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Catch-up: Summary of my last few lessons

Kelly N.



It's been a few lessons since I posted due to work schedule and other going's on outside of flying (yes, unfortunately, flying is not yet my primary activity outside my family, working on it though ;) )


Three lessons ago (right after my last blog post) I had one of the worst hours of flying I've experienced so far. It wasn't the instructor or the weather (although it was a bit of a crosswind, but nothing extreme). It was all me. I was tense to start with, my foot got stuck in the pedal at one point and it all went downhill from there.


It was pretty ugly. I was losing my heading control and heavy on the pedals. I kept dropping altitude and couldn't keep airspeed anywhere steady to save my life. The more things went south, the more tense I got and, honestly, I was a bit disheartened after the lesson was over (I flew for a bit over an hour).


I had a brief period right afterwards where I wondered if I was really going anywhere in my lessons since it was such a huge step backwards. I could tell my flight instructor was a bit taken aback as well (at least it seemed that way).


However, the next day I reminded myself that everyone plateaus at some point and that the lesson from hell must have been my first real experience with that. I flew on last Sunday (it was relatively calm) and we went to another airport nearby (W03) for a change of scenery and a chance for me to do some straight and level flight prior to starting practicing maneuvers.


It was a big difference right from the initial pick-up. I felt much looser and my pickup and take-off were pretty solid. I did keep dropping altitude a bit on the way over to W03, but afterwards I realized that I was resting my hand on the collective and that was what was causing the drop (another helicopter I sometimes fly has a collective that tends to creep up so, resting my hand on that one doesn't really cause the same effect). Once I realized the cause, I was able to resolve that issue.


Once at W03 we did the standard stuff, normal approaches, steep approaches, some autos, etc. Everything was pretty much back on track and I performed fairly well. I was able to get a better handle on my autos and got better on my glide and pedal control entering into and the recovery from the auto.


Next Lesson - Today (05/28)


The weather was a little off today. It was pretty calm, but the clouds were a bit low (scud at 1200' or so). I cleared out a bit toward the end of the lesson and we were able to do some autos.


We worked some more on normal approaches. I need to input a slight aft once the descent starts and then leave it in and only control the rest of the approach with the collective. Looking out beyond the spot once you get to 50' AGL really helps with the latter part of the approach. I also need to remember to gradually start pulling power in with about 30' to go (I tend to pull it all in at the end and pulling in gradually reduces the amount of pedal input I need to keep heading control - it also prevents a big drop at the end as you lose ETL and come to a hover).


We did quick stops (slight bump needed at 40kts and then level prior to lowering collective and gentle aft). Remember to keep a bit of forward cyclic after leveling the ship and beginning descent.


We then did a steep approach (I started descending right after reaching 45kts - dropped too much power which messed up my angle a bit). Did another after the first that was better.


The lesson ended with several autos. It was interesting that without as much headwind as we had the other day, the attitude of the ship is noticeably more nose down to maintain 65kts. Overall, my autos were pretty good. I still need to remember to pull in all the way to hover power at the end (I tend to creep it up instead of pulling it up right away). I also need to remember and anticipate left pedal input as I pull that power.


Other things I need to get a bit more comfortable and consistent with are the instrument scan - airspeed, trim, RPM - and rolling on as soon as the RPM starts to decrease after flaring (roll-on first, then pull power in).


Coming Attractions


Right now, it looks like maybe a stage check on next Wednesday (two more lessons between now and then) and possibly a solo flight next week. :blink:


O.k. I don't feel anywhere near ready, but I am completely psyched. I'm trying to just focus on making the next two lessons good ones and retaining and learning as much as possible between now and then.


Getting closer! I'll update the blog after the next lesson.


Safe flying,




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