must be fully aware of the surrounds and where your machine may be sitting and / or swinging around to.
All in all, it was great to finally get up in the big brother and will just take some getting used to over the next 19 hours to come and beyond. Some of the other guys at the school have said once your in the 44 you wont want to go back to the 22 - mmm budget.
Hopefully will be into CTA as well in the coming weeks, Sydney CBD, through Richmond and down the harbour etc. Must also get in a few more sessions of solo circuits at Hoxton before she closes in the coming weeks.
Until next time...
Follow choppernut on his journey to CPL(H).
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