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Something to watch out for!

Darren Hughes



So this is my first blog posting. I'm not one for putting my entire life on the web, so I figure I'll use this to post about situations that I've learned from during my flying career. I'm currently an instructor with about 700 hours. This blog entry is a copy&paste of a topic I created in the Flight Training Forum.


So I was finishing up a 3 flight Instrument Proficiency Check yesterday for a guy who has about 700 hours instructing in a Schweizer and only 15 in a R22. It's been a while since he had been flying as he is working outside the industry for the past 6 years, but he's thinking of getting back in.


His instrument flying sucked on the first flight, but yours would too after a 6 year break. We got him back to Instrument check ride standard after only 3 flights which was impressive, and I was prepared to sign off the IPC. At the end of the last flight he mentioned that he wanted to do a few VFR maneuvers. Generally I try to stay away from this kind of thing after an instrument flight, but on this one I obliged.


As we were going around the pattern for the second time, he mentioned that he'd like to do an auto or 2. So we extended the crosswind and downwind while I gave him a briefing on the maneuver. Everything from entry, to being established, to the flare, and finally the power recovery. As we came around on final he set himself up to enter, and I covered the controls. He rolled off the throttle, added right pedal and gentle aft cyclic, all very smooth I might add. The only problem.....He forgot to LOWER the collective!. Or so I thought. I waited for him to lower collective. About a half a second went by and the RPM was passing through 97%, low rotor RPM horn came on and collective was no lower, 90%...collective was no lower. It was at this point that I lowered the collective myself and applied aft cyclic while rolling on the throttle. The lowest point the RPM reached during the maneuver was about 85% or less before they started to come back up. On a warm day that's not were you want to be. Although I've heard horror stories from my friends about the RPM being quite a bit lower, but it still scared the BAJESUS outta me!!


So what was the problem? Why did this guy do what he did? Where did I go wrong with this whole thing? I've come up with my own conclusion, but feel free to add to it, rip me a new one if you think it's needed!


First off, my once hard and fast rule of not practicing VFR maneuvers after 1.3 hours under the hood should have been upheld. People just aren't in the right frame of mind to do autos and the likes after instrument flying. We should have landed, shut down for 30 minutes, and then went up to do them.


Second, during that break on the ground, we would have got a much better briefing done than in the cockpit. The guy said to me afterwards, that in the Schweizer if you enter an auto like in a robbie, by lowering collective before rolling off the throttle, or even lowering and rolling off simultaneously, you risk an overspeed. His plan was to roll off the throttle, wait a second and then lower collective. But even after that second had passed and we were saying "bye bye" to 90% he still wasn't lowering. Maybe he was startled by the horn coming on so soon compared to the Schweizer. With a break on the ground with a full briefing we would have covered the entry more than once and he would have been in a better frame of mind as to what to do in the R22.


It would also have been a good idea for me to demo an auto for him, but I didn't think this was needed as he had around the same amount of flight time as myself.


Lastly, one of the larger errors I made was not to address the differences between the 2 aircraft. I would like to think that I would have covered that to some degree had we briefed on the ground prior to the maneuver.


There was nobody more at fault during this incident than me, the instructor who failed to properly brief the maneuver. I figure I'll write about this here as this business is a learn as you go kinda business, so better others learn the easy way instead of the hard.



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Why do you think after 1.3 under hood it is a bad thing to go for an auto, the donk dont care when it stops, VFR IFR it just dont care, the guy who taught me used to just role it off usually at the most stressful time he even did it with me wearing the foggles.

His last words to me before we lifted were all-ways, "don't forget we are doing autos to day"

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Why do you think after 1.3 under hood it is a bad thing to go for an auto, the donk dont care when it stops, VFR IFR it just dont care, the guy who taught me used to just role it off usually at the most stressful time he even did it with me wearing the foggles.

His last words to me before we lifted were all-ways, "don't forget we are doing autos to day"


Hey 500E,

Sorry I don't check this blog too often. Your frame of mind while under the hood is different than while practicing autos. A little bit of adrenaline always comes into play while doing autos, whereas while under the hood, being completely calm and focused on the job in hand is what makes for a good instrument flight. Now, don't get me wrong. I don't mean that autos are completely impossible during instrument flight. I have my guys practice entries under the hood regularly. But the timing needed for the flare at the bottom requires the pilot to be a little more outside the cockpit. In a real instrument auto(what are the odds you'd be flying single engine IFR anyway), we wouldn't be looking for perfection at the bottom, just to get on the ground in one piece. Plus the chopper you'd be autoing in during IFR ops wouldn't require as precise of timing as a R22 anyway.


To me the risk that comes with putting a fatigued pilot(someone who just spent 1.3 hours being tested by me) into a situation where he has to use a completely different skill set, may be too much. You have to weigh the chances of him needing this "real world" situation training versus the risk involved with giving the training. I know many schools that don't give proper LTE training anymore due to the risks involved with a low time instructor putting themselves into it purposefully to demonstrate the proper recovery technique. I would argue that pilots need more LTE training than autos, as the're much more at risk of getting that in the "real world" than a full blown engine failure. But with accidents due to LTE training in the past, some schools have been soured to the idea.


Having said all that, now that I know what to expect in future sessions, I would feel more comfortable and capable to do these sort of maneuvers after some hood time.

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You're only as good as your last hour. Some guys repeat their last hour endlessly. Some regress. I flew with a guy that had twice my hours, but was abominable. When I would attempt constructive criticism, he would tell me how many hours he had. Don't ever get intimidated by a guys (or gals) hour level. The guys you are flying with are flying with you for a reason. The other side of the coin is, don't assume someone will listen to you just because you have more hours, ratings, whatever. They might just be appearing to listen to you. Sometimes they want to see your comparatively better skill before they are ready to learn from you. Take to your role of flying expert with quiet humble confidence.

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