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Left Hand Seat

Kelly N.



Before I get into flying from the left hand seat let me relate a bit of a problem I was having. . .


Autos were giving me headaches. I couldn't get my entries right and I had a major mental block about them. I tend to over-analyze things and I was going through auto procedures step by step trying to figure out an A to B to C process that I could repeat. To top it off, when my entry was o.k. I started diving or had issues with the rotor RPM. I was a basket case.


So, I talked with a good friend who really has a handle on autos and he suggested doing multiple entries from altitude and recover at around 1000' or 500' and then climb and do it again until I was comfortable.


Long story short, I took my friend's advice and that combined with some excellent instruction allowed me to focus in on what I was doing incorrectly. I was making an aft motion with the cyclic at the entry of the auto but I wasn't actually watching outside like I should have been. Once I started watching the nose and pulling aft until it rose a bit and stabilized and then lowered it to my 65kt attitude, everything got much simpler. Instead of chasing RPM and airspeed all the way down, the aircraft just sort of settled into the glide with no fuss.


Even on one auto that I entered while in a slight climb, I got the Low RPM horn, but because I now had a higher comfort level with the process, I just flared a bit to build the RPM and got my attitude right again.


Not to say I'm an expert, because I'm not. However, I feel 100% more comfortable with autos now.


I went out a few days later and did more autos and it was just as comfortable as before. I'm sure there will be other times when I stress a bit over the maneuver, but I don't think autos will ever present the same sort of block for me as they did in the past (Thanks Dan and Al!).



Left Hand Seat


Myself and a buddy are going to attend the Robinson Safety course in February (2-5th). Afterwards, we plan on flying with each other quite a bit. As a result, we wanted to get familiar with flying from the left seat since the idea is that we could take controls to relieve the other pilot at some point during long x-country flights.


We both happened to be out at the airport the same day and got to experience left-hand side flying for the first time.


First Impression: This feels GOOFY!


You wouldn't think it would be that different, but the different angle of the helo (since I'm around 190 and my instructor is 150ish - I think) really does change the feel and perspective. The controls feel different and the angle/position of your arm/hand holding the cyclic is not the same.


I got it up o.k. except for a bobble with the cyclic where I was trying to move it to the right (to counter my weight + the main fuel tank) but I was really torquing the handle without moving the cyclic as much as I needed to. I'm not sure if that makes sense but I've talked to others who've had the same experience starting out. It's sort of like you make an input that you think should move the cyclic but instead you're really just twisting the end grip vertically to the right without moving the cyclic. Essentially, you're fighting your own motion.


Anyway, I got over that with a little nudge from my instructor (and I don't think I can explain it clearly anyway).


Pedal turns were next.


Left pedal was no surprise. Pretty much same-o same-o. Right pedal was a different story. I don't know why it's different but it is. It feels a lot more touchy than working the right pedal from the right seat. It took me a couple of turns to get the hang of it and I still drifted a bit to the right instead of rotating in place like a normal pedal turn.


Next was just flying. The take-off was a bit different. You feel more nose down and you're really aware of the constant pushing pressure you have to maintain to the right. I'm sure there's similar (though probably not as significant) pulling pressure required in the right-hand seat, but I suppose I'm used to that at this point.


Around this time, it still feels weird but I'm starting to adjust. We did a normal approach and a steep approach (a little long but nothing horrible) with no major issues. Then we set up for an auto.


My previous nemesis! I was a bit tense and I admit, I was thinking, "Crap, here we go again. . ." No worries, it was the exact same. The goofiness in the feel was still there but all the lessons I learned about the entry and managing the craft on the way down were exactly the same (duh!).


All in all, it was a great lesson and I can't wait to get back out there and fly some more.


That's it for now (I know - it's like I wrote a badly written book this time). For those of you reading who are still in a non-comatose state or suffering severe eye strain. . .


Safe Flying,




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